We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Global Families

A History of Asian International Adoption in America

Catherine Ceniza Choy

Publication Year: 2013

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. In Global 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 Families moves 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.

Published by: NYU Press


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 2-7


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. ix-x

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. xi-xvi

These acknowledgments must begin with my gratitude for the presence of Asian American adoptees in my University of Minnesota classes. Their belief that Asian American adoptees’ history, art, and contemporary issues matter to Asian American Studies, and vice versa, has been a major source of inspiration. While I was an assistant professor...

read more

Introduction: International Adoption Nation

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 1-14

“Where did your little girl come from?”
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...

read more

1. Race and Rescue in Early Asian International Adoption History

pdf iconDownload PDF
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...

read more

2. The Hong Kong Project: Chinese International Adoption in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s

pdf iconDownload PDF
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...

read more

3. A World Vision: The Labor of Asian International Adoption

pdf iconDownload PDF
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...

read more

4. Global Family Making: Narratives by and about Adoptive Families

pdf iconDownload PDF
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...

read more

5. To Make Historical Their Own Stories: Adoptee Narratives as Asian American History

pdf iconDownload PDF
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...

read more

Conclusion: New Geographies, Historical Legacies

pdf iconDownload PDF
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...


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 177-208


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 209-220


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 221-228

read more

About the Author

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 229-229

Catherine Ceniza Choy is Professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to coming to Berkeley, she was an assistant professor of American Studies and a cofounding member of the Asian American Studies Initiative at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She is the author of the award-winning book Empire of Care: Nursing...

E-ISBN-13: 9781479886388
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814717226
Print-ISBN-10: 0814717225

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 861536778
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Global Families

Research Areas


UPCC logo

Subject Headings

  • Asian Americans.
  • Adoption -- United States.
  • Adopted children -- United States.
  • Intercountry adoption -- Asia.
  • Intercountry adoption -- United States.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access