Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Daughter From Danang

Almost every week I am questioned about why we go to the trouble and expense of sending our girls to the school we've chosen. It would be so much easier in terms of time and travel not to mention a much less painful dent in our checking account every month to send them to a school that is closer and doesn't have the same price tag. So far, I've only been able to say that this is just something I feel very strongly about...in my gut I know this is the right thing for our girls.

Yesterday I watched a documentary that validates how I feel about this. Daughter from Danang  touched me on so many levels. Here is what their website says about the film:

"A heartbreaking documentary that upsets your expectations of happily-ever-afters, Daughter from Danang is a riveting emotional drama of longing, identity, and the personal legacy of war. To all outward appearances, Heidi is the proverbial “all-American girl”, hailing from small town Pulaski, Tenn. But her birth name was Mai Thi Hiep. Born in Danang, Vietnam in 1968, she’s the mixed-race daughter of an American serviceman and a Vietnamese woman. Fearing for her daughter’s safety at the war’s end, Hiep’s mother sent her to the U.S. on “Operation Babylift”, a Ford administration plan to relocate orphans and mixed-race children to the U.S. for adoption before they fell victim to a frighteningly uncertain future in Vietnam after the Americans pulled out. Mother and daughter would know nothing about each other for 22 years.

Now, as if by a miracle, they are reunited in Danang. But what seems like the cue for a happy ending is anything but. Heidi and her Vietnamese relatives find themselves caught in a confusing clash of cultures and at the mercy of conflicting emotions that will change their lives forever. Through intimate and sometimes excruciating moments, Daughter from Danang profoundly shows how wide the chasms of cultural difference and how deep the wounds of war can run--even within one family."

Although the circumstances are very different, we could be talking about Lucy 22 years from now. I have no way of knowing at this point what she will want to know of her birth family. What I do know is that I want to arm her with as many tools as I can so that if/when that day comes, she will be as prepared as she can be. She will have the language of her heritage. She will have an understanding of Chinese culture (which is very similar to the Vietnamese culture in that children are expected to monetarily take care of their family and which was the cause of Heidi's breakdown in the film). She will have a strong history of love and affection from her adoptive family (which was also lacking in Heidi's case). She will have a sister who understands all of this as well so that she will not feel she has to make a choice to leave behind a sister who doesn't speak or understand Chinese language/culture.

I feel so badly for Heidi that she went into the reunion so blindly. She put it quite aptly when she said, "I came here wanting to be the 7 year old child who needs mothered and instead I am the one who is the mother and my mother is the child."

For anyone who has adopted a child of another country and for extended family, I highly recommend watching this documentary. It is available for free on Youtube! I watched it on my iPad.

I've attached it here (and here's the link just in case)

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