'Recon' in the Asian Market

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'Recon' in the Asian Market

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Posted: 9/13/2011
Note: Names, Identifying informaiton and details may have been altered to protect personal identities.

Hi, my name is Chan. I am 31 yrs old. I was born in Thailand, and came to the United States with my parents as refugees. My brother, sister, and I were placed in foster care in 1989 when I was 10 years old. I haven't seen my mother since, but I was old enough to remember her. I miss her so much and wonder how she is every day. She has four grandchildren and another on the way and I would love for her to meet them.



My search officially began in March of 2010. Julie helped me remember lots of pieces of information and clues about her, and encouraged me to contact all my family members to see if I could get more information. She focused on searching through national records starting in 1989 and moving forward to today. Meanwhile, I spoke with my family members.



One day, I spoke with the brother of my mom's ex-boyfriend. He remembered that she and his brother broke up about 10 years ago because of the language barrier between them. He gave me the ex-boyfriend's number, but it was disconnected. Then he told me something that was a shock for me. He said the last he knew a few years ago, she was squatting in the Cambodian community in Lakeland, Florida. He said she spends her days in the Asian market, and if I just went there I would be able to find her, no problem. When he said that, my blood pressure rose immediately. First of all, I hate to think of her as a homeless person. Second, I don't want to get my hopes up that it might be so easy to find her. Plus, I live in North Carolina, and did not want to go on a wild goose chase.



Luckily, SQA was willing to do it for me. Julie told me that they have researchers and private investigators in many different states across the U.S., including Florida. Julie pulled some strings and one of the private investigators, Lane, was willing to go to the market. The only photo on hand was a mug shot of my mom from a minor charge. He went up on a Tuesday. He showed the picture to several people, but no one recognized her. Lane didn't give up. He stopped by several Asian churches in Lakeland and showed my mom's picture. In one church, the preacher recognized Sophi, but said he hadn't seen her in a few months. He agreed to ask around about her to see if anyone knew where she had gone or what had happened to her. I was disappointed when I heard the news, but I was also glad I had not driven town to Florida personally just to be disappointed.



A month passed without any new leads. She seemed to have disappeared. Julie continued following the paper trail my mom left across the country since 1989. After we were taken into foster care, Sophi moved to Charlotte, NC, then to Lakeland, FL, then to High Point, NC, then back to Lakeland. She also lived in Tulsa, OK, Norcross, GA, again in High Point, NC, Greensboro, HC, then to Decatur, GA, and back to Greensboro.



One day Julie called me with what appeared to be a current cell phone number for my mom. She called me and asked the difficult question, "do you want to make the first call, or should I? It might be disconnected." I felt a rush of emotions from anxiety to excitement to fear. I asked Julie to make the call. She called me back ten minutes later to report that this number was also disconnected. At this point I felt discouraged. I was sure we would never find her. Julie was strong and persevered, and assured me that somehow, we would find her.



Two months later, Julie called with the news I had been waiting for. On one of the address records, Sophi had a roommate named Sovanna. When Sophi's trail grew cold, Julie began researching Sovanna's, hoping that this roommate could tell us where Sophi is now. Finally she found a current number and address for Sovanna in Fresno, California. Julie called to ask Sovanna if she knew Sophi's current whereabouts. "Well, yes. She's right here. You wish to speak with her?" she replied told her I had been searching for her for years, and asked if she would be willing to call me. My mom was very excited, and called me that same night. We cried together, laughed together, and mourned together for the time we lost. We promised never to lose touch with each other again.

My mom is flying out to meet me and my siblings next month. I still feel like there are many unanswered questions between us, and if it feels right I will ask them all when she is visiting face to face. I am very happy to have found her, and to have my mother back again. I am also grateful to SQA for going above and beyond for my case. I never expected anyone to go in person to the Asian market in Lakeland, or to search in Asian churches, and it means very much to me. Now that my mother is found, it is a new beginning for all of us. Chan yak ja kob kun.



Written by Mica Burton on Chan's behalf.



Client ID#273335

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