What does the 35th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War mean to you?
To commemorate the fall of Saigon, 35 years ago, I returned back to Vietnam with many other adoptees for a big group reunion. It was an honour being part of the 40 adoptees or more that went back. The majority of us left in April 75 and being back there together was more poignant than any other time. We were also celebrating the fact that we all survived the end of the war and how we live our lives today.
What makes you feel drawn to and proud to be a part of the adopted Vietnamese community?
For a long time I have felt very much alone especially as I was younger growing up being the minority adopted Vietnamese (VADS) in my hometown in England. As soon as I heard there were others out there like me, of course I wanted to get in contact and make a connection. I am very grateful for the friendships I have made through facebook and organisations such as AVI, Project Return II, Operation Reunite, and VAN etc. I don’t feel so alone now and know that the friends I have made will be friends for life. I see all the adoptees as an extension to my family and a great support network.. In particular, it is rewarding to help run Project Return II with Le Thanh, another adoptee in the Uk and we have reunions twice a year in order for us to remain connected to the VAD community.
What is the passion that drives some of you to do volunteer work with reunions and/or developing adoptee groups?
The aim of Project Return II- Out of The Ashes Group run with Le Thanh is to help reconnect adoptees that have never met another adoptee before or for those who just wish to stay in contact. We have social reunions twice a year in order for the VAD community to stay in contact. For me, apart from personal reasons, I am happy to reconnect as many adoptees to one another as possible. We have all become like brothers and sisters and developed bonding friendships.
What hopes and dreams to you hold for younger generations of Vietnamese adoptees?
I hope that the new generation of adoptees will be able to connect with others like I have done and through their continuing support to one another be able to embrace who they really are.