Written on April 15, 2010
By Tricia Houston
During our two week reunion, there were too many signs that this was the right time for our gathering of the first generation Vietnamese adoptees from all over the world to come to our homeland of Viet Nam. I heard over and over from my fellow adoptees, “I didn’t know there were so many of us.” There were 40 of us on the reunion. It was a humbling to know there were many brothers and sisters who have not met before. There are so many more of the first generation adoptees in the world. The number is over 5,000. Adoptions of Vietnamese babies started in the 1960s and ended 1975 before the fall of Saigon.
A huge sign of this being the right time for the reunion were wonderful stories of questions that were answered or meeting significant people from our past. Registries were books of answers for many adoptees. Mike, an adoptee from America, went up to Da Nang to find his orphanage. He found so much more. Mike was in doubt that he would find anything in the registry because his name and birth date were made up. That was a very common occurrence in our Vietnamese adoptee community. Actually, in the registry, Mike found his real name and birth date. Thuy, an adoptee from America, who looked in a registry at her orphanage with doubts of finding anything, discovered her real birth date and year. She happily discovered that she is two years younger than she once believed. A find that she jokes about with us at a dinner one night. Of course, many questions were answered at that moment for them.
Tia, an adoptee from America, searched for the hospital where she was born in Da Nang. A nun took her to the site that was set to be demolished soon. She explained to the security guard that Tia was born here and has returned from America to see the hospital. He agreed to let them through to walk in the abandoned building. As Tia, her husband, and the nun were walking on the tile floors, Tia whispered to her husband to pick up something so she could keep it. The souvenir was a loose tile piece. Now she has a piece of where she was born.
Joakim, an adoptee from Sweden, who came to this reunion with no expectations, was surprised by what could happen on his journey. Joakim discovered information about himself in a registry in Da Nang. Later in the reunion, he put pieces of a picture together. He brought a photo of a nun holding him when he was a baby at the Sacred Heart Orphanage in Da Nang. Joakim spent a couple of days searching for the nun without expecting to find her. He found her on his last day in Saigon. Sister Xuan Thanh came home from the states to find that the baby she once held was all grown up. I had the honor to witness this reunion. Joakim gave so much to Sister Xuan Thanh at that moment. She did not want to let go of him at the end of our visit.
The reunion meant so much to many adoptees, mothers who accompanied their sons or daughters on the reunion, and volunteers who were in Viet Nam during the same time. To see all the adoptees in one place at one time was overwhelming and a humbling experience. It was the right time to have a reunion.