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Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption Paperback – November 1, 2006

4.2 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 30 personal essays, research-based studies, poems and accompanying artwork, transracial adoptees "challenge the privileging of rational, 'expert' knowledge that excludes so many adoptee voices." Conceived by the editors as "corrective action," the collection offers an eye-opening perspective on both the "the power differences between white people and people of color, the rich and the poor, the more or less empowered in adoption circles" and the sense of loss and limbo that individual adoptees may feel while "living in the borderlands of racial, national, and cultural identities." This provocative, disturbing collection reveals the sociological links between African-American children placed in foster care and El Salvador's "niño desaparecidos (disappeared children), between Christian missions and "the adoption industry," between a transracial adoptee born in Vietnam and raised in Australia and one born in Korea and raised in the U.S. "We must work," the editors urge, "to create and sustain a world in which low-income women of color do not have to send away their children so that the family that remains can survive." Anyone contemplating transracial adoption will find provocative ideas, even as they may quarrel with generalizations that don't fit their own lives. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Jane Jeong Trenka, born in Seoul, Korea, was adopted into a white family in rural Minnesota in 1972. She was reunited with her birth family in 1995. Her book, The Language of Blood, received the Minnesota Book Award for Autobiography/Memoir and was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection. Trenka has received many literary fellowships and commendations. Sun Yung Shin is a poet, essayist, journalist, and writing teacher who has won literary fellowships from the Jerome Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board, and the Loft Literary Center. Adopted from Seoul, Korea in 1974 into a white family, currently Shin lives in Minneapolis with her husband (a domestic kept-in-the-family adoptee from Chicago) and their two children.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: South End Press (November 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0896087646
  • ISBN-13: 978-0896087644
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #618,368 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am an adult Korean adoptee and I am so grateful for this book. It doesn't explicitly pronounce judgment on adoption, but instead it represents its history, consequences & controversies through anecdotal evidence by adoptees themselves. These adoptee writers are diverse, representing countries from Korea to El Salvador, and professions from clinical psychology to poetry. The juxtapositions of critical analysis to poetry to personal essay is truly complimentary in that the factual is not favored hierarchically over the mythological and imaginative narrative. Adoptees' constructions of such narratives are often more revealing of the "reality" of adoption than any well researched account.

From experience, I know that as an adoptee it is often difficult to convey the experiences of immigration and assimilation-an obstacle that is compounded by attitudes from more traditional immigrant communities (I am Asian American, but not quite) and the attitudes of the social infrastructure that considers the Asian adoptee archetype as "well-adjusted" and "practically white"-which is why this book is so important. It represents the adoptee experience in all its multi-faceted joy and sorrow and offers a voice when one's own feels stifled.

I have recommended this book to all of my immediate family and I believe that it should be required reading for any potential adoptive parent. This book has taught me how tragically lax prerequisites to adopt are and how important global consciousness and race education should be in the decision making process. It also stresses the need to redirect the adoption debate to its core by fixing the political and social systems leading to adoption rather than fretting about the ethical/unethical aftermath. This book is a crucial component for changing the tide of current attitudes towards adoption.
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Format: Paperback
This collection will break your heart and then mend it again. The contributors are brilliant, unflinching, angry, proud, grieving, recording, resisting, transforming, and organizing. There hasn't been a book like this in the history of adoption, let alone transracial adoption, but hopefully there will be many more like it in the future.
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Format: Paperback
As a transracial adoptee as well as a scholar in the matter of transracial adoption, I found this book incredibly useful in portraying often overlooked perceptions of adoption. That being said, I expect this book will be a difficult read (though completely necessary) for adoptive and/or prospective adoptive parents and families.
In my experience as a transracial adoptee, as well as talking with fellow transracial adoptees, the perceptions in this book are the ones we (transracial adoptees) often don't or can't tell our adoptive families. There is an inherent lack of power that orphans have. By contrast adoptive parents have the power to choose the children they adopt based on a set of criteria (age, race, gender). Being an orphan (and eventual adoptee) in the position where you have to be chosen, where you have to seem good enough to be kept and loved, and where you often want to fit in, makes it difficult to express ambivalence about your identity. It's easy to feel that this ambivalence (and even hurt or anger), is a rejection of your adoptive family--people you love and who took you in. But, like all families, feelings of anger, ambivalence, hurt, etc. are common and above all okay to express. Hopefully these stories will lead to better practice and informed decisions by all parties involved.
To adoptive parents and families, my advice would be to read this with care. It provides insight into how important it is for adoptive families to be open about cultural challenges. Being open, however, is not a simple task. This book acknowledges that adoptees are often told in subtle ways (sometimes by their families and often by society around them) that their birth culture and race is less than mainstream European/American culture.
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This book provides an excellent insight into the special needs of transracially adopted children. The world needs love, and adoption provides that, but the children need understanding about their needs before and after adoption. I found it enlightening.
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