Britain’s ‘brown babies’: The stories of children born to black GIs and white women in the Second World War

Posted in Biography, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Work, United Kingdom, United States, Women on 2019-05-18 19:39Z by Steven

Britain’s ‘brown babies’: The stories of children born to black GIs and white women in the Second World War

Manchester University Press
May 2019
288 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-5261-3326-7
eBook ISBN: 978-1-5261-3327-4

Lucy Bland, Professor of Social and Cultural History
Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge

Britain’s ‘brown babies’

  • Provides a fascinating but little-known story of the 2,000 illegitimate children born to black GIs and British women in World War II – one consequence of the war missing from the history books
  • Gives personalised accounts from mixed-race people born in a (then) very white Britain before the 1948 arrival of the Windrush, charting the racism, stigma and acute sense of difference
  • Illuminates the difficulties facing mixed-race, illegitimate children in what was then, in the 1940s and early ’50s, a very white Britain
  • Makes an important contribution to the history of British mixed-race people
  • 50 black and white illustrations

This book recounts a little-known history of the estimated 2,000 babies born to black GIs and white British women in the second world war. The African-American press named these children ‘brown babies‘; the British called them ‘half-castes‘. Black GIs, in this segregated army, were forbidden to marry their white girl-friends. Nearly half of the children were given up to children’s homes but few were adopted, thought ‘too hard to place’. There has been minimal study of these children and the difficulties they faced, such as racism in a (then) very white Britain, lack of family or a clear identity. The book will present the stories of over fifty of these children, their stories contextualised in terms of government policy and attitudes of the time. Accessibly written, with stories both heart-breaking and uplifting, the book is illustrated throughout with photographs.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. British women meet black GIs
  • 2. Keeping the ‘brown babies’
  • 3. ‘Brown babies’ relinquished: experiences of children’s homes
  • 4. Adoption, fostering and attempts to send the babies to the US
  • 5. Secrets and lies: searching for mothers and fathers
  • 6. After the war and beyond
  • Appendix: the case study ‘brown babies’
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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The Mouse Room

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2019-04-21 16:44Z by Steven

The Mouse Room

She Books (An imprint of She Writes Press)
2014-03-31

Susan Ito, Instructor
Bay Path University, Longmeadow, Massachusetts

Susan Ito is a struggling college student, a young adult on the cusp of parental independence, when she meets her birth mother for the first time. Instead of launching into adulthood, she finds herself entangled in longing for this new kind of mother love where she sees her own self, mirrored in mysterious and tantalizing ways. At the same time that she explores the genetic threads that bind her to this stranger, she works as the “mouse girl,” caring for hundreds of experimental mice in a medical research laboratory. The relationship with her birth mother is as tormented as any partially requited love story: waiting by the phone, haunting the mailbox, and pacing the floor wondering about a promised visit that may or may not happen. Meanwhile, she tracks the intricate family trees of the hordes of squeaky rodents in her care. Memoirist, fiction writer, and solo performer Susan Ito explores themes of family, identity, DNA, and love in this unique and poignant story.

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Overlooked No More: Mabel Grammer, Whose Brown Baby Plan Found Homes for Hundreds

Posted in Articles, Biography, Europe, History, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2019-02-09 02:33Z by Steven

Overlooked No More: Mabel Grammer, Whose Brown Baby Plan Found Homes for Hundreds

The New York Times
2019-02-06

Alexis Clark, Adjunct Faculty
Columbia Journalism School, New York, New York


Mabel Grammer, who started the Brown Baby Plan to help mixed-race children in Germany. She adopted 12, and found homes for 500 others. Associated Press

Since 1851, many remarkable black men and women did not receive obituaries in The New York Times. This month, with Overlooked, we’re adding their stories to our archives.

Grammer’s self-run adoption agency made it possible for unwanted mixed-race children in Germany to find homes after World War II.

They were called “brown babies,” or “mischlingskinder,” a derogatory German term for mixed-race children. And sometimes they were just referred to as mutts.

They were born during the occupation years in Germany after World War II, the offspring of German women and African-American soldiers. Their fathers were usually transferred elsewhere and their mothers risked social repercussions by keeping them, so the babies were placed in orphanages.

But when Mabel Grammer, an African-American journalist, became aware of the orphaned children, she stepped in. She and her husband, an army chief warrant officer stationed in Mannheim, and later Karlsruhe, adopted 12 of them, and Grammer found homes for 500 others…

Read the entire article here.

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Germany’s ‘Brown Babies’

Posted in Articles, Europe, Family/Parenting, History, Media Archive, United States on 2019-02-07 02:30Z by Steven

Germany’s ‘Brown Babies’

Black German Cultural Society
2019-02-05


Home Needed for 10,000 Brown Babies Interracial Children of War, Ebony Magazine, October 1948

We Are Here! (Wir Sind Hier!)

“We’ve struggled through childhoods filled with confusion, fear, anger, and feelings of inferior self-esteem. Navigated adolescence in extreme conformity to perceived structures of authority in order to redeem our existence, or in defiance to them in utter rebellion. Adulthood was either accomplished successfully by integrating the powerful nuances of our diversified selves, or postponed until safety could be found in the distanced wisdom of experience. Some of us didn’t make it. Some of us are just now coming of age.” ~ Rebekka White, Black German

Out of the approximately 95,000 U.S. Occupation babies born in Germany shortly after WWII, there were approximately 5,000 of us, Post WWII Afro-German children or so-called Negro mulatto babies, better known in the United States as Germany’s “Brown Babies.” In 1952, the SPD (Social Democratic Party of Germany) deemed that we formed a special group, presenting a human and racial problem of a special nature. Our national and cultural heritage were seen to be in direct contrast to our skin color…

Read the entire article here.

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Bitterroot: A Salish Memoir of Transracial Adoption

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Family/Parenting, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2018-10-15 02:29Z by Steven

Bitterroot: A Salish Memoir of Transracial Adoption

University of Nebraska Press
October 2018
352 pages
12 photographs
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4962-0746-3
eBook (PDF) ISBN: 978-1-4962-1088-3
eBook (EPUB) ISBN: 978-1-4962-1086-9

Susan Devan Harness, Member
Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes

Bitterroot

In Bitterroot Susan Devan Harness traces her journey to understand the complexities and struggles of being an American Indian child adopted by a white couple and living in the rural American West. When Harness was fifteen years old, she questioned her adoptive father about her “real” parents. He replied that they had died in a car accident not long after she was born—except they hadn’t, as Harness would learn in a conversation with a social worker a few years later.

Harness’s search for answers revolved around her need to ascertain why she was the target of racist remarks and why she seemed always to be on the outside looking in. New questions followed her through college and into her twenties when she started her own family. Meeting her biological family in her early thirties generated even more questions. In her forties Harness decided to get serious about finding answers when, conducting oral histories, she talked with other transracial adoptees. In her fifties she realized that the concept of “home” she had attributed to the reservation existed only in her imagination.

Making sense of her family, the American Indian history of assimilation, and the very real—but culturally constructed—concept of race helped Harness answer the often puzzling questions of stereotypes, a sense of nonbelonging, the meaning of family, and the importance of forgiveness and self-acceptance. In the process Bitterroot also provides a deep and rich context in which to experience life.

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He searched for his Japanese birth mother. He found her — and the restaurant she had named after him.

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, United States on 2018-05-10 18:45Z by Steven

He searched for his Japanese birth mother. He found her — and the restaurant she had named after him.

The Washington Post
2018-05-08

Kathryn Tolbert


Bruce Hollywood with his mother, Nobue Ouchi. (Courtesy of Bruce Hollywood)

It began with a heart attack in the Pentagon parking lot in pre-dawn darkness. Air Force Col. Bruce Hollywood was on his way to work and found himself on the ground, thinking: “This is where it ends.”

Later, as he lay in the ambulance racing to Walter Reed Army Hospital, two regrets popped into his head. One was that he wouldn’t be able to help his son with his college applications. The other was that he never thanked the Japanese woman who gave birth to him, then gave him up for adoption in 1960.

Hollywood was adopted by an American couple who were stationed in Japan with the U.S. military and who could offer him a good life in America.

It took that heart attack in 2005 for Hollywood to set out to find his birth mother, something his adoptive mother, who had passed away, had repeatedly encouraged him to do. Before that, he said, he never felt something was missing. His adoption was not something he had reflected on much.

“I always knew I was adopted because I had Asian features and [my father] was an Irishman and [my mother] was a Norwegian lady,” said Hollywood, 57. “And they always told me, ‘…We picked you out special. So you’re even more special than everyone else.’”…

Read the entire article here.

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My Transracial Testimony

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, United States on 2018-03-22 02:51Z by Steven

My Transracial Testimony

Chicago Now
2017-11-05

Doriana Markovitz

Bio: I am a biracial woman, but I identify as Black. My birthmother is what Puerto Ricans call Spanish. I was adopted by two white women when I was a week old. They later divorced. My Jewish mama, who gave me my last name Markovitz, remarried and adopted 2 more baby girls, later on, giving me siblings and ending my own unique child experience at 14. During that time, I swallowed a white liberal education for 9 years, until I was forced to puke it back up in the later years of my high school experience. This is my testimony, my hymnal, my stories, my life as a transracial adoptee.

I have been raised by many mothers; many women have poured themselves into me. I am the product of the multi-dimensionality of womanhood. I have only ever known that experience, the struggle, and hardship, while also the joy and the power that women can offer to one another and their children.

Three women have raised me — the mothers who adopted me, but also the woman who took me in when those two women fell out of love.

Motherhood lives inside my skin, but I am also motherless because there is a woman out there who I do not know, but whose body was my first home. I knew this from the time I could understand that the women who chose me did not look like me.

Their skin did not look like mine, their hair did not feel like mine, and their bodies were not shaped like mine. Even though I knew this, I felt safe inside that truth. I felt loved inside that truth until I couldn’t any longer…

Read the entire article here.

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Dr. Patton to speak in Germany

Posted in Articles, Europe, Family/Parenting, Media Archive on 2017-11-16 21:47Z by Steven

Dr. Patton to speak in Germany

Branding Iron: The UW Student Newspaper Online
2017-11-15

Courtney Kudera


(Photo courtesy of Dr. Tracey Patton) A picture of Dr. Tracey Patton standing on the UW campus.

Designing Modern Families: International Perspectives of Intercountry and Transracial Adoptions; this is the conference UW professor, Dr. Tracey Patton, has been asked to speak at in Germany beginning Friday, Nov. 17.

Patton is the co-author, in coordination with Sally Schedlock, of the work “Gender, Whiteness & Power in Rodeo: Breaking Away from the Ties of Sexism & Racism.” Patton is also a professor of communication here at UW.

…Patton commented on her own history in relation to the conferences’ topic. She has familial experience on the topic at hand.

As a first generation American on her mother’s side, Patton described her German heritage and the involvement in interracial and international adoptions, which affected up to 5,000 German children born during or after WWII.

From here, her research has had a national and transnational focus, working on the particular topic of interracial coupling and mixed-race children after WWII…

Read the entire article here.

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Shaping a child’s race identity: Black, white, or other?

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2017-05-17 01:28Z by Steven

Shaping a child’s race identity: Black, white, or other?

Chinook Observer
Long Beach, Washington
2017-05-09

Ruth Elaine Jutila Chamberlin


Lindsay Chamberlin was photographed near the time of her adoption. FAMILY PHOTO

We sat in straight chairs, waiting to meet our daughter. Burt held Jordan, age two, and Jamie, 13 months, while I jittered solo, eager to hold the baby. “Eager” doesn’t come close. I was afire. Atingle!

Here’s what we knew (no photos available): Eight months old. African-American/Irish-American. Foster child, next county. We wanted her! But were we, a white couple, the right parents for this child? Adoption workers would watch us interact with the baby and decide, yes or no.

The caseworker came in, carrying Lindsey (we’d already named her, hoping to adopt her). I was stunned! My imaginary Lindsey was a shy, pint-sized, brown-skinned baby. The real one was big for her age, light-skinned, calm, and forceful.

Lindsey was in charge of the meeting. She shot us piercing looks. Dear child! First she lost her birthmom, her familiar voice and heart rhythms. Lindsey grieved. Another mom took her. Everything changed. Lindsey grieved more. But she was brave. She learned to roll over, sit and creep, eat solid food, looking to that mom for praise and safety. Now SHE’S gone? NOT FAIR! No one asked ME!…

Read the entire article here.

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Returning to Korea

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Media Archive, Videos on 2017-04-30 02:03Z by Steven

Returning to Korea

KBS News
2017-04-04

Decades ago, many children born to Korean mothers and foreign fathers were adopted by families overseas. Now, a growing number of half-Korean adoptees are returning to Korea to find their birth mothers. Here are some of their stories…

Watch the entire story here.

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