Reflection of the Colorado Vietnamese Heritage Camp

Reflection of the Colorado Vietnamese Heritage Camp
By Tricia Houston

For the first time, I attended the Colorado Vietnamese Heritage Camp on August 8, 2009 and participated in four panel discussions with fellow adult adoptees Trista Goldberg, Kevin Maes, Jared Rehberg, and Ethan Brady. During the panel discussion, my purpose was to help the parents of the second generation Vietnamese adoptees. Before the camp, I wondered if my personal life experiences would help the parents. There are many differences between my experience and the children’s experiences. For instance, the time period and the circumstances of our adoptions are different. I was a byproduct of the war, and the adoptees of today are not so much associated with the war. Then there are the differences in experience and personalities between myself and the children.

Despite the differences, the underlining commonalities are that the adoptions are transracial and transnational. It was the question that was asked repeatedly, “How can I balance the Vietnamese and American culture in my child’s life?” or the parents’ nods in agreement to my statement, “When I was out with my family, we were a family. We were only reminded that we were a part of a transracial family when someone asked us a question, ‘Why do you and your brother look different than your parents?”

Symbolically, I have lived the similar experiences that their children are living now or will encounter related to being an adoptee. Whether it is a friend in elementary school asking, “Why do you look different than your mom?”, or a stranger’s “double takes” when the child is with her family out in public, they are the same experiences that I had. Those are same experiences that I got used to and, to tell the truth, grew tired of at times. When I explained that I wished I had a heritage camp when I was growing up, one of the mothers said that we have this camp because of you (referring to the entire first generation adoptee panel). That’s when some of the parents took out some tissues to wipe away free flowing tears.

Symbolically, I am a picture of their child’s future. My story of my close relationship with my mom is their hope of wanting the same with their child. My educational and professional goals are signs of their child’s potential success. Basically, my openness to talk about my experiences of growing up adopted is a sign that I wasn’t “harmed” by it and grew up to be “normal.”

I am glad I had an opportunity to discuss how I grew up as a Vietnamese adoptee. I have always said that there was, and still is, no book titled, “What to Expect When You Are Adopting” with an extensive chapter of transracial and transnational adoptions. In the meantime, I am open to discuss my experiences of being a Vietnamese adoptee (like so many of my friends have done so before me).

The piece was written from August 10 to September 4, 2009.


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:Haha! I'am the first! Yeh~

Thank you!

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