In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee
Visit the film’s website to learn more about the film, the filmmaker, cast and crew and upcoming screening events.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Child Welfare Information Gateway
This site, administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, offers a great deal of information about both domestic and international adoption. Included are sections on laws governing adoption, how to put a child up for adoption, how to adopt, post-adoption services and reuniting families.
Adoption Nation: How the Adoption Revolution Is Transforming America (New York: Basic Books, 2000)
This book, centered on a Pulitzer Prize-nominated series of articles author Adam Pertman wrote for The Boston Globe, explores the history of adoption in the United States, from the orphanages of the 19th century to the wider acceptance today of adoption by single, gay and older parents and by parents of different races than their children.
Adoption.com: “Getting Started With International Adoption”
This site offers information about the important considerations specific to international adoption. With links to country programs, types of international adoption and financial and legal considerations, this site aims to equip potential adopters with resources in order to help them make informed decisions.
U.S. Department of State: “What Is Intercountry Adoption?”
This website provides information on regulations that govern intercountry adoption. The site offers valuable information on adoption news and statistics, country-specific adoption information and an overview of the implications of the recently passed Hague Convention agreement, which established important standards and safeguards to protect children adopted internationally.
In Their Own Voices: Transracial Adoptees Tell Their Stories (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000)
This multifaceted book by Rita J. Simon and Rhonda M. Roorda combines information about policy surrounding transracial adoption with the real-life stories of two dozen adoptees.
Adoption Across Borders (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000)
Rita J. Simon, a professor of justice, law and society, and Howard Altstein, a professor of social work, draw on 30 years of studying transracial and intercountry adoption to examine changing attitudes toward the practice and its positive effects.
Inside Transracial Adoption (Indianapolis: Perspectives Press, 2000)
Using a blend of academic research and personal experience, authors Gail Steinberg and Beth Hall, founders and co-directors of Pact, An Adoption Alliance and each the adoptive mother of several foreign-born children, offer guidance for families dealing with the challenges of transracial adoption.
Beyond Good Intentions: A Mother Reflects on Raising Internationally Adopted Children (St. Paul: Yeong & Yeong, 2005)
Cheri Register, a mother of two adopted Korean girls, reflects with candor on the difficulties she faced and on her own quest to stamp out (sometimes unintentional) derogatory or offensive behavior toward multiracial families.
Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption (Cambridge: South End Press, 2006)
In this unusual collection, edited by Jane Jeong Trenka, Julia Chinyere Oparah and Sun Yung Shin, transracial adoptees from around the world share their experiences in essays, fiction, poetry and art. In the process, they tackle questions of racism, family, belonging, human rights and social justice.
HERE: A Visual History of Adopted Koreans in Minnesota (St. Paul: Yeong and Yeong Press, 2010)
Kim Jackson and Heewon Lee’s book of black and white photography captures the faces of just a few of the 13,000-15,000 adoptees from Korea who live in Minnesota. The book also features oral histories recorded by Kim Park Nelson in which adoptees share their personal experiences.
Adopted Territory: Transnational Korean Adoptees and the Politics of Belonging (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010)
Eleana J. Kim, assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Rochester, provides an ethnographic study of transnational adoption by analyzing historical and sociological details of Korean overseas adoption to North America, Europe and Australia. She explores the growing movement of adult adoptees as they form a distinctive community and seek answers about their identities, often returning to Korean to explore their personal and ethnic roots by drawing on interviews with adoptees, social workers, activists, scholars and journalists in the U.S., Europe and South Korea.
International Korean Adoptee Associations (IKAA)
The IKAA Network works to connect the global adoption community. They promote improved cross-cultural relations, the sharing of information and resources between adult adoptee associations and postadoption services for the international adoptee community. IKAA hosts international and national gatherings of adult adoptees.
Korean American Adoptee Adoptive Family Network (KAAN)
One hundred thousand Korean children have been adopted into the United States. With their extended families, they form a Korean adoption community of over two million. KAAN holds an annual national conference in a different city each year where it is hoped that the local organizations will be strengthened and the local connections among adoptive families, adult adoptees, Koreans and Korean Americans will be enhanced.
The Gathering of the First Generation of Adult Korean Adoptees Report
The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute works to improve adoption laws, policies and practices through research, education and advocacy. The Gathering of the First Generation of Adult Korean Adoptees was the first of its kind. From September 9-12, 1999, nearly 400 adult Korean adoptees, adopted between the years 1955 and 1985, gathered in Washington, D.C. The experiences and insights collected in this report help to create an understanding of the impact of past practice on adoptees and are vital resources in shaping international adoption practice for the future.
adoptkorea.com: Adopting From Korea – And Afterwards
A parent, adoption advocate and web architect writes her blog to help adoptees and parents “navigate some of the adoption journey with a little more ease, comfort and confidence.” This article lists information about the Korean adoption process, insight into the intricacies of interracial adoption and links to resources and articles.
Fugitive Visions: An Adoptee’s Return to Korea (Port Townsend, Washington: Graywolf Press, 2009)
Adopted by a family in Minnesota as an infant, Jane Jeong Trenka as an adult returned to Korea to make a new life for herself by reclaiming her roots. She shares her efforts to learn the Korean language and the intricacies of navigating the culture of her unfamiliar birth country.
The magazine Adoptive Families is a source of information for families during and after adoption. The site offers statistics on domestic adoption in the United States and links to related resources and articles for people interested in domestic adoption.
Adopt Us Kids
Adopt Us Kids aims to raise public awareness about the need for foster and adoptive families for children in the child welfare system and to assist U.S. states, territories and tribes to recruit and retain foster and adoptive families. Visitors to the site can view children’s profiles, in addition to information on the adoption process and adoption advocacy and parent resources.
Costs and Financial Support
Adoption.com: “Cost of Adopting”
This page offers an overview of the costs of adoption by agency type and provides estimated adoption fees, including agency fees, attorney fees, birth parent expenses and country fees.
Adoption.com: “Adoption Costs”
This page offers links that may help individuals afford adoption, including resources on raising money in the form of subsidies, loans, tax credits and employer benefits.
A Child Waits Foundation
This foundation organizes a grant program specifically designed to place older and special-needs children in international orphanages with American families. It provides grants and low-interest loans to families who have exhausted other financial-aid options and cannot proceed with adoption without financial assistance.
Gift of Adoption Fund
This fund’s mission is to inspire adoption by providing grants to qualified parents in order to place children in suitable homes. Since 1997, the fund has awarded more than 650 grants to families in need of financial support for the upfront fees involved in adoption.
Support for Adoptive Families
The Adoption Guide: “Adoptive Parent Support Groups”
The Adoption Guide website offers a search function that allows parents to find support groups based on their own geographical location or a child’s country of origin. These groups offer support and guidance in person, online and over the telephone; newsletters highlighting local issues and activities; “adopt chats,” featuring living-room dialogue with other parents and professionals; educational workshops on topics for prospective and experienced adoptive parents; information and referrals regarding agencies, attorneys and one-on-one support; and social activities.
Holt International: “Post Adoption Services”
Holt International, a children’s services organization, seeks to respond to the needs of all three groups involved in adoption — birth parents, adoptees and adoptive parents — throughout their lives, regardless of agency affiliation. Services include camps for adoptees, tours to countries of origin and adult adoptee outreach. The website provides post-adoption FAQs and reading lists.
The Center for Adoption Studies at the School of Social Work at Illinois State University aims to promote the adoption of children from the child welfare system and improve adoption policy and practice by conducting research. Current research topics include stress and coping in struggling adoptive families and promoting healthy marriages in adoptive families.
Beneath the Mask: Understanding Adopted Teens (Silver Springs: C.A.S.E.
In this book, Debbie Riley, a therapist and mother of adopted children, writes about six issues she believes both parents and teens must deal with, including loyalty to adoptive parents, abandonment issues and personal identity. Riley also outlines how therapists can help teens grieve over their losses and work through these issues.
Support for Adoptees
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: “Impact of Adoption on
This fact sheet examines the impact of adoption on adult adoptees. It addresses feelings of loss, the development of identity and self-esteem and the issue of awareness of genetic information and provides information on related books, support groups and other resources.
The Barker Foundation
An agency turned comprehensive adoption center, the Maryland-based Barker Foundation offers pregnancy services, domestic and international adoption services, counseling and education. For adoptees, it offers support groups, lists of helpful books and other resources and opportunities to discuss feelings and concerns.
This blog by Jae Ran Kim, a licensed social worker, teacher, writer and adoptee, is written for an audience of adoptees and seeks to give voice to the adoptee experience. Visitors can read Kim’s posts, and make use of resources and links to other adult adoptees’ blogs. (Please note: This blog was archived in Aug. 2010.)
Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self (New York: Doubleday, 1992)
Building on Erik Erikson’s stages of development, this book, written by David M. Brodzinksy, Marshall D. Schechter, and Robin Marantz Henig, outlines the development of adopted persons and the feelings of loss that many of them experience, from mourning their original caretakers as children to feeling an absence of family history as they start their own families.
Twenty Life Transforming Choices Adoptees Need to Make (Colorado Springs: Piñon
This practically oriented book by Sherrie Eldridge addresses some of the questions that plague adoptees: Does my birth mother still think about me? Was I unworthy for some reason? It then frames these questions as opportunities for growth. Eldridge, herself an adoptee, bases her insights on interviews with dozens of adoptees.
Lost and Found: The Adoption Experience (New York: Dial Press, 1979)
Author Betty Jean Lifton speaks from her own experience as an adopted person who has worked with adoptive families to explore the harm that can come from keeping secrets about children’s birth families and the liberation that can result from openness.
The Family of Adoption (Boston: Beacon Press, 1998)
Author Joyce Maguire Pavao, an adoptee and an adoption therapist with three decades of experience, describes the developmental stages and challenges adopted people and their families can expect, using real-life examples to illustrate them.
The Adoption Life Cycle: The Children and Their Families Through the Years (New York: Free Press, 1992)
Elinor B. Rosenberg, a professor of clinical psychiatry, examines the experiences of the different members of the adoption triad — the birth and adoptive parents and the child — candidly addressing seldom-discussed issues.
International Korean Adoption: A Fifty-Year History of Policy and Practice (New York: Routledge, 2007)
Edited by Kathleen Ja Sook Bergquist, M. Elizabeth Vonk, Dong Soo Kim and Marvin D. Feit,
International Korean Adoption explores the history of international transracial adoption. The book covers sociohistorical background, the forming of new families, reflections on Korean adoption, birth country perspectives, global perspectives, implications for practice, and archival, historical and current resources on Korean adoption.
Searching and Reconnecting
Adoption Registry Connect
This global search registry is designed to reunite adoptees with their birth parents and siblings. The site is part of a network of sites seeking to maximize access and provides its services free of charge.
FindMe is a free, mutual-consent reunion registry for those seeking birth parents or siblings or children given up for adoption.
Adoption.com: “Adoption Reunion Registry”
Adoption.com’s reunion registry is an online adoption reunion registry with approximately 400,000 records. Visitors can complete profiles with adoptee information to find birth and adoption records.
The Other Mother: A True Story (New York: Soho Press, 1991)
Carol Schaefer writes about putting her son up for adoption, her search for him later in life and their eventual reunion.
Birthright: The Guide to Search and Reunion for Adoptees, Birthparents and Adoptive Parents (New York: Penguin, 1994)
Jean A.S. Strauss, who sought out her own birth parents, recounts her experience in this practically oriented guide to conducting a similar search. Included are tips, lists of resources, true stories from other searches and advice about dealing with the emotional turbulence that may result.
POV: In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee
Her passport said she was Cha Jung Hee. She knew she was not. So began a 40-year deception for a Korean adoptee who came to the United States in 1966. Told to keep her true identity secret from her new American family, the 8-year-old girl quickly forgot she had ever been anyone else. But why had her identity been switched? And who was the real Cha Jung Hee? In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee is the search to find the answers, as acclaimed filmmaker Deann Borshay Liem returns to her native Korea to find her “double,” the mysterious girl whose place she took in America. (September 14, 2010)
Off and Running tells the story of Brooklyn teenager Avery, a track star with a bright future. She is the adopted African-American child of white Jewish lesbians. Her older brother is black and Puerto Rican and her younger brother is Korean. Though it may not look typical, Avery’s household is like most American homes — until Avery writes to her birth mother and the response throws her into crisis. She struggles over her “true” identity, the circumstances of her adoption and her estrangement from black culture. Just when it seems as if her life is unraveling, Avery decides to pick up the pieces and make sense of her identity, with inspiring results. (September 7, 2010)
POV: First Person Plural
In 1966, Deann Borshay Liem was adopted by an American family and sent from Korea to her new home in California. There the memory of her birth family was nearly obliterated, until recurring dreams led her to investigate her own past, and she then discovered that her Korean mother was very much alive. Bravely uniting her biological and adoptive families, Borshay Liem embarks on a heartfelt journey in the acclaimed 2000 film First Person Plural, a poignant essay on family, loss and the reconciling of two identities. (December 18, 2000)
Need to Know: “Baby Rescue or Baby Factory?”
Need to Know looks at the politics behind international adoption after the adoptive parent of a Russian boy in Tennessee put the 7-year-old on a plane back to Russia with a note saying she no longer wanted to parent him. Writes Lisa Ko, “It’s impossible to look at international adoption without also looking at global politics and the economic disparities between sending nations, where children are made available for adoption, and receiving nations, where the adoptive parents reside. The U.S. is the largest of the receiving nations, and its history of international adoption parallels other political factors and motivations.” (May 19, 2010)
NewsHour: “Haiti Puts Brakes on New Adoptions”
In the wake of the arrest of 10 American missionaries in Haiti detained on charges of illegally trying to take 33 children out of the country — the missionaries say they were going to set up an orphanage — aid groups are emphasizing the fact that after a disaster such as the January earthquake there is a need to account for lone children and give them time to be reunited with surviving family members. (February 2, 2010)
Religion & Ethics Newsweekly: “Open Adoption”
This episode examines the open adoption movement, which started in the 1980s and “has largely transformed the culture of infant adoption in the United States. Experts say open adoptions have helped remove the anxieties of adoptive families and the shame of birth parents.” (February 13, 2009)
American Experience: “Daughter from Danang”
In 1975, with the end of the war in Vietnam imminent, Mai Thi Kim, a poor young Vietnamese woman, sent her 7-year-old daughter to America as part of a controversial evacuation program known as Operation Babylift. The little girl was adopted by a single woman, renamed Heidi and brought up in Tennessee, where she concealed her Asian past and became, she says, “101 percent American.” Twenty-two years later, Heidi tracked down her birth mother and visited Danang. Peruse a timeline of adoption, find out more about living in two cultures and learn more about international adoption on the website for the film.
Global Voices: “Paper Words”
This short film, directed by Joyce Lee, can be watched in its entirety online. A bright and happy child, 5-year-old Mai has just arrived from China and must now adjust to her new life as a kindergartener in a small Midwestern town. Beautifully rendered in 3D animation, Paper Words follows Mai as she engages her imagination to keep her company in a strange new world.
It’s My Life: “Adoption: It’s Part of Our Lives”
PBS Kids aims its coverage of adoption at kids themselves. Basic facts about adoption, strategies for talking about the search for identity and stories from adoptees can be found on the site.
Fresh Air: “The Joys And Struggles Of International Adoption”
Writer John Seabrook was in the process of adopting a baby girl from Haiti when the country was hit by the massive earthquake in January. He wrote about his own experience with international adoption — and the history and perils of the practice — in The New Yorker and discusses that article here. (May 13, 2010)
Weekend Edition: “Adoptive Parents Take On More Than a Child”
The recent case of a 7-year-old Russian boy being sent back to Moscow by his American adoptive mother has drawn attention to the issues facing parents who adopt. Guest host Jacki Lyden speaks with Dana E. Johnson, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Minnesota and founder of the International Adoption Clinic, and Judy Stigger, a social worker and adoption therapist at The Cradle in Evanston, Ill. (April 25, 2010)
Tell Me More: “‘Returned’ Russian Adoptee Stirs Debate On International Adoption”
The story of a Tennessee woman who adopted a boy from Russia, only to send him back because of behavioral problems, has ignited a debate over international adoptions. Since the news broke, Russia has suspended adoptions by American families. Host Michel Martin talks more about the sensitive nature of international adoptions with Jane Aronson, an adoptive parent and founder of the Worldwide Orphans Foundation, Thomas DiFilipo, president of the Joint Council on International Children’s Service, and James Blue, the father of two adopted children from South Africa. (April 19, 2010)
On Point: “Global Adoption: A New Look”
Americans have adopted many thousands of children from all over the world. They have built many beloved families. On this radio program, experts talk about the risks, rewards and realities of international adoption. (April 15, 2010)
Talk of the Nation: “Where Will All The Haitian Orphans Go?”
Aid groups say tens of thousands of Haitian children lost their parents in the earthquake last week, increasing the number of orphans in the country, already estimated at 350,000 before the earthquake. In response, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is aiming to expedite adoptions already underway by American families. The Joint Council on International Children’s Services president Thomas DiFilipo tells NPR how the Haitian adoption process will be affected by the disaster. (January 20, 2010)
Shots: NPR’s Health Blog: “Most Adopted Children Are Happy, Healthy”
According to the most extensive national data ever collected on adopted children and their families in the United States, the vast majority of adopted children are in good health and fare well on measures of social and emotional well-being. (November 30, 2009)
Talk of the Nation: “Why Did You Opt For an International Adoption?”
Americans adopt thousands of children from other countries every year. The process can be tricky, and would-be adoptive parents are often asked why they don’t adopt children in the United States. (April 7, 2009)
Morning Edition: “Adoption in America: A Series Overview”
Morning Edition holds a conversation about adoption in the United States. Four families and adoptees have learned that it’s not just family photos that change — entire family trees, family traditions and family stories are altered by an adopted child’s own story. Here those families reflect on their experiences with adoption and share the stories that define who they have become. (July 23, 2007)