35th – UK – Jessica Emmett’s Reflections


Jessica Emmett

Jessica Emmett
VN/Hong Kong Adoptee – UK
Media Arts, Adoption & Comic Artist (Artist if you want it simple =P).

To me the Vietnam War feels distance, just another war I learnt about in school. While I have no doubt that my adoption was the product of the Vietnam War, I feel that my adoption story is framed in the decade that followed.

Let me give some context. My birth mother fled Vietnam (for reasons I don’t know) as a refugee boat person to Hong Kong (HK). I was born in HK in 1982, a good seven years after the fall of Saigon. I was adopted locally at the age of one by a White British expat couple who were working and living in HK. I grow up in HK until I was 16 before moving with my family to the UK in 1998, though not because of the handover.

I have only been to Vietnam once. It was when I was 15 or maybe 16 in 1997. It was on a school trip, for I chose to go back surrounded with friends. We were shown around tourist “war” sites and museums, which held no feeling for me. Even today I feel guilty that I don’t feel more strongly about the Vietnam War. However my trip to Vietnam was not in vain… with my school we volunteered in the Christian Nobel Children’s Foundation orphanage and adjoining school for a week, an experience that will stay with me always.

Although I am not the a Babylift adoptee, or born before 1975,  I still feel that I am a bridge between adoptees born of war, and the current younger Vietnamese adoptees. I also know that I’m a pragmatist, and my attuned to adoption is laced with humour and light heartiness, which may also have something to do with may feelings towards war in general. I am currently tracing my roots and I’m open minded to the idea that if I learnt more about my birth parents and why they fled Vietnam, I may feel more connection to the War… but until them I’m ok with that distance.  It doesn’t stop me feeling deeply connected with Vietnam as a country.

While my feelings about the War may differ, what I know and do share is a feeling of connection I have made with other Vietnamese adoptees. With them I feel their pain, happiness, uncertainly… and I am there with them in soul as many fellow adoptees in this moment tread the lands in Vietnam.


Also see Jessica Emmett’s AVI bio.