AKASF20 Overview

AKASF 20th Anniversary and IKAA Annual Convention in San Francisco (#AKASF20)
Date: Oct 20th to Oct 22nd (Fri to Sun)
Location City: San Francisco California (USA)

The Association of Korean Adoptees San Francisco (AKASF) held the AKASF 20th Anniversary and IKAA Annual Convention in San Francisco from Oct 20th to Oct 22nd. Over 230 attendees participated.




Countries Represented


US States Represented


Sessions / Presentations


Guest Speakers


First IKAA Conference

AKASF20 Schedule

Oct 19th, Thurs. | Pre-conference Social at Coin-Op

Time: Starts at 5:30pm
Location: Coin-Op, 508 4th St, San Francisco, CA 94107

Oct 20th, Friday | Welcome Event

Time: 6:30pm to 9:30pm
Location: WeWork 8th Floor at 2 Embarcadero Center (San Francisco)
The official conference kicks off Friday in the Embarcadero on San Francisco’s waterfront! Enjoy views of the Bay and meet fellow conference attendees. Light appetizers and drinks (beer, wine, other) will be provided.

Oct 21st, Saturday | Conference and Lunch

Time: 8:00am to 4:30pm
Location: Hotel Kabuki, 1625 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94115
Doors open at 8:00am. There will be coffee and tea. The first sessions kick off at 8:30am.

Oct 21st, Saturday | Reception, Gala Dinner, and Post-Dinner Social

Time: 6:00pm to 11:30pm
Location: Hotel Kabuki, 1625 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94115
Dress code: Semi-formal / Cocktail attire. Business attire and Hanboks welcome as well.
Reception 6:00pm to 7:00pm, Passed appetizers and cash bar

Oct 22nd, Sun. | Parenting as KADs Session

Time: 10:00am to 11:00am
Location: Golden Gate Park, Hellman Hollow, 851 John F Kennedy Dr, San Francisco, CA 94121

Oct 22nd, Sun. | Picnic in Golden Gate Park

Time: 11:00am to 3:00pm
Location: Golden Gate Park, Hellman Hollow, 851 John F Kennedy Dr, San Francisco, CA 94121
On Sunday, we will host a family-friendly picnic in beautiful Golden Gate Park with Connect-A-Kid; School for Korean Adoptees & Families; Korean Center, Inc.; and #akasf20 participants. Join us for lawn activities and games! Korean food and drinks provided (including vegetarian options).


“Your words and conversations and the whole weekend filled me with joy and a sense of connection I never knew I needed.”

AKASF20 Attendee

AKASF20 Workshops and Sessions


Birth Family Search with Prof. Keon-Su Lee

Walk through the process of searching for birth family in Korea with Professor Keon-Su Lee, who is known as “Sergeant Lee” by many adopted Koreans. A retired Captain of the Korean National Policy Agency, Prof. Lee will share some of his experiences finding more than 5,600 missing family members.

Speaker: Professor and Retired Captain Keon-Su Lee


Adopted, Without Citizenship

Hear the stories, struggles and hopes of adopted Koreans who’ve lived with the consequences of lacking citizenship. They are among 20,000 adopted Koreans whose citizenships were not secured in their countries of adoption. Learn about efforts to pass the Adoptee Citizenship Act for an estimated 35,000 international adoptees without citizenship in the U.S.

Speakers: Joy Alessi, Kris Larsen, Donald Bearden, Justin Ki Hong, and Becky Belcore of Adoptee Rights Campaign (ARC)


DNA Testing & Birth Family Reunion

A discussion of DNA testing in the Korean adoptee community and its impact on understanding one's biological history and connecting with relatives. Also, an adopted Korean describes being reunited with her birth family for more than 10 years, and her work with unwed mothers who formed KUMFA.

Speakers: Bella Siegel-Dalton (325 KAMRA), Joo Ae Lippe-Klein


LGBTQ Panel Discussion

A panel of LGBTQ Korean Adoptees discussing the intersection of culture, gender, and sexual orientation and the impact on the future generations of LGBTQ adoptees.

Speakers: Min Matson, Jana Lee, and Peter Savasta


A Conversation with Poets and Authors

Nationally acclaimed and emerging Korean adoptee authors read from their creative writing and discuss their writing processes, challenges, and insights. They will also discuss what markers signify Korean adoptee writing across their various genres, including poetry, fiction, memoir, and cookbook writing. Q&A will follow the readings.

Speakers: Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello (Hour of the Ox), SooJin Pate (From Orphan to Adoptee), Jessica Sun Lee (An Ode to the Humans Who’ve Loved and Left Me), Julayne Lee (Not My White Savior, Spring 2018), and Lee Herrick (moderator, Gardening Secrets of the Dead)


Somatic Empowerment through Cross-cultural Archetypes

This workshop may be powerful for adoptees of color by expanding healing and empowerment by focusing on the body. You do not need any previous experience, training, or special ability to participate. Exploring archetypes may allow adoptees of color to explore the many dimensions of their identity, and to become inspired by the discovery of new embodied and imaginative possibilities.

Presenter: Amy Mihyang Ginther


Return to Korea

A panel discussion with adoptees who have returned to Korea as they share their experiences. The discussion will focus on how visiting or living in Korea has shaped their sense of Korean identity and affected their ongoing relationship with Korea.

Speakers: Mary O’Donnell, Anouk Eigenraam, Dana Schlafman, Jennifer Schupp, Jared Utley


1st Generation/Hapa KADs panel

During and after the Korean War, children of Korean mothers and American or U.N. soldiers were among the first Korean children to be adopted overseas. Many entered the U.S. when immigration laws blocked entry of Asians, and grew up during the racially segregated 1950s and ‘60s. Now, decades later, they are returning to Korea to confront their histories and search for their birth families.

Speakers: Lowell Rojon, Sharon Mellor, Maria Giannoble Johnson, Tanne Beaudecker, and Bella Siegel-Dalton


Film Symposium

Viewing and Q&A with featured Korean adoptee filmmakers and subjects, about their experiences across the adoptee continuum.

Speakers: Tammy Chu ("Resilience," "Searching for Go-Hyang"), and Min Matson (moderator, "AKA Seoul")


KAD Seminar

A workshop sharing the outcomes of the KAD Seminar, a study series exploring the intersections of adoption practices, Korean history, and U.S. history. Participants of the S.F. Bay Area-based seminar will share how their personal stories have been illuminated and contextualized through readings and discussions with influential scholars, artists, and activists.

Speakers: Coordinators Molly Cho (moderator), Yong Chan Miller, HyunJu Chappell, Deann Borshay Liem; Dina Buck, Leslie Griep, and Mary Lee


Post-Adoption Support & Healing Power of Art

Two Americans adopted from Korea share the uniqueness of the international adoption experience from a mental health perspective. It is a two-part presentation. Part 1 is a discussion about the distinctness, limitations, and possibilities in post-adoption support services while navigating through the personal journey of being adopted from Korea. Part II is an interactive experience that touches on healing through an expressive art process.

Part I: Merrily Sadlovsky, MSW, LICSW - Minnesota-based psychotherapist
Part II: Mele Kramer - Founder of 100,000 Kranes for my Mother (tm), is currently a Doctoral Student studying I/O Psychology at Walden University


IKAA Community Building

IKAA community leaders will share their experiences and advice for building local adoptee communities. This sessions encourages active discussion with the audience members on how to build and strengthen local communities while providing global resources.

Speakers: Taneka Jennings (KAtCH, Chicago), Lisa Dahlgren (AKF, Sweden), Tommy Gentzel (AKASF, San Francisco)


Parenting as KADs

An informal conversation centering the experiences of KADs who are now parents. Possible themes covered: racial identity development, experiencing birth parenthood, raising multiracial children, navigating retriggered trauma, internalized racial oppression, the challenges of passing on lost history and culture, and deep personal healing and love. KADs who are expecting/considering parenthood, LGBTQ KAD parents, and KADs who are adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to join! Partners (including non-KAD/non-POC) welcome, understanding the workshop will be centered on the KAD parent experience. Childcare will be provided.

Workshop Facilitator: Nari Baker

“As a busy working mom, I felt very grateful to have a local gathering I could attend. I really loved how the event made me feel like the IKAA community is more inclusive and celebrating of diversity than I have experienced in the past. Thanks to all the event organizers for their tireless efforts. They represented AKASF well.”

AKASF20 Attendee

Partners and Sponsors


  • Adoptee Rights Campaign – Joy Alessi. Helped organize the Citizenship session and presented at the Gala Dinner.
  • Me&Korea (Minyoung Kim) coordinated activities with Professor Lee. Also, coordinated volunteers with Connect-A-Kid to setup and execute activities for kids at the Sunday picnic.
  • Deann Borshay Liem and Jim Choi recorded the Hapa Panel and did additional filming at the conference.
  • Bella Siegel-Dalton (325 KAMRA) provided consultation and free DNA kits (only for distribution).

Main Sponsors

  • KAS & SF Korean Consulate
  • Korea Center of San Francisco
  • East Bay Lions Club
  • Korean American Community Foundation – San Francisco
  • KAAN
  • Me&Korea
  • Connect-A-Kid
  • Mu Films
  • Kore Asian Media
  • Poets and Writers