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Mini Adoptee Reunions | Vietnamese Adoptees

Mini Adoptee Reunions

Five years ago, I started to research how to connect with fellow Vietnamese adoptees. Keep in mind that I did not grow up with children who were part of Operation Babylift or adopted from Vietnam at another time. The reunions on various documentaries, TV interviews, and print media were my sources of a connection to the growing community of adoptees. There was a wave of new adoptees speaking out with each landmark babylift anniversary, which meant a lot to me in my search of my own past.

I started my connections with adoptees with AVI and VAN, which both led me to the group of adoptees in southern California. My first meeting was with Trista, Miriam, and John at the Tet Festival in Garden Grove, California. Also, the meeting was my first experience at the annual Tet Festival. I was glad that the event was shared with others who were discovering their birth culture in adulthood, too.

In most cases, there are instances that only fellow adoptees can understand. At the festival, I remember we were sitting in a row of plastic folded chairs watching the cultural programs on the stage and the performers spoke in Vietnamese. A Vietnamese woman in front of us turned around to me and spoke to me in her native language while gesturing to her purse and other belongings. When she left, my new friends looked at me and asked, “Did you understand her?” I answered, “No, but I think she wants me to look after her things.” We laughed at the incident. The laughter was a deeper acknowledgement of what we experience on a daily basis as adoptees growing up with a culture other than our birth culture.

Since then I have had an opportunity to meet more adoptees from southern California and from the organizations like AVI, VAN, and Operation Reunite groups. These gatherings have been fun with an underlining meaning that we understand what it was like to be an adoptee. It is an understanding in a wink and a nod that is silent but very meaningful. The perception was described once as a symbolic unspoken bond that we all share.

We continued to have our annual Tet Festival gatherings, meet up for Vietnamese dinners, and are part of each other’s lives in a personal way. We have seen each other through birthdays, weddings, births of our own children, and supporting each other at screenings of powerful documentaries about our lives.

This is a group of friends I am forever grateful to know. We are all discovering our identity of our birth culture together. It is easier to do so when you are taking those first initial steps with someone who can relate to you. In my experience, the connection to fellow peers is the starting point of the journey to self-discovery.

To all of the adoptees who I have been fortunate to meet, thank you for being part of my life. And to all who I have not met yet but hopefully will some day, I look forward to meeting you.

Tricia Houston

Originally Written on August 6, 2009

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  1. #2  Lillian Knight

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    11/08/22 07:21
  2. #1  trista

    I miss those TET festivals in Little Saigon.

    09/08/27 21:41

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