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Daughter from Danang

Posted by martinteller on July 13, 2015

Hiep was one of thousands of “orphaned” children airlifted out of Vietnam at the end of the war, whisked away to shiny new lives in the United States.  The thing is, Hiep — now Heidi Bub — was no orphan.  Her mother, Mai Thi Kim, was abandoned when her husband ran off to fight for the Communists.  An American G.I. offered financial support in exchange for Mai Thi’s “love”, and the result was Hiep.  The mother was persuaded to give up her child, knowing that she would have a better life in America.  Now in her early 20’s, Heidi is married and has two kids.  She has easily passed as a Caucasian, and is “101% Americanized”.  She learns that her mother is still alive and travels to Vietnam to reunite with her family.

If that were the whole story, it would be a mildly interesting and probably heartwarming documentary, and also informative about the whole process of getting these kids to the US (there’s chilling stock footage of an American woman, who I’m sure thinks she’s doing the most amazing, wonderful thing, talking Vietnamese women into handing over their children).  But it doesn’t end there.  Heidi is ill-prepared for this journey, both culturally and emotionally.  Her adoptive mother was cold and abusive, and even disowned her.  Heidi, perhaps desperate for parental affection, flings herself into a situation that she just isn’t ready for.  Never mind that she can barely communicate with her relatives without an interpreter present… the Vietnamese attitudes about family are very alien to her.

I don’t want to give away too much.  The story takes a very interesting development that shocks Heidi.  It challenges the viewer to consider everything that’s going on before passing judgment.  Try to put yourself in Heidi’s shoes.  Try to put yourself in her family’s shoes.  Is either really so wrong?

This thought-provoking film is available on YouTube.  Rating: Very Good (83)


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