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

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Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption + Fugitive Visions: An Adoptee's Return to Korea + The Language of Blood
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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: 8.9 x 6.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #531,328 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

More About the Author

Sun Yung Shin is the author of two poetry collections: Rough, and Savage, which was a finalist for The Believer Poetry Award, and Skirt Full of Black, which won an Asian American Literary Award for Poetry, both published by Coffee House Press. She is co-editor of the anthology Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption and the author of Cooper's Lesson, a bilingual (Korean/English) children's book.

Her essays, stories, poems, and reviews have been published widely in anthologies, journals, newspapers, and in other venues such as art museums, a light rail transit station, a mayor's inaugural bash, community events, etc. She has performed and presented at numerous events across the U.S and in Korea, curated many readings, and taught creative writing to students of all ages. She also currently writes a regular Arts column for the online magazine Gazillion Voices, blogs about cinema/women of color at Cinema for the People, and is the founder of the online journal This Spectral Evidence where she publishes interviews with and work by poets. Her author website is www.sunyungshin.com. She lives in Minneapolis.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Nicole Chevalier on October 20, 2006
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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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Dana M. Collins on June 20, 2010
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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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By T. Pawson on June 26, 2007
Format: Paperback
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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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Akira Touya on July 29, 2010
Format: Paperback
this book is a right proper thing to read for a person who wishes to more understand the feelings of adoptees as they are moved at the behest of someone with far more power than they.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful By okfuskee on March 8, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Despite what one reviewer states, the book is heavily judgmental. Loaded terms and statements abound. Some authors describe adopted children as commodities and imports, etc. Other authors assert that white/western families adopt to become more exotic. Adoptive parents should proceed with courage and strength.

Some of the writing is painfully academic or amateurish in nature.

Nevertheless, many pieces are written by adoptees and they have important stories to tell. Their cultures have been denied or ignored. At times, adoptive parents may have made little effort to understand adoptees feelings, histories or, in one case - hair care, and the results have been devastating. One story described an adoptive family spending inordinate amounts of time exploring their German/Scottish roots, while ignoring the adoptees roots. Doh! Yup...mistakes to be avoided abound in these stories. So in that sense, the book may be helpful...but you have to get past some less useful parts and be able to filter out what is less useful or hurtful.
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