Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Global Families

Global Families: A History of Asian International Adoption in America

Catherine Ceniza Choy
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 244
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Global Families
    Book Description:

    In the last fifty years, transnational adoption - specifically, the adoption of Asian children - has exploded in popularity as an alternative path to family making. Despite the cultural acceptance of this practice, surprisingly little attention has been paid to the factors that allowed Asian international adoption to flourish. InGlobal Families, Catherine Ceniza Choy unearths the little-known historical origins of Asian international adoption in the United States. Beginning with the post-World War II presence of the U.S. military in Asia, she reveals how mixed-race children born of Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese women and U.S. servicemen comprised one of the earliest groups of adoptive children. Based on extensive archival research,Global Familiesmoves beyond one-dimensional portrayals of Asian international adoption as either a progressive form of U.S. multiculturalism or as an exploitative form of cultural and economic imperialism. Rather, Choy acknowledges the complexity of the phenomenon, illuminating both its radical possibilities of a world united across national, cultural, and racial divides through family formation and its strong potential for reinforcing the very racial and cultural hierarchies it sought to challenge.Catherine Ceniza Choy is Professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of the award-winning book Empire of Care: Nursing and Migration in Filipino American History.

    eISBN: 978-1-4798-8638-8
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  5. INTRODUCTION: International Adoption Nation
    (pp. 1-14)

    I was finishing my lunch and was about to get my one-year-old daughter ready to visit another part of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, when I was taken off guard. Judging by the woman’s age—early to mid-sixties—I doubted she needed a lesson on the birds and the bees. Thus, I thought I had been asked a variation of the question that has been posed to virtually every Asian in the United States, whether they be newly arrived immigrants or fourth-generation Americans: “Where are you from?” This is a question for which New York City, the place of my...

  6. 1 Race and Rescue in Early Asian International Adoption History
    (pp. 15-46)

    When the January 12, 2010, earthquake in Haiti brought renewed attention to the international and transracial adoption of Haitian children by white American families, much of the media coverage was controversial and, unfortunately, one-dimensional. The story of ten white Americans who were detained at the Dominican border for “kidnapping” thirty-three Haitian children soon after the worst natural disaster in Haiti’s history dominated U.S. news coverage. Some observers began immediately taking sides for the Americans who, they claimed, had good intentions to rescue the children through international adoption, while others harshly criticized them for infringing on Haitian national sovereignty. There was...

  7. 2 The Hong Kong Project: Chinese International Adoption in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s
    (pp. 47-74)

    Without a doubt, China plays a key role in the American public’s understanding of international adoption in the United States. Newspaper and magazine articles about the phenomenon abound. Although Americans also adopt large numbers of Eastern European, Latin American, and other Asian children, Chinese girls have become the poster children of international and transracial adoption, if not contemporary American adoption in general. In the twenty-first century the image of American families adopting from China has become increasingly mainstream.¹ In the April 2007 issue ofO: The Oprah Magazine, a photograph of Chinese adoptees is featured in the article “Speak Easy:...

  8. 3 A World Vision: The Labor of Asian International Adoption
    (pp. 75-104)

    From the 1950s to the 1970s, Asian international adoption in the United States grew increasingly popular, despite remaining controversial. In order to understand this transformation, we must place the work of agencies, organizations, and individuals at center stage. Their labor is currently overshadowed by the focus on the triadic female relationships among the birth mother, the child, and adoptive mother, which have been made famous in Hollywood and independent films such asLosing Isaiah(1995),Casa de los Babys(2003), andMother and Child(2010) and in documentary films such asFirst Person Plural(1999) andDaughter from Danang(2002)....

  9. 4 Global Family Making: Narratives by and about Adoptive Families
    (pp. 105-130)

    Attention to celebrity adoptions has hardly waned, but Americans’ fascination with international adoption has also been cultivated by the stories of ordinary American families who adopted children overseas. Their stories became increasingly familiar in the 1950s and 1960s through national and local news media reportage. Tucked within a variety of ISS-USA folders are numerous magazine and newspaper articles from that period about Americans adopting Asian children. They are the best-known stories about Asian international adoption because of their publication and distribution to the American masses.

    A 1958Parademagazine article by Karl Kohrs entitled “An Orphan Boy Comes ‘Home’ to...

  10. 5 To Make Historical Their Own Stories: Adoptee Narratives as Asian American History
    (pp. 131-160)

    Some sociologists have characterized international adoption as a “quiet migration.”¹ And some Asian adoptees have referred to themselves as “seeds from a silent tree.”² By the late twentieth century, however, those seeds had taken root and had produced a collective critique of Asian international and transracial adoption through memoirs and creative nonfiction.³ In order to fully comprehend the history of Asian international and transracial adoption, we must engage with this body of work because it shows that adoptees are not solely the “precious objects” of rescue and affection that they have often been imagined to be in media news reports....

  11. CONCLUSION: New Geographies, Historical Legacies
    (pp. 161-176)

    Much has changed in international adoption since the 1970s. First, the phenomenon has become a truly global industry. The few thousand international adoptions that took place in the 1950s and 1960s pale in comparison to the tens of thousands in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. As the demographer Peter Selman notes in his study of the movement of children for international adoption between 1998 and 2004, “The number of intercountry adoptions has more than doubled in the last twenty years.”¹ Between 1998 and 2004 the total number of children adopted in twenty receiving countries increased from 31,667 to...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 177-208)
    (pp. 209-220)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 221-228)
    (pp. 229-229)