top of page
Naoko

Naoko

Mỹ Thị Bùi

As Told By: Naoko Tsunoda

Naoko Tsunoda was born in Los Angeles in 1976 and adopted by Japanese expats the following year. Despite knowing she was adopted, it was not until she turned 18 that Naoko’s parents revealed that she is ethnically Vietnamese. Thus began a decades-long search for the missing pieces of her history, culminating in the discovery of her birth name: Mỹ Thị Bùi. Now in her forties, Naoko is learning to embrace her dual identities via her love of tea. The events of 2020 propelled her to start her own online tea boutique, Key To Teas, where she offers tea sourced directly from Japan and Vietnam. 2020 also sparked a search for her birth mother and an older half-sister. She hopes that by sharing her story, this serves as a beacon to help reunite them.

Journey

  • My Name is Naoko Tsunoda
  • I am based in Seattle, WA, USA
  • This story is about me
  • Text 2

    Text 1

  • Childhood Address: Japan
  • Text 1

    Text 2

    Text 1

    Text 2

    Text 1

    Text 2

    Text 2

    My Story

    Mỹ Việt Story by Naoko Tsunoda As featured on The Vietnamese Boat People Podcast 2021 Mỹ Việt Story Slam Event: A global pandemic has completely changed our everyday lives, an election year has divided our country, there has been unprecedented racism against Asians, and continued police violence against Black Americans spurred the largest nationwide wave of protests. We've also seen local communities uniting, new friendships forging (even if virtually), and new hobbies and hidden talents emerging. 


    This is the story of 'Me' or "My," pun intended. A story of a baby who was given a Vietnamese birth name, My Thi Bui, but given up for adoption in 1976 for my Vietnamese birth mother desired for me to grow up in a two-parent household with more financial means than she had. 


    My birth mother arrived in the US as a refugee post Vietnam War with her 7-year old daughter. I would like to share this story so the narrative can open to finding someone I can be potentially related to. The DNA test, 23 and Me, states that I am 98% ethnically Vietnamese even though the LA Country records of adoption describes that my birth mother didn't know who the father is. 


    It is a bitter sweet story of a girl who fulfilled her birth mother's wish to grow up in a loving household with so much opportunity to thrive in life via higher education and an international upbringing. It is about a woman who found a career she's passionate about, more than a job. It is about a woman who married twice and has three children, who all share DNA from Vietnam, but don't know anything about their ethnic heritage. 


    This is a story of searching for belonging and identity of being 1st generation Asian American and the responsibility we have, to share our history, for the future generations to thrive, grow and love humanity no matter where we're from. The underlying question is how much of our past defines who we are today and tomorrow?

    Help us improve the site! If you see typos, kinks, or just have ideas to make it better, please tell us by completing this survey or email us at stories@vietnameseboatpeople.org - subject line "Journeys Map".

    bottom of page