IKAA Research Symposium

I am so excited to be able to attend this research symposium. As you read this, I am attending the day-long event at Dongguk University. A number of friends are also presenters. This is one of many events I hope to share with you readers. This is a historical event. What is exciting to me, also, is that so many of these presenters and scholars are adopted Koreans themselves.

For those of you who are adoptive parents, I hope that some day some of your children will be involved in their adoptive communities and making historically significant contributions towards adoption studies, like my fellow friends listed here have.






International Symposium on Korean Adoption Studies



Hosted by
Asian Adult Adoptees of Washington State (AAAW – U.S.A.)
and Global Overseas Adoptees’ Link (G.O.A.’ L – Korea)    


Organized by the Intl. Research Committee


Venue: Dongguk University


The aim of the symposium is to establish and explore this new and rapidly expanding academic field. The field of Korean adoption studies is specifically concerned with international adoption from Korea, as well as with overseas adopted Koreans.

It has recently emerged as an area of study both in Korea, the country of origin, and in the Western receiving countries to which Korean children have been sent for adoption.
This symposium will, for the first time ever, bring together scholars from around the world who are conducting research in the field of Korean adoption studies.

These scholars, from Sweden, Denmark, Korea, the United States, the Netherlands, and France, are working at the multidisciplinary intersections of Asian and Korean studies, postcolonial and cultural studies. Their works also address issues of ethnicity, migration and diaspora, and globalization and transnationalism.

This day-long and multi-disciplinary symposium will take place in Seoul, South Korea, and will be comprised of paper presentations and open discussions. The symposium will lay the foundation for creating an academic network for the field and for future symposiums

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Scientific American: “”Baby hatch” highlights Japan fears over adoption”

"Baby hatch" highlights Japan fears over adoption

By Isabel Reynolds

TOKYO (Reuters) – When a newborn baby girl was left in Japan’s controversial "baby hatch" last week, the child’s life may have been saved, but her chances of finding new parents were slim due to a cultural aversion to adoption in Japan.

The baby is one of four tots — one of them three-years-old — so far left at the "stork’s cradle" baby hatch at the Catholic-run Jikei Hospital in Kumamoto, southern Japan.A small door in the outside wall of the hospital opens to reveal a tiny bed inside, allowing parents to leave their child safely and anonymously. Once they do, an alarm goes off to alert hospital staff to the new arrival.

Canada.com: “Mom finds adopted son on Facebook”

Mom finds adopted son on Facebook

Lori Haas, 37, of Vancouver has spent every day since July 3 with her son Travis Sheppard, 20. Sheppard had moved to Vancouver four months ago from Winnipeg in hopes of finding his mother. She found him through a search on Facebook.

Linda Nguyen, CanWest News Service; Vancouver Sun

Published: Monday, July 16, 2007

VANCOUVER — Lori Haas never thought the journey to find the baby boy she gave up in a closed adoption 20 years ago would end on Facebook.

"I thought, ‘Let me put his name in and see if anything comes up,’" said Haas, a Richmond resident who had been a Facebook member for less than a month.

What she got was a list of Facebook members with the same name as her son.

Rainbow Families: “A Last Resort: The identity my white parents couldn’t give me “

A Last Resort: The identity my white parents couldn’t give me
July 01,2007 / Rachel Noerdlinger

In 1970, when I was not yet a year old, I was adopted by a New Mexico couple. A few months before, they had adopted my brother Fred, also African American. At the time, my parents had one son together, and a daughter from my father’s previous marriage; shortly after my adoption, my mother gave birth to my youngest brother.

My father, a physicist, and my mother, an artist, were active in the civil rights movement. I guess their role in the movement was a catalyst for them to adopt children of color. When I was young and would ask them why they adopted me, I was met with silence. My questions about my biological mother – her life, her choices – remain unanswered to this day.

I now understand that there was an optimistic, West coast philosophy behind my parents’ uneasiness with my questions about race. Early multiculturalists, they saw racial divisions as arbitrary, dangerous cultural distinctions. If we ignored race, they hoped, we might all live happily as one. But when I was a child, my life wasn’t "colorless." It was white. And colorblindness is a luxury young black children aren’t afforded by this world.

Open adoption in Korea

From the ICAR2 Conference in July 2006. Thanks to Professor Lee for sending this to me.

Open Adoption in a Traditionally Closed Society:  Problems and Needs for Post Adoption Services   

Hyang-Eun Kim
Kosin University, Dongsamdong 149-1, Yeongdogu, Busan, Korea

Adoption itself has been rare in Korea. When it occurs, it has been the norm for a sterile  couple to adopt a boy confidentially. Recently, adoption is seen as an alternative and a few  families have adopted children openly. These revolutionary changes imply that adoptive  family groups will be growing in Korea, and the support systems and research for adoptive  families are needed.  Adoption is a developmental process that lasts for the whole family’s lifetime. Therefore,  long-term  approaches  help  us  to  understand  adoptive  families’  adaptation  and  family  development. Despite this, there has been little research on adoptive families in Korea.  There is a strong demand for the research to be focused on the developmental changes of  adoptive families as time goes by.   

This pilot study attempts to assess the current status of open adoption, analyze problems  faced by open adoptive families, and identify their needs for post adoption services. The  purpose of this study is to gather preliminary data of the longitudinal research about Korean  open adoptive families. It also aims to provide ideas for building effective support systems for open adoptive families based on the results of this study.   

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Jane Jeong Trenka’s Letter to the Editor

Jane Jeong Trenka: The foreign-adoption double standard

The process has improved in America, but not overseas.

Published: July 19, 2007

SEOUL, South Korea – Many thanks to Gail Rosenblum for calling
attention to the lives of American women who were forced to surrender
their children for adoption between 1945 and the early 1970s.

her article ("They never forgot," July 8) did not mention the lives of
the quarter-million foreign women who have been forced to surrender
their children in subsequent decades. In reaction to the perceived lack
of adoptable children in the United States following the "baby scoop,"
Americans have looked to foreign countries. Currently, about 20,000
children from countries such as China, Russia, Guatemala and South
Korea are brought to the United States each year to be adopted. Very
few are true orphans.

I found it particularly telling that a representative of Children’s
Home Society and Family Services, a St. Paul agency that performed 777
international adoptions last year, was quoted as saying that today the
agency is "night-and-day different in how we understand adoption and
how we understand families." There seems to be a glaring double
standard between how adoption agencies now understand the human rights
of American families and how they understand those of foreign families.

current situation of single mothers being forced to surrender their
children in South Korea almost exactly mirrors the situation in the
United States a generation ago. Yet despite our understanding that
separating American mothers from their children was a "conspiracy of
silence," the broader American society views doing exactly the same
thing to foreign mothers as "humanitarian."

I hope that articles
such as Rosenblum’s contribute to giving a human face not only to
American mothers, but also to the foreign mothers of international
adoptees. They are all mothers with human rights, and they all deserve
to be treated as such.

Jane Jeong Trenka, internationally adopted to Minnesota from South Korea, is a writer living in Seoul.

In eight days

. . . I will be on a plane to South Korea. I am embarking on my third trip to Korea since 2000 (also the third trip to my birth country since I was adopted) – interestingly, I will arrive in Seoul on the 20th, only one day shy of the day the metal stork brought me to Minneapolis on July 21st, 1971. Thirty-five years later, I’m coming full circle.

Only this time instead of coming to the U.S. alone, sitting on an escort’s lap (my parents did not come pick me up, instead I was delivered to them by a "helper") I will be surrounded by Mr. Harlow’s Monkey and my two children ages 9 and 13. This is the first trip to Korea for the Mr. and the kids. I am thrilled to finally be at a place in my life where I want to include them in this journey, which has been such a struggle for me for so many years.

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