What would you do if you found out that you had fathered a child forty years before in a country halfway around the world, and that the child had most likely suffered discrimination, abuse, poverty and possibly forced labor only because of your own race and country of origin?
My lai is what they call a mixed-race American-Vietnamese person. Weirdly, my lai is also the wrongly-named massacre of up to 504 civilians by my fellow U. S. soldiers in Son My village, South Vietnam. As for my lai children, there were more than 30,000 of them. Upon our withdrawal in 1973, as one Amerasian woman puts it, we “left those children to the enemy.” It wasn’t until 1988 that we passed the Amerasian Homecoming Act to start bringing them and their families to America. By that time most of them were young adults. Many were illiterate, suicidal, undernourished and exploited by fake relatives who used them as a ticket to the U.S. and often abandoned them when they arrived. There is nothing pretty about this picture.
So. I’m 90% sure I fathered a child in Vietnam and I’m doing everything I can to find him — or her — my my lai. Wish me luck.
The Asylumist – Jamuary 2013.
The Smithsonian – “Children of the Vietnam War”
Vietnamerica: The War Comes Home, Thomas A. Bass