The Perfect Parent, The Perfect Child: Picturing the Adoptive Family

For this exercise, I am giving you the printed report for the case of a mixed-race Japanese-African American child adopted by an African American serviceman when the adoptive father was stationed in Japan. The adopting father was not the biological father of the child. This case came after 1953 and so the child was no longer excluded on the basis of Asian heritage. But, because the father was unmarried at the time of the adoption, the child was not eligible to enter the US under the “Orphan” provision of the Refugee Relief Act (the then relevant legislation.) And so, the adopted father needed a private law to bring his adopted son to the United States.

You also have some rather remarkable photographs of father and son from the archival file. What do you see when you see these photos of a mixed-race child (the product of American racism and empire in the Pacific) dressed by his African American father in a pose designed to prove this child would grow up to be a great American citizen? What is going on when the AA father dresses the Japanese- American child as an American-style cowboy (invoking American colonialism and expansion).  My head spins.  What is going on when you read in the report of the Japanese mother who relinquished her child for adoption and who is literally defined out of existence in a legal move that declare her child the natural born child of the adoptive father?   

Father and Adopted Son Posing As Cowboys

Father and Adopted Son Posing as "Cowboys"

In this image, the African American adoptive father reads himself and his bi-racial adopted son into a classic American narrative that (at the same time) exlucdes or marginalizes both of them because of their race. 


Very Active

Very Active

The adopted child posed in another typical American activity - playing baseball. 

Posing for Daddy

Posing for Daddy

The father is absent from this photo, although the child is wearing a military cap similar to one his father would wear.  The hand written annotation"Posing for Daddy> He loves having his picture taken" suggests this photo was taken by the miltary family who cared for the child in Japan after the father was stationed back in the US.  This photo woudl reinforce the idea of a ongoing bond between father and son  - evn if they child actually does not look as though he enjoys posing!

Father and Son on a Beach

Father and Son on the Beach

This image shows a very happy family and quite typical family scene, showing an exisitn family bond.