Jane Jeong Trenka’s adoption memoir received harsh criticism for its negative stance against transnational adoption. Within a small yet growing group of life-writing works on transnational adoption, I see Trenka as an important voice in challenging the dominant cultural imaginary of the altruistic adoption process. This article analyzes how Trenka’s stylistic choices, such as a musical and a stand-up comedy routine, capture many Korean adoptees’ life experiences. Adoptees like Trenka use life-writing to express a doubled self and to give a platform to those who are rarely heard, like their biological mothers.
Through a reconceptualization of Gayle Rubin’s theory of patriarchal exchange, among other methodologies, my discussion of The Language of Blood from a feminist perspective brings together literary analysis, sociological approaches, and theories of ethnicity and gender. It reveals how adoption memoirs challenge fixed identities based on stereotypes to present suppressed, female perspectives on adoption and immigration processes that oppose patriarchal hierarchies. This work contributes to our understanding of what autobiography represents for female transnational adoptees and gives further insight into the identity-formation of transracially adopted children.