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New Immigrant WhitenessRace, Neoliberalism, and Post-Soviet Migration to the United States$
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Claudia Sadowski-Smith

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781479847730

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479847730.001.0001

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The Desire for Adoptive Invisibility

The Desire for Adoptive Invisibility

(p.84) 3 The Desire for Adoptive Invisibility
New Immigrant Whiteness

Claudia Sadowski-Smith

NYU Press

This chapter explores three of the most influential parental memoirs of adoption from the former Soviet Union—Margaret L. Schwartz’s The Pumpkin Patch (2005), Theresa Reid’s Two Little Girls (2007), and Brooks Hansen’s The Brotherhood of Joseph (2008)—to complement scholarship on transnational adoption that has focused on questions of race for adoptions from China and Korea, while emphasizing adoption failures for Eastern European adoptees. In these memoirs, parents explicitly eschew the traditional humanitarian narrative of adoption and portray themselves as neoliberal consumers who have the right to select healthy white children from the international adoption market in order to forge families whose members look as though they could be biologically related. While the authors’ belief that they share a preexisting racial identity with post-Soviet children grants them immense privileges, it also subjects adoptees to unrealistic expectations of their complete assimilation that ignore the conditions for the children’s relinquishment and displacement from their birth countries, languages, and cultures. The belief that US adoptive parents share a racial identity with children in the former East Bloc not only turns them into preferred commodities but also renders them particularly vulnerable to rejections or adoption disruptions, which may help explain the significant numbers of abuse and death cases of post-Soviet adoptees at the hands of their US parents.

Keywords:   adoption studies, transnational adoption, adoption from Russia and Ukraine, whiteness studies, racial and ethnic studies, US literary and cultural studies, memoir, adoption market

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