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A War Born FamilyAfrican American Adoption in the Wake of the Korean War$
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Kori Graves

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781479872329

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479872329.001.0001

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Pearl S. Buck and the Institutional and Rhetorical Reframing of US and Korean Adoption

Pearl S. Buck and the Institutional and Rhetorical Reframing of US and Korean Adoption

(p.187) 5 Pearl S. Buck and the Institutional and Rhetorical Reframing of US and Korean Adoption
A War Born Family

Kori A. Graves

NYU Press

In 1949, Pulitzer and Nobel Prize–winning author Pearl S. Buck established Welcome House, the first permanent foster home and adoption agency for mixed-race children of Asian descent born in the United States. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Buck innovated an institutional model and rhetorical strategy to increase adoptions of US-born and foreign-born mixed-race children of Asian descent. Buck’s strategies were controversial because they represented a break from adoption standards that child welfare professionals devised to promote the best interest of adoptees. Professionals associated with the US Children’s Bureau, the Child Welfare League of America, and International Social Service were critical of Buck’s adoption work and her support of proxy adoptions. But white adoptive families responded to her reframing of mixed-race children as beautiful and intellectually superior hybrids that were model adoptees. Yet, Buck’s efforts to increase African Americans’ adoptions of Korean black children were less effective. Her awareness that transnational adoption would not be a solution for many mixed-race Korean children, and especially Korean black children, led Buck to establish the Pearl S. Buck Foundation and an opportunity center in South Korea to assist mixed-race children and their mothers.

Keywords:   Pearl S. Buck, Welcome House, proxy adoption, Pearl S. Buck Foundation, Mixed race children

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