The short answer:
During the time of the Vietnam War, when a child was born that was half-American, there was fear that the VietCong would kill them and their family. So they would destroy any photos or records they had of anything to do with America. They also didn't keep birth records similar to what we do in the US. So most children born in Vietnam during that time simply don't know their actual date of birth and one was made of for them. If they were Amerasian, most chose the birth date of Dec. 31st or Jan. 1st and the approximate year they were born.
There was also a major flood the coast of Vietnam shortly after the end of the war which destroyed many homes and buildings that may have held records of birth.
The long answer:
These children were often looked as being less than human. If you have heard of American's during the slavery periods treating their slaves as less than human with no human rights, this is comparable to the Amerasian child, who was often called "bụi đời" or "Child of dust" meaning their life value was less than that of dust. So they simply didn't bother giving them a birth date. Many of these Amerasian babies were killed or left to die in fields or thrown out like trash. If they even survived, many were left on door steps for other Vietnamese families to take care of. If they were loved to some degree, Vietnamese mothers would fear so much for their safety, the would take them to orphanages in hopes of them going to America for a better life. If the relationship between a Vietnamese mother and American Soldier father was of love (yes, some soldiers actually married these women), then the mothers would do whatever they could to keep their children hidden, or take them to a deep jungle area away from the war to spare their lives and keep them safe.
These are actual accounts from some of our clients, even from our own family here at WarBabies.
As Americans, it is quite difficult to understand how an Amerasian made it to America without knowing their actual date of birth or having any records. After all, our own government has the social security number system, hospital records, and a plethora of other ways to keep records. But just imagine that during wartime in an underdeveloped country, most of these mothers had their babies in huts and not hospitals, in the swampy fields, in the jungle, in alley ways, in dirty filthy restrooms if they lived in a larger city. If they abandoned these babies with no note or way of knowing when they were born, how on earth could they know their true vital record information???
As a member of an American family who questions this, please understand that it is near impossible for some of these children to know when their birth occurred. They can only guess or make up a date.
These Amerasian children are now parents and grandparents here in the US. They are reaching their 50's and have been coming here since the War ended to this new life of American Freedom. They only want to know their truth, they only want to be accepted. They are human and not children of dust.
- Afghanistan isn’t the only war-torn nation whose citizens have chosen Jan. 1 as a makeshift birthday. In Vietnam, Somalia and Sudan, many birth dates weren’t recorded during years of unrest and institutional upheaval. When residents applied for visas or refugee status, thousands chose the first of the year — or, in some cases, the U.S. State Department chose it for them. The department has bestowed that birthday upon more than 200,000 refugees since the Vietnam War, according to several estimates.
- Here's why my parents and a lot of other immigrants have birthdays on January 1
- Birthdays as we know it are only really celebrated in the most urban areas of Vietnam, those cities most heavily influenced by Western Culture. Everyone celebrates their birthday on New Year’s Day in Vietnam, also known as “tet.” Vietnamese tradition is that an individual’s actual day of birth is not to be celebrated. Rather, people become a year older every year at tet, regardless of when they were actually born.
- Jan. 1 a common birth date for many immigrants