Being your own researcher

Thanks everyone for your great ideas!

People have asked how I do my research. Well, I wish I could say there is an easy way to go about finding this kind of information. There is really a wealth of information out there, and one of the things I find interesting is that the more I begin to get into a topic or subject, the more I realize that each "topic" is actually so interwoven with dozens more that it’s nearly impossible to sift though and investigate just one subject. The other thing you’ll find, as you begin to search for information, is that you may find yourself with more questions than you began with. Such is the wonderful (to me!) nature of discovery.

I find that it’s not answers to my specific questions that I enjoy, it’s that each search gives me new things to think about. Then again, I’m somewhat of a research nerd.

Here’s one suggestion for those of you looking to find out more. Whenever I write a post, I’ll include some links to resources. They may be direct links online, or they’ll be links to books. Hopefully I’ll try to include some that aren’t just strictly academic and ones you can find at your library or bookstore.

My favorite way to get new resources? Look at the bibliography or resources listed in the notes or at the end of a paper or book.

Good luck!

Being married to Harlow’s Monkey

Being married to a transracial adoptee is no picnic in the park. Just ask Mr. Harlow’s Monkey.

We’ve been together for almost 20 years and in March, we’ll have been legal for 18 years. And to say that I tested Mr. HM those first few years decades is quite an understatement. I have many friends who are adopted and one thing many of us have in common, whether placed in same-race, domestic, international or transracial adoptive homes, are issues with trust and attachment.

For some adopted persons, that can translate as being stand-offish, cold and commitment-phobic, with a tendency to leave people before they leave us.

For others, this might translate into clinginess, jealousy and neediness with a tendency towards suffocating the very people we love the most. This is what’s referred to as insecure attachment.

Either way, it can be very difficult for the partner or loved one of an adopted person, especially if it seems that they’ve suddenly become obsessive about their adoption. And if you are partnered to a transracially, transculturally adopted person, this could be triple the whammy.

Because the subject of adoption is so child-centric, I often wonder whether adoptive parents think about what their child is going to deal with as an adult. So I was interested in this "Parners of Adoptees" information sheet from the Benevolent Society‘s Post Adoption Services that I found through another web site.

Continue reading

What’s in a name?

Harryharlow3I got dissed a few days ago over at my friend Made In Korea‘s blog. A commenter, in critiquing how we transracial adoptees speak out over what we see as problematic issues in our community, called me disrespectful to my parents for naming my blog, Harlow’s Monkey.

This isn’t the first time my blog name has sparked controversy. My brother-in-law, whom I’ve known for almost 20 years and who has witnessed my journey into adoption identity proclaimed it "harsh" towards my parents. Others who don’t know who Harlow was, or what the monkey experiments were, often make statements about how my subject/name is "depressing" upon learning about the monkey experiments.

So since this has become a recent hot-button item again, I thought it was time to discuss the subject of Harlow and his monkey experiements in a little more depth, and the reason why I chose this name for my blog. Keep in mind that I am not an expert on Harlow or his science; I just found that there are a lot of parallels between Harlow’s experiments and adoption and Harlow was attempting to learn about the nature of attachment and what happens when infant monkeys are removed from their mothers.

I am far from being creative or unique in choosing to name my blog, Harlow’s Monkey. Many others before me have made the connection to adoption. Harlow himself compared the baby monkeys in his experiments to human children and aimed to study how maternal deprivation and love and attachment influenced human beings.

Continue reading

Orphanage Report #5

Date: 6/18/1971

Case Number:  #7139

Location: Ilsan Orphanage.

General Health: is healthy.

Developmental report: She lives still on rice which she eats
just 2/3 bowlful mixed with soup. She feeds herself a big spoonful at a
time. She can not speak and is not good enough to express herself, can
just "mommy," "daddy," "sister" etc. simple words. Among children she
chatter pretty well, most of the time she is sullen.

Social relationships: She pretends to pray at the meal table.
She brings diappers or something if asked. She is unwilling to go to
strangers tho gets close to familiar. She plays well with children,
running about the room and playing mischief.

Summary and recommendation: 2 year and 7 month old Jae Ran is
a Korean girl. She is supposed average in development. She still needs
a lot more training, so much she must be loved. She can be adopted.

Orphanage Report #4

Date: 3/9/1971

Case Number:  #7139

Location: Ilsan Orphanage. She is still in Dr. A’s dormintory. There are 16 little children from age under 1 up to 2 1/2 years.

General Health: Looks all right.

Developmental report: For meal she eats half a bowl of rice
mixed with soup. Usually understands simple commands. She has a larger
vocabulary now. Is not toilet trained yet. Walks well. Can almost run.
Handling is good.

Social relationships: Can fetch diapers or bowls. Can point
to one who made mistake. Wants to keep nice things to herself. May try
to soothe a child younger than herself when it cries. May mimick
hitting if a big child cries. She mimick combing hair or acting out
songs when adults are not around. If a stranger wants her to come, she
does not come easily but just stares. Likes to stay with children.

Summary and recommendation: This little girl is 2 years and 3
months old. She looks all right in her physical and emotional
development. She seems rather behind in language development. She is
not very expressive of her happy feelings. Needs continued love and

Orphanage Report #3

Date: 12/8/1970

Case Number:  #7139

Location: Ilsan Orphanage. Lives with 16 children from 1-4 years.

General Health: She looks healthy being free from all illnesses.

Developmental report: Can say "mommy," "sister," and nowadays
she jabber a lot to herself when she is in good humore. Normally can
she see and hear. Walks and handles normally. Her staple food is rice,
but sometimes other kinds of foods are offered to her, all which she
enjoys without being choosy.

Social relationships: All by herself she can feed herself
without any help from her bomo [caregiver]. Plays well with told and
recognizes what is scold and liking through her bomo’s face. Does not
follow own bomo very much but if bomo calls her to come she obey. Gets
smile not so often and she only looks up at people who ar new ones to
her, feelinglessly. Seldom gets smile as she is so spiritless, though
sometimes when in good humore she plays well with other children.

Summary and recommendation: Jae Ran aged 2 years is doing
well but needs a lot more affections for her dark mood. Her such
condition would be better if she be adopted.

Orphanage Report #2

Date: 8/20/1970

Case Number: #7139

Location: Ilsan Orphanage. She lives with 21 boys and girls from age 2-3. She is quiet, grouchy and often cries.

General Health: Medium. She is rather thin and looks babish.

Developmental report: Hearing and vision seem normal.
Responds to her name. Understands simple commands and routine words.
Can say a few simple words like mama and daddy. Babbles to herself. She
usually keeps quiet.

Social relationships: If anything is given her, she will be
holding it tightly until she gets tired of it. Feeds herself.
Recognizes her own bomo [caregiver]. Cries often to be picked up. She
will always cry when she is put down after being held for a while. Does
not like children much. Is often bothered by children’s company.
Sometimes fights. Sticks up for her own.

Summary and recommendation: This is a 1 year 9 month old
Korean female. By orphanage standard seems to be doing quite well in
physical and mental growth. With stimulations and personal attention
she will walk, talk and develop faster. Adoption recommended.

Orphanage Report #1


Case Number: #7139

Location: Bak Bak Hap [White Lily] Orphanage.

Why was child placed in original orphanage? Was found in
front of TaeKu City Hall around 11:00 p.m. on 2/2/1970, and immediately
referred by the night-duty section of the City Hall.

Child’s response at time of placement: Neither shy nor scared.

General Health: Somewhat weak.

Developmental report: Doesn’t walk well as yet, but can stand
with help or sit up alone for play. Has 8 lower and upper teeth.
Appears a little weak and delayed in progress.

Social relationships: Is not shy with strangers. Doesn’t say
"omma" yet. I believe this child needs a lot of extra attention and
stimulation, seems o.k. just understimulated.

Summary and recommendation: Although she is a bit delayed in
physical progress, the child seem to enjoys a normal emotional
development. Should be provided good nutritional care for better health
and progress.

About Harlow’s Monkey

I am a S. Korea-born/American raised, mother of 2 hapa kids; a
late-bloomer, graduate student, self-described outdoor cat and
all-around truth-seeker.

e-mail: harlowmonkey at gmail dot com


In the 1950’s, psychologist Harry Harlow
began a series of experiments on baby monkeys, depriving them of their
biological mothers and using substitute wire and terry cloth covered
"mothers". Harlow’s goal was to study the nature of attachment and how
it affects monkeys who were deprived of their mothers early in life.

As an unwitting participant in the human form of Harlow’s monkey
experiment, known as trans-racial or trans-cultural adoption, I am
constantly seeking to expand my knowledge and understanding of the
life-long ramifications of these types of social experiments.

According to the State Department, in 2005, over 21,500 children
immigrated to the United States for the purpose of adoption, the
majority of these children left their native homeland, language,
customs, foods and religions for a middle-class, white, American home.
The majority of these children also come from a country in which they
were part of the racial hegemeny, only to now be part of a racial

I am a S. Korea-born/American raised, mother of 2 hapa kids; a
late-bloomer, graduate student, self-described outdoor cat and
all-around truth-seeker. Welcome all fellow Harlow Monkeys and others.

In the words of Euripides, "There is no greater sorrow on Earth
than the loss of one’s native land (Medea, v. 650-0651)."

For more on Harry Harlow and his monkey experiments, see:

The Nature of Love
Wikipedia’s entry on Harry Harlow