Front cover of Adoption Fantasies: The Fetishization of Asian Adoptees from Girlhood to Womanhood by Kimberly D. McKee, featuring an illustration of an Asian woman and young girl, their hair blowing in the wind, an evocative black shape with sparkles nearby.

Adoption Fantasies

The Fetishization of Asian Adoptees from Girlhood to Womanhood

Kimberly D. McKee

222 pp. 6 x 9
Pub Date: November, 2023

Subjects: Asian and Asian American Studies
Gender & Sexuality Studies
Film & Media

Series: Formations: Adoption, Kinship, and Culture

order Hardcover $129.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-1557-9
order Paperback $32.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-5892-7
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Kimberly D. McKee interviewed on The Janchi Show podcast

Kimberly D. McKee interviewed on New Books Network

“McKee applies a much-needed intersectional feminist adoptee of color lens to Asian American stereotypes and adoption tropes in media. Her focus on the women and girls harmed by these portrayals fills an important gap within adoption studies and forwards adoption as a productive topic among other fields of scholarship.” —Kim Park Nelson, author of Invisible Asians: Korean American Adoptees, Asian American Experiences, and Racial Exceptionalism

“With Adoption Fantasies, McKee pushes us forward with generosity and rigor into important albeit difficult conversations. Here is a necessary, honest, but also expansive and highly researched interruption of both the lived material contexts of transracial Asian adoption and the more abstract, sometimes repetitive discourses of adoption scholarship. McKee interrogates the joy, beauty, grief, fear, and risks of Asian-adopted girl- and womanhood but also invites us to elevate our shared whispered warnings into louder, bolder, unapologetic declarations of refusal.” —Jenny Heijun Wills, author of Older Sister, Not Necessarily Related

In Adoption Fantasies, Kimberly D. McKee explores the ways adopted Asian women and girls are situated at a nexus of objectifications—as adoptees and as Asian American women—and how they negotiate competing expectations based on sensationalist and fictional portrayals of adoption found in US popular culture. McKee traces the life cycle of the adopted Asian woman, from the rendering of infant adoptee bodies in the white US imaginary, to Asian American fantasies of adoption, to encounters with the hypersexualization of Asian and Asian American women and girls in US popular culture. Drawing on adoption studies, Asian American studies, critical ethnic studies, gender studies, and cultural studies, McKee analyzes the mechanisms informing adoptees’ interactions with consumers of this media—adoptive parents and families and strangers alike—and how those exchanges and that media influence adoptees’ negotiations with the world. From Modern Family to Sex and the City to the notoriety surrounding Soon-Yi Previn and Woody Allen, among many other instances, McKee scrutinizes the fetishization and commodification of women and girls adopted from Asia to understand their racialized experiences.

Author Photo

Kimberly D. McKee is Associate Professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Studies at Grand Valley State University. She is a US Fulbright Scholar at Sogang University in South Korea. McKee is the author of Disrupting Kinship: Transnational Politics of Korean Adoption in the United States and coeditor of Degrees of Difference: Reflections of Women of Color on Graduate School.




Introduction    The Limits of Multiculturalism

Chapter 1        The Fortune Cookie and the Mandarin: Adoption in Modern Family and Sex and the City

Chapter 2        Just Another Asian (American) Woman in Better Luck Tomorrow and Sideways

Chapter 3        The Contingencies of Belonging: Soon-Yi Previn

Chapter 4        Reimagining Korean Adoption in Seoul Searching

Chapter 5        Twinsters and Adoptee Negotiations of the Desire for an Adoption Fairy Tale

Coda    Disrupting Fantasies of Adoption




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