To this day, us first generation transracial adoptees from Korea and Vietnam are generally referred to as ‘war orphans’ in the media and by people we encounter on a daily basis, as if it is a self-applied term of endearment. The main assumption is that we were rescued from a tragic past and handed a hopeful future. The public was reassured that we were not going to look back and puzzle together the facts behind our orphan status.
Yet, this is exactly what we are doing. And at every turn, we are admonished for daring to not only question the historical interpretations of the Korean and Vietnam Wars, but also other people’s motives and methods for transporting us out of our birth countries. Americans acknowledge these wars without taking any responsibility for the unintended consequences. They ask us, “Where would we be without them?”
In response, we ask one searing question that few people are willing, or even prepared, to answer: Who made us orphans in the first place? In order for us to have gained our second parents, we had to lose our first parents.
Yes, people can say that we were saved. But, we’ll be damned if we let them have the last word.