Transnational adoptee researcher/author to speak April 17

April 4, 2019 - Kim Park Nelson, Ph.D., will speak about the immigration policy history of Korean and other transnational adoptees at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls on Wednesday, April 17. She will present “Alien, Daughter, Deportee: Korean Transnational Adoptees and U.S. Immigration Policy History,” from noon-1 p.m. in the Kinnickinnic Theater in the University Center. The event is free and open to the public.

Park Nelson is an educator and researcher whose work uses adoption as a lens to understand race and culture. Her work has contributed to building of the field of Adoption Studies and Korean Adoption Studies in the U.S. and internationally.  

When sustained transnational adoption from Korea to the U.S. began in 1952, most Asian immigration to the United States was illegal; Korean transnational adoptees arrived on refugee visas before being granted special visa status in 1961. In 2001, transnational adoptees under age 18 were granted automatic U.S. citizenship to become the most privileged immigrant group to the U.S. Since the late 1990s, however, several transnational adoptees who failed to attain citizenship in 2001 have been deported to their birth nations. 

In the history of U.S. transnational adoption, Asian adoptees began as excluded subjects, barred from immigration, but eventually won preferred treatment in immigration queues as “as if natural” children to their U.S. citizen parents.

Today, transnational adoptees are being reminded of their immigrant status as highly publicized cases of transnational adoptee deportation are circulated. This presentation examines the history of immigration policy for Asian and other transnational adoptees to analyze the legal and political tension between transnational adoptees’ status as American children of American citizens and their status as first-generation immigrants.
Park Nelson’s work has been published in the scholarly journals Adoption & Culture and Adoption Quarterly in addition to several anthologies. Her book, “Invisible Asians: Korean American Adoptees, Asian American Experiences and Racial Exceptionalism,” was published by Rutgers University Press in 2016.

Park Nelson taught the first university level course on Korean American adoption in 2006 at the University of Minnesota and is a three-time lead organizer of the International Symposia on Korean Adoption Studies in Seoul in 2007, 2010, and 2013. She is an associate professor of American Multicultural Studies at the Minnesota State University at Moorhead.

The event is hosted by the UWRF Political Science Department. For more information, contact Sooh-Rhee Ryu at or 715-425-4575.

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