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Adoptee spotlight: Grace Shu

Yiwu, Zhejiang, China --> Minneapolis, Minnesota

My name is Grace Shu Gerloff (she/they), and I am from Yiwu in the Zhejiang province of China. I was adopted at 18-months-old in November 1997 and brought to Minneapolis, Minnesota by my white adoptive parents. I grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood in Minneapolis and, despite the Twin Cities being home to high numbers of Asian adoptees as well as large immigrant populations, I had very little exposure to Asian American communities or other communities of color.


Like many transracial adoptees, the impact of systemic racism was something that I was often (although not always) shielded from due to the privilege of being associated with a white family. It was not until my teens that I began critically interrogating race, exploring the scholarly field of critical adoption studies, and seeing myself within a broader context of racial hierarchies and geopolitical relationships. While coming into my own consciousness, I was both horrified that the stories I and my family had been told about adoption were fantasies and also validated in that the feelings of disconnect I had experienced my entire life had space to be explored.

"I am studying the experiences of transracial, transnational Asian American adoptees as we navigate racial identity formation and form community through virtual and in-person spaces."

This brought me to where I am today as a current PhD candidate in anthropology at Michigan State University. I am studying the experiences of transracial, transnational Asian American adoptees as we navigate racial identity formation and form community through virtual and in-person spaces. Doing this kind of research and working to produce more knowledge on our experiences as adoptees has been a way for me to symbolically reclaim parts of my narrative that I feel were lost in my adoption. It is tiring in many ways, but, more importantly, it is also an immense privilege and honor to get to share adoptee stories and find joy in my community through this work.

 

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[Description: A beige background with a pale pink box in the center. A large photo in the center is a headshot of Grace. To the left is a smaller photo of Grace as a baby. To the right is a smaller photo of Grace outside while holding a dog. Large text at the top says "Grace Shu." Small text at the bottom says "Zhejiang, China to Minneapolis, Minnesota."]

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