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Triple nothings: racial identity formation in Chinese-American adoptees

Rooney, Kimberly (2019) Triple nothings: racial identity formation in Chinese-American adoptees. Undergraduate Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The experiences of Chinese-American adoptees vary greatly, but at the beginning of each of our stories is the journey from China to the United States. As Chinese-American adoption rose in popularity in the 1990s, it created a unique sub-population of adoptees. The circumstances of our adoptions are closely tied to the 1979 one-child policy in China, which intersected with cultural values in China and international adoption trends to create a phenomenon of predominantly white American parents adopting Chinese, predominantly female, children. As these children grow older, they face dissonance when trying to form their racial identities. Their experiences and personal histories differ from those of white people, non-adopted Chinese Americans, and Chinese people who grew up in China, leaving a “triple nothing” in which they can explore their racial identities.
For this project, I aimed to document and analyze this process. I traveled up and down the East Coast to interview twenty female Chinese-American adoptees, all between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five at the time of the interviews, to record an oral history of their processes of racial identity formation. I asked them how they racially identify, what those identities mean to them, what influenced their racial identity formations, and how those identities impacted other parts of their lives.
In this thesis, I argue that Chinese-American adoptees’ methods of racial identity formation have potential shortcomings or limitations for the purpose of forming a positively constructed racial identity. Yet adoptees’ processes of racial identity formation are useful as a means of revealing more broadly the ways in which people construct racial identities, since attempts to articulate and understand the formation of these identities renders the frameworks of racial identity formation more explicit. In chapters two and three, I examine the frameworks adoptees use, analyzing their advantages and drawbacks, as well as how adoptees define their identities through interactions with their families and how they define their identities through interactions with non-adopted Chinese and Asian people.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Rooney, Kimberlykimberlyrooney4519@gmail.comkcr200000-0002-2709-8349
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Thesis AdvisorClarke,
Committee MemberMolina,
Committee MemberCohen,
Committee MemberMcKee,
Date: 26 April 2019
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 10 April 2019
Approval Date: 26 April 2019
Submission Date: 18 April 2019
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 66
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: David C. Frederick Honors College
Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Communication: Rhetoric and Communication
Degree: BPhil - Bachelor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Undergraduate Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: adoption, racial identity formation, Chinese-American adoption
Date Deposited: 26 Apr 2019 19:34
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2019 19:34


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