Global Families: A History of Asian International Adoption in America

Global Families: A History of Asian International Adoption in America

New York University Press
October 2013
244 pages
17 halftones
Cloth ISBN: 9780814717226
Paper ISBN: 9781479892174

Catherine Ceniza Choy, Professor of Ethnic Studies
University of California, Berkeley

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.


  • List of Illustrations
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: International Adoption Nation
  • 1 Race and Rescue in Early Asian International Adoption History
  • 2 The Hong Kong Project: Chinese International Adoption in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s
  • 3 A World Vision: The Labor of Asian International Adoption
  • 4 Global Family Making: Narratives by and about Adoptive Families
  • 5 To Make Historical Their Own Stories: Adoptee Narratives as Asian American History
  • Conclusion: New Geographies, Historical Legacies
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
  • About the Author
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