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Historian’s Book Explores Vietnamese Migrant Children and Adoption

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Allison Varzally, associate professor of history, recently penned the book “Children of Reunion: Vietnamese Adoptions and the Politics of Family Migrations.”

Issues discussed in the book, says Varzally, are paralleled today by the growing population of migrant and often parentless children crossing oceans and borders to see refuge in the United States. She explains her research and her book below.

What is the subject of your book?

The book explores the migrations of Vietnamese adoptees and Amerasians to better understand changing ideas about family, gender and U.S. foreign relations since 1965.

How did you become interested in the topic?

As an immigration historian, I was curious about the second largest wave of refugees in U.S. history and the ways in which migrant and adoptive families participated in the political struggles of the period.

Why do you think it’s important for people to understand this subject?

This history highlights the ways in which American actions internationally shape refugee flows and the many ways families can be formed and broken.

What new or surprising information did you discover during your research?

Vietnamese adoptees are a diverse and contemplative group who have become active in challenging staid assumptions about racial identity and the American War in Vietnam.

What mirror issues do you see or predict for the future in light of the Trump administration’s immigrant restrictions and the global immigrant and refugee population crises?

Immigrants and refugees will continue to seek entry to the United States despite heightened restrictions. Families will separate temporarily with the hope of eventual reunion, efforts that will have tragic and successful outcomes. Americans will debate and decide the respective importance of economic status, family connections and political circumstances in admitting immigrants, redefining national identity.

For more about Varzally’s book and the issue of Vietnamese adoptions, read CSUF Expert: Lessons From Vietnamese Adoptions Apply to New Wave of Migrant Children