My “My Lai”

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?


Amerasian boys, Ho Chi Minh City, 1988. From “The Asylumist.” Used with permission.

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.


Also see:

The Asylumist – Jamuary 2013.

The Smithsonian – “Children of the Vietnam War”

Vietnamerica: The War Comes Home, Thomas A. Bass

Be Sociable, Share!
    Post navigation

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


    lieu nguyen says:

    My father name is Hoa Van Nguyen. Born 10/10/1070 my tho Vietnam. My grandmother name is Anh T Nguyen. My grandmother met my grandfather during Vietnam war and had my dad. I have a picture of my grandfather with his glasses on holding my dad when he was only couple of months old. I was told by my grandmother that he bought my dad a braclet with my dad father information on it. At that time she didn’t want to get in trouble so she destroyed the only thing to finding my dad father. Please reach out to me if this is similar to your story.

    lieu nguyen says:

    We came to america in 1992. My grandmother told me he wanted to bring her n his son to america but she couldn’t leave her family behind at that time and said no. I am pretty sure he is out there somewhere wondering where his son is. And I am looking for my grandfather. So much I have to ask

    Dear Ms. Nguyen: I’m sorry to reply so many years after your email. I have not been managing the site well. I’d like to communicate about your grandparents. Do you have any pictures that may help your grandfather find his son?