Posted in Adoptee, Adoption, Korea, Korean, Vietnam, Vietnam War, Vietnamese, tagged adopted, Adoptee, Adoption, artwork, babylift, Christian, conference, critique, fundamentalism, history, Korean, Operation Babylift, presentation, propaganda, religion, religious, script, video, Vietnamese, writing on April 6, 2009|
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In 1954, Harry and Bertha Holt, born again Christians, found their calling when they heard about the orphaned cherubs of Korea. They especially had an affinity for those children fathered by American army and civilian personnel (commonly referred to as Amerasians). In fact, the Holts chose to adopt eight Korean children themselves. Congress even passed a special Act in honor of the Holts, thus legalizing and legitimizing the novel practice of international adoption. Soon thereafter, the Holts inspired countless other Americans to join them in “saving” these “war waifs”.
When the 1970s came along, Americans read about Vietnamese children in the newspaper and saw them on the evening news. These children would also have the honor of being labeled charity cases and seen as more lost souls in need of saving. Churches, chapels and ministries across America galvanized their congregations to collect money and materials to send to orphanages in South Vietnam, patting themselves on the back for their magnanimity at every opportunity. But for many Americans, they didn’t just want to send in their checks and offer well wishes; they wanted to see a return on their investment. To acquire a Vietnamese child was seen as the ultimate act of selflessness and sacrifice, not to mention the books they could sell about their little war babies.
Americans believed they had a moral responsibility to take care of those less fortunate and open their hearts and homes to the children of a war they forgot their country started. However, the implied politicized message was that Americans were more moral than those “godless communists”, aka the Koreans and the Vietnamese, and that only Americans could provide an infinitely better outcome to these castaways.
Working hand in hand with anticommunist fervor, the Christian evangelical movement spread the assumption that the people of Asia were incapable of taking care of their own. Westerners turned their attention to the “neediest of the needy”, those children who were left to experience the aftermath of each bombardment that inevitably separated them from their families. Under the protection of the U.S. military and with the support of countless donations, these missionaries established orphanages that inadvertently took the place of indigenous methods and solutions for child welfare. With so much of the country overwhelmed by the casualties of war, ladies and gentlemen of mercy took up the mantle of healer and savior.
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Posted in Adoptee, adoptees, Adoption, Amerasian, American, Korea, Korean, Vietnam, Vietnam War, Vietnamese, tagged adopted, Adoptee, Adoption, artwork, babylift, Cold War, communism, communist, conference, critique, history, Korean, Operation Babylift, presentation, script, video, Vietnamese, writing on April 5, 2009|
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After WWII, the Russians and the Americans attempted to divide up the world both ideologically and militarily. The Domino Theory was soon coined to justify using the Korean and Indochinese peninsulas as proving grounds for injecting American influence around the world. The U.S. government poured millions of dollars and thousands of combat troops and support personnel into the wars in Korea and Vietnam to preempt any more countries from falling to the Communists.
A healthy dose of paternalism and ideological hegemony led to the guiding principal that the U.S. government knew what was in the best interests of the inhabitants of Korea and Vietnam. As a result, many Americans came to distrust the ability of these countries to save themselves from the scourge of communism and thus thought them incapable of self-determination.
Korean and Vietnamese children who were adopted by Americans during and after those wars were particular targets for the “better dead than Red” rhetoric.
In fact, we contend that Holt International Children’s Services and Operation Babylift are the natural outgrowths of that Cold War mentality which reduced the complexities of the world down to simple black-and-white choices.
This is the legacy that the first generation of transracial adoptees has been saddled with.
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