Friday, March 25, 2011

Daughter From Danang

I originally posted this as a comment on Resist Racism and decided to put my comment here.

I saw it and found it fairly sad. She did not understand the desperate circumstances that her birth family was in. Unfortunately some of her cousins who assumed that she was wealthy were too much to handle. I think she became afraid that these people she had never known did not see her as a real person and she decided never to go back.
She was trying to get a long with her birth mother but the male cousins who assumed that she would understand the nature of extended familial relationships in Vietnam probably scared her off. The mother was very sad since she had never wanted to loose her daughter.
As to the daughter I think that without really knowing it she might have bought into stereotypes about Vietnamese people that her southern adopted mother her Caucasian husband, friends, neighbours and others might have unconsciously feed her without knowing.
I saw this film after spending a year reading what you have to say about international adoption and I think it raised many issues that you are familiar with and that you have probably seen already.
I felt some sympathy for everyone especially since I immigrated to the US from an African country and can see why the extended family people might have acted the way they did. I also know how people helping their relatives has been abused.
When I think about it too there might have been some things have to deal with gender since as I said it was some of her male cousins who asked her to help them.
As a person of colour I found the documentary somewhat problematic. On the other hand it was about the adopted lady and her family all speaking in their own voices and being who they are which was good. I don’t think she ever plans on getting in touch with her Vietnamese extended family which is unfortunate since she might be closing the door to an aspect of her self.

I saw the film in August and cannot remember all the details. I think that if I met an African who was taken from the land of his birth as a very young child ad returned there from the United States as a mid thirties adult to see their extended family and then decided that they never wanted to go back there I think I would be disturbed by that.
However, if the African-American was able to really articulate why and they had been spending time with their relatives via email, phone calls, facebook and other things for some time then it would be even more weird. However if they just up and left one day and had only been exposed to Boston Brahmin culture and then the next day are in Ivory Coast and decide to never go back to Ivory Coast I might think that they were a little naive in expecting it to be easy.
It would not mean that they are bad or anything like that simply that they were in over their head and might have setup potentially enriching relationship up to fail from not exposing themselves to their birth culture and its people on its own terms.
Their relatives would also be as naive and ignorant for expecting the person who has been separated from them throughout their childhood and adulthood to be like them.
The documentary could have got more into the people’s internal lives and showed us more about previous interactions between the woman and her extended birth family.
Again I watched the film some time ago and might have missed some things.

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