Justin Chon, writer and director of “Blue Bayou” discusses the pressing issue of the adoption of children from Korea to America and their deportation from the august country. Justin Chon found a dire need to address the issue as he found it very odd to see that the legally adopted children were not given citizenship in the country after having lived there and contributed immensely to its welfare. The immigration and adoption policy might not have been as stringent in the 70s and 80s as it is now, due to which many face deportation. “Blue Bayou” brings to the table fatherhood and parenting issues, alienation, displacement, police brutality against Asian Americans, and the fault in the adoption or foster care system in America.
Justin Chon is careful when he presents an Asian American as his protagonist; trying not to be political, he makes him a flawed character needing a second chance and willing to go to any extent to put his past behind him and make changes to be a good father and husband. Anotonio LeBlanc represents the innocent who are and were deported from the country through no fault of their own; either their parents didn’t bother to apply for the naturalization process since the paperwork entailed a lengthy procedure or because the adopted children were no longer wanted by the adopted parents and were moved from one foster home to another like Anotnio LeBlanc.
Why Is Antonio Keeping The Truth About His Adoptive Mother Hidden From Kathy?
Antonio stays true to himself and, struggling with his past, wants to make amends. Despite Jessie being his stepdaughter, he takes care of her as his own, and more than being a parent, he is a friend to her. He knows what it means to lose one’s home, to be displaced or feel alienated. Antonio suffered from the memories of his past when his mother tried to drown him and get rid of him, but she stopped and gave him up for adoption instead. The past keeps haunting him, but he never makes a mention of it to Kathy. Now that Antonio and Kathy are going to have another baby, they need the money to take care of their needs. Antonio looks for another job, but he is being questioned as to where he was born or reminded of the felonies of the past.
Being a father, he knows that he cannot lurk in the darkness of the past. He promises Jessie that he will never abandon her but be by her side and love her as he would his own daughter. He feels alienated and displaced from his home and his parents, and he doesn’t want Jessie to feel the same way. He intends to provide her a decent home with a decent family of love and care. But all of his dreams come tumbling down when he faces police brutality. The biological father of Jessie, Ace, a police officer, along with his colleague Denny physically abuse and arrest Antonio and keep him in custody; where they come to know that Antonio’s adoptive parents never applied for his naturalization process and, therefore, he doesn’t have citizenship. Thus, the process to prove that he is an American begins.
While in the process, the judge, after having done his research, finds out that the adoptive mother of Antonio is still alive and that he needs to request her to come and support him at the merits hearing. But Antonio is hell-bent on avoiding her help at all costs. Kathy feels betrayed by Antonio as the existence of Susanne was kept a secret from her. Thus, Kathy, worried for her children, leaves Antonio behind. Kathy feels that if he isn’t able to talk to his adoptive mother and still continues to steal and keeps on lying to her, it is better to keep her distance from him. But Antonio kept these and more secrets to himself, which he opens up about when Kathy insists. Antonio was adopted by a couple, Henry and Susanne, when he was just three years old. Hence, one can say he was displaced from a place he could call home. But the tragedy didn’t end there. Henry used to physically abuse Antonio and, therefore, he wanted to leave the home along with Susanne. But Susanne chose to stay back and not do anything about the domestic violence. So, Antonio moved from one foster home to another, experiencing displacement and alienation, which he couldn’t bear to share with anyone, let alone his wife.
Does Susanne, Antonio’s Adoptive Mother, Come To Support Him At The Merits Hearing?
Antonio knows for sure that his friends will always be there to support him, and therefore he relies on their testimony to save him. He also knows for sure that his wife, Kathy, will vouch and speak for him. Ace also turns up for the merits hearing just because he feels that if Antonio is not deported, he will get to see his daughter. But along with these testimonies for the merits hearing, the valid and greatest testimony would be that of the adoptive mother. When Antonio visits Susanne, she doesn’t speak a word to him and doesn’t reply to his plea for her to come and speak up for him at the hearing. But like any other mother who would always stand by her child, Susanne is aware of her faults; she knows that she didn’t support Antonio because she wanted to support the love of her life, Henry, instead. Therefore, she now makes the decision to assist her adopted son. She attends the merits hearing, but Antonio becomes a victim of police brutality again.
‘Blue Bayou’ Ending Explained – Is Antonio Leblanc Able To Prove That He Is An American?
After having lived for 30yrs in America, Antonio has to prove that he is an American. The question those living in America raise is, how should one be an American? Should one be an American by birth, by legality, or by choice? Antonio LeBlanc was as American as he could get with his traditional American tattoos and distinct Louisiana accent. Unfortunately, after having contributed so much to the culture and traditions of the country, the refugees or the adopted children have to prove that they are Americans. And by the acts of deportation forced upon them, they are treated as aliens and unwanted outsiders.
Since Antonio is beaten by Denny and left to bleed on the day of the hearing, he is absent and, thus, has to be deported. Despite his genuine efforts, he is unable to prove that he is an American. But the truth is known by all, and no one can do anything about it. Thus, Antonio decides to choose to leave the country and accept his deportation. Kathy feels that it is best that she, too, accompany him, and thus takes her daughters and joins Antonio. Antonio doesn’t think of what will happen to them after they are deported, but then when Ace comes to say goodbye to Jessie, Antonio realizes that he himself doesn’t know what he is going to do when deported. Thus, he requests Kathy to stay back and come to him only when he has figured out what to do next.
“Blue Bayou” is timed so well that the continuous atrocities against Asian Americans find a solid representation in the film. Home is supposed to be a place that one wants to visit again and again because one feels comfortable and secure. It is supposed to be a place where your significant and cherished memories reside, and it is where one feels accepted and wanted. In the film, Antonio wanted to make America his home, but the incidents that happened in his life left him unsettled and questioning his home.