Cover for MCKEE: Disrupting Kinship: Transnational Politics of Korean Adoption in the United States. Click for larger image

Disrupting Kinship

Transnational Politics of Korean Adoption in the United States

Korean adoption and the legacies of gratitude

Since the Korean War began, Western families have adopted more than 200,000 Korean children. Two-thirds of these adoptees found homes in the United States. The majority joined white families and in the process forged a new kind of transnational and transracial kinship.

Kimberly D. McKee examines the growth of the neocolonial, multi-million-dollar global industry that shaped these families—a system she identifies as the transnational adoption industrial complex. As she shows, an alliance of the South Korean welfare state, orphanages, adoption agencies, and American immigration laws powered transnational adoption between the two countries. Adoption became a tool to supplement an inadequate social safety net for South Korea's unwed mothers and low-income families. At the same time, it commodified children, building a market that allowed Americans to create families at the expense of loving, biological ties between Koreans. McKee also looks at how Christian Americanism, South Korean welfare policy, and other facets of adoption interact with and disrupt American perceptions of nation, citizenship, belonging, family, and ethnic identity.

"In Disrupting Kinship, Kimberly McKee unpacks the macro and micro dimensions of adoption's impact on the lives of Korean adoptees, and charts the development of what she calls the transnational adoption industrial complex. Her book is required reading for its critical interdisciplinary approach to understanding the history of Korean international adoption and its legacy."--Catherine Ceniza Choy, author of Global Families: A History of Asian International Adoption in America


Kimberly McKee is an assistant professor of liberal studies at Grand Valley State University.

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