Vietnam Operation Babylift Interview with Author Andrea Warren
By Allison Martin
Andrea Warren is the author of Escape from Saigon, a true story for older children and adults about Operation Babylift.
How did you come to write Escape from Saigon?
Ever since my adopted daughter's arrival via Operation Babylift, I have wanted to write about it. I think it's an important story. I read that it was the largest rescue of children in history. I think the U.S. made a lot of mistakes in the Vietnam War, but that Operation Babylift was an attempt to do the right thing for the children and families involved. I'm proud that our government did it.
How did you research the book?
I interviewed people directly involved in the Babylift, people who had lived in South Vietnam before and during the war, and Matt Steiner and his adoptive family. I read numerous books on the country, the war, and everything I could find about Operation Babylift. I visited Vietnam and got a good sense of the country, it topography, people, and culture.
What aspects touched you the most?
Two things: First, the incredible sacrifices people made to help the children--people like Matt's grandmother, the women (and few men) who worked in the orphanages, and the people who worked with the international relief agencies. Second, Matt's humanity. He is so kind and caring. He could have bitterness about his past, yet I sensed only gratitude. I think he's very special.
What can we learn from Operation Babylift and its aftermath?
I think the adults who were the small children who came out of South Vietnam on Operation Babylift are eloquent evidence that the efforts to save them benefited us all. Many of them are now parents and are contributing members of society. To know them is a reminder of the value of every human life. I would like to think this would encourage us to do whatever we can to help children around the world who are victims of circumstances beyond their control.