Professor Shu-Ju Ada Cheng
Book Report: Choosing Ethnicity, Negotiating Race: Korean Adoptees
“No matter how big a nation is, it is no stronger than its weakest people, and as long as you keep a person down, some part of you has to be down there to hold him down, so it means you cannot soar as you might otherwise.”
What once was a rarity in America is now becoming a trend in regards to transnational adoption. The number of adoptees that are emerging from abroad has been on the climb since the mid-twentieth century in which adoptees from Asia are controlling the largest percentage. The authors explore a vast array of questions about ethnicity and race when it comes to Korean adoptees. In which, there is a sample of sixty-one adult adoptees born among the nineteen fifties and nineteen seventies as well as twenty-nine non-adoptee Asian interviewed. The book addresses different life-stages of the adoptees, the struggles of not only the adoptees but also the families. Also, take a glance into the early and later adult adoptees investigation of ethnicity. Correspondingly, in what way the adoptee identified himself/herself while also observing the different variables for dissimilar outcomes of individuals. In this paper, we will interpret the question, why does the author examine the adoption from a historical perspective? As well as express why that approach is critical. While also, reviewing the ethnic identity devolvement from early adulthood to later adulthood where we see the adoptees struggle and negotiate their struggles between being Korean and American.
Taking a historical perspective is extremely essential to understanding the motives of families to adopt from abroad. As well as understanding how an adoptee grew up, if they felt a sense of shared fate or not. Also, how the adoptee struggled with understanding their identity. The times where unlike when you look at the adoptees born in the fifties as opposed to adoptees born in the seventies because of that there is a difference in their lifestyles. Going off what was just stated, that shows how critical it is to look at the history of the adoptees and interpret that with the finding of how they were growing up. For instance, adoptees that came in the fifties and sixties, where uniting with their families during the civil rights movement. During that time they were influence by television that portrayed many white middle class families. As oppose to the contemporary Korean adoptees, which came at a period when there was a stronger belief of multiculturalism. These adoptees where more encouraged to explore their culture as well as clinch onto their multiple identities. For the adoptees that came later, there were more opportunities to explore their culture like support groups, heritage camps, motherland tours and many other opportunities. Another point to emphasis is that the adoptive parents now had numerous resources for assistance in emotional and practical support. The author states,” that racial history matters in the study of Korean adoption. Not only does the experience of growing up a Korean adoptee vary depending on the historic period when the adoptee arrived, but the ways in which white parents relate to the differences (adoptive, cultural, racial) embodied by their children and their reasons for adopting from Korea have shifted over time” (Tuan, Mia; Shiao, Jiannbin Lee).
This statement really helps illustrate my point that it is essential we look at the historical perspective. No matter if you are adopted or not, how you are raised is important to who you will become when you are older. How you will handle situations in the future. Further more, looking at the history helps us identify whether the adoptee was encourage or discourage to really find themselves by looking at their racial and ethnic roots. You can see a correlation when it comes to adoptees that had people and resources available to assist the