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Outsiders Within

edited by Jane Jeong Trenka, Julia Chinyere Oparah, and Sun Yung Shin South End Press; $20



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Outsiders Within, a collection of essays by adult transracial adoptees, focuses on themes and experiences common to that group, blurring the lines between place of birth and type of adoption. Prepare to be challenged, fascinated, outraged, and enlightened—this is a book that all members of the adoption community should read.

“Proud to Be Me,” by Ami Nafzger, is an honest and frank account of the challenges international adoptees face in developing an identity that is authentic and “functional”—living everyday life as a transracial adoptee, not as an ambassador of your birth culture. Jeni C. Wright’s “Love is Colorblind, Reflections of a Mixed Girl” forces you to examine what happens to children when we ignore their racial and cultural connections, no matter how loving our intentions. After describing a racist encounter, Wright admits what she wishes her mother had taught her: Their home may have been colorblind, but the outside world is not.

As I read the writings of my fellow adoptees, I’m reminded of what a diverse community we are. I also feel a deep sense of pride in the collective wisdom that we are creating through works like this.

Reviewed by Deborah Johnson, a director/social worker with the Ties Program in Minnesota. Johnson is a Korean adoptee and mother of two “almost adults.”

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