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President Basescu at the European Commission, 22 April 2010

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

No More Angels - Operation Babylift

With Courtesy to the Humanist, Published in the May/June 2009 Humanist

For the full article click HERE

No More Angels For You

Vietnam is currently experiencing social and economic growing pains similar to those South Korea went through during the 1970s and 80s. Korean children were the hot commodity in international adoption up until many adult Korean adoptees put the South Korean government’s feet to the fire and made it acknowledge the mass production aspect of its adoption policies. In early 2008, the U.S. State Department investigated a growing number of inconsistencies in the documentation of children’s orphan status and reports of child trafficking. This led to a halt in adoptions between the United States and Vietnam in September. But, much like the attitude exhibited by Americans in 1975 when Operation Babylift commenced and they were criticized for seemingly taking advantage of a bad situation, many prospective American adoptive parents today are incredulous about the charges of official corruption and baby selling. These children only need a home and a loving family, they plead. Who would ever deny them that?

To this day, first-generation transracial adoptees from Korea and Vietnam are generally referred to as “war orphans” in the media and by people we encounter on a daily basis, as if it is a self-applied term of endearment. The main assumption is that we were rescued from a tragic past and handed a hopeful future, and that to look back and piece together the facts behind our orphan status would be counterproductive and even unhealthy.

Yet, this is exactly what we are doing. We dare not only to question the historical interpretations of the Korean and Vietnam Wars, but also other people’s motives and methods for transporting us out of our birth countries. The question we ask is one few people are willing, or even prepared, to answer: Who made us orphans in the first place? In order for us to have gained our second set of parents, we had to lose our first.

Yes, people can say that we were saved. But we’ll be damned if we let them have the last word.

Born Nguyen Duc Minh in the Gia Dinh district of Saigon, Kevin Minh Allen was adopted at nine months and flown to the United States in August 1974. He grew up in a suburb of Rochester, New York, and as an adult moved to Seattle, Washington, where he is currently enjoying the view. He has completed his first, as yet unpublished poetry manuscript, titled The Wind above the Coast.

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