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Resources for Teens Transnationally Adopted from Asia: Search + Reunion

Search and Reunion Resources & Adoptee Stories

In this section, you'll find guides and other resources for transnational adoptees who are considering or actively searching for their birth family. You can also explore personal stories and reflections from adoptees about their experiences tracing their roots.

General Guides & Resources

Logo for International Social Service, comprised of the letters ISS

Intercountry Adoption and Search for Origins: A Guide for Adoptees

International Social Service (ISS) is an organization that advocates for the rights of children in adoption, alternative care, and surrogacy. ISS developed this guide to help transnational adoptees prepare for the challenges involved in a search for origins, including logistical hurdles (like securing access to records) and complexities involved with reunion (like language barriers and cultural differences).

International Social Service (ISS) logo from ISS official website

Logo with the letters ICAV in speech bubbles and the organization name Inter Country Adoptee Voices underneath

Search & Reunion Resources from Inter Country Adoptee Voices (ICAV)

Inter Country Adoptee Voices (ICAV) is a network of intercountry adoptee volunteers from around the world. Their Search and Reunion resource page includes a Contemplating Searching guide and a perspective paper that incorporates stories from over 40 intercountry adoptees from 14 countries of origin.

Inter Country Adoptee Voices (ICAV) logo from ICAV official website

 

Information for Specific Countries

Logo for China's Children International with the letters CCI in a design inspired by the Chinese chop

Resources from China’s Children International (CCI)

China's Children International (CCI) is an international organization created by and for Chinese adoptees. CCI developed the following resources to help adoptees with international searching:

China's Children International (CCI) logo from CCI official website

Seal of the U.S. Department of State

Resources from the U.S. Embassy & Consulate in Korea

The U.S. Embassy & Consulate in the Republic of Korea provides a starting point for Korean heritage adoptees seeking information related to birth families and other adoption records.

U.S. Department of State seal from the U.S. Department of State official Twitter account

Seal of the U.S. Department of State

Resources from the U.S. Embassy & Consulate in Vietnam

The U.S. Embassy & Consulate in Vietnam includes the following question in their Frequently Asked Questions related to adoption: "I want to find information about my birth parents and my old orphanage, what are the resources for adoption records?" (To view the information, scroll to the bottom of this FAQs page and expand the section for the final question.)

U.S. Department of State seal from the U.S. Department of State official Twitter account

Adoptee Reflection

If someone had advised me beforehand of the reality of post-reunion, it would have been useful to know you can’t get complete answers because it leads to more questions and more complicated responses.

Jay, adopted from Sri Lanka,
from Intercountry Adoption and Search for Origins guide from ISS

How do you feel about finding your Birth Parents?

Adoptees on: How do you feel about finding your Birth Parents?

This video from The Here and Nao compiles submissions from Asian adoptees around the world. Hear what they have to say in response to the question: "How do you feel about finding your Birth Parents?"

Korean Adoption Documentary

aka DAN: A Korean Adoption Documentary

Through this original documentary series, join adoptee musician Dan Matthews as he travels to Korea to find his biological family—including a twin brother he never knew existed. The full series is available for free through this YouTube playlist.

Documentaries on Search and Reunion

These documentaries follow transnational adoptees from Asia as they trace their roots and in some cases, reunite with their birth families.
 

Video still from the film First Person Plural, with a young Korean girl sitting with a white woman on a bed in a child's bedroomFirst Person Plural

Deann Borshay Liem

Deann Borshay was adopted from Korea in 1996. In 1998, Borshay traveled to Korea with her adoptive parents to meet her birth family and try to resolve lingering questions about her history. This film is available on Kanopy, as well as a follow-up documentary also about Borshay's experience, In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee. You can check with your public library to see if they provide free access to Kanopy.
First Person Plural movie still from the film's Kanopy page


Poster for the film Found in Korea, with a Korean woman looking out on a landscape, the title of the film, and the tagline: "... the best journeys of the heart end with truth. a film by Maggie Nam Holtz." Also indicating seven awards for the film.

Found in Korea

Nam Holtz (Director/Subject), Allison Lane (Director), Kevyn Settle (Director)

This documentary follows Nam Holtz, an adoptee who was found in the streets of Korea as an infant. The film chronicles Holtz's journey as she returns to Korea for the first time in 35 years to search for her birth parents. Along the way, Holtz also interviews social workers, Koreans, and other adoptees.
Found in Korea movie poster from the film's official website

 


Movie poster for You Follow, with an Indian woman riding a motorbike and the text, "YOU FOLLOW: a search for one's past featuring NISHA GRAYSON." Also indicating two awards for the film.You Follow: A Search for One’s Past

Nisha Grayson (Producer/Subject), Sharmila Ray (Director), Brad Lavery (Producer)

In this documentary, viewers follow Nisha Grayson's unexpected search for her birth mother in India. Grayson's journey starts as a vacation but quickly evolves into a search for her first mother. Follow Grayson as she encounters unexpected challenges and discovers answers to the questions she has kept locked inside her heart.
You Follow promo image from the film's official website

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

Adoptee Reflection

I think my search and reunion gave me more confidence in who I am and my history. I have a better sense of who I am and my family story. I feel more at peace.

—Aimee, adopted from Korea,
from ICAV's Perspective Paper

 

Books

Rectangular book cover depicting the rich, orange fabric of a sari dress with bright blue details and embroidery. Only the middle of the body is shown; no head of feet. The background is a slightly more muted orange tone, with shadows. The title "Daughter of the Ganges" and Asha Miro's name are centered towards the bottom of the cover.

Daughter of the Ganges: The Story of One Girl's Adoption and Her Return Journey to India

Asha Miro

ISBN: 9781742745800 1742745806

In this memoir, Miro recounts her adoption story as well as her return journeys to India decades later to discover more about her past and her remaining birth family. A story of self-discovery and identity is told through Miro's personal pilgrimages to the orphanage she left and to the birth family she never knew.

Yellow rectangular book cover with red and blue border. A picture of an Asian toddler is centered on the cover in a circular shape with a red, yellow, and green braided patter. The title "Lucky Girl" rests beneath the picture and above the author's name Mei-Ling Hopgood

Lucky Girl: A Memoir

Mei-Ling Hopgood

ISBN: 9781565126008 1565126009

In this book, Chinese adoptee Mei-Ling struggles with her identity when her Chinese birth family suddenly requests a reunion after two decades. Mei-Ling, who was raised in Michigan, and who never really identified with her Chinese heritage, must now find a balance between both sides of who she is.

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A Single Square Picture

Katy Robinson

ISBN: 042518496X 9780425184967

The author, who was adopted from Korea as a 7-year old, combines memories of her American childhood with accounts of her search for her birth family at the age of 27. The book includes reflections on meeting her birth father and half-siblings, as well as her feelings as she tries to unravel the truth about her birth mother.