Lab Notes #1


Welcome to my new project I’m calling “Lab Notes.” Although I love the longer article format, I’m finding I don’t have the time to blog like I did in the past – research and writing my blog posts take a lot of time and like many of us, I am juggling a lot of professional and personal stuff. On the other hand, while social media can connect me with what is happening in the adoptee community it is also frequently distracting and I find it difficult to go as in-depth as I want. This series of “Lab Notes” is my way of finding what I hope to be a happy medium – a place for me to ramble and reflect with more space than social media allows, but also a place where I can share things I find interesting related to adoption and child welfare that you might also find helpful on a more timely basis than the occasional article.

When I conduct research I write memos, or lab notes, about what is happening in my project. These are observations and reflections about my methods (or process), my research questions, collecting and analyzing data, my own internal reactions to the data, notes about other research I come across from others, and article, books, and other items relevant to my work. Lab notes and memos also allow me to chronologically trace the development of my learning, analysis, and arguments.

Since my blog is called Harlow’s Monkey as a reference to feeling like adoptees are part of a larger social science experiment about the nature of attachment when babies are separated from their mothers, I also thought this could be a “reversing the gaze” opportunity. That is, a place where the adoptee (the subject of the lab experiment) could reflect on the larger systems, policies, laws, and practices that have surrounded and shaped my world. From the beginning, one of my explicit goals for this blog was to be in community with my people – others who have experienced institutional care and/or adoption. I have learned so much from the community and I want to share what has helped me in my own personal and professional life.

Each post in this series will follow a similar format. The first part will be a reflection of what’s currently on my mind. Under “research,” I’ll list adoption and foster care-related research studies looking for participants or new articles I think you may find interesting and helpful. I’ll also provide recommendations, and finally, in the “spread the love” section, I will highlight what’s making me happy these days, especially accomplishments by folks with adoption and foster care histories. I was going to call it “what’s bringing me joy” but Mr. Harlow’s Monkey thought it sounded too much like I was referencing organizing guru Marie Kondo!

So here it is, the first Lab Note from Harlow’s Monkey. I hope you enjoy it – and did you know you can subscribe to my blog via email? Look for the black box that says “Follow Blog via Email,” type in your email and every time I post a new blog post or Lab Note, you will get a notification in your email.


Adoption and Culture is an academic journal created and managed by members of the Alliance for the Study of Adoption and Culture. Their issue (Volume 10, Issue 2, 2022) focuses on reproductive rights in light of the Supreme Court’s decision on Dobbs and the conversations around adoption as an alternative to abortion and is open-access. More articles are forthcoming throughout November and December.


Two books I’ve read recently related to adoption look at systemic and institutional practices.

A book I have been perusing (and shared on my Instagram @harlows_monkey) – Korean adoptee Peter Serpico’s Learning Korean: Recipes for Home Cooking. As I shared on Instagram, learning how to eat and cook Korean food was hugely intimidating for me when I was beginning my Korean adotpee journey, but one that ultimately really helped me embrace my ethnic and adoptee identity. I have a number of Korean cookbooks but I think Serpico’s friendly and approachable style is the book I wish I’d had twenty years ago. I also appreciated Serpico’s story of his journey in the intro to this book (here is a great LitHub article he wrote).

Spread the Love

Lee Herrick, a Korean adoptee poet and professor at Fresno City College, was just appointed as Poet Laureate of California. Lee is California’s first Asian American poet laureate. I am thrilled – it could not have happened to a kinder, more generous, and talented person! His poetry books are among my favorite – in particular Scar and Flower. Click here for Governor Newsom’s press announcement.

The Korean American Adoptee Adoptive Family Network (KAAN) just announced the 2023 Conference theme and call for proposals. The conference theme is Generations: Reflecting Back, Looking Forward. KAAN has put together several videos on the conference including this one below about submitting proposals. I love the videos! And I love how much KAAN has worked to be more inclusive over the years. I love that they are highly encouraging submissions from first-time presenters. You can find out more from their Facebook page or YouTube.

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