There is a song at the beginning of the musical Miss. Saigon called Bui Doi. It’s a song about needing to care for orphans left behind following the Vietnam war. Here’s the chorus:
They’re called Bui Doi
The dust of life
Conceived in hell
And born in strife
They are the living reminders
Of all the good we failed to do
We can’t forget
Must not forget
That they are all our children too
I am Bui Doi and this song is my story.
In the aftermath of war torn Vietnam, thousands of children, many the children of GIs, were living in orphanages throughout South Vietnam. While many agencies and aid workers had staffed the orphanages and were assisting with international adoption efforts, the impending fall of Saigon in April of 1975 posed a huge problem for biracial children like myself. Our lives were at risk as the communist government and their hatred for Americans threatened the South.
During the last days of the fall, President Gerald Ford approved one of the greatest American humanitarian efforts. Two million dollars was released in emergency funds to airlift 3,000 Vietnamese orphans out of Vietnam for adoption in the United States and other countries. Mine was the last flight out. More Vietnamese orphans were adopted in the 27 days between President Ford’s signing of the Operation Babylift initiative and the fall of Saigon than in all the 34 years since.
I wanted to share my story with all of my readers as my testimony. It is the reason that I am so passionate about adoption, foster care and anti-trafficking efforts. While 3,000 Vietnamese orphans were thankfully lifted out of Vietnam and into safety, thousands more were left behind orphaned, victims of circumstance without hope. By grace I was not one of them, but I am keenly aware that I could have been. Because of my story, it is my grateful obligation to give them and other orphans voice.
James 1:19-27 is about not only hearing and understanding the word you have been given, but instructs us as believers to “Do what it says” (v.22). This passage also includes a verse, a command, that is too frequently forgotten or written off as somebody else’s mission. James 1:27 reads: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” This verse is not just for missionaries or aid workers, it is a command for all of us. If we, as Christians, desire to call him Father and truly know his heart, we need to be living James 1:27. It is not an option.
To parents of adopted or foster children: I bless you for answering the call to servanthood. For responding to the desire of His heart to have these children taken into his arms and welcomed (Matthew 18:5). I thank you for trusting Him and allowing Him to use you to take what was left for harm and allowing Him to use you to accomplish His good work, the saving of lives (Genesis 50:20).
To parents considering adoption or fostering: God’s work puts the lonely into families. I hope that you will answer His call to be a father to the fatherless (Psalm 68 5,6). My prayer is that you will listen closely to His call, trusting that the one who calls you is faithful and will do it (1Thessalonians 5:24).
To those who give, or are considering giving, time, money, and prayers to end trafficking and place children in families: My prayer is that you will follow the command to practice true religion, religion that is right and pleasing in his sight, so that through you the orphan will find compassion (Hosea 14:3).
If you have an adoption or orphan story please share it here and bless others.
I hope that by reading my story you are inspired to answer the call to look after orphans in distress. Below are some links for organizations that are working hard to respond to the James 1:27 call.
International Justice Mission: Working to bring justice for victims of slavery and sexual exploitation http://www.ijm.org/
World Vision and Compassion International: Fighting poverty and injustice for children and families around the world through child sponsorship and humanitarian efforts
Judson Center: Adoption and foster care services in the Detroit area http://www.judsoncenter.org/
Focus on the Family, Cry of the Orphan: Providing resources for pre and post adoptive families http://www.icareaboutorphans.org/
Show Hope: Offering orphan care and adoption aid (including adoption grants for families) http://www.showhope.org/
Children’s Hope Chest: Answering the James call though world wide orphan relief efforts and Christ centered interventions http://www.hopechest.org/
For more information on Operation Babylift and the upcoming documentary Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam (produced my my friends Tammy Nguyen Lee and featuring several of my adoptee friends) visit http://www.thebabylift.com/