Proceedings of The 9th International Conference on Modern Approach in Humanities
On Transnational Asian Adoptees’ Self-Determination for Cultural Identification
Kaori Mori Want
Transnational adoption from Asian countries to the US has started since the 1950s. American military intervention in Asian regions after the World War II has resulted in the birth of mixed race children. They were born of Asian women and American servicemen, and some ended up becoming orphans. These mixed race orphans often became the targets of racism in Asian countries. Knowing their plight, the US government issued the Orphan Section of the Refugee Relief Act of 1953, and accepted four thousand mixed race orphans. After this, the US has continued to adopt many Asian children. When transnational Asian adoptees first came to the US, they were encouraged to assimilate into white American cultures because many were adopted by white Americans, yet due to the spread of the ideal of multiculturalism in the US, white parents have started encouraging their adopted children to know their Asian cultural roots. While white parents are trying to give their adopted children either American culture or Asian culture, what do Asian adoptees feel about their cultural identification? Isn’t it Asian adoptees themselves who need to decide their cultural identification? This presentation will examine these questions by reading Greg Leitich Smith’s Ninjas, Piranhas, and Galileo. Smith is an adoptee from Japan, and the book has a character like Smith himself. Smith explores the questions of self-determination of the Asian adoptees’ cultural identification in the book. I will discuss the relationship of self-determination of the Asian adoptees’ cultural identification and their well-being.
keywords: Asian adoptees in the US; self-determination; cultural identification; well-being; Asian American literature.