a collage of an orange tree and the words adoption a tree

Fostering Asian American & Adoptee Identity

Holt Post Adoption Services team members Katelyn Dixon and Joli Hanlon share insights about fostering a healthy Asian American and adoptee identity, based on their own experiences.

This zine (short for magazine) is divided into three sections: surface culture, deep culture and surrounding soil. Using a fruit tree analogy, we will explore the nuances and complexities of being Asian and Asian American through the lens of two Asian adoptees.

By the end, we hope you will be able to answer these questions:

  • What does it mean to be Asian and Asian American?
  • How can we support adoptees as they explore and embrace these crucial identities?

Fostering your adoptees’ Asian and Asian American identity is a multi-faceted journey. Providing multiple opportunities for your adoptee to explore birth culture not only on the surface, but also on a deeper level, is pivotal for their racial and cultural development. The culture we see above ground is only a small part of the cultural whole. There are intricate cultural roots that lie deep within the soil waiting to be discovered.

Culture does not exist in a vacuum.

The surrounding soil we live in is the United States. To grow up Asian in America is a contextualized experience. Asians have a long and rich history in this country and for adoptees, we often feel like outsiders and imposters in the Asian American community because we have not learned about the history or had access to the ways Asian and American culture has mixed to create Asian-American culture. Surface culture, deep culture and the surrounding soil are three important facets to explore with your Asian adoptee, so they can grow and thrive in their new home.

The Authors

Joli Hanlon, Holt Adoptee Camp Director

Katelyn Dixon, Holt Post Adoption Programs Lead

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