Beginning in the mid-twentieth century, over 500,000 children have been adopted across national borders. Scholars commonly trace the origins of transnational adoption to the end of the Korean War (1950-53), which facilitated the exchange of over 200,000 South Korean children to the West. Two-thirds of these Korean children entered the United States, and three-quarters of these adoptees grew up in white families, making these kinship units not only transnational but also transracial.
The Korean American Adoptee Adoptive Family Network (KAAN) is one avenue in which adult adoptees, adopted children, and adoptive families can build a national community and support network. Founded in 1998, KAAN seeks to improve the lives of Korean-born adoptees by connecting the community and providing opportunities for dialogue, education, and support. A significant part of KAAN’s facilitation of community is through their annual conference. Adoptees are the largest demographic of attendees. The conference also allows family, friends, adoption practitioners, Korean government officials, and the Korean American community the opportunity to gain insight into the range of adoptee experiences and increase their competencies on adoption-related issues. The conference features sessions and keynotes from academic researchers, authors, practitioners, filmmakers, and activists. Conference workshops focus on the following topics: Adoption Studies/Academic research; Birth family search and reunion; Return to South Korea; Mental health and wellness; Advocacy and activism; Living in Korea; Race/ethnic identity; gender and sexual identity; Divorce/marriage; Dating; Adoptees as parents; Korean history/culture; and Racial microaggressions.
“Examining the Past, Considering the Future: The Impact of KAAN (Korean American Adoptee Adoptive Family Network) in the Lives of Adult Adoptees and Adoptive Families” provides insights into how the national organization supports the Korean adoption community, facilitates community building, and complements adult adoptee organizations and initiatives. There are three main goals of the study:
- Increase knowledge concerning adult Korean adoptees racial/cultural socialization in childhood and adulthood, including their experiences with KAAN and the adult adoptee community;
- Foster better comprehension of how adoptive parents understand their child(ren)’s racial/cultural identity and the role of KAAN and it’s conference in their families;
- Document the historical memory of KAAN, its effectiveness as a community-building organization, and discuss the organization’s future trajectory to meet the needs of the evolving Korean adoption community.
If you are interested in participating in the survey, please view the announcement. The surveys were available to eligible participants from February 2015 – November 2015.
This study has also received the support from KAAN. Please click here to view the KAAN Letter of Support.