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My Story
tristagoldbergtristagoldberg 29 Apr 2009 17:54
in discussion For Adoptees... / Your Story » My Story

I was adopted into a middleclass family. My adoptive father served in the Vietnam War and my adoptive mother was a housewife. They had two biological children and later adopted me and another Amerasian boy. They also sponsored two Vietnamese families. My father would tell me stories of a little Vietnamese girl who sold peanuts in the marketplace of Saigon. The child wore tattered clothes and based on circumstances was forced to peddle small items on the street. He would buy all the items from her each day so she could run off and play with the other kids. Later, he started buying the girl cute little dresses to replace her disheveled clothes. But the young girl would return each day in rags. This continued for about a week until he asked her, "Why don't you wear you new dresses?" The child told my father that her mother sold the dresses so that the family could eat. When he returned to the United States, he decided that he wanted to adopt a baby from Vietnam.

September 9, 2000 was my wedding date. During the planning for my wedding, I began to think about my missing family. I wished my birthmother could be with me on my big day. That's when I decided I wanted to find my birth family. I also wanted to learn my medical history. My younger birth brother was adopted with me but grew up with my aunt. So, we were blessed with the knowledge that we were siblings but happened to be cousins based on our outcome. My brother, Jeff, was also influential in my decision to search. I love him dearly and I am grateful for the day he approached me to ask for help. I might not have done it without him.

In April 2001, I found my birth family with the help of the internet, foster father, adoptive father and numerous other people. The search for my family brought me closer to the Vietnamese Adoptee community which helped support my journey.

I started a non-profit organization that encourages adoptees to search with awareness. Through my network of family and friends we will help Vietnamese adoptees who have any type of information regarding their birth family.

The non-profit organization, Operation Reunite, offers search support to help reunite families separated by the Vietnam War. In addition, we seek to create an awareness and understanding of the Vietnam War era and present an overview of Vietnamese culture, language, customs, and family traditions to help make the journey through time and history more meaningful.

Searching for my birth family was not easy. The process stirs up many issues that are difficult to face. However, I can honestly say that I wouldn't change one thing about my life. I am proud of my choices and hope to help others find closure.

What was the inspiration for starting Operation Reunite?

During the search for my own birth family, I wished that there was more available information that helped with the search. I also didn’t find much that dealt with the multitude of feelings and emotions you go through during a search and after a reunion. I hope Operation Reunite will help Vietnamese adoptees all around the world who might try searching in the future to better navigate the journey.

How does Operation Reunite work? Is it a search registry or do you work as a liaison between birth family and adoptee?

Primarily we work as a resource for Vietnamese adoptees that have questioned their past and would like to find out more about their origins. We seek to create an awareness and understanding of the Vietnam War era and present an overview of Vietnamese culture, language, customs, and family traditions to help make the journey through time and history is more meaningful. We provide the ideas and imagination for adoptees to start a search on their own. If they run into road blocks or just don’t have the time to search on their own then they can contract us. We work as a liaison between the birth family and adoptee. It’s kind of like hiring a private investigator to search for clues about your past. We provide specific questions to reflect upon and help adoptees to prepare for a possible reunion. Encouragement is provided to adoptees who might only hear from their families and friends to give up trying. We have developed a support system that is based on trust and understanding. Contact us if you are ready to connect and find out more about us.

Do you have connections in Vietnam that will aid the organization in finding biological family?

My birth family is fluent in Vietnamese and has friends and extended families that live in Vietnam and my foster uncle is willing to help if needed. He actually helped find my own birth family four years ago. Operation Reunite is planning a trip to Vietnam for the 35th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon. For the year of the Rooster 2005 we created a mural that’s titled “Awake the Spirit of Vietnam” and reuniting Vietnam with the World. We’re networking and now in 2009 the Year of the Ox we are stronger and more centered. We are connected to people all around the world and they care about each other even though many of us have never met.

What would you say to an adoptee who believes that finding their birth family will enable them to have closure?

There is no guarantee that you will be able to find your birth family but at Operation Reunite we feel that searching is part of a growth process. The knowledge of your past and roots is only a chapter in the life of an adoptee. The sheer act of acknowledging a desire to search can be empowering and sometimes over whelming. Through a search, successful or unsuccessful, an adoptee can place his or her existence and origins in proper context as a normal aspect of personal growth. In any case, being deprived of the option to gain knowledge of one’s origins can be a source of great anxiety and alienation. If you are ready to look into those chapters of your life and clarify and classify the details then you might find closure in the hard and sometimes difficult search process.

In your opinion, what are the positives and negatives of finding birth parents?

Finding my birth parents has been a very positive experience for me and I know that I’ve grown to feel more secure about myself. I have two wonderful children who adores all of his grandparents, aunts and uncles. On one hand having more family is wonderful, but having more family makes it more difficult to balance your time and share yourself and your children fairly. It’s nice to know that we have more people to rely on during difficult times. I am also relieved that my search is over and any of my fears can be dismissed. I’m glad that I can look my kids in their eyes and tell him a story about my past and how I was able to overcome a lot of obstacles to get to the place were I am now. To be able to share with them our Vietnamese culture and heritage is something that makes me proud.

Have you come into contact with many biological parents who are searching for their children from 30+ years ago?

My family has two close friends who lost their children during the Vietnam War. It’s amazing to hear their stories and it dawned on me that there are probably many other families who had to relinquish children without knowing how to find them again. Another adoptee that I know was found by his birth sisters. Your sibling(s) might be trying to find you and they have more knowledge of the internet and ways to search then you might realize. How do you prepare for that kind of reunion?

Operation Reunite is working on a project to create a database for Vietnamese birth families searching for relinquished children. These people can fill out a questionnaire that might lead to a reunion. The more identifying information they can provide the easier it will be to make a match. Operation Reunite is placing advertisements in the newspapers in Vietnam and Vietnamese communities for the 30th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon. The birth families can either contact our website with the help of someone who is computer literate or contact our correspondents in Vietnam or in the United States.

What warnings or advice would you give an adoptee who is starting a search?

Read everything about adoption and reunions and get counseling help. Contemplating a search reveals core fears of being rejected and the threat of being alienated from society and family, and the fear of the unknown that can make you feel out of control. These fears and apprehensions are further intensified in the searching adoptee because of the perception that he or she has already been rejected by a birthmother. Consequently, the desire to search may be discouraged by the anxiety involved in what one may find. A counselor who is fully present for his or her client provides a safe, trusting environment in which growth and self-awareness can develop. Mutual trust enables the adoptee to confront his or her issues in a non-judgmental environment in which alternatives and outcomes can be weighed without pressure. The searching adoptees’ journey to self-awareness may be filled with anguish, anxiety and uncertainty as he or she works toward uncovering defenses he or she developed in coping with life and the past. The reality of the search process, not to mention the potential reunion, often uncovers an extensive amount of unsuspected and unexplored feelings. The decision to search is extraordinarily personal. No one can, or should, make it for you. Searches take hard work, patience, money, and energy, not to mention the high emotional risks of facing an unknown situation. It’s important to acknowledge that not everyone chooses to search. When I was searching, every so often someone would ask me, “Why do you have to find these people?” I couldn’t understand the question. How could I not look? How could I leave those blanks unfilled? I expected people to understand and respect my motives and needs, at the same time I greatly respected those who chose not to search. A search is not something to undertake on a whim, or because someone else wants you to.

Where do you see the organization in 5 - 10 years?

We hope to provide valuable information and support to the Vietnamese Adoptee Community past, present and future. We understand how difficult it is to make the decision to search or explore your heritage and we will be a resource for anyone who might be ready to search, now or later. Operation Reunite’s intentions are pure and we have no malice regarding the past or situations that brought us to the places we are today. We will branch out and work with other organizations that want to make life better for people who were affected by the Vietnam War. Maybe everyone can find peace in a world that can be a little chaotic at times.

What is your ultimate vision/goal for Operation Reunite?

Everyone is at a different journey and we join together to relate and empathize with our peers. We want to create a safe place to share and be honest. You can find us on facebook.com which allows us to do weekly skype conferences that brings us together to share our experience, strength, and hope. We are building a community that is empowered by peer collaboration and openness. A group of adoptees are creating a reunion in Vietnam April 2010. Please go to the link if you are interested. http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=ZCDxAtCBUiAoueZGnw3kEg_3d_3d
We are working with the boatpeople SOS group to advocate for the Amerasian that might not have the voice to express themselves. Their dream of citizenship and closure is important to us. Our final hope of creating some type of DNA database is possible with the courage of support of everyone. Join us in our quest to make the world a better place one day at a time.

If someone is interested in finding out more info on Operation Reunite, who should they contact?

They can find us on the web at www.operationreunite.com
Or email us at : ten.knilhtrae|grebdlogatsirt#ten.knilhtrae|grebdlogatsirt
Or find us on facebook: www.facebook>Groups>Operation Reunite

Operation Reunite is a 501(c )3 company and all donations are tax deductible.

My Story by tristagoldbergtristagoldberg, 29 Apr 2009 17:54

Thanks for creating this wiki and being so honest.

Re: David' Story by tristagoldbergtristagoldberg, 29 Apr 2009 16:59

David - This is my story (part of it at least)

davidBeforeAfter.jpg

Summary
Born: Saigon, 1972
Birth Mother/Father: Vietnamese/Korean

Mother was a laundry maid who worked at a Korean soldier camp - White Horse Division [unconfirmed].

She apparently was too sick to care for me, dropped me off at the Thanh Tham orphanage, Danang [unconfirmed], where I stayed for about 1 year before going onto a foster family. I am not aware of any siblings that I may or may not have.

Stayed with the foster family until I was sent to Holt International in Saigon, where I lay dormant like a sleeping tiger (I was probably just lazy), waiting to be adopted.

Adopted by a fantastic family, with three other siblings (I'm the youngest, that's why I'm such a brat, ADK) in Boston, MA, USA.

Left Saigon on Pan Am flight to Seattle, arrived April 6, 1975.
Left Seattle and arrived in New York on April 15, 1975.

Why Am I Here?
While I'll never claim to know what any other Vietnamese adoptee is feeling at any point in time, I can confidently say that only another Vietnamese adoptee can truly know what I've gone through/am going through. For me, this journey to research my past started only a few years ago, it began by asking questions from my parents, which took me to contacting Holt back in 2005. I started off strong, but then sort of fizzled off. it was probably my defense mechanism telling me that I'm getting too much info too fast.

I suppose that my ultimate destination is to find my birth family, or at least hard evidence of. And while I can say I'm fully prepared for any of the following, like they say, the best laid battle plans are only as good as the first shot:

  • Find birth family, everyone rejoices, the skies open, and the birds sing
  • Find birth family, they want nothing to do with me, I go back to my otherwise fantastic life, and write a new ending to that chapter
  • Find nothing, sulk for a few days, weeks maybe, then write a new ending to that chapter

What I'm learning, since I've become more involved in the community, that one thing for sure, the journey along the way has become more rewarding than I ever could have thought. Friendships being formed. Greater appreciation of not only my history, but OUR history, OUR story. And a greater desire to be involved and help.

Growing up, my parents said that I always wanted a less flat nose, and blonde hair, which sounds sort funny, but then again, not really considering that it meant that I really was not pleased with who I was. Thanks to the support of this community, 33 years later. I'm finally beginning to "come out" (ADK) as a Vietnamese adoptee.

David' Story by Operation ReuniteOperation Reunite, 29 Apr 2009 14:11

Click on "file" to see this abstract.

Does anyone have this People Magazine article from 1985?

This article is about Naomi Bronstein, a Canadian adoption volunteer who helped with the survivors of C-5A crash. This is only an abstract from an internet database.

The 20th Anniversary of Operation Babylift. A story with many points of views of the adoptees. Click on the word "files" at the bottom of this page, and the pages of the article will appear.

People Magazine, May 1, 1995 by thou25thou25, 10 Apr 2009 23:54

I have the book Escape from Saigon: How a Vietnam War Orphan Became and American Boy by Andrea Warren. It is a book about adoptee Matt Steiners. This was written by an American journalist.

Re: Test thread by tristagoldbergtristagoldberg, 08 Apr 2009 01:26

Testing testing testing

Re: Test thread by David Redmon NguyenDavid Redmon Nguyen, 08 Apr 2009 01:26

From the back cover:

""Lost…Starving…Unwanted…
they were the tens of thousands of children in Vietnam left to wander the country aimlessly. It was Vietnam's greatest tragedy…children caught in the crossfire of war…too incidental for the concerns of generals, and all uncertain of their fate under the advancing North Vietnamese Army.

"The War Cradle" tells of the events leading up to the last days of the Vietnam War and of the search and rescue of the oppressed orphans. The American soldier was confronted with the misery of the children at every turn. Sometimes they were his friend…sometimes the enemy. Stalwart nuns sheltered sick and dying babies in poverty-ridden orphanages and looked to the West for salvation and safe homes.""

This is a test, and only a test. Should this have been a real thread, you would have seen content that actually had value.

Test thread by David Redmon NguyenDavid Redmon Nguyen, 06 Apr 2009 16:37
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