Korean War, Adoption, Transnational, Transracial, Race, Family


In 1955, the Harry and Bertha Holt successfully petitioned for the passing of Private Law 475 (Holt Bill) allowing for the adoption of eight orphans from South Korea. This was the beginning of a global revolution in transnational and transracial adoption. Prior to this, the idea of adoption outside of the United States was seldom possible; however, the work of the Holt family rationalized with the pubic and garnered much attention from the government and media. Even more so complicated was the idea of mixed-race Korean children, fathered by American G.I.s stationed in the Korea during the Korean War. Their existence challenged conventional American views of race and hereditary purity. This paper aims to explore the story of Korean orphans in the U.S. and attempt to understand the process of “Americanization to which they were subjected to. It will discuss the ways in which both the U.S. and South Korean governments handled these adoptions and mediated their issues. The media played an important role in the influence of not only the general public but also the images of the Korean orphans and their families, both biological and adoptive. Finally, this paper will take a look at the long-term effects of transnational and transracial adoption on children, taking in to account the research of scholars prominent in the field. This will include the study of identity-formation and cultural maintenance in relation post-war Korean adoptees.

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