Inside, Outside, and In-Between: Belonging and Identity Negotiation for Chinese American Adoptees Studying Abroad in China
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Since 1992, most US transnational adoptions have occurred between White American parents and female babies born in China. Many of these adopted girls grow up in the US as a racial minority, but when visiting their birth country they become the racial majority. I collected both qualitative and quantitative data from Mandarin language learners during a summer language program in China to find the similarities and differences among six adopted and 11 non-adopted American adolescents. The data reveal that adoptees are initially perceived to be insiders for racially belonging in China, but cultural and linguistic differences place them as outsiders. Most adoptees fit in-between belonging and not belonging in Chinese society by attempting to "pass" as Chinese citizens in public spaces. Their accounts emphasize how race, nationality, and adoptivity contribute to larger themes for identity development and belonging in "third spaces" across globalized contexts.