An Iranian Intercountry Adoption

InterCountry Adoptee Voices (ICAV) 2017

I am an Iranian intercountry adoptee born in 1969 and adopted by my American adoptive family in 1976. They lived and worked at a small shipping port town called Bandar-e-abbas, not far from Tehran for a number of years. My adoptive father worked in a British ship building company, contracted to the Iranian Navy. My adoptive family had 5 older siblings, all biologically born to them. I joined my family as the youngest and I also suffer from limb deformities caused by parts of the amniotic sac wrapping itself around my fingers and foot in utero, this syndrome is called Amniotic band constriction.

My birth date is unknown and I came to be placed for adoption because I was dropped off at the police station north east of Iran at approximately 3 days old. I was placed on a blanket with a note saying “take good care of him” and nothing else to identify who had left me there. In Iran in those days, there was no support for a child born with deformities and it was considered a stigma. I was then taken to an orphanage in Tehran for 6 and 1/2 years and raised there until my adoption. My orphanage for children with deformities had been established by the Iranian queen but once the revolution took place, children like me were used for lowly roles like walking through landscapes searching for unexploded landmines ie., we were just throwaway kids, not valued or considered as worthy of any type of life.

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The Colour of Time

A new book, The Colour of Time: A Longitudinal Exploration of the Impact of Intercountry Adoption in Australia is to be released in June this year.

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The Colour of Time follows the journeys of 13 of the original 27 contributors from The Colour of Difference.  Reading about their experiences 15 years on, you will gain a greater understanding of how the adoption journey is navigated over time as adoptees mature and age.  The book looks at whether things change, and if so, how?

Included in The Colour of Time is a new younger generation of 15 intercountry adoptees, some as  young as 18 through to others in their early 30s.  They shed light on whether the issues they’ve experienced mirror the complexities raised by the older generation in The Colour of Difference.  Has the mandatory education for prospective parents made a difference?  Has racism been an issue compared to those raised in the 70s and 80s, post White Australia Policy era?  Has greater awareness of the complexities highlighted in The Colour of Difference made any impact?

Click here to learn more about the launch and book.

Asian American Adoptees Without Citizenship


Joy Alessi is 50 year-old Korean American adoptee, born in South Korea, and adopted at 7 months old to U.S. citizens. She assumed like many, that she was an American citizen, but like others, found out she didn’t have citizenship.

“From my earliest memories, I knew that as a foreign adoptee others perceived me as an “Alien.” I grew up in a predominantly “white” environment, and although I felt American on the inside, I always felt treated as an inferior outsider.”

“When I was 15, I wanted to travel overseas on a youth mission trip, but my parents prevented from going because (as I have since learned) they never filed naturalization papers after my adoption. Today, nearly 35 years later, I discovered that my mother contacted the adoption agency for proof of citizenship, but neither they or my parents took measures to resolve this. My parents also told me that a birth certificate was not available for adoptees, an error that I recently uncovered. I finally located my (archived) “Delayed Birth Registration,” and after nearly 50 years, I have the birth certificate I was meant to have. Had my parents asked for a copy following the adoption proceedings, my entire life would have been different. As explained to me by the state, this record proves my citizenship through legal adoption.”

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Beyond Cultural Camp – Promoting Healthy Identity Formation in Adoption

Funded by WK Kellogg Foundation and Evan B Donaldson Adoption Institute, 2009-2011
This report was researched and written by Hollee McGinnis, Policy & Operations Director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute; Susan Livingston Smith, Program & Project Director of the Institute, Dr. Scott D. Ryan, a Senior Research Fellow of the Institute and Dean of the School of Social Work at the University of Texas at Arlington; and Dr. Jeanne A. Howard, Policy &
Research Director of the Institute. It was edited by Adam Pertman, Executive Director of theInstitute. We are deeply grateful to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation for providing the funding to launch this study. Also, special thanks to the scholars and adoption professionals who reviewed this paper and provided guidance; they included Dr.Harold Grotevant, Senior Research Fellow
of the Institute and the Rudd Family Foundation Chair in Psychology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst; Dr. Ruth McRoy, Senior Research Fellow of the Institute and the GSSW Donahue and DiFelice Endowed Professor in the Graduate School of Social Work at Boston College; Dr. Tom Crea, Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Social Work at Boston College; and Dr. Amanda Baden, Associate Professor of Psychology at Montclair StateUniversity.

Executive Summary – Excerpt

I realized I never could change my ethnicity/race. I also developed a pride in being Korean and Asian. I reviewed things I liked about being Asian that European Americans did not have. I also grew comfortable with things I did not like about being Asian. As an adult I learned how to deal with racism/stereotypes in a way that makes me feel OK about being a “border person” and a minority (Study respondent).
Transracial adoption is a reality of contemporary American life. Since 1971, parents in this country have adopted nearly a half-million children from other countries, the vast majority of them from orphanages throughout Asia, South America and, most recently, Africa. Additional tens of thousands of multiracial families have been formed during this period with boys and girls adopted from foster care, with the rate of such adoptions from the domestic system growing from 10.8 percent in Fiscal Year 1995, when there were about 20,000 total adoptions, to 15 percent in 2001, when there were over 50,000.
In the vast majority of these cases – domestic and international – children of color have been adopted by Caucasian parents.1
The consequences of this historic phenomenon have been profound, both for the tens of millions of Americans into whose families these children have been adopted, as well as for a society in which our understanding of what a family looks like is being altered every day. Yet we know very little about the impact of this change – most pointedly about its effects on the Asian, Hispanic
and African American boys and girls at the core of it. How do they develop a sense of racial identity when raised by White parents, most often in predominately White communities? How do they incorporate an understanding of both being adopted and of having parents who are of a different race or ethnicity than themselves? How do they learn to cope with racism and stereotyping? What experiences are beneficial to them in developing a positive sense of self?
This ground-breaking study by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute constitutes the broadest, most extensive examination to date of identity development in adopted adults. It does so not only by reviewing decades of research but also, most importantly, by asking the experts – adult adoptees – about the experiences and strategies that promote positive identity development. Too often, our understanding of identity, particularly of those adopted across race/ethnicity, has been formed through research involving children and youth. Similarly, conclusions about identity in transracial adoption too often have come from the perspective of parents, not adoptees themselves. The Institute’s study focuses on adult adopted persons, gaining their understanding of how they have integrated “being adopted” and their race/ethnicity with other aspects of themselves that, together, form an identity.

Federal Negarit Gazetta of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia – Revised Family Code – 2000

Federal Negarit Gazetta of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
The Revised Family Code
Federal Negarit Gazetta Extra Ordinary Issue No. 1/2000 The Revised Family
Code Proclamation No. 213/2000
Addis Ababa 4th, Day of July, 2000