author of Out of place

SunAh M Laybourn

Out of Place: The Lives of Korean Adoptee Immigrants


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How Korean adoptees went from being adoptable orphans to deportable immigrants

Since the early 1950s, over 125,000 Korean children have been adopted in the United States, primarily by white families. Yet, many of those adoptees are now vulnerable to deportation. How did adoptable orphans become deportable immigrants? Out of Place examines the process of exceptional belonging that made transnational adoptees desirable yet discardable and how adoptees assert their own belonging outside of these constraints.

Rather than attempt to achieve belonging within the confines of exceptionalism, Out of Place uncovers how adoptees refuse to stay in their place as adoptable orphans or deportable immigrants. Adoptees engage in collective action for citizenship rights, transform the meaning of adoptee beyond expectations of assimilation and gratitude, and create mainstream media that re-presents adoptees as adults. Out of Place challenges the racialized logics undergirding the belief that you must be exceptional to belong.

SunAh Laybourn, PhD is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Memphis. She is an Affiliate Faculty Member for the Center for Workplace Diversity & Inclusion, Affiliate Faculty Member in the International and Global Studies Department, and an Academic Research Fellow of the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change. She formerly served as co-lead facilitator for the National Civil Rights Museum’s Unpacking Racism for Action program. Her research examines questions of race, identity, and belonging.

Book launch event Q&A

Book Press “A Place for Us: SunAh M Laybourn on her new book exploring Korean adoptee identity” by Steve Haruch

New Books Network interview – listen here

Faculti interview (video) – watch here

Adoptees On with Haley Radke podcast interview – Spotify, YouTube

Conversation Piece with Patrick Armstrong interview: