I’ve had a few hours to myself to try and process the information in that email and I have to ask myself “How do I feel now?”
I have to remind myself that the facts of how I came to be adopted cannot be changed. I have to remind myself that my life is so much richer for having lived in the Western World. I also have to remind myself that the answers uncovered will not change the way in which I live my everyday life. On top of that, I also remind myself that I never thought I would ever find the answers to these questions, so I feel very fortunate that I’ve been connected to the people who worked in Vietnam at the time of the Babylift that can provide valuable insight.
However, despite all of that, I find myself feeling emotions that I never thought would be possible and I’m not sure why. I have always been able to detach myself from situations and emotions and not be affected by them – that’s not say I don’t understand, empathise or feel compassion because I do, but I am able to simply look at things from outside the box.
So why do I feel the way I do? Firstly, let’s deal with the question: How do I feel?
So many emotions. I’m so grateful that I can find some insight into the manic processes of the time of Babylift and how desperate the times were in order to save as many babies as possible. I’m also extremely grateful that I was one of them. However, I feel slightly saddened at the possibility that I could be in possession of a document that survived a baby who did not. I also feel gratitude for the possibility that the demise of a baby had allowed me my freedom, if that was indeed the case.
There is also hope. If this is my real name then it provides me with some direction, although I’m led to believe that Tran is the second most common name in Vietnam so I have much work to do on that front.
If this is the name of a baby who didn’t make it to the Babylift, at least I have their name and can give thanks for that and keep a silent moment for her, for now I could possibly be living two lives, one for myself and one in her memory.
One of the sections of the email makes me extremely sad: “The orphanages remain full and culture plays in as well with that. There are all sorts of omens with the Vietnamese that might make it lucky or unlucky to have a child and might cause a parent to abandon it.” I think I need to do more research into the culture of omens and asian luck to fully understand this. This is a hard fact to get my head around and having lived in the western world for what is practically all my life I may never be able to understand this as the reasons behind it may just sit so far removed from what we understand here in our culture.
It goes on: “… read the part about paperwork and how horrible it was as we tried to save the lives of those children with us but were forced to produce documents when none existed … Birth certificates were expensive and meant little as they had so little to do with the kids. I think the worst part of this is realizing how horrific the abandonment rate was/ is.” I understand this, it’s a disturbing fact but if that’s what had to be done in order for me to live my life in freedom then I thank those who worked tirelessly in obtaining the necessary paperwork – any paperwork – for me to do this, even if this was in the shadow and memory of some forgotten orphan; it makes my life so much sweeter, so much more worthwhile and although there is the possibility that I could’ve been abandoned, I feel that the attempts to save my life weren’t in vein.
“If I were any one of you kids I would search and I might also be rather frustrated or downright angry if I thought that people were careless with my identity. It was just that the papers meant so little. When I first went to Viet Nam to work I watched death after death and I remember they came in and told us that paperwork for ten children had just been cleared by Germany and that it had taken a year to get the papers done and therefore ten kids were going to get to go home. The problem was finding ten kids even close to a year old. The original babies had died for the most part and I watched astounded as ten kids were simply picked some about six months old and sent home to the families because the paperwork had made it, the kids had not. It was as though the two never qutie meshed with each others.” How very sad. Heartbreaking. But let’s try and look through the bleakness here, that I may never get to know what had happened to me. I feel that the information in this email provides more of an insight than I ever dreamed I would receive so I feel blessed that I got this far. But because of the complexities, because of the necessities, the time restraints and all the other factors that made the Babylift so rushed and vital, I find the whole mystery of my existence rather exciting!