Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption & Foster Care

What the Research on Adult Adoptees Can Teach Us

June 26, 2024 Creating a Family Season 18 Episode 51
What the Research on Adult Adoptees Can Teach Us
Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption & Foster Care
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Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption & Foster Care
What the Research on Adult Adoptees Can Teach Us
Jun 26, 2024 Season 18 Episode 51
Creating a Family

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Join this interview with Dr. JaeRan Kim, an adoption researcher who also blogs at Harlow's Monkey.

In this episode, we cover:

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Please leave us a rating or review. This podcast is produced by We are a national non-profit with the mission to strengthen and inspire adoptive, foster & kinship parents and the professionals who support them.

Creating a Family brings you the following trauma-informed, expert-based content:

Show Notes Transcript

Click here to send us a topic idea or question for Weekend Wisdom.

Join this interview with Dr. JaeRan Kim, an adoption researcher who also blogs at Harlow's Monkey.

In this episode, we cover:

Support the Show.

Please leave us a rating or review. This podcast is produced by We are a national non-profit with the mission to strengthen and inspire adoptive, foster & kinship parents and the professionals who support them.

Creating a Family brings you the following trauma-informed, expert-based content:

Please pardon any errors, this is an automated transcript.
Dawn Davenport  0:00  
Welcome to Creating a Family talk about foster adoptive and kinship care. Welcome back to our regular listeners and a special welcome to our newbies. We are so glad to have you join us. I'm Dawn Davenport. I am the host of this show as well as the director of the nonprofit creating a Today we're going to be talking about what adult adoptees can teach us adoptive parents. We're going to be talking with JaeRan Kim, who works as an associate professor at the University of Washington Tacoma. Her research and writing focuses on the experiences of adoptees and adoptive families. She is an adult adoptee who blogs at That's And Harlow's Monkey, Harlow's Monkey is one of the longest running transracial adoption blogs in the United States. Welcome. I will call you Dr. Kim, I want to call you JaeRan because I feel like you and I know each other we don't but we run in the same circles. But anyway, I always honor doctorates by calling you doctor. So welcome Dr. Kim to Creating a Family.

Unknown Speaker  1:12  
Thank you. I'm so glad to be here. And please do call me Jay Ron.

Dawn Davenport  1:15  
Okay, with your permission, then I will. But anybody who's done the work to earn a doctorate to me gets to be called doctor. But with your permission, I'll call you JaeRan. As I said, I have followed Carlos monkey, perhaps not from the beginning, but from a long time. And then I followed your research, you are often researching questions that and this is the highest compliment to me to a researcher. When I look at the titles of what you are researching, I always go, good question or, yeah, I want to know that too. And so before the show began, I said, How in the world? Have you not been on the creating a family before because I truly am fascinated by a lot of your topics. And we're going to talk about them today. So you research and write about both the experience primarily focusing on adoptees experience, but also by extension adoptive families, it feels to me. So one of your areas of research, and I believe this might be an older area of research, you can correct me if I'm wrong, and that is the experience of adoption dissolutions and disruptions from the adoptee perspective. And I don't know anybody else who's doing research on that. So talk to us some about that experience, and I believe your research has been exclusive on intercountry adoptees. Yeah. So talk to us some, how large of the sample size did you have? And how did you find participants?

Speaker 1  2:42  
Yeah, well, first of all, thank you for talking about the topics that I research and I really appreciate you saying like, Oh, good question. And I want to know that too, because that really was what has driven me to do the research and the topic of I'm now kind of talking about it in terms of inter country adoption displacement, or this continuity, because and I'll talk about this a little bit, but it's about the kind of spectrum of experiences that adoptees have in their adoptive families. But the reason why I even went down this route of research at all was because I had met intercountry adoptees, primarily Korean adoptees, just in social settings way before I was part of the research discipline. I was just another adoptee socializing and meeting other adoptees I really say that I come from the community and the community is what drives me to ask the questions that I asked in my research,

Dawn Davenport  3:42  
which is why they're good questions. Yes. Yeah. Which

Speaker 1  3:44  
is why I think they're good questions, too. Yeah. And so I appreciate that other people also recognize that I had met a Korean adoptees who talked about being in foster care or having been re adopted as kind

Dawn Davenport  3:56  
of a dirty secret and adoption in many ways. We don't talk about it enough.

Speaker 1  4:00  
That's right way before the Reuters report on rehome and came out. I had met adoptees who were re homed. I met adoptees who were in foster care. And I had met adoptees who said things like my parents kicked me out of the house when I was 15. And I ended up living with a friend's parents and family and things like that. Or when I was in Minnesota, there was an organization that worked with youth that were homeless and being told we have so many adoptees come through our shelter. So I got interested in this topic, because I wasn't finding it in the research and nobody was talking about it. The little bit that I found was focused on youth that had been in the foster care system in public child welfare, but nobody had talked about private or international adoptees

Dawn Davenport  4:49  
and then the research with private domestic infant adoption. It's relatively rare and it is higher depending on the age of the child but I am curious to know in your sample Did you see age of the child at adoption as a determinant factor? It did not interesting. But

Speaker 1  5:08  
I was also recruiting a very specific sample when I was looking just for adoptees that had this experience. And granted, there are only 20. In the adoptee perspective one. What you may not know is that I first my dissertation was actually interviewing Dr. Parents who had placed a child in out of home care and internationally adopted child and out of home care. I did not know that. Yeah, so I had 19 Parents 16 families, because some of them were couples. And they had adopted from lots of different countries. Some of them had formally dissolved the adoption, most of them had placed their child in residential treatment, where the child aged out of treatment or had spent time in and out of group homes or other care. So I did kind of an ecological systems and look at those families, what led them to those decisions, how do they come to that place where they had to place their child and out of home care? So I did that study first and then knowing that I also wanted to do the adoptee side, but I wanted to do kind of both perspectives. So there were 20 in my sample are the intercountry adoptees. And the reason why I kind of talked about it in terms of displacement or discontinuity, because it recognizes that sometimes the parents still have legal custody, they haven't dissolved the adoption. It's a good point, but they're not actively parenting their child. Right.

Dawn Davenport  6:31  
That's a really good point. Because you're correct. dissolving it adoption is complicated. And it has some legal ramifications. So it's a good point to so you're calling you prefer to call it a displacement, displacement or discontinuity. Okay, I can see that. Okay. So it's a small sample size, but still, and you only looked at Inter country. And you did not see a correlation between age that's interesting to me. Agent placement, I should say,

Speaker 1  6:58  
Agent placement, right, they were adopted as young as like 10 months up to 10 years old. So there is some we know that with foster care, adoptions age is one of the biggest correlations. Yeah, that's why I asked that. And I think there's also one of the things that I really found in my study, which again, you know, is a very particular sample I want to be clear about that is that we talk a lot about pre adoption traumas that happened. And that did show up to some degree for some of the older adoptees in my sample. But for the ones who were adopted pretty young at like 10 months old, or under a year, I think what I've learned through their stories was that the trauma continued after they were adopted. So again, I don't know that this is necessarily the case of all adoptive families. But there were a lot of family dynamics that were happening that kind of contributed to their displacements. And some of them recognize my own mental health and the trauma of being adopted was part of it. And one of the things we don't talk a lot about that I have in my finding for this study is we talk about legal permanency. We talk about residential permanency. And this is worked on by David Brodzinski and Pender Hughes. They talk about all these different types of relationships. But we kind of think about like legal permanency are not legal permanency, right and formal, we don't really think about relational permanency and residential permanency as well. So, for example, in my first study with the adoptive parents, some of them really made strong efforts to stay connected to their kids who are in residential treatment centers, they would participate in family therapy, or they would visit them at the RGCS or the group homes. So they were continuing that relational permanency even if there wasn't residential. But for the folks in my study, they talked about, they didn't even know whether or not they really still had legal permanency. They didn't know if their adoptions had been dissolved. I asked them once who ended up in the foster care system. Do you know where your parents rights terminated? They had no idea. It's really interesting that the adult adoptee often doesn't know what their legal status is in their families in terms of if their parents have parental rights or not.

Dawn Davenport  9:17  
They had no relation or permanency. So therefore, there's not I mean, they could do the legal research but then why I suppose yeah,

Speaker 1  9:25  
that's exactly right. Yeah. So they knew they didn't have residential and they knew they didn't have relational permanency. And then many of them because they're all intercountry adoptees they, if they were adopted from Eastern Europe or from Asia, they talked about losing that cultural connection to and they talked about that as a displacement that they were displaced from their cultural communities, from their language, from their ethnic identities, all those things as well.

Dawn Davenport  9:49  
Interesting and you found these people through in this case, it would almost have to be word of mouth.

Speaker 1  9:56  
I broadly recruited through social media, Facebook groups, Twitter, Instagram, and then my own website and just ask people to share it broadly in their communities, I did reach out to a couple of organizations that do post adoption services as well. But I knew that this was kind of going to be a hidden community.

Dawn Davenport  10:14  
Yeah, it would be. And it probably overlaps some with the community of adoptees that don't have citizenship and are at risk for deportation. They were to in my study, yeah, that doesn't surprise me, which is a whole different tragedy altogether. So anything else from the adoptee perspective that you want to share about that research? Or maybe what I'd be interested in is thinking about how they said we're not the same parents in the same adoptee? So these are different, but how did the research with the parents influence or inform your research for the adopted people? That's

Speaker 1  10:54  
a great question. The research on the parents, I think validated a lot of the things we already kind of knew about adoptive parents who ended up placing their kids in residential treatment center, or who ended up dissolving their adoptions, largely its concerns around the child's mental health, and issues around safety. And attachment. Those were some of the things that really were strong themes in that study, the comments that they made were so profound, like the title of the article from the parents perspective was, you can't run into a burning building without getting burned yourself.

Dawn Davenport  11:30  
Oh, I saw that. And I've seen the quote from you. I didn't know that's where it came from. Yeah,

Speaker 1  11:34  
one of the parents said that. And I just felt like, yes, they were doing everything they could to try and save their child. But in doing so like, it's the secondary trauma that they had. Another parent said something like, because most of these kids had mental health or other disabilities, that was kind of the overlap with that study, the kids all had identified disabilities. And one of them made a comment that, as a parent, myself, I really resonated with me. She said, when you're standing at the intersection of Canton Ward, it's hard to know what street you're on. Oh,

Dawn Davenport  12:05  
darn, that's a good one.

Speaker 1  12:07  
I just thought that was such an amazing quote, and to really speak to that experiences. So I carried kind of those thoughts with me to the second study, what I found was that I think that there's multiple different pockets of parents who are willing to do interviews with a researcher like myself about their experiences with displacement. And they were not the same parents, that the adoptees were talking about. The parents that I interviewed, were trying so hard to get all the available resources that they could to prevent a displacement. So, adoptees I talked to spoke about the failure of the system and professionals and their parents to work with them at all. And so I don't talk about this a lot, because it's really challenging. But there was a lot of identified abuse in the home. Certainly a lot of neglect by these parents. I mean, some of the stories. Anybody could say that to abuse and neglect, when they're talking about having their parent throw all their stuff in garbage bags out on the front lawn and saying you can't come back into this house. You're not welcome here anymore. That's a clear sign of abuse, neglect. I don't think we're talking to those parents in the research, I think that they probably wouldn't ever agree to be interviewed,

Dawn Davenport  13:33  
you're probably right. They probably would not agree. Yeah.

Speaker 1  13:37  
And so we've got parents who do want the trainings, they do want to engage with professionals, they do go to the agencies for help. And then you've got parents who don't, from the professional standpoint, I think about therapists, I think about people who work in post adoption services. If they're interacting with adoptees who are experiencing this, what the adoptees were saying was, there was a lot of effort to scapegoat the adoptee saying it must be their fault. And so even in therapy, parents were taking them to therapy and saying, fix my kid, or they can't come home, things like that. And so instead of engaging in looking at the family dynamics, the adoptees felt like they were really on their own to manage whatever was going on in the house. And in truth, they probably were. Yeah, and a lot of the adoptees, it was such a common theme where they were basically threatened to be displaced if they didn't behave in a certain way. So they would hear things from the parents, like, we'll send you back to your orphanage, if you don't behave or you know, we could always put you in foster care. So there was always this lingering threat of displacement, which I think for any adoptee who might have any attachment concern that only is going to exacerbate that they didn't feel like they were in a safe home.

Dawn Davenport  14:56  
You know, and as a adoption professional, or an educator Are the trainer of adoptive parents? How do we get to parents before they adopt to help them? Number one set more realistic expectations? And also to look inward a little more as to what their reasons for adopting are and what their expectations are for this child? And how much is that a reflection of what they think it's going to be for them? I don't know. I thought a lot

Speaker 1  15:23  
about that, you know, over the past 1520 years, I've thought about that question a lot. Me too. I don't know that it's really possible, to be honest. And the reason why is because in my research, that first Sunday, I had a parent say, I just had stars in my eyes, I thought it was going to be the soccer mom, I thought it was just going to adopt. And, you know, even if they get to training, they don't always it doesn't hit until after the child's in the home. True. And

Dawn Davenport  15:50  
I take it there's a certain amount of, and this is not a popular thing to say. But the common thing is we want to knock the rose colored glasses off. But you know, what a certain amount of going into any parenting, whether it's you're trying to conceive and give birth, or whether you're adopting is a certain amount of optimism, we all approach the future or mentally healthy people usually approach the future with a certain degree of optimism. So while we want to show reality, to try to then terrify them, because most of the time, the worst doesn't happen, you know, it's the my grandmother's prepare for the worst hope for the best and settle for anything in between. And that's really kind of the approach we need to take. We are criticized by both adoptive parents and adoptee at times, because and there is some truth to this, that we focus on the negative, I would say that we're not focusing on the negative, but we're trying to help set realistic expectations. That's what I would say. However, if I'm being honest, and you look at the titles of our shows, if you look, I publish an article every weekend, we do a podcast every week, and we do actually two podcasts every week. And so if I look at that, I see the criticism I and I don't have the answer. A couple of years ago, we decided that we really did need to try to not be defensive and really look. And we thought, okay, we are balancing a little more on the negative. And by negative I would have said realistic but you know, nonetheless, but it's hard. It's hard, because we also, we don't want people going in totally unprepared. We want to counterbalance some of the optimism. I don't have an answer. I don't I'm just saying that I struggle, literally weekly with this topic.

Speaker 1  17:35  
I appreciate the reality part. Because the optimism I mean, I hear a lot of criticism about adoptees who are in the fog, and they just believe like everything is rosy. And the thing is their supports for people who have that optimistic view out there. Largely society supports that perspective. But for people who are having challenges who are not finding the validation that their experiences are different, it's hard for them to find and feel like people are hearing them because people don't want to hear them. Yes, because people don't want to hear it. So I think it is important for there to be resources for people even if it tends to look like it's more negative because by and large, I think society promotes and validates the rosy side to adoption. True.

Dawn Davenport  18:23  
Yeah, I hear you. It's a valid point. Yeah, well, we will not solve this. I don't want to spend too much time because there's so many other topics I want to talk to you about. I just needed to vent there because it's something that I think about. Did you know that creating a family has a second podcast where we answer your questions. It's called weekend wisdom. And as you would guess from the name, it drops on the weekend, Sunday to be specific. And every week, we take about five maybe a little more minutes to answer one of your questions. So send us your questions, you can send them to info at creating a and the array line you could put weekend with them. But honestly, you don't need to. If a question comes in, it's all getting funneled to me and we will look at it for a upcoming weekend wisdom so please send them now back to the interview. Another research area which I am dying to know what made you think of this, although it might be from your personal experience. I don't know. Korean adoptees as parents that's the general name. We're gonna talk about a subsection of that which is Korean adoptees who adopt but first I want to talk about the general research which is Korean adoptees as parents. What made you interested in that?

Speaker 1  19:44  
Well, it is generated partly from my personal experience. So I am a Korean adoptee, of course and I have two children. They are now 30 and 26. But back when I had them all those years ago, 30 years ago, we weren't really talking about what it meant to be an adoptee and to have kids. So I was adopted at almost three years old. I was like, two years and nine months or something like that. When my kids were that age, I thought there's no way I could imagine them having to start over in a new family. And it just really hit me hard, right? That whole idea of like, Oh, they're talking, they know who I am. They have strong preferences. I just couldn't imagine what it would be like for them to be sent to another country for adoption. And I was talking about this with other Korean adoptee friends that I had and other adoptee friends, not just Korean adoptee friends. And it seemed to be something that we all felt, and we're kind of grappling with. But again, there was no research on it. And I had the good fortune to be working with rich Lee, who's at the University of Minnesota who's done some research on transformational Korean adoptions, but also was starting a study on Asian American parenting. And he had done the study where they had talked to 1.5 second generation Asian Americans, and the whole idea is around like intergeneration ality meaning grandparents influencing the next generation, and then how that influences parenting, those values that socialization carries on to the next generation. So multiple generations there. And in his study, he kind of saw that there were all these Korean adoptees participating in the study

Dawn Davenport  21:32  
because he's in Minnesota and and what people don't realize it's Minnesota thick. It used to have the largest population of Korean specifically adopted per capita right

Speaker 1  21:41  
in the United States in the US and their experiences of parenting were really different because their parents were white. So instead of having Asian parents talking about Vietnamese, and Hmong and Chinese families passing on their values, intergenerationally it was white parents to Korean adoptees to them the adoptees kids. And so I asked, you know, they had talked about doing a study just on Korean adoptee parents, and I got involved in that. So I was really fortunate to do that. And we wanted to look at socialization practices. So how do you socialize around race, culture, ethnicity, and adoption? When you have white parents? How do you pass down those identities to your kids, when you have white grandparents? Right? Yeah. Right.

Dawn Davenport  22:26  
And in the general study, did you see any differences? What did you see when you were looking at Korean adoptees who then became parents? And at this point, we're not distinguishing how they became parents? So I would say the vast majority gave birth?

Speaker 1  22:40  
That's right. Yes, I would say the biggest finding for me was this idea of reappraisal, the kind of thought of, I didn't get this when I was growing up. And so I want to try and give it to my kids. And most of it was around cultural identity, the ones that kind of talked about racial identity, racial socialization is different than ethnic socialization. They kind of are sometimes grouped together. But racial socialization is more about how do I prepare you to be a person of color in a world that still has a lot of white supremacy where you're going to be discriminated against where you have to be prepared to be this racialized body in these white spaces? How do you prepare for that? And most of them did very little of that, because they didn't receive it from their parents either. So they don't know how to do it. You hear about black parents giving their kids the talk? Sure.

Dawn Davenport  23:35  

Speaker 1  23:36  
How do you know encounter the police in a way that keeps you safe if you get pulled over, for example?

Dawn Davenport  23:43  
Well, now a lot of trans racial white parents adopting black children. I hope we're very cognizant about that issue. Yeah, time will tell. Yeah. Before you go on, how do you contrast that to ethnic socialization?

Speaker 1  23:56  
Ethnic socialization would be more like you're a Korean person. And so do you eat Korean food, you know, Korean customs, Korean language, it's more about the pride in your heritage, knowing how your ethnic group came to the United States or whatever. So kind of feeling ethnic pride, and that was easier for Korean parents to do. But they also felt that they were inauthentic that they weren't Korean enough to do that. So this whole kind of like doing it at the same time. That was kind of one of the big findings that I thought was really interesting, adoptees who are saying, well, I didn't like Korean food growing up the few times I had it, and I want my kids to be more open minded. So I'm trying to cook Korean food in the home so that they get the taste for it.

Dawn Davenport  24:43  
Yeah, at least like kimchi. Gotcha. Right, right.

Speaker 1  24:47  
I mean, I was 29 before I had KMG. And I didn't like it the first time I had it either. Yeah. So I could relate to that.

Dawn Davenport  24:54  
I'm assuming that ethnic socialization one reason it might be easier is because I suspect it was easier for the white parents to have done ethic because that's a matter of helping to instill pride. And there are many ways to do that. But racial socialization is one of what it takes the acceptance of the fact that it's necessary, which is a hard thing for white parents to accept. I think it's more easier for them now, certainly than it was in the past. But I think we white parents still struggle with that. So I wonder, is that part of the what you probably don't know the reason but you did identify that racial socialization was harder. I

Speaker 1  25:35  
will say that for the Korean adoptees who had partners who were not white, you know, Asian, Black, Hispanic, they were more likely to talk about race than the ones that had white partners.

Dawn Davenport  25:47  
That makes sense. So they have somebody newborn who's modeling it also, their child has dual. They're a bipod person in more than one way. I'm not sure that's the right way to say that. But anyway, they have dual races.

Speaker 1  25:59  
Well, yes, except for the Asian who had other Asian partners. But there was folks who did a secondary analysis of that study and look just that the Korean adoptees with white partners to kind of look at that dynamic to because the vast majority of them were married, or had partnered with white spouses or significant others, and so their kids were white and Asian, white and Korean. So the other thing is just phenotypically, if they are more racially ambiguous or look more white, which was the case in some of them, it was harder for them to talk about race, even in some ways, hard to even just talk about their ethnicity. One parent, for example, was talking about I told my kids, you look white, so you have to understand you have privilege by being more white passing. So there was a variety of different ways that parents kind of responded to the way they look.

Dawn Davenport  26:52  
Interesting. Anything else that you ask about in that study, other than the ethnic and racial socialization.

Speaker 1  27:00  
We also asked about adoption socialization. So the ways they talk about adoption, their own adoption with their kids.

Dawn Davenport  27:06  
Now, this is we're going to separate this because in a minute, we're going to talk about families who created their family through adoption. But so right now these are having given birth, how they talked about their own adoption. What did you find? That's interesting?

Speaker 1  27:20  
Yeah. So we did find that many of them did, because they had grandparents who were white. And so just even kind of talking about how their families look different, and how they have white grandparents and a very small amount of them. I don't remember the exact number had been reunited with their Korean families, and their birth families. And so then they kind of talked about having like different steps and grandparents, including Korean grandparents, and so having to have those conversations about how they had these different parents, I imagine in similar ways, as families that have divorce and multiple step parents, just talking about how our families look a little bit different than other families, and the reasons why. And

Dawn Davenport  28:02  
all families are good, and ujs might look different. And all they just look different. Yeah, exactly. Interesting. As you can tell, I am loving this interview, to research geeks talking, this is a lot of fun for me. However, I do want to stop here for a moment to tell you about a training that we have for parents raising children who may have been prenatally exposed to alcohol or to drugs. We've run two randomized control trials on this, it is evidence based, it is a really strong training. It's four and a half hours broken up over three sessions. And it breaks into techniques that have been shown to work with these kids. And we break that out into age groups of kids. It's online, it is facilitated and it's participatory, it's interactive. It's a real strong training, you can get more information about it at Bitly slash prenatal dash exposure dash training, that's Bitly bi T dot L y slash prenatal dash exposure dash training. Check it out. Now we're going to talk about a subset of that study, which is Korean adoptees who choose to adopt something that I have always been interested in because in our support group, we have a number of adoptees who have adopted, some are Korean and some are not. Anyway, it's an interesting topic. So did you have many first of auditor sample size was it? Were you able to find many? Yeah,

Speaker 1  29:34  
so we did not have a huge sample. It was a very small sample. We had 52 in our original sample, but there is a recording problem. So we had 51 transcripts. And of course, the one that didn't record was an adoptive parents. So we only had seven transcripts who were able to analyze. But it was interesting because, first of all, there's very little information about adoptees who have That's yeah,

Dawn Davenport  30:00  
very little. And yeah, you're right. I don't know of anybody other than you who's doing this.

Speaker 1  30:04  
Yeah. But I know that just again talking out in the general public with adoptees and former foster youth, I hear this. Well, I was adopted, or I was in foster care. So I want to adopt or foster someday. So I know that that's one motivating factor. But we don't ever ask that when we do studies of adoptive parents. We never asked them. Were you in foster care? Or were you adopted? And I think that there's more out there than we even realize.

Dawn Davenport  30:31  
I think you're right. It's hard to know. Could it be that because it stands out as something that is interesting. We pay attention to it, so we recognize it more. But like you, I feel like I hear that. It's not unusual for me to hear that. So I think I agree with you. And,

Speaker 1  30:48  
of course, you know, my community samples limited. I don't know, all adoptees are, you

Dawn Davenport  30:54  
know, a lot though. Yeah.

Speaker 1  30:55  
I know a lot. And I know a lot of adoptees who have adopted? Yeah, so there you go. Yeah. And in this particular sub sample of Korean adoptees a seven of them, six of the seven had adopted Korean children. And then the seventh adopted Chinese children. So I think also, that's really interesting, because, you know, we have these adoptees who were raised in transracial families, and they were mostly six out of the seven of them had partners who were white, or black. So only one of the sample was married to a Korean, and they had adopted from Korea. The others were all in interracial families and had transracial adoptive parents, and yet they all chose to adopt Asian children. So I think that says something about wanting their children to look like them. Even though their child is going to have most of them, were going to have a transracial adoption experience, because their other parent was not. It's really interesting. And unfortunately, because we didn't do this, this was a secondary analysis. I want to do another study at some point where I actually ask adoptive parents, what was your motivation? And why did you choose to adopt from the country you adopted? Yeah,

Dawn Davenport  32:14  
I want you to do that study. Yeah. Like why not

Speaker 1  32:17  
the domestic foster care system? There are so many kids in the foster care system that could be adopted. Why did they participate in international adoption in the country where they came from? I think that's a really interesting question that I wanted to go back and ask them all again.

Dawn Davenport  32:33  
Yeah. When do you do that? Let me know. Because I wanted that to Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Anything else in the secondary analysis when you were looking just at the adoptees who had adopted? Anything else that struck you is interesting that you hadn't thought of? Yeah.

Speaker 1  32:50  
And I kind of knew this already from just talking to other adoptees in the community who had adopted but right now, especially because there's such a growing criticism of adoption in general, and especially international adoption. A lot of these adoptees talked about kind of having conflicting feelings about it, like they might consider adopting again. But politically, they felt like it was going to be really difficult or challenging. Or they don't disclose that they adopted their kids, because they know other adoptees will give them a hard time. I

Dawn Davenport  33:24  
wasn't going to raise this. But that is my first thought is that, I think, depending on how active they are in the adoption community, it could be frowned on. And I totally understand why that's something they would not want to and I think it's there's been a shift. So I feel for them, because they probably did this at a time where that didn't exist. And now they're having to deal with the kind of the shift in perception. It's interesting that you found that,

Speaker 1  33:54  
yeah, they talked about it. And then they also talked about how maybe they hadn't processed their own adoption until they became adoptive parents. And then, just as I had talked about, with my kids, when they reached about the age that I was adopted, and kind of realizing what that loss meant. They saw that with their own kids. So then when they adopted and they went to Korea, and they met the foster parent, and then they realized, wow, this child is really losing the only people that they had ever known as parents or caregivers. And then that made them start to think about what they had lost. And so they also went through this kind of parallel process of grieving their own or thinking about their own adoptions, too, or they didn't understand the magnitude of the loss until they had adopted their kids.

Dawn Davenport  34:46  
I heard exactly that. When I interviewed adoptees many years ago. It actually was a Korean adoptee who was talking about that exact thing that when her son reached the age that she was when she was put in the order furniture, the child welfare institution in Korea, and she was overcome with rage. She said, Yeah, who would do this to a baby, just that that feeling. And I think she has come sense to a greater appreciation for the complexities that her birth mom but but she said at that moment, she did not feel that her adoptive mom, who was able to eventually help her come back to she said, my mom kept talking with such sympathy towards my birth mom. So that helped her come. She said the other thing was when her son was the age, and I think it was probably around three as well, I don't remember. And she said it was just heartbreaking for her. Because as you said, she couldn't imagine her son experiencing that loss. And she had a greater appreciation. She said, I never thought I experienced trauma. And I always just downplayed it and said, I haven't, you know, I haven't experienced trauma. I've had a good life, blah, blah, blah. And she said that at that moment. She said, Yes, I've experienced trauma. Yeah, which is any parent, you can only imagine, I can only imagine how hard that would be. Let me take a quick moment to tell you about 12 free courses that we have on our website, thanks to the generous support of the jockey being Family Foundation, they're terrific. They're one hour, they're self paced, so you take them on your own, if you need a certificate of attendance, you can get it. If you don't, you just take the course because you want to be a better parent, they focus on parenting topics, they're very strong horses, I recommend them highly check them out at Bitly, slash j, b, f support. Alright, the last area of research that I'd like to talk about is adoptive parents of children with disabilities. Why that area of I'm always interested in now and why you're choosing there. So why that one,

Speaker 1  36:53  
I have a real special interest in disabilities as well. And I do some other research around students with disabilities in higher education. And that's my kind of like non adoption research. So this was kind of the intersection between my disability research and adoption research. And part of it is because one of my colleagues does research on parents who have kids with disabilities and how they navigate workplaces, as parents with disabilities and kind of the support that parents have in the workplace to be able to take time off flexible hours being able to do the appointments. The practical stuff, yeah, right, right. They call it work life fit or work life integration, how do you integrate your work and your life together? And based on my study, with the parents who had displaced their children, that my dissertation research, that was something that came up a lot was the challenge of working a full time job. Most of those couples, if they were couples, one parent had to either work part time or had to give up their job in order to navigate all of the appointments, the therapy's we hear that all the time being called to school,

Dawn Davenport  38:03  
or kids being suspended. Exactly. And then what do you do when you have a child with extreme behavioral issues? And yeah,

Speaker 1  38:13  
right. Right. So I already knew that that was a big finding that I had in my research. And then when she was talking about workplace supports, we decided to come together and do this study. So we launched it in June, right after COVID shutdown, we had started planning design earlier. And then in 2020, like everybody else, we ended up having to kind of pivot a little bit. And we inserted some questions around COVID. Because we knew parents who are now dealing with all of the same as above, but now they were doing it through COVID. And having to work from home. Yeah, and manage that. What we found was that there were some families who actually found it more helpful to be shut down at home. We heard that as well, because it was easier to manage, they didn't have to commute take time off, they could flex their hours.

Dawn Davenport  39:04  
They also often found it easier with their kids because there weren't so many appointments because they were cancelled, also, because they were able to create a more uniform, and this is particularly with children with emotional disabilities. There was less overstimulation. We heard very, very frequently through the pandemic, for so many of the families, that it was actually a better experience. And they were able to work from home although this Don't kid ourselves. If you've got any child in the house, it is extremely difficult to work from home. Right?

Speaker 1  39:36  
Yeah. We found some of the same things. There were some families that it was much better. They were able to spend more time together without rushing around to all the different appointments and everything in it actually helped strengthen their relationship. There were other families where it was the opposite, I would say because all these kids, I mean uniformly most of them had it EPs and they had special ed services that they weren't getting. And they would say things like, I'm not a special ed teacher, I don't know how to help my kids with their education needs. So some of those things were more challenging. But yeah, it was interesting. I think the surprise for us was the number of families that said things were actually better. When

Dawn Davenport  40:21  
did surprise me because I was living through it with a large support group. And I heard that over and over, like one mother said, we're not doing homework here. She said, You know, they may assign it, I'm just not doing it, you know, that will help them with their actual study, I don't just so many things that they were able to let go of an interesting study would be that transition back into the real world, not just for adoptive, but for all of us. The transition from COVID into the in some ways, I was drugged, kicking and screaming back into it was enjoying the timeout. So my last question for you. And I read this on J. Ron That she said, or it could have been your University of Washington Tacoma. But anyway, you had the statement, my dream class to teach would be to use film and popular media to analyze themes around foster care, adoption and child welfare. I would name this class beyond Juno's. So I was interested in that. And I wanted to know, what would you cover in this class?

Speaker 1  41:18  
Yeah, I was really fortunate when I was at the University of Minnesota that I got to develop a class on permanency and adoption for the School of Social Work. So my final assignment was a film analysis. So they got to find a film that had an adaption theme, and then apply what we've learned in the class to that film. Because I just think that there's so much rich stuff out there in film and TV around adoption, whether it's, this is us, or Juno, and films, and TV and media are such a good way for us to kind of talk about adoption practices and policies, and the good and the bad and the ugly, what's ethical, what's not ethical in an accessible way for students? You know, when we talk about Juno, and I can say, it's unethical that this attorney was representing both Juno and the prospective adoptive parents. That's an unethical practice. And we can talk about that, right? They may not have known that beforehand, or talk about families that have different support, we could talk about race when we're talking about The Blind Side, or when we're talking about this is you we can talk about those different elements, even Sex in the City, all of them. Yes, there's so many, right, there's so well, I mean, adoption is everywhere. In the films. Yes, it's a trope. And sometimes they use it just to make another point. And sometimes it's more thoughtful, so that the more thoughtful arcs can help us really situate modern adoption practices, that students who are going to be working in the field, like social work students, I think they need to be thinking about all these elements, right? And I can teach them but like, showing them the film margin child and saying, Look at the way this child sees himself as not human because of his experiences. He doesn't belong anywhere. How might a child that you might be working with see themselves right or, you know, it's really rich for discussion and for us to be thinking about these aspects of adoption policies and practices.

Dawn Davenport  43:24  
Have you read the book, The fetishization of female Asian adoptees by Dr. Kimberly McGee.

Unknown Speaker  43:30  
I'm reading it right now. Okay,

Dawn Davenport  43:32  
I interviewed her. And so for the audience, you can go back and listen to that interview. But she talks about the modern medium as portrayal of adaption. That's not the only thing the book is about. It covers a lot more. But that is one aspect of it. So I recommend both the book and I'll tell you an interesting thing. That podcasts dropped a couple of weeks ago. We've had I think, three or four comments coming back. I think they all have been adoptive parents about finding it fascinating and how much it meant to them and how it made them think, which honestly surprised me. i These were not just comments on the podcast. These were a couple of Facebook messages. One was email to me personally. I mean, it was interesting. I really

Speaker 1  44:15  
appreciate her work on this because in the adoption spheres, we talk a lot about race, but it tends to be mostly black and white. And I think that people don't realize the way Asian adoptees are socialized and all the different racial stereotypes and Miss Asians.

Dawn Davenport  44:33  
Yes, absolutely. It's a little more in the for right now simply because of the horrible events that happened in Atlanta, where the Asian women were targeted to be killed. But that will pass back probably already has. But yeah, I thought it was a really interesting book as well. So good. I'm glad you're reading it. Well, Dr. J. Ron Kim, thank you. This has been so enjoyable. I am glad that we made this happen. When you do more research reach out to Meet another research geek in your fan club. So, I'm rooting you on. I'm fascinated by what you're doing. So thank you.

Speaker 1  45:06  
Thank you. I'm working with some people, you know, Angela Tucker and some other folks looking at how adoptees mentor each other and what kinds of mentoring programs adoptees find helpful.

Dawn Davenport  45:17  
Oh, that's interesting. And honestly, heartless monkey has been around so long that I don't know if your intent was to actually be a mentor. But you certainly were both to adoptees, but also maybe more than you realize to adoptive parents. So you would be a perfect person to do that research since Thank you. You've been doing it for so long. So interesting. Fascinating. Well, thank you so much for being with us today on creating a family. I really appreciate it.

Unknown Speaker  45:41  
Thanks, Don. It was really great to have this conversation with you.

Dawn Davenport  45:47  
Wait, wait, wait, wait before you leave. Let me say a shout out and a quick thanks to one of our very long term partners and that is children's connection. They have been supporting this show as well as all of the resources we provide at creating a family for many years. They are an adoption agency providing services for domestic infant adoption, placing babies throughout the US. They also do home studies and post adoption support for families in Texas. Thank you children's connection

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