Pg 3 – Int Adoption Info


Indigo began life in a Vietnamese orphanage before being adopted to an Australian family during the Vietnam War and exists within a unique group in the diaspora that falls between the 1st and 2nd Vietnamese refugee generation. As an adult, she was also awarded a Medal in the Order of Australia (OAM) in 2006 for her volunteer work as founder of the Adopted Vietnamese International (AVI) community. Indigo returned it as a stance of support with LGBTQ+ and First Nations communities in 2021. AVI was founded in April 2000 on the 25th anniversary of the Vietnam War and for over 20 years has run various initiatives to keep adopted Vietnamese feel connected with their history and each other. Over the years this has included curating and presenting adoptees’ personal narratives, organising occasions to meet other adoptees in the US, Australia and Vietnam, doing online archiving and keeping a FB forum available that is used by members weekly to share orphanage and searching for lost relatives information and other relevant topics. In the lead up to 2025 she hopes to gain time and support to work on updating the AVI website, doing more Vietnam War research (particularly on films and musicals) and collecting stories for the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War.

Other activities relating to adoption that Indigo has been involved with include public speaking and education seminars, volunteering. One of her recent roles in 2022 was as a reader for a Canadian theatrical and creative work by Sunny Drank titled “Every Little Nookie” that has themes of adoption. From August – October 2021 Indigo joined a team of Vietnamese Australians led by Oakley Kwon to create a Go Fund and FB campaign to assist fellow Vietnamese adoptee My Huong Le’s Covid-19 Relief Program to buy food packages in Vietnam for locals in her area during extended lockdowns. The Australian-based team’s fundraising efforts raised over $16,000 to go towards sharing food packages and other essential relief items. Prior to the pandemic in 2020, she has also volunteered her time as a skateboarding coach for activities like the Move and Shake program by the Adoptee Lighthouse group in QLD focused on teenage adoptees. Indigo also chaired and coordinated a touring adoptee film festival, and has also worked on various adoption related projects.

With an established academic profile in transnational adoption, Indigo’s research publications include co-written peer reviewed articles in Social Policy and Society, British Journal of Social Work, Michigan Quarterly Review, various book chapters and an edited collection (Jenny Wills Tobias Hubinette and Indigo Willing, 2020) published by University of Michigan Press. Indigo also writes about broader issues of migration, adoption, families and transnationalism (such as in Mobilities, Journal of Ethnicity and Migration, Journal of Sociology and Journal of Australian Studies).

International Adoption Research and Writings

Wills, Jenny, Hübinette, Tobias and Willing, Indigo, Eds, Book, (2020 – September) Adoption and Multiculturalism: Europe, the Americas and the Pacific, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Info: Wills, Jenny, Hübinette, Tobias and Willing, Indigo, Chapter (2020), ‘Introduction’. In Adoption and Multiculturalism: Europe, the Americas and the Pacific. Edited book by J. Wills, T, Hübinette, and I. Willing. Minnesota: University of Michigan Press: 1 – 20.

Willing, Indigo Fronek, Patricia and Skrbiš, Zlatko, Chapter (2020) ‘Cosmopolitanism, Transnationalism and Racialised Belongings: A Study of Transnationally Adoptive Parents in Multicultural Australia’. In Adoption and Multiculturalism: Europe, the Americas and the Pacific. Edited book by J. Wills, T, Hübinette, and I. Willing. Minnesota: University of Michigan Press: 44 – 68. 

Fronek, Patricia, Cuthbert, Denice and Willing, Indigo, (2015), ‘Intercountry adoption: Privilege, rights and social justice’. In The Intercountry Adoption Debate: Dialogues Across Disciplines. Edited by Ballard, R. L., Goodno, N. H., Cochran, Jr., R. F, & Milbrandt, J. A. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. pp. 348 – 365 Chau, A, Willing, I and others (2015) Vietnamese Adopted. CQT Media And Publishing and LGA Inc, Minneapolis, USA. (Forward pp 1 – 6) with Chau, Adam (chief ed) and Forward by Willing, Indigo plus contributors  Kolbe, Anh Dao, Golding, Dominic, Holtan, Tim, Wolfgang, Cara, Minh, Kevin Allen, Sharp, Landa and Nhat, Michael Willing, Indigo and Fronek, Patricia, (2014), ‘Constructing Identities and Issues of Race in Transnational Adoption: The Experiences of Adoptive Parents’, The British Journal of Social Work. 44 (5): 1129-1146 doi: 10.1093/bjsw/bcs171 Willing, Indigo, Fronek, Patricia and Cuthbert, Denise, (2012), ‘Review of Sociological Literature on Intercountry Adoption’ Social Policy and Society. 11 (4): 241 – 256 Willing, Indigo, (2009), ‘The Celebrity Adoptions Phenomenon: Emerging Critiques from ‘Ordinary’ Adoptive Parents’. In Other People’s Children: Adoption in Australia. Edited by Spark, C and Cuthbert, D. Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing. pp 241 – 256 Willing, Indigo, (2006), ‘Beyond the Vietnam War Adoptions: Representing Our Transracial Lives’.  In Outsiders Within: Racial Crossings and Adoption Politics. Edited by Trenka, J, Oparah, C and Shin, S. Y, Cambridge, MA: South End Press. pp. 275 – 285 Willing, Indigo, (2005), ‘From Orphaned China Dolls to Long Distance Daughters’, in Defending Our Dreams: Global Feminist Voices for a New Generation, Edited by Wilson, S. and Sengupta, A., London: Zed Books. pp. 95 – 109 Willing, Indigo, (2004), ‘The Adopted Vietnamese Community: From Fairytales to the Diaspora’, Michigan Quarterly Review– Special Edition – Viet Nam: Beyond the Frame, Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Journal, Fall. 43 (4): 648 – 664

Viet Adoptee Community Network

  • Founder, Adopted Vietnamese International (AVI)
Facebook Community Page: Facebook Discussion Group: Website: AVI website is currently in historical archives mode / new updates being rolled out in 2021 with delays due to COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Background: Adopted Vietnamese International (AVI) was launched in April 2000 on the 25th anniversary of end the Viet Nam War.  AVI is a volunteer network that is dedicated to Vietnamese adoptees from past generations to today.  The AVI network aims to offer a range of Internet resources, creative projects, adoptee events and research in order to support adoptee perspectives and community development. AVI was the first Vietnamese adoptee focused network in Australia and one of the first in the world to be created. Starting modestly using the technology of the time (AOL and Yahoo Groups) the network has moved with the times and now has a website and various social media sites including a Facebook Discussion Group with over 1000 members. Return trips to Vietnam are a common desire for adoptees and in 2001 AVI organized for a small group of six adopted Vietnamese to visit Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) to explore their city of birth, meet people who worked with children in orphanages and to support each other as they searched for parts of their past. In 2002 to 2003 I was awarded a Rockefeller Fellowship (alternative residency – taking two trips to Boston) to develop research and representation of Vietnamese adoptees. In the program I worked with an amazing community of individuals telling their story for a virtual collection of Vietnamese adoptee personal narratives. The collection featured  individuals from Australia, America, the United Kingdom and France who reflected on their lives as adoptees and also on issues such as combating racism and negotiating cross cultural identities. This experience also led to a virtual collection of more adoptee narratives for a special online commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Vietnam War in 2005. In recognition of the growing, vibrant community of adoptees for whom the work of AVI is dedicated, it was an honour to be awarded a Medal in the Order of Australia in October 2006 for service to the community. AVI continues to be actively run with a focus on offering social networking opportunities for Vietnamese adoptees via various social media platforms. More recent activities include in 2021 where AVI, led by Indigo, joined a team of Vietnamese Australians facilitated by Oakley Kwon to assist adoptee My Huong Le with a Go Fund to buy food packages in Vietnam for locals in her area during covid-19 lockdowns and the recovery periods. $16,000 AUD was raised.

Engaging Adoptee Youth Connections through Skateboarding 

  • Adoptees Rolling Out Skateboarding Program, sponsored by a Relationships Australia Community and ICAFSS Community Grant, Award October 2022 – June 2023
  • Skate Coach, ‘Move and Shake Workshops’ for youth who are adopted and in foster care families, in June 2018 at Ramp Attak and June 2019 at Village Skatepark, QLD.
The ‘Move and Shake Workshops’ are organised by Anna Princess Kopein and hosted by Adoptee Lighthouse and the International Adoptive Families QLD Network. As a skate coach my role is to introduce participants, typically aged between 8 years – 18 years old, to skatepark etiquette, getting beginners to roll and feel confident and encouraging intimidate skaters with more experience to network with their peers through their shared love of skateboarding.

Adoption Film Festivals

In 2007 and 2009 I acted as Chair and coordinated film festivals that featured documentaries and short films made by adoptees about the topic of transnational adoption. This includes by Vietnamese adoptees Jessica Emmett who is based in Singapore (Row Your Boat) and Kim Noonan who is based in the United States (Running Dragon). Full film festival programs available by request.  Inter-country Adoptee Film Festivals were held in Melbourne at the Australian Catholic University, Brisbane at Logan Entertainment Centre and also at the Post Adoption Services Queensland Headquarters. In partnership with Amadeo Marquez-Perez and Anna Davison I have also coordinated and held an inter country adoptee film making workshop as part of the International Adoptive Families ‘International Day’ festival in 2011.

Adoption Exhibitions

I was honoured to have some of my writing featured as a part of the 2015 – 2016 Operation Babyift Vietnam War exhibition at The Presidio, San Francisco, USA

Adoption Interviews

Media interviews and podcasts includes: University of Michigan Press, (2021) ‘Korean and Vietnamese Adoptees on the Intimate Racialized Politics of Transracial Adoption’, A discussion with author Jane Trenka, sociologist Dr Indigo Willing and artist kimura byol-nathalie lemoine about the re-release of the book Outsiders Within (2020 new edition by University of Minnesota Press, original from 2006). Downloaded from: Ravik, Naveen. 25 January, (2020) ‘Fitting in was a challenge for Vietnamese orphan Indigo, so she created her own community’. SBS News, Australia. Article link here / SBS Radio Audio link here /  Video here on Twitter with captions in English language supplied. URL:  Burgess, Melanie, 28 September, (2019). Story for QNews Weekend Magazine, The Courier Mail.  Interviewed about research and volunteering in adoption and skateboarding. Print copy only (not online). Interviewed on Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Radio ‘Tangled Web’ Feature on Adoption, March 2011: Interviewed on Vietnamese Adoption, ABC Radio, August 2008 University of Queensland News article on PhD Research on adoption in 2005 – More updates to be added.