When one young woman gave birth to a baby almost 50 years ago, her father refused to let her keep him. Although she never gave up hope of meeting her son again, each year that passed made a reunion seem even more unlikely. Then, out of the blue, she received a notification online.
Thuy-Nga Thi Nibblett was born in Vietnam. She was young during the Vietnam war and was a striking looking girl. Consequently, she soon caught the eye of an American soldier who was in the Air Force and stationed in the city of Da Nang.
That serviceman was Skip Soule. Recalling the moment he first set eyes on Nibblett almost 50 years ago, he said it was love at first sight. “She was really gorgeous then. Of course, we hit it off right away,” he told WTKR in September 2017.
The couple embarked on a whirlwind romance. However, when Soule left Vietnam their love affair was cut short. He gave Nibblett his contact details. But her family, who were opposed to her relationship with an American, destroyed them.
However, that was not the end of the story. “Next thing I know my stomach is getting bigger. And that’s when I realized I’m going to have a baby,” Nibblett revealed. Just 17 at the time, she was determined to raise her unborn child herself.
But her father had other ideas. He saw Nibblett’s pregnancy as a disgrace because she was unmarried. Furthermore, the baby’s dad was a U.S. serviceman. “When you have kid half-American, half-Vietnamese, people look down on you, especially your family,” Nibblett explained to CBN News in June 2017.
Nevertheless, Nibblett continued with her pregnancy. She later gave birth to a baby boy that she called Tran Van Hung. But, after he was born, her father and brother took him to an orphanage. Not willing to hand over her baby, Nibblett retrieved him and raised him for the first seven months of his life.
But her dad and brother got their way in the end. Nibblett had been out running errands one day. When she returned her baby was gone. “From that day, I block out. I completely block out because I didn’t know where my son was,” she later revealed to WTKR.
Sadly, Nibblett’s story is not an unusual one. During the Vietnam War, it’s estimated that 50,000 babies were conceived to U.S. soldiers. Many of the infants were abandoned by their fathers. A large number of these war babies were also then abandoned by their mothers, who wished to hide their relations with the so-called enemy.
However, Nibblett never gave up hope of meeting her son one day. “I have heard God’s word himself. He told me I know where your son is,” she said. “You don’t know it, but I know it. And because of that voice that I heard, I keep holding onto that.”
In the meantime, her son lived in a Da Nang orphanage until he was two years old. An Army Major then adopted him and provided him with a nice life. They renamed him Kirk Kellerhals and were honest about his adoption. Kellerhals simply assumed both his parents had perished during the war.
“This was not a case where I was looking for my parents,” Kellerhals explained. “I thought they were gone, I thought they were dead. I was very grateful for the family I had. I grew up in a very loving home and never went without. I had more opportunities than probably most kids my age.”
So, Kellerhals grew up and made a home for himself in Virginia Beach, Virginia. There, he developed a passion for all things sea-related, including surfing, fishing and jogging on the beach. It was this side to his character that got him wondering about his heritage.
“With me being half Vietnamese, the other half was just that big question mark. With my love for the beach, my dark skin, loving the Polynesian lifestyle and having visited Hawaii once, I claimed Hawaii as my second half,” Kellerhals explained.
Kellerhals’ wife, who is from the Philippines, disagreed that Kellerhals was half Hawaiin. If anything, she believed he was part Filipino, like her. So, just to resolve the dispute, Kellerhals submitted an online DNA test.
He was awaiting his results when he got an unexpected email. Kellerhals was attending his son’s graduation when he received a message saying he had a child-parent DNA match. Immediately, Kellerhals assumed it was a scam.
But, after reading the email thoroughly, Kellerhals realized that there was a good chance it was genuine. “It suddenly dawned on me. This is probably my mother. There is no way. This is impossible. She’s dead,” he said.
Nibblett was now living in San Antonio, Texas, with her husband. She had searched extensively for her son since arriving in America. At first, she looked in phone books. But, when the technology arrived, she pinned her hopes on a DNA test.
Nibblett and her son reunited for the first time in 48 years in June 2017. The pair shared an emotional embrace and Nibblett thanked God for finally bringing her to her long lost baby. “Thank you for finding me,” a grateful Kellerhals replied.
And that wasn’t the end of Kellerhals’ journey of discovery. Shortly after meeting his mother he reached out to his biological father. The threesome reunited in August 2017 and Kellerhals could finally see himself in someone else. “I’ve definitely got his nose and ears. And his hairline,” he said. “I got her smile and eyes. Wish I had half her strength.”