Bachelor of Arts
Department or Program
Since 1992, over 85,000 children have been adopted from China by U.S. citizens (Miller-Loessi and Kilic 2001:246; U.S. Department of State 2013). Most of these adoptees are girls. They were abandoned as infants due the combined factors of patrilineal culture and to China's one-child per person policy. While a plethora of studies examine adoptive parents' experiences raising Chinese-American adoptees (CAAs), little research has been conducted on the lives of CAAs themselves. Utilizing previous literature on adoptive parents, I aim to uncover the beliefs and experiences of CAAs in regards to their narrative and ethnic identities. I conclude that adoptee identity is shaped by multiple factors, including parental approaches to birth/ethnic heritage, racism and bio-centrism from community members, and self-agency.
Racism causes CAAs to question their ethnicities and family ties. From their parents, adoptees learn to seek out birth origins while still creating alternative adoptive beginnings; and to craft an ethnic identity from simplistic elements of Chinese culture. All the while, adoptees come up with novel and empowering interpretations of origins, race and Chinese society. They establish their own organizations to provide each other with support and pride. The conflicting and fluid beliefs of adoptees and their parents reflect the struggles of a diasporic population stuck between two worlds.
Bresnahan, Mei Jiang, "Catching Herself In the Middle: How Chinese-American Adoptees and Their Parents Construct Narrative and Ethnic Identity" (2014). Senior Capstone Projects. 321.