Monday, April 27, 2009

Daughter from Danang

Since this is an adoption blog I thought I would post this movie. I'm pro-adoption, obviously, but this movie is not. However, it's important, even being pro-adoption and certainly being in the midst of an adoption, to educate myself on all aspects. Certainly there are adoptions that are not motivated by benefiting the child.

Daughter from Danang

A heartbreaking documentary that upsets your expectations of happily-ever-afters, Daughter from Danang is a riveting emotional drama of longing, identity, and the personal legacy of war. To all outward appearances, Heidi is the proverbial “all-American girl”, hailing from small town Pulaski, Tenn. But her birth name was Mai Thi Hiep. Born in Danang, Vietnam in 1968, she’s the mixed-race daughter of an American serviceman and a Vietnamese woman. Fearing for her daughter’s safety at the war’s end, Hiep’s mother sent her to the U.S. on “Operation Babylift”, a Ford administration plan to relocate orphans and mixed-race children to the U.S. for adoption before they fell victim to a frighteningly uncertain future in Vietnam after the Americans pulled out. Mother and daughter would know nothing about each other for 22 years.

Now, as if by a miracle, they are reunited in Danang. But what seems like the cue for a happy ending is anything but. Heidi and her Vietnamese relatives find themselves caught in a confusing clash of cultures and at the mercy of conflicting emotions that will change their lives forever. Through intimate and sometimes excruciating moments, Daughter from Danang profoundly shows how wide the chasms of cultural difference and how deep the wounds of war can run--even
within one family.

This documentary is a little over an hour, so give yourself some time to watch. It's not the happy ending type of story one might expect from a reunion. All adoptions are unique. This was an eye-opener as to some of the challenges that may occur during a reunion. It's also pretty anti-adoption, but based on the circumstances of the Vietnam war and Operation BabyLift... well that was not a positive time for our country or Vietnam and it's complicated still. Mixed in with strong reunion emotions, Heidi also has to contend with serious culture shock. I wish someone had been able to prepare her better. It seems this disaster occured because of the cultural differences and even 2 years later she has not been able to integrate those differences. It's such a shame as her birth mother is still in such pain.

Once you hit the "play" button, you can make this full screen by clicking on the lower right-hand corner box (next to the volume button that looks like a megaphone). I recommend viewing it full screen as there are some nice shots of Vietnam.


Angela said...

I love this documentary. It's very realistic. Thanks for posting it.

Angela said...

OMG, just finished it! I felt sorrow for her poor mother too. She's in torment.

I can imagine how Heidi felt by them asking for money so abruptly. She came looking for love and acceptance, how overwhelming. The culture and their needs are so different. I really ached for her too.

You're very wise to view both sides and not pretend these realities will not exist. Oh, I forgot, you're a LCSW!