September 23, 2005

Daughter from Danang

I watched Daughter From Danang, a documentary about the reunion between a Vietnamese mother and her daughter, Hiep, she gave up for adoption in the United States at the age of seven. This is a pretty good documentary for a person to watch once, although I think people will find it somewhat boring unless they have a personal connection with the Vietnam War or with something like adoption.

I found it interesting to watch this after seeing Full Metal Jacket because it portrays the war there much more realistically from a different viewpoint. I also found it interesting to discover just how willing the U.S. government and social workers were to take children away from their mothers, and then pass them onto the American people as orphans. I can understand the ethnocentric view that leaving to live in America can lead to a much richer life. And that is true to a very large extent. But that doesn't make it something those people should be proud of or willing to do so easily.

That is, unfortunately, the main gist of the documentary. Both Hiep and her mother believed that blood-ties are what makes a family. They met with expectations and assumptions based on memories twenty-two years old. And their reunion was originally quite happy, although you can tell very easily that Hiep does not have as strong a connection. Both of them were looking for their own reflection of reality. But blood has nothing to do with family, and that is what both of them discovered. Neither of them feels very good about coming to that realization, but they also cannot change who they are.

It doesn't help that these are two people who live in completely different cultures, with I would say no exposure to other cultures of any type. Each of them is accustomed to their own lifestyle, living environment, social norms, and personal beliefs. Hiep cannot accept or begin to comprehend the difference for her own part. She clearly does not belong there, and cannot cope with the different world. Her mother realizes what is happening but it is very difficult for her to accept this; in this way, she is wise to say her daughter is naive.

Once Hiep goes back to the U.S., she goes back into her comfort-zone and does what comes easiest. She really isn't Hiep anymore. Hiedi is her real name.

Posted by josuah at September 23, 2005 6:07 AM UTC+00:00

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