Adoptee Deportee: How Transnational Adoption Became an “Immigration Problem”

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People born overseas and adopted into American families can face uncertainty or challenges to their citizenship years after living their whole lives in this country--even to the point of being deported. This panel brings together adoption scholars Kim Park Nelson, Kit Myers and Eleana Kim, as well as adoptee rights legal expert Gregory Luce, to discuss how federal immigration policy impacts transnational adoptees and shapes their national, cultural, and familial belonging. 

About the speakers

Kim Park Nelson is an educator and researcher whose work uses adoption as a lens to understand race and culture. Her work has contributed to building of the field of Adoption Studies and Korean Adoption Studies in the U.S. and internationally.  Dr. Park Nelson’s book, Invisible Asians: Korean American Adoptees, Asian American Experiences and Racial Exceptionalism was published by Rutgers University Press in Spring 2016. The book is based on her ethnographic research exploring the many identities of adult Korean adoptees, as well as the cultural, social, historical, and political significance of sixty years of Korean adoption to the United States. Dr. Park Nelson is also the Equity Inclusion Coordinator for the St. Paul based InterFaculty Organization (IFO), the labor union for the 4000 faculty in the seven campus Minnesota State University system. She directs and leads equity initiatives within the IFO, consults and advises union and administrative leadership on equity issues, and organizes for empowerment among marginalized faculty within the system. Starting in August of 2021, she will be an Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies at Winona State University, where she will teach comparative race and ethnic studies and Asian American studies.  She holds a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Minnesota.

Kit Myers is an assistant professor of critical race and ethnic studies at the University of California, Merced. His research examines the ways adoption and family intersect with race, gender, sexuality, and the law. He has published articles in Adoption Quarterly, Adoption & Culture, and Critical Discourse Studies as well as co-editing a special issue on adoption and pedagogy.

Eleana Kim is a cultural anthropologist whose research and teaching focus on kinship, environment, and migration. Her first book, Adopted Territory: Transnational Korean Adoptees and the Politics of Belonging (Duke University Press, 2010), is an ethnographic study of the emergence of the adult adopted Korean global network and an analysis of Korean adoptees’ relationships to South Korea during the early decades of globalization. Her essays on adoption can be found in Visual Anthropology Review, Social Text, Anthropological Quarterly, Adoption & Culture, and several edited volumes. She is an associate professor of anthropology at University of California, Irvine. 

Gregory D. Luce is a Minnesota-based attorney and a DC-born adoptee. He is the founder of Adoptee Rights Law Center and the president of Adoptees United Inc. As a lawyer, he exclusively represents adult adopted people who have legal issues involving U.S. citizenship, original birth certificates, and identity documentation. He also works to implement broader legal and legislative strategies as a means to overturn frameworks that operate to deny adopted people their basic fundamental truths. He is a graduate of Boston University and the University of Minnesota Law School and has been practicing law in various capacities since 1993.

The following is a recording of this event:

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