Children of Reunion
Vietnamese Adoptions and the Politics of Family Migrations
University of North Carolina Press 2017
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in Asian American StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in LawNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Public PolicyNew Books Network April 13, 2018 Ian Shin
In Children of Reunion: Vietnamese Adoptions and the Politics of Family Migrations (University of North Carolina Press, 2017), Allison Varzally documents the history of Vietnamese adoption in the United States during the second half of the twentieth century. Varzally adds to the growing literature on Southeast Asian Americans and on Asian international adoption by highlighting the distinctiveness of Vietnamese adoption for its liberal orientation and its expansive notion of kinship. Four chapters trace this history from its antiwar beginnings in the early Cold War; to Operation Babylift in 1975 and its controversial legal aftermath; to the federal legislation and social practices that shaped the “homecomings” of Amerasians in the 1980s; and, finally, to Vietnamese adoptees own attempts in the 1990s (and beyond) to find meaning in their journeys. Making ample use of oral history, Varzally tells stories that are both heart-rending and inspiring. They confirm that family formation was a central site of political contestation and protest in late twentieth-century America. Children of Reunion offers food for thought in contemporary debates over refugee resettlement and family reunification as a principle for immigration policymaking.
Ian Shin is C3-Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow and Lecturer in the History Department at Bates College, where his teaching and research focus on the history of the U.S. in the world and Asian American history. He is currently completing a book manuscript on the politics of Chinese art collecting in the United States in the early 20th century. Ian welcomes listener questions and feedback at [email protected].