Beyond the Babylift
By Pamela Chatterton Purdy
Review by Allison Martin
Beyond the Babylift is the personal account by his adoptive mother of the adoption and childhood of a young boy adopted from Vietnam during Operation Babylift of 1975. This story, based on Pamela Purdy's diaries, but written in narrative form, is an enthralling story of their family life and adjustments in Chicago in the 1970's and 1980's. Hoang is about six years old when he is transferred from Vietnam to the United States during the airlift of orphans and apparently abandoned children during the upheaval of the US withdrawal from Vietnam. He is the birth son of an African-American soldier and a South Vietnamese woman, who lived on the streets of Saigon prior to entering the orphanage. He joined a family of five; his mother was a visual art specialist, his father was a minister, two sisters had joined the family by birth and an older African-American brother had also been adopted.
As told by his mother, Hoang's life was tumultuous. It appears that he was hyperactive, and his rambuctiousness and impulsivity lead to many episodes described in the book. It also describes his learning English, encounters with racism (several quite threatening) and his energy in embracing his new life in the his family and at school. This book provides valuable insight into life many issues - adoption of older children, aftermath of the babylift, racial tension in the 1970's and 80's, and family life.
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