LEE, Richard Lee, U.S. discussed on The Philosopher's Zone


Adoption and the U.S. immigration system. Yeah, and you try all sorts of really interesting knock on effects from this sort of clean break model of adoption, which minimizes the racial differences between Korean adoptees and their parents. And one of those is what you have described as the transracial adoption paradox. This is something that many of these Korean born children began to experience as they grew older. The transracial adoption paradox tell me about that. Yeah, so the translational adoption paradox is coined by a psychologist Richard Lee. And Lee defines the paradox as a kind of set of what he calls contradictory experiences that are undergone by racial minority children who are adopted by white parents. So these children are racial minorities in society more broadly. But they are perceived and treated by others and sometimes even themselves as if they are members of the majority culture. And what's really interesting and important to emphasize there is that by majority culture Lee means not just that these adoptees are culturally white or as he says ethnically European, but also that they view themselves and are treated by others as if they're racially white, which is according to Lee. And adoption studies more broadly quite unique to transracial adoptees. And of course, you make the point that transracial adoptee experiences are incredibly diverse and circumstances vary widely. But is it possible to based on the studies that have been undertaken? To make some general comments about how the transnational adoption paradox can affect the sense of self or the behavior of some of these adoptees. Yeah, you know, a lot of studies have found that most Korean adoptees in the U.S. at least considered themselves to be or wanted to be white as children. In terms of how I guess deeply embodied this manifests, there's a recurring image or even a motif, I guess, in many adopting narratives and studies of seeing themselves in the mirror, adoptees kind of describe a sense of maybe shock is too strong of a word, but surprise. When viewing themselves in the mirror because they actually expected to see a white person looking back at them. And this kind of demonstrates, I think this disconnect or as some adoption researchers have called a form of bodily, self estranged or bodily alienation that abides because their internal sense of self, so to speak, does not match up with the way that they are perceived by others in the way that they appear when they're images reflected back on themselves. And so, you know, one of the ways in which this has manifested in terms of behavior is that some studies have found that adoptees have tried to modify their bodies through dying or curling their hair, using white face powder using blue contact lenses, so with regard to their sense of identity, due to the transracial adoption paradox, if adoptees families and broader communities do indeed perceive them as white by virtue of their adoption and if they deploy a kind of colorblind attitude, which was really the advice and the sort of prevailing discourse at the time, especially for the earlier adoptions, this idea that race doesn't matter. And this kind of love transcendent notion of adoption. Then for a lot of those adoptees, they're experiences of racialization go unseen unacknowledged and supported, and in some cases, family members will refuse to acknowledge that their child might have different experiences to their own, right? Because they view their child as simply their child, that because race doesn't matter to them or so that's how the explanation goes, right? That racialization isn't going to impact their child. And then growing up another repercussion is that many transracial adoptees avoid being associated with other people of color. Especially in their formative years. And so for some, there's a sense of double exclusion. So in white dominance, communities, they're seen as perpetually foreign. But in Korean communities, for example, they might feel inauthentically Asian or Korean. They don't speak the language. They have no understanding of cultural norms. They don't know how to eat the food. And so a really common theme running through a lot of these narratives is a struggle to find a place in the world. You're in the philosopher's zone with me David Rutledge and my guest this week is Ryan Gustafson from the Asia institute at the university of Melbourne. We're talking about transracial adoption and the ways in which transracial adoptees can find themselves in bodying a strange paradox that incorporates.

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