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Type: Journal article
Title: Refugees, orphans and a basket of cats : the politics of operation baby lift
Author: Forkert, J.
Citation: Journal of Australian Studies, 2012; 36(4):427-444
Publisher: University of Queensland Press
Issue Date: 2012
ISSN: 1444-3058
Statement of
Joshua Forkert
Abstract: Operation Babylift was a United States initiative that saw 2,500 Vietnamese children airlifted out of Saigon in the final days of the Vietnam War in April 1975 to be adopted by families overseas. As part of this initiative, the Australian Commonwealth Government led by Prime Minister Gough Whitlam and the Australian Labor Party arranged two airlifts of children to be adopted by Australian families. This action is widely regarded as signalling the beginning of popular and political acceptance of intercountry adoption in Australia. This paper argues that the facilitation of the Babylift by the Australian Government was inconsistent with established adoption policy that was marked by reluctance and caution, and eventuated as the result of specific political considerations. It examines the decision-making process leading up to the arrival of the first airlift on April 5, 1975 to show that the government blatantly contradicted its position on intercountry adoption in response to increasingly hostile domestic political pressure to act decently and compassionately at the end of the Vietnam War in the face of human suffering, political obligation and moral responsibility.
Keywords: Operation Babylift, Fall of Saigon, intercountry adoption, Vietnam War, Australian Government, Gough Whitlam
Rights: © 2012 International Australian Studies Association
RMID: 0020123221
DOI: 10.1080/14443058.2012.727447
Appears in Collections:History publications

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