Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


The Contingency of the American Dream: Korean Adoptees as Exceptional Migrants


Liberal Studies Department


Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies

Date Range



Arts and Humanities


An estimated 130,000 Korean adoptees entered the United States since South Korea began its international adoption program. Yet due to their status as adopted children of American citizens, their entry into the United States markedly differs from other persons of Asian descent. McKee locates how adoptees access to legal citizenship is predicated on their status as derivative citizens dependent on their white, parents for entry to the nation. From this perspective, it becomes evident that adoptees disrupt racial hierarchies girding American immigration legislation. Access to the American Dream thus is linked to disciplining adoptee bodies vis-Ã -vis their social death as Korean subjects in order to become acceptable embodiments of futurity. In other words, adoption results in adoptees ability to become acceptable Asian migratory subjects who may access the full benefits of Western democracy. This paper investigates the political, social and economic costs of adoptees entry to the United States. In her examination of derivative citizenship, McKee contributes to broader scholarship that disrupts mainstream beliefs concerning adoption as a humanitarian vehicle and child-saving practice.

Conference Name

The 49th International Conference of the American Studies Association of Korea

Conference Location

Pyeongtaek, South Korea

This document is currently not available here.