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Resources for Teens Transnationally Adopted from Asia: Identity

Resources for Transnational Adoptees Exploring Identity

In this section, you will find resources for adoptees interested in exploring identity. Included are resources primarily for transnational adoptees from Asia but many of these resources are also helpful to adoptees of any origin interested in who they are and what it means to be an adoptee. For more information about reunion trips and genealogical research, we recommend you check out those specific sections of this guide.

Podcasts

Adapted Podcast Logo - The Word "Adopted" with the letter "O" replaced with the letter "A" over top so that it reads as "Adapted"

Adapted: Korean Adoptees Living in Korea and Beyond

Kaomi Goetz

This podcast explores the personal experiences and adoption journeys of Korean adoptees. Each episode features a different adoptee, sharing their story and how they came to be who they are now.

Adapted podcast logo from Adapted podcast official twitter

Adoptees On Logo - The letter "T" in Adoptees is a light green tree with blue leaves who's branches form the letter "T".

Adoptees On

Haley Radke

This podcast features stories and conversations from different adoptees that touch on topics such as identity, belonging, and many more. This podcast is created and produced by an adoptee for adoptees struggling with understanding who they are and where they belong.

Adoptees On logo from Adoptees On official website

A rectangular image which features several strokes of vivid colours like orange, deep green, pink, red, and blue. One stroke is black lines, overlaid on top of the colours beneath it which can still peek through. Eyes, a forehead, and short hair appear out of the swatches of color. The eyes, one black and the other pink, stare straight ahead. In the background, the strokes of color appear to create a blue mountain range and red sun. The title of the podcast "Code Switch" appears in bold write lettering in the upper right hand corner. The broadcaster "NPR"'s logo appears in the top left hand corner.

Code Switch: Transracial Adoptees on Their Racial Identity and Sense of Self

Gene Demby, N.P.R.

This episode of Code Switch includes the perspectives of several adoptees who were adopted into households of different racial, ethnic, or cultural backgrounds than themselves, and the experiences these adoptees had when forming their own identities and connecting to their birth cultures are discussed. The adoptees share that most of their adoptive parents lacked the training and awareness necessary to help them form their own racial identity in childhood.

Code Switch logo from NPR Code Switch official website

Transracial Adoptee Reflection

I speak openly about adoption because I think it's something that is part of me and nothing that I can change or hide at any point because that's just me.

—Lia, Adoptee interviewed in The Beat

 

Adoptee Reflection

Identity is who you are as a person on the outside but more importantly who you are on the inside.

—Adoptee, from The Beat

 

Adoption & Identity Intertwined - Documentary

Adoption & Identity Intertwined

Mei Kelly (Producer)

Mei, a Chinese adoptee and ETHS alumni, created this documentary out of a passion to help other adoptees process, develop, and understand their own identities. As an adoptee herself, Mei was always interested in how other adoptees relate to themselves and navigate their lives. Twelve adoptees are interviewed in this documentary, and their diverse stories provide different perspectives on the intersection of adoption and identity.

More Documentaries on Adoption & Identity

Struggle For Identity: Issues in Transracial Adoption

Deborah C. Hoard

In this 20-minute documentary, the lives and experiences of transracial adoptees are explored. Complex issues such as confronting stereotypes, feeling alienated from your culture of origin, and learning to define one's self are discussed through personal lenses. 

Calcutta is My Mother

Reshma McClintock (Producer/Subject), Michael Hirtzel (Producer/Director/Editor)

This documentary features the story of a transracial adoptee (McClintock) and her return journey to the country of her birth. Captured in this documentary is McClintock's struggle to bridge the divide between her American upbringing and her Indian roots, as well as the struggle to reconcile the family she loves with the birth family she may never know.

The Invisible Red Thread

Maureen Marovitch (Director/Co-Prodcuer), David Finch (Co-Producer)

This documentary follows 15-year old adoptee Vivian Lum's journey from Canada to China, the country of her birth. Lum returns to the orphanage she was adopted from and reconnects with a fellow adoptee who was adopted locally. The story explores Lum's journey and discoveries, as well as explores the ripple effect of China's One Child Policy.

Note: Unlike the other video on this page, these films are not necessarily available to stream online for free.

Personal Adoptee Blogs & Vlogs

Adoptee Blogs

China's Children International (CCI)

A collection of blogs created by transnational/transracial adoptees. The majority of these blogs focus on Chinese and Korean adoptee experiences as they navigate life and self. These blogs provide a personal window into the experiences, struggles, and the overall question of what it is like to be a transnational/transracial adoptee.

Declassified Adoptee

Amanda Woolston

This blog began as a way for Woolston to document her search for her birth family. After her reunion with her birth family, Woolston changes the focus of this blog towards activism and social justice for adoptees. It is now a platform for adoptees to express themselves, their voices, and their concerns. Older blog posts are archived on the site and accessible.

Alex Brennan 

Alex Brennan

This vlog documents the experiences and adoption journey of Alex Brennan, a Chinese-Canadian adoptee. Identity, self-discovery, and self-image are issues explored through deeply personal and intimate video confessionals and interviews. 

The Here and Nao

Naomi

In this vlog, Naomi documents and explores her life as an East Asian adoptee now living in Britain. Through this vlog, Naomi not only explores her own identity as a transnational adoptee but also promotes the voices of other East Asian voices in British media.

Story Collections

Beneath the Mask: For Teen Adoptees: Teens and Young Adults Share Their Stories

Beneath the Mask: For Teen Adoptees: Teens and Young Adults Share Their Stories 

Center for Adoption Support and Education

ISBN: 978-1722896829

An anthology of personal stories written by teen and young adult adoptees about their adoption journeys. Included are engaging exercises for readers to explore their own journeys.

A rectangular book cover which features a cluttered white desk top as the background. Office supplies like pens, paper, sticky notes, glasses, etc. are mixed with photographs, loose cash, drawings, and mementos. The title "Pieces of Me: Who Do I Want to Be" is written across the middle of the cover in black lettering.

Pieces of Me: Who Do I Want to Be

Robert L. Ballard (Editor)

ISBN: 9780972624442 0972624449

An anthology of 100 personal transnational/transracial adoptee pieces, including voices from people aged 11 to 63. Poems, stories, art, and more are included in this collection. Through different experiences, perspectives, and mediums, adoptees share what it means to be who they are.

Bibliographic Resources by Region

If you are looking for resources for adoptees exploring identity from specific countries or locations of origin, we provide a small selections below. This is by no means an exhaustive list. It is representative of only a small selection of many works for adoptees interested in exploring identity. Further reading is provided in the Media section of this guide.

Once They Hear My Name Book Cover - Green and black rectangular, cover with the Book title running across the middle. Korean script runs down the left side of the cover, write on a black background. A picture of a young, Asian child holding a baseball bat appears beneath the main title.

Once They Hear My Name: Korean Adoptees and Their Journeys toward Identity

Ellen Lee, Marilyn Lammert, & Mary Ann Hess

ISBN: 9780979375644 0979375649 9780979375620 0979375622

This collection of oral histories features the lives and experiences of nine Korean adoptees. Struggles with identity, belonging, and family are explored through personal stories as well as challenges with racism, xenophobia, and feeling like a foreigner in native lands.

 


Dark blue, rectangular book cover with skinny tree branches with green leaves flowing in an asymmetric pattern across the cover. The title "All You Can Ever Know" and Nicole Chung's name run across the whole cover from top to bottom.

All You Can Ever Know

Nicole Chung

ISBN: 1911590308 9781911590309

In this memoir, Chung explores her identity as a transracial adoptee from Korea taken in by a White family in Oregon, USA. Chung writes about identity, race, family, motherhood, and her journey to uncover her true self.

A rectangular book cover with a blue background and yellow accents. The title "From Home to Homeland" is centered at the top of the page, above a picture of an Asian child in a bright red top standing in front of a stone pillar. The author's credits are listed at the bottom of the page, beneath the picture.

From Home to Homeland: What Adoptive Families Need to Know Before Making a Return Trip to China

Debra Jacobs (Author), Iris Chin Ponte (Author), Leslie Kim Wang (Author)

ISBN: 978-1597430036

Though geared towards families making homeland trips to China, this is an overall great resource for any family considering a homeland trip and figuring out how to make sense of such a trip. Homeland trips provide adoptees with opportunities to develop a cohesive narrative of self and planning a homeland trip can be daunting but rewarding. This resource hopes to serve as a guide for navigating that process.


Rectangular cover with thick blue borders on the top and bottom. The middle of the cover is a large group picture of Asian children in brightly colors of red, yellow, blue, and pink. The title Kids Like Me in China runs along the top blue border with the author's name in the bottom blue border.

Kids Like Me in China

Ying Ying Fry, Amy Klatzkin, Brian Boyd, Terry M. Fry

ISBN: 0963847260 9780963847263

This first-person POV book tells the story of Fry's adoption from China, detailing her complex and personal feelings about the process as well as her struggles to understand who she is and reconcile that with where she came from and the caregivers she left behind.

Rectangular Book Cover with orange, white, and grey orbs scattered across the whole cover. A silhouette of a branch crosses the upper right corner. The framed picture of a young Asian girl dominates the bottom third off the cover. The title Between Two Worlds is centered across the top of the cover in script font.  \

Beyond Two Worlds: A Taiwanese-American Adoptee's Memoir & Search For Identity

Marijane Huang

ISBN: 1524684104 9781524684105

This memoir tells the story of Marijane, a transnational adoptee born in Taipei, Taiwan but raised to believe she was Vietnamese and Japanese. She was adopted by an American military family and raised in the deep South, where she was often the only Asian face in a crowd. This story details Marijane's discovery of her true racial identity and her journey to reconnect with her birth family as she discovers more about her Taiwanese heritage and culture.