15 Books by Transracial Adoptees

Transracial adoptees are those raised in families of a different race than their own. Sometimes these adoptees were also born in different countries than the ones they live in as adopted people. We can all learn much from these adoptees about issues of racial and cultural identity. Here are fifteen books written by adult transracial adoptees, including several anthologies.

 

After the Morning Calm: Reflections of Korean Adoptees
Edited by Sook Wilkinson, PhD, and Nancy Fox

Korean adult adoptees speak out in this anthology. Through memories, reflections, and poetry, adoptees speak to the range of issues that accompany adoption: feelings of belonging and difference, self and other, culture and accomodation, love and loss. We now know that it is in late adolescence and young adulthood that many adoptees move full-tilt into struggling with these issues. These writings offer a wonderful tool to help adoptees move through the process.

 

Black Anthology: Adult Adoptees Claim Their Space
Edited by Susan Harris O’Connor, MSW; Diane René Christian; Mei-Mei Akwai Ellerman, PhD

People who identify as Black adoptees are vaguely known within both adoption circles as well as universal discussions. We are just beginning to be introduced to one another. This anthology allows for the opportunity to see the rich diversity of a people; the uniqueness within the individual stories. Inside this book, you will read the depth of struggle, and the pure grace, dignity and accomplishments achieved, sometimes connected to the privileges afforded us while in the midst of insurmountable odds.

 

The Book of Sarahs: A Family in Parts
by Catherine E. McKinley

Catherine McKinley was one of only a few thousand African American and bi-racial children adopted by white couples in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Raised in a small, white New England town, she had a persistent longing for the more diverse community that would better understand and encompass her. In an era shaped by the rhetoric of Black Power and Black Pride, McKinley’s coming of age entailed her own detailed investigation into her birth history, a search complicated by the terms of a closed adoption that denied her all knowledge of the circumstances of her birth. The Book of Sarahs traces McKinley’s revelations: she finds her birth mother and a half-sister named Sarah, the name that was originally given to her. When she locates her birth father, she begins to see the whole mosaic of her parentage–African American, WASP, Jewish, Native American–and then is confronted with a final revelation that threatens to destabilize all she has uncovered. At the center of the narrative is McKinley’s angry passion for her two mothers and her quest for self-acceptance in a world in which she seems to herself to be always outside the bounds of social legitimacy.

 

Called Home, Book 2: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects
Edited by Patricia Busbee and Trace A. DeMeyer

From recent news about Baby Veronica to history like Operation Papoose, this book examines how Native American adoptees and their families experienced adoption and were exposed to the genocidal policies of governments who created Indian adoption projects. The editors Trace A. DeMeyer and Patricia Busbee, both adoptees, found other Native adult survivors of adoption and asked them to write a narrative. In the part one of Called Home, adoptees share their unique experience of living in Two Worlds, feeling CALLED HOME, surviving assimilation via adoption, opening sealed adoption records, and in most cases, a reunion with tribal relatives. Adoptees who wrote in Two Worlds provide updates in part two. In part three, adoptees still searching for their families share their birth information, date and location. Recent history about the Supreme Court case involving Baby Veronica and The New Normal: DNA is also covered by co-editor Trace DeMeyer.

 

Ghost of Sangju: A Memoir of Reconciliation
by Soojung Jo

Ghost of Sangju takes readers through Soojung’s childhood in Kentucky filled with joy, family, friendship—and the loneliness of being marked as an outsider even in her own home. Alternating between humor and heartbreak, she offers a glimpse into a life foreign to most: that of a West Point cadet and her return to South Korea, the country that had once sent her away. Soojung vividly paints a portrait of marriage, parenthood (as both a biological and adoptive mother) and the tumultuous emotions of reuniting, rediscovering, and reestablishing lost familial bonds. More than an adoption story, Ghost of Sangju is a story of one woman’s journey to merge her two selves, and the universal search for self-discovery, identity, and reconciliation.

 

In Their Own Voices: Transracial Adoptees Tell Their Stories
by Rita J. Simon and Rhonda M. Roorda

Nearly forty years after researchers first sought to determine the effects, if any, on children adopted by families whose racial or ethnic background differed from their own, the debate over transracial adoption continues. In this collection of interviews conducted with black and biracial young adults who were adopted by white parents, the authors present the personal stories of two dozen individuals who hail from a wide range of religious, economic, political, and professional backgrounds. How does the experience affect their racial and social identities, their choice of friends and marital partners, and their lifestyles? In addition to interviews, the book includes overviews of both the history and current legal status of transracial adoption.

 

The Language of Blood
by Jane Jeong Trenka

With inventive and radiant prose that includes real and imagined letters, a fairy tale, a one-act play, crossword puzzles, and child-welfare manuals, Trenka recounts a childhood of insecurity, a battle with a stalker that escalates to a plot for her murder, and an extraordinary trip to Seoul to meet her birth mother and siblings. Lost between two cultures for the majority of her life, it is in Korea that she begins to understand her past and the power of the unspoken language of blood.

 

Lucky Girl
by Mei-Ling Hopgood

In a true story of family ties, journalist Mei-Ling Hopgood, one of the first wave of Asian adoptees to arrive in America, comes face to face with her past when her Chinese birth family suddenly requests a reunion after more than two decades. In 1974, a baby girl from Taiwan arrived in America, the newly adopted child of a loving couple in Michigan. Mei-Ling Hopgood had an all-American upbringing, never really identifying with her Asian roots or harboring a desire to uncover her ancestry. She believed that she was lucky to have escaped a life that was surely one of poverty and misery, to grow up comfortable with her doting parents and brothers. Then, when she’s in her twenties, her birth family comes calling. Not the rural peasants she expected, they are a boisterous, loving, bossy, complicated middle-class family who hound her daily―by phone, fax, and letter, in a language she doesn’t understand―until she returns to Taiwan to meet them. As her sisters and parents pull her into their lives, claiming her as one of their own, the devastating secrets that still haunt this family begin to emerge. Spanning cultures and continents, Lucky Girl brings home a tale of joy and regret, hilarity, deep sadness, and great discovery as the author untangles the unlikely strands that formed her destiny.

 

Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption
Edited by Jane Jeong Trenka, Julia Chinyere Oparah, and Sun Yung Shin

Outsiders Within reveals that while transracial adoption is a practice traditionally considered benevolent, it often exacts a heavy emotional, cultural, and even economic toll. Through compelling essays, fiction, poetry, and art, the contributors to this landmark publication carefully explore this most intimate aspect of globalization. Finally, in the unmediated voices of the adults who have matured within it, we find a rarely-considered view of adoption, an institution that pulls apart old families and identities and grafts new ones.

 

Prison Baby: A Memoir
by Deborah Jiang-Stein

Even at twelve years old Deborah Jiang-Stein, the adopted daughter of a progressive Jewish couple in Seattle, felt like an outsider. Her multiracial features set her apart from her well-intentioned white parents, who evaded questions about her past. But when Deborah discovered a letter revealing the truth–that she was born in prison to a heroin-addicted mother and spent the first year of her life there–she spiraled into emotional lockdown. For years she turned to drugs, violence, and crime as a way to cope with her grief. Ultimately, Deborah overcame the stigma, shame, and secrecy of her birth and found peace by helping others–proving that redemption and acceptance is possible, even from the darkest corners

 

Red Dust Road
by Jackie Kay

From the moment when, as a little girl, she realizes that her skin is a different colour from that of her beloved mum and dad, to the tracing and finding of her birth parents, her Highland mother and Nigerian father, Jackie Kay’s journey in Red Dust Road is one of unexpected twists, turns and deep emotions. In a book remarkable for its warmth and candour, she discovers that inheritance is about much more than genes: that we are shaped by songs as much as by cells, and that what triumphs, ultimately, is love.

 

See No Color
by Shannon Gibney

Despite some teasing, being a biracial girl adopted by a white family didn’t used to bother Alex much. She was a stellar baseball player, just like her father—her baseball coach and a former pro athlete. All Alex wanted was to play ball forever. But after she meets Reggie, the first black guy who’s wanted to get to know her, and discovers some hidden letters from her biological father, Alex starts questioning who she really is. Does she truly fit in with her white family? What does it mean to be black? To find the answers, Alex needs to come to terms with her adoption, her race, and the dreams she thought would always guide her.

 

A Single Square Picture: A Korean Adoptee’s Search for Her Roots
by Katy Robinson

At seven years old, Katy Robinson is adopted by a Salt Lake City, Utah, couple. Twenty years later, she returns to Seoul, Korea, to reconnect with her birth family and finds herself an outsider in her native country.

 

 

 

This Many Miles from Desire
by Lee Herrick

The haunting music of Lee Herrick’s This Many Miles from Desire reflects the quest of the poet, an adoptee, to understand his place in the world: “one more child found in the world’s history/of found children.” Spiritually yearning, imagistically sharp, and lyrical, Herrick’s poems are a journey of reward.

 

 

Vietnamese.Adopted: A Collection of Voices
by Indigo Willing, Anh Đào Kolbe, Dominic Golding, Tim Holtan, Cara Wolfgang, Kev Minh Allen, Adam Chau, Landa Sharp, Michael Nhat

Vietnamese.Adopted: A Collection of Voices is a group of writings each in their own form and style, un-censored in content or subject matter, allowing each person to speak on what being a Vietnamese Adoptee, Adopted Vietnamese, or Vietnamese War Orphan is to them, as well as in relation to the greater Vietnamese and world communities. Shaped by their own experiences, observations, country, and language, it is the goal of this book to make these narratives, opinions, and perspectives available to the greater adopted and Vietnamese communities.