Operation Babylift (Vietnam Adoptions 1975)

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Adoptee Connection

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By Tuan-Rishard F. Schneider

While I sat waiting for my plane and met a family who adopted a little girl from China and Vietnam! She was so adorable, innocent and gave me a look of peacefulness. I looked into her eyes and see great things for this next generation adoptee from Viet Nam. I know what I need to do. I know what I should do. I want to be there for the next generation to know that there is support for them, that they’re not alone like I was for so long, and that they aren’t odd, or unique, or “special” or in the shadow of the Korean adoptee. I want to give them that warm joyful feeling I felt when I shook Russell’s hand and hugged the other adoptees farewell. But I won’t push it onto them, as my parents tried to for so long…which now I thank them for.

Now what do I do with all this love and sense of giving? I know I don’t want to sell interior architectural designs for massive commission. I want to do something that makes a difference in someone else’s life. Of course making high figures in salary is wonderful, but I don’t like waking up and dragging my butt to work.

Between the Baltimore reunion and the Colorado reunion, I think my phone bill ranged from about $150-$300 dollars. I talked to all my new friends everyday, and with talking to them I could finally open up the sensitive emotions that were hidden deep within me. As the Colorado reunion was about to quickly approach, I worked longer hours and an extra job so I could save up money for a longer stay with my friends.

Sister Kimmy and TuanGrowing up, I was like any other kid. I wanted to fit in and belong. So many times was I teased about my eyes; skin color, straight black hair and anything to get me pissed off. As a little kid, you don’t see these things, unless something doesn’t look normal. I had white parents, a sister that was Asian looking, and a German last name with my original Vietnamese first name. Put those all together and confuse a ittle kid and they’ll ask a million questions and tease what they don’t understand. Growing up I accepted it and dealt with it my own way. I kept the anger inside, but through sports I was able to release the anger. Soccer, martial arts, hockey, rugby, anything basically physical I could do, I would participate in. After awhile I got really good at these sports. As I got into high school, I noticed the other Vietnamese students didn’t really have anything to say to me, as I didn’t to them. Both our worlds were completely different, white middle class parents raised me. Parents who chose to stay in the inner city of Minneapolis, MN so I would be exposed to the diverse cultures around me. Not knowing that the one culture that now means the most to me wouldn’t accept me.

At the time it didn’t really bother me until a racial fight broke out in school, the Vietnamese students against the black students. At that time in high school, I was at my peak of performance as an athlete. I was a lot bigger than the other Vietnamese students were, taller, and stockier, which they saw to an advantage in a fight. As my black friends saw me with the Vietnamese students, and the Vietnamese students seeing me with the black students, I was then confronted. “Whose side are you on!” I was raised to become friends with everyone, and at that time I knew I had to choose. I choose to stay home as the school expelled the fighting students, as it was not safe for me to attend in fear of both sides attacking me. While at home, for the first time I was completely confused and scared. Confused that I let my Vietnamese people down, and also my friends and scared about ever never choosing the right side. But no one should have to choose for violence. Things got better and I graduated.

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