One of my all-time favorite movies is “The Princess Bride.” There’s not much to NOT love about the movie, especially with its witty lines and characters. One of my favorite characters is Inigo Montoya, played by the talented Mandy Patinkin. His most famous line, “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die” has infiltrated the memories of 80s youth everywhere. Similarly, I love the moment when he’s looking at Vizzini who keeps saying “Inconceivable!” and he finally says to him, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
First published on The Adoption Exchange Blog: https://www.adoptex.org/the-adoption-journey/blog/
Over the course of my life, people have been curious about my adoption story. It is a story that begins in the Vietnam War. At the time, adopting from Vietnam was as much a humanitarian movement as it was an opportunity for couples hoping to establish or expand a family. As such, questions about my adoption were numerous and while many people were supportive of my parents’ transracial, international adoption, it was still a tenuous time and the choice was not devoid of criticism by others. Adopting a child was one thing; adopting a child from an unpopular American war was quite another. Even so, my parents fielded the positive and negative comments with dignity and managed to pass on to me a healthy sense of love and belonging in a society that would not always afford me the same.
When I think of school I am caught off guard by the multitude of racialized experiences that sent me daily preparing for battle. I remember the kid that pushed me down in a bus and called me a nigger, stepping on my head as he walked over me and out the swinging doors. I saw kids in seats all around me, oblivious to the behaviors of others because, back then, a push and a shove were common experiences for kids riding to and from home in yellow busses. No one classified such incidences as bullying and frankly, no one really cared. I knew that when I caught the eye of the bus driver as I was getting up. He had seen the incident and did nothing. Said nothing. But he watched me as I got back up, gathered my things, and made my way out the door. On the bus I knew I was on my own.
- Dirt road to and from the airport.
- Large numbers of policeman with AK47s.
- Not going to Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum.
- Bun Cha Nem.
- Hoa Sua and chocolate croissants.
- Drinking cafe sua non on the balcony of a hostel in Sapa before the fog rolled out of the valley.
- Hiking to Fansipan with an Excalibur-like moment that included a horse riding off into the fog.
- 306-no home.
- Cyclos that were actually necessary transportation.
- Being the wrong color.
- The squealing of a pig on a motorbike.
- The squeak of tennis shoes on a makeshift badminton court.
- Civilians lining up for military exercises at 5:30 AM in the field across from where I lived.
- The woman selling her food at 5:00 AM in a sing-song voice.
- The day a dog got stolen from the neighbor.
- The day a dog got run over by a motorbike.
- Learning nothing.
- Learning everything.
Photo: Sapa, 1996