The story I wrote about Lana and her granddaughter Heather in SUPER GRANNY focuses on the singing and hand gestures that Lana, a professional flutist, teaches both her grandchildren, Heather and Jayden. But the story about how they became Lana’s grandchildren could be the stuff of another musical genre, with a plot that could make a powerful opera and that shows why Lana is truly a Super Mom.
I first met Lana Noone on Long Island where we both live when I attended a lecture and film that she presented about Operation Babylift. This program brought more than 2000 Vietnamese orphans to the United States back in April 1975. Over a hectic three weeks, 26 flights left Vietnam with babies and children on board to be adopted by American families. One of these babies was a little girl whom Lana and her husband, Byron, named Heather. Tragically, Heather lived with the Noones for only six days before she died of complications from pneumonia.
While the Noones were still grieving for Heather, they learned of another baby girl who needed a home, and the next month they took 4-month-old Jennifer into their home and their hearts. Four and a half years later the Noones adopted a brother for Jennifer, and today Jennifer and Jason, both in their thirties, are both teaching. Six years ago Jason and his wife named their first baby Heather, in tribute both to Lana and to the baby sister Jason and Jennifer never had a chance to meet.
Lana became a missionary for global adoption, bringing her story to the world through her speaking and also through her book, “Global Mom: Notes from a Pioneer Adoptive Family.” Now Lana, Jennifer, and other panelists with a close connection to Operation Babylift will be speaking on Monday, April 27 in Washington at an event organized by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program. As Lana told a New York Times reporter, “I used to think that being a mother would be my therapy. Instead it became my mission.”