Mother America: Cold war maternalism and the origins of Korean adoption

Shawyn C. Lee

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


After the Korean War, it became acceptable and expected that American families would adopt Korean children into their homes, symbolizing American prosperity and security. As significant a role as social work played in this process, there currently exists no research that examines the activities of the profession and the origins of Korean adoption. This chapter discusses the maternalist nature of adoption efforts during the 1950s by one international social welfare agency after the Korean War: the American Branch of International Social Service (ISS-USA). Predicated on maternalist ideologies that shaped the social work profession during the Progressive Era, in what the author calls Cold War maternalism, the gendered notions of motherhood were expanded to genderless notions of parenthood. Anticommunist sentiments thrust adoptive parenthood into the political spotlight on an international level, thus serving the best interests of adoptive parents and the nation long before serving those of the children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEthical Standards and Practice in International Relations
PublisherIGI Global
Number of pages30
ISBN (Electronic)9781522526513
ISBN (Print)1522526501, 9781522526506
StatePublished - Mar 2 2018

Bibliographical note

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© 2018 by IGI Global. All rights reserved.


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