Origins of international adoption

koreaIn her new book, To Save the Children of Korea: The Cold War Origins of International Adoption (Stanford University Press, June 2015), Assistant Professor of History Arissa Oh contends that although Korea was not the first place that Americans adopted from internationally, it was the place where organized, systematic international adoption was born. Korean adoption began in the aftermath of the Korean War and served as a kind of template for when international adoption began–in the late 1960s–to expand to new sending and receiving countries. First established as an emergency measure through which to evacuate mixed-race “GI babies,” Korean adoption became a mechanism through which the Korean government exported its unwanted children: the poor, the disabled, or those lacking Korean fathers. Focusing on the legal, social, and political systems at work, this book shows how the growth of Korean adoption from the 1950s to the 1980s occurred within the context of the neocolonial U.S.-Korea relationship, and was facilitated by crucial congruencies in American and Korean racial thought, government policies and nationalisms. Oh was interviewed recently by the Boston Globe about topic of her book.

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