Born to an American man and Vietnamese woman in 1970, Trista immigrated to the United States and was adopted by a young American couple, Nancy and Chuck Kalan, in 1973 after she and her younger brother, Jeffrey, spent a year in the care of a Vietnamese foster family. Although Nancy would eagerly accept and manage the details of Trista’s adoption, her husband, a veteran of the Vietnam War, had initiated their plans. Trista recalled her fear and shyness on meeting her new parents. “When I first saw my father, I cried,” she explained, “because he had a full beard and I wasn’t used to the facial hair.” Moreover, as a four-year-old, “I still had memories of my family,” she related. These memories would become less vivid over time as Trista learned English, became acquainted with American foods, and integrated into the mostly white community of Feasterville, Pennsylvania, but she retained cultural, political, and familial ties to Vietnam through regular contact with Jeffrey, who was adopted into the household of Trista’s aunt and raised as her cousin, as well as her foster family, who departed Vietnam among a wave of refugees and resettled in the Kalans’ household in 1975. Despite relationships and exposure that could have reinforced a Vietnamese identity, she admitted, “I probably actually repressed any of my culture and heritage growing up because I just wanted to fit in.”...
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