Primal Wound

Book Review: Reframing Transracial Adoption: Adopted Korean, White Parents, and the Politics of Kinship by Kristi Brian

I'm the first to admit I'm quite skeptical of books about adoption or about the adoptee experience that are written by authors who have no indicated personal connection to the adoption experience, especially as an adoptee. There are a number of books written by adoptive parents describing the adoptee experience, including the infamous "The Primal Wound", which I have not read yet intentionally in large part because the author is an adoptive parent/mental health professional writing a book about adoption's impact on adoptees. This is a book I plan to read as I do understand and respect that it is a book that is often referenced in the adoption community as a primer of sorts on adoption, or as the author notes on her website that "The Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted Child has become a classic in adoption literature and is considered by adoptees to be their adoption bible." As an adoptee, I think I'm admittedly reluctant and bit resistant to read this "adoptee adoption bible" that is written by an adoptive parent because of my own biases and pre-conceived notions about the book. It is a book that is on my list of ones to read and write up a review of sorts.

Given my reservations about books written about the adoptee experience by non-adoptees, I was very surprised to find how the author Ms. Brian was able to honestly capture the thoughts, feelings, and experiences some transracial adoptees have experienced as Korean American adoptees raised in white families - in her book especially given Ms. Brian is very transparent and upfront in the beginning of the book of the fact that she is white and has no personal connection to adoption outside of her friendships with adoptees.  Ms. Brian takes a deep dive of sorts into the complex and diverse world of transracial/transnational adoption, and explores the hidden corners of transracial adoption - privilege, including white privilege and economic privilege - which are the white elephants within the arena of transracial adoptions. Ms. Brian examines the impact these issues, including the political and historical context of Korean American adoptions, on the adoptees, adoptive parents, and even the birth mothers in Korea. I found this to be a unexpected and thoughtful examination of transracial adoption told by a white individual with no personal connections to adoption. The author seemed to make an effort and take her due diligence in tackling this complicated and multifaceted topic.

Reframing Transracial Adoption: Adopted Korean, White Parents, and the Politics of Kinship by Kristi Brian