[not even their names]


“Some Amerasians first began making attempts to find their American fathers when applying for emigration. The U.S. government, saying it sought to “protect the privacy” of American fathers, prevented access to simple records that would have helped thousands more Amerasians locate their dads. But many Amerasians knew nothing about their fathers–not even their names. In fact, because most Amerasians had so little information about their fathers, the majority never sought to find them. Yet almost all created a story in their imaginations about their lost parents.”

–from Surviving Twice (Yarborough 2005, p.122)

By the time the Amerasian Homecoming Act was fully implemented, I was five years old, and my parents had been married for a few years. Most of the Vietnamese children who immigrated to the United States in the early 90s were legal adults by the time they arrived on US soil. Many did not know the names of their American fathers or have sponsors to assist them with transitioning to a new country. My father’s real name was Robert, but from a young age he was given the nickname Gus, and this is how he always introduced himself. From the National Personnel Records Center, I obtain copies of his enlistment and discharge papers. If the mother knew those three letters and could remember them for years, if a child could learn it and let the sound roll off their tongue, if they looked for him at all, the name they knew would not be found.