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Author Examines Life After Operation Babylift

Apr 14, 2010 (Talk of the Nation)

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In 1975, the U.S. government airlifted nearly 3,000 displaced children out of wartime Vietnam. "Operation Babylift," had the best of intentions, but it also had profound consequences.

To begin with, many of the children were too ill to survive the flight, and one of the planes crashed, killing nearly 80 children. Also, the documentation on most of the children was sketchy at best, and at times, falsified. Some of the children were not actually orphans.

In The Live We Were Given, Dana Sachs explores the legacy of the evacuations. She focuses on the actions of three adoption agencies that were responsible for evacuating more than half the children. And she tells the stories of the children and their adoptive American parents.

Many of the Babylift adoptees are both grateful to their American families, and saddened by the murky — or altogether missing — details of their early lives. Many don't know their real birth dates, or their original names or the names of their Vietnamese family members.

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