This is a reflection on the child in "Fathering" by Bharati Mukherjee.
According to War and Children
children born from relationships between American servicemen and Vietnamese
women may be the largest group of war children in the world. Unlike
most war children, the Amerasian
children were given the right to migrate to the United
In 1975, The Friends of Children of Viet Nam (FCVN)
saw that the country of Vietnam was collapsing and milk and medicine for
children were impossible to find. These groups, with the reluctant
agreement of President Gerald Ford, announced Operation Babylift
would fly an estimated 70,000 orphans out of Vietnam with the 2 million dollars
that a special foreign aid children’s fund had provided. The orphans
were both Vietnamese and Amerasian. Thirty flights were planned to
evacuate the orphans. On April 3, planes began to fly the orphans out.
children of American soldiers faced discrimination and poverty. They
were called the “dust of life,” and they were thought of as children of the
enemy. Many tried to hide their true identity and escaped discrimination
by quitting school. Most Amerasians had their fathers' looks but held
Vietnamese culture, habits, and language.
Under the 1987 Amerasian Homecoming
, 25,000 Amerasians migrated to the United States and the number increases
to nearly 89,000 when close relatives are included.
Before children would come to the United States, they
would participate in a training camp that would teach English and help to
prepare them for life in America.
When arriving in the U.S., many children searched for
their fathers. When 244 Amerasians approached the Red
for assistance in their search, only 21 were found. Of the
21 fathers found, 15 asked that their addresses to not be given out.
Life after arrival in the U.S. was not easy either.
Many Amerasians had self-destructive behavior, often mutilating
themselves. Many call this the “externalization of inner pain.”
When asked if they felt like Americans, Vietnamese, or others, 5% said American,
44% said Vietnamese, and 50% said other. The other percentage could
not identify with any of the options. Many children never felt that
they were a part of either country.