Since the end of the Korean War, an estimated 200,000 children from South Korea have been adopted into white families in North America, Europe, and Australia. While these transnational adoptions were initiated as an emergency measure to find homes for mixed-race children born in the aftermath of the war, the practice grew exponentially from the 1960s through the 1980s. At the height of South Korea’s “economic miracle,” adoption became an institutionalized way of dealing with poor and illegitimate children. Most of the adoptees were raised with little exposure to Koreans or other Korean adoptees, but as adults, through global flows of communication, media, and travel, they have come into increasing contact with each other, Korean culture, and the South Korean state. Since the 1990s, as Korean children have continued to leave to be adopted in the West, a growing number of adult adoptees have been returning to Korea to seek their cultural and biological origins. In this fascinating ethnography, Eleana J. Kim examines the history of Korean adoption, the emergence of a distinctive adoptee collective identity, and adoptee returns to Korea in relation to South Korean modernity and globalization. Kim draws on interviews with adult adoptees, social workers, NGO volunteers, adoptee activists, scholars, and journalists in the U.S., Europe, and South Korea, as well as on observations at international adoptee conferences, regional organization meetings, and government-sponsored motherland tours.
Transnational adoption was once a rarity in the United States, but Americans have been choosing to adopt children from abroad with increasing frequency since the mid-twentieth century. Korean adoptees make up the largest share of international adoptions—25 percent of all children adopted from outside the United States—but they remain understudied among Asian American groups. What kind of identities do adoptees develop as members of American families and in a cultural climate that often views them as foreigners? Choosing Ethnicity, Negotiating Race is the only study of this unique population to collect in-depth interviews with a multigenerational, random sample of adult Korean adoptees. The book examines how Korean adoptees form their social identities and compares them to native-born Asian Americans who are not adopted. How do American stereotypes influence the ways Korean adoptees identify themselves? Does the need to explore a Korean cultural identity—or the absence of this need—shift according to life stage or circumstance? In Choosing Ethnicity, Negotiating Race, sixty-one adult Korean adoptees—representing different genders, social classes, and communities—reflect on early childhood, young adulthood, their current lives, and how they experience others' perceptions of them. The authors find that most adoptees do not identify themselves strongly in ethnic terms, although they will at times identify as Korean or Asian American in order to deflect questions from outsiders about their cultural backgrounds. Indeed, Korean adoptees are far less likely than their non-adopted Asian American peers to explore their ethnic backgrounds by joining ethnic organizations or social networks. Adoptees who do not explore their ethnic identity early in life are less likely ever to do so—citing such causes as general aversion, lack of opportunity, or the personal insignificance of race, ethnicity, and adoption in their lives. Nonetheless, the choice of many adoptees not to identify as Korean or Asian American does not diminish the salience of racial stereotypes in their lives. Korean adoptees must continually navigate society's assumptions about Asian Americans regardless of whether they chose to identify ethnically. Choosing Ethnicity, Negotiating Race is a crucial examination of this little-studied American population and will make informative reading for adoptive families, adoption agencies, and policymakers. The authors demonstrate that while race is a social construct, its influence on daily life is real. This book provides an insightful analysis of how potent this influence can be—for transnational adoptees and all Americans.
Since the Korean War began, Western families have adopted more than 200,000 Korean children. Two-thirds of these adoptees found homes in the United States. The majority joined white families and in the process forged a new kind of transnational and transracial kinship.Kimberly D. McKee examines the growth of the neo-colonial, multi-million dollar global industry that shaped these families--a system she identifies as the transnational adoption industrial complex. As she shows, an alliance of the South Korean welfare state, orphanages, adoption agencies, and American immigration laws powered transnational adoption between the two countries. Adoption became a tool to supplement an inadequate social safety net for South Korea's unwed mothers and low-income families. At the same time, it commodified children, building a market that allowed Americans to create families at the expense of loving, biological ties between Koreans. McKee also looks at how Christian Americanism, South Korean welfare policy, and other facets of adoption interact with and disrupt American perceptions of nation, citizenship, belonging, family, and ethnic identity.
The first Korean adoptees were powerful symbols of American superiority in the Cold War; as Korean adoption continued, adoptees' visibility as Asians faded as they became a geopolitical success story—all-American children in loving white families. In Invisible Asians, Kim Park Nelson analyzes the processes by which Korean American adoptees’ have been rendered racially invisible, and how that invisibility facilitates their treatment as exceptional subjects within the context of American race relations and in government policies.
Invisible Asians draws on the life stories of more than sixty adult Korean adoptees in three locations: Minnesota, home to the largest concentration of Korean adoptees in the United States; the Pacific Northwest, where many of the first Korean adoptees were raised; and Seoul, home to hundreds of adult adoptees who have returned to South Korea to live and work. Their experiences underpin a critical examination of research and policy making about transnational adoption from the 1950s to the present day.
Park Nelson connects the invisibility of Korean adoptees to the ambiguous racial positioning of Asian Americans in American culture, and explores the implications of invisibility for Korean adoptees as they navigate race, culture, and nationality. Raised in white families, they are ideal racial subjects in support of the trope of “colorblindness” as a “cure for racism” in America, and continue to enjoy the most privileged legal status in terms of immigration and naturalization of any immigrant group, built on regulations created specifically to facilitate the transfer of foreign children to American families.
Invisible Asians offers an engaging account that makes an important contribution to our understanding of race in America, and illuminates issues of power and identity in a globalized world.
Jean Paton (1908–2002) fought tirelessly to reform American adoption and to overcome prejudice against adult adoptees and women who give birth out of wedlock. Paton wrote widely and passionately about the adoption experience, corresponded with policymakers as well as individual adoptees, promoted the psychological well-being of adoptees, and facilitated reunions between adoptees and their birth parents. E. Wayne Carp's masterful biography brings to light the accomplishments of this neglected civil-rights pioneer, who paved the way for the explosive emergence of the adoption reform movement in the 1970s. Her unflagging efforts over five decades helped reverse harmful policies, practices, and laws concerning adoption and closed records, struggles that continue to this day.
Crystal Williams Michigan State University Press, 2000 Library of Congress PS3573.I448414K56 2000 | Dewey Decimal 811.54
In her first book-length collection of poetry, Crystal Williams utilizes memory and music as she lyrically weaves her way through American culture, pointing to the ways in which alienation, loss, and sensed "otherness" are corollaries of recent phenomena. Williams writes about being adopted by an interracial couple, a jazz pianist/Ford Foundry worker and a school psychologist, and how that has affected her development as an African American woman. She tries to work out the answers to many difficult questions: in what way do African American artists define themselves? What do they owe the culture and what does it owe them? To what extent does our combined national memory inform our individual selves? These poems are steeped in the black literary tradition. They are brimming over with the oral tradition that Williams perfected while spending years on the poetry "slam" circuit. This, combined with her musical upbringing, give the collection not only a sense of urgency, but also a rhythm, a breath all its own. Kin tackles not only racial issues, but also the troubling realities of violent acts that can occur, especially in our inner cities. But more importantly, the landscape that Williams creates offers readers an alternative to the racial/political dichotomy in which we all live. Overall, the book resonates with a message of reconciliation that will leave the reader uplifted.
Murder in Montauk
Judy Soloway Kay University of Michigan Press, 2005 Library of Congress PZ7.K1965Mur 2005
Charlie Anderson, a reporter on leave from the Boston Globe, becomes entangled in an unusual mystery when he stumbles upon a news article about his own death. Confused and still very much alive, Charlie travels to Montauk, Long Island, to learn more about the deceased man and learns more about himself in the process.
The MICHIGAN Reading Plus Readers are original fiction written for students who wish to improve their reading skills. The MICHIGAN Reading Plus Readers support the need for extensive reading on topics of interest to today's students. The Readers offer students books in the genres of mystery, science-fiction, and romance. Activities that practice vocabulary and reading skills are provided on the companion website.
Orphan Trains to Missouri
Michael D. Patrick & Evelyn Goodrich Trickel University of Missouri Press, 1997 Library of Congress HV985.P39 1997 | Dewey Decimal 362.7340973
As an "orphan train" crossed the country, it left part of its cargo at each stop, a few children in one small town and a few in another. Even though farmers needed many hands for labor, most of the small farm communities could not or would not take all of the children on the train. As the train moved to its next stop, those children not taken feared no one would ever want them.
Early immigration laws encouraged the poor of Europe to find new hope with new lives in the United States. But sometimes the immigrants exchanged a bad situation in their native country for an even worse one on the streets of New York and other industrial cities. As a result, the streets were filled with crowds of abandoned children that the police called "street arabs." Many New York citizens blamed the street arabs for crime and violence in the city and wanted them placed in orphan homes or prisons.
In 1853 a man by the name of Charles Loring Brace, along with other well-to-do men in New York City, founded the Children's Aid Society. The society planned to give food, lodging, and clothing to homeless children and provide educational and trade opportunities for them. But the number of children needing help was so large that the Children's Aid Society was unable to care for them, and Brace developed a plan to send many of the children to the rural Midwest by train. He was convinced that the children of the streets would find many benefits in rural America. In 1854 he persuaded the board of the society to send the first trainload of orphans west. With this, the orphan trains were born.
Cheap fares, the central location of the state, and numerous small farming towns along the railroad tracks made Missouri the perfect hub for the orphan trains, even though many areas of the state were still largely unsettled. Researchers have estimated that from 150,000 to 400,000 children were sent out on orphan trains, with perhaps as many as 100,000 being placed in Missouri.
Orphan Trains to Missouri documents the history of the children on those Orphan Trains--their struggles, their successes, and their failures. Touching stories of volunteers who oversaw the placement of the orphans as well as stories of the orphans themselves make this a rich record of American and midwestern history.
A search for roots and identity has rarely been captured with such irony, unusual insight, and surprising humor as in this memoir of heartbreak and hope. Today a distinguished American poet, Colette Inez first came to the United States when she was eight years old, as an apparent Belgian orphan escorted by two complete strangers. Growing up in post–World War II America, a stranger to her own past, she survived a harrowing adolescence and an increasingly menacing, abusive adoptive family by learning to define her single solace: a developing passion for literature.
Facing possible deportation in the 1950s, Inez set out to prove her claim to U.S. citizenship. The result, as she recounts in this eloquent, wrenching memoir, would span two continents, a trail of discovery, and a buried secret: one that ultimately allowed Inez to reconcile her past and present and finally come of age as an artist.