Adopted from Vietnam to France
This commemoration is an important event because this war had such a great impact on our lives. Its an historical event and that has displaced us and separated us from our birthland and our family, yet also given us new beginnings.
Some history includes that six years ago, I was invited in Scotland by a friend of mine. When I returned France, I wondered why I felt so unhappy in my adoptive country and better somewhere else. It was at this time I faced my story and stopped fooling myslef. I got in touch by the Internet with others adopted from Vietnam during the VN War. For the first time in my life, I started to meet and correspond with people ‘just like me’ and it’s been great. Of course, sometimes I have felt puzzled or have made discoveries that were hard, that I didn’t want to or couldn’t see the full picture immediately. But I was ready for this stage of exploration. Step by step, I’m reconnecting to my past, and feel more my true self, as if I was someone else before that only others wanted me to be.
An other important step in recent times was my first journey to Vietnam 2 years ago. I made this decision on my own but if I hadn’t met others VADs I wouldn’t have been back to my birth country. It was a wonderful journey. Added to this I met Sang (a lady who cared for me in VN) and others adoptees. That was great! In Ho chi Minh / Saigon I was invited to a mini gathering with others VADs. It was funny and fascinating to be reunited with others “like me”, who looked like me, but who were speaking with a German, English or American accents.
Moreover, in the past 6 years, I have met VN adoptees in US, London, and France and also across the world through groups on the Internet. I feel we form a community through sharing similar experiences and feelings, even if we might deal with adoption issues in different ways or in different stages. As we have been separated for so many years from such feelings of identification and have been isolated as Vietnamese adoptees, these meetings give me a real sense of belonging. It has allowed me to accept my story and become more myself. I no longer feel so disconnected to myself because I grew up not knowing my ‘roots’. I wouldn’t say that I’m proud to be Vietnamese (you don’t choose your nationality nor your birthland) but I’m very glad to be part of the adopted Vietnamese community. With their support and understanding, I’m learning to live with the paradoxes of being both a victim and a survivor, both French and Vietnamese, and much, much more…
I hope the next generation will feel less lonely and will find more support than we had but the Internet and the associations of adoptees who are changing many things. The second generation has been adopted in a different context, after the VN war, which makes an other difference. But I strongly believe that ‘the best interests of the child’ and the birth family must be a priority. In the first instance, we should help birth mothers to keep their children and reduce the inequities between “wealthy” countries and the others. We can do this together.
I also wish to thank all the volunteers, Vietnamese adoptees, Sr Susan Mac Donald and Sang for being a part of my life.