2019 IKAA Seoul Gathering Overview

Date: July 30th to Aug 4th 2019
Location: Seoul, South Korea

The theme of the IKAA Gathering 2019 is Spanning Generations: Communities, Families, & Leadership. We are a constantly growing and changing network, as our community continues to mature both in our personal lives as well as within our respective organizations. Many adoptees have moved into new life stages and/or started families of their own, and there has been a notable shift in needs and interests among members of our community. The IKAA G19 theme marks an effort to address this evolution, provide a space that is more inclusive of the families of adoptees, and support the next generation of emerging leaders, while continuing to offer programming and activities that are engaging and relevant for the broader adoptee community, from attendees who have been to all 6 Gatherings in Korea, to attendees who are participating in their first adoptee event! #IKAAG19




Countries Represented

IKAA G19 Schedule

Monday July 29th

  • 1st Time Attendees Meet & Greet

Tuesday July 30th

  • Continental Breakfast
  • Welcome Reception for Families
  • Opening Ceremonies
  • Group Photo
  • Welcome Reception
  • Social Activity

Wednesday July 31st

  • Research Symposium (open to public)
  • Side by Side Exhibit
  • Family Activity – Offsite
  • Poker Tournament
  • Korean Baseball Game
  • Social Activity

Thursday Aug 1st

  • Break Out Sessions – Age Groups
  • Morning Workshops & Sessions
  • Buffet Lunch
  • Afternoon Workshops & Sessions
  • e-Gaming Session
  • K-Pop Session
  • Social Activity

Friday Aug 2nd

  • Side by Side Exhibit
  • Children’s Museum & Park
  • Amazing Race Competition
  • Film Program – Forget Me Not
  • Social Activity

Saturday Aug 3rd

  • Side by Side Exhibit
  • Soccer All-Star Match vs MOHW
  • Lunch
  • Gala Dinner
  • Social Activity

Sunday Aug 4th

  • Closing Ceremonies and Brunch
  • IKAA Annual Convention & Leadership Meeting
  • Closing Party & Concert

IKAA G19 Workshops and Sessions


Adoption, Immigration & Citizenship

Prior to passage of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, adoptive parents in the United States were responsible to naturalize their children. However, not all adoptive parents completed this process, leaving an alarming number of adoptees without citizenship - including 18,000 Korean American adoptees. This session will provide a historical context for adoptee immigration and citizenship in the United States, reflect on what's at stake for those currently living without citizenship, and highlight ways to get involved with current efforts led by adoptees and allies to secure citizenship for all adoptees.

Speakers: Taneka Hye Wol Jennings, Peter Yoon - US Embassy


Bringing Our Best Self to the World

As Korean Adoptees, we exemplify unique life circumstances and experiences that may be intriguing and also difficult for others to comprehend. However, our experiences allow us to view how we accept others and even ourselves through another lens that others could learn from. This session will take the attendee through their own experiences that may not be so easily relatable and how they can take their life skills of acceptance, understanding and humanity and eliminate cultural expectations while encouraging society to be a more open and accepting place for all.

Speaker: Cindy Wilson


Race & Belonging: Exploring Racial Determination through a Transnational Adoptee Lens

Race can be a controversial topic of conversation; additionally, it is often a critical consideration for many individuals because they are aware of the way race, like all social identities, impact their daily lives. People’s experiences are significantly impacted, consciously and unconsciously, by their racial identity development as well as the perceptions, beliefs, and actions of others. This session examines the social construct of race as well as the challenges, limitations, and functions of racial categorization. This session welcomes international perspectives to facilitate the exploration of the complexity of race in an interactive learning environment.

Speakers: DeLa Dos and Aysha Dos


Healing Through Knowing Our History

When, how, and why did adoption from South Korea start? Why did adoption continue well after South Korea recovered from the war and economic development change the country? Why are there so many of us? What are some current issues and trends? If you have ever wondered, why us, why South Korea, this presentation will provide an overview of how adoption from South Korea began, grew, and continues.

Speakers: Leslie Griep, Dina Buck, and Jasmine Healey


Overcoming Relationship Woes: Recovery and Rebuilding Post-Marriage

While many adoptees are able to have successful long-term relationships, some often struggle through relationship challenges, breakups, and divorce. There may be struggles related to initial abandonment or old coping strategies that were formed in childhood that have not translated to a healthy functioning level in adult relationships. This unique session offers space and support for adoptees to engage in an open discussion about relationships, dating, marriage, and divorce. This session will benefit those who have experienced unhealthy relationship patterns; and offer a space for individuals to share their experiences and advice for recovering and rebuilding their lives post-relationship or post-marriage.

Speaker: Amanda Assalone


A Letter for Sang-Ah Documentary Film + Q&A w/ Director and Co-producer

A screening of A Letter for Sang-ah (27 min.), a documentary about single mothers in Korea, and the challenges and triumphs of raising a child alone followed by a 45 min. Q&A discussion around the birth mother experience. Presented by co-producer, Emily Strong, and director Mina Fitzpatrick. You can find out more about the film on the website at http://www.aletterforsangah.com/ and follow the film on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aletterforsangah/

Speakers: Emily Strong, Mina Fitzpatrick


Parenting by Adoptees. Benefits and Obstacles

The interactive workshop Parenting by adoptees. Benefits and Obstacles explores how expecting a child, becoming a parent and raising child(ren) challenges your perspective on your own adoption story. Ruth Willems and Yomi van der Veen, both adopted and parents themselves lead this workshop and hope to share stories that might be useful for professionals encountering adoptees in these phases of their lives.

Speakers: Ruth Willems and Yomi van der Veen


The Ugly Model - Documentary Excerpts + Skype Q&A with Protagonist Kevin Kreider and Producer Bianca Kuijper

Excerpts from The Ugly Model, a Documentary following Korean American adoptee and fitness model Kevin Kreider who has spent his whole career trying to answer the question: "Can Asian men be sexy?”

The Ugly Model Producer Bianca Kuijper will share her drivers behind making the documentary and lead a Q&A over Skype with Kevin Kreider and open conversation on the topic of Asian Masculinity.

Speakers: Kevin Kreider and Bianca Kuijper


Creative Expression: Identity Through Poetry & Music

Artists / Presenters: Jacquelyn Wells, Jon Maxwell, Josie Robinson

Adoptees Without Children

Have you wondered what it would be like to know someone who looks like you? For adoptees who do not have children and have not reunited with our Korean families, this may never be possible. If this is part of your adoption journey, how has it impacted your identity as an adoptee? This session is for those who have not connected a 1st degree relative and who also do not have their own, biological children.

Facilitator: Julayne Lee


Bridging Parallel Universes: My Reunion and Beyond

Three months before starting business school, Matt Aehle quit his job and moved to Korea with one goal: reconcile his unlived Korean life with his present-day American life. In this session, Matt gives us an intimate look into the courageous journey that found him reuniting with his birth family just one week after IKAA 2016, and navigating the complex realities of life post-reunion.

After the talk, join us for a no-holds-barred Q&A session and small-group discussions, where we will reflect on the concepts of identity and shaping a relationship with Korea as an adoptee.

Speaker: Matt Aehle


Disability Access to Korea

Join your fellow adoptees and those who support us for a call to action in identifying and solving the issues around Adoptees with disabilities and the role they play in accessing Korea. Interactive session will include information and resources from attendees who experience exclusion at all levels of adoptee services. Focus will be on empowerment and inclusion.

Speakers: Mitja Kristine Munk Klarup, Jill (Bang In Yun)


LGBTQ+ Discussions

Navigating complexities of adoptee identities is challenging, as is the journey for LGBTQ+ adoptees; this session will provide an up close and personal look at the journey of adoptees from around the world who identify in the LGBTQ+ spectrum.

Facilitators: Min Matson and Ryan Gustafsson



Korea dominates in the E-Gaming industry with games like Starcraft, Overwatch, and PubG, but not many know what goes into becoming a professional player or why people are drawn to this growing industry. Emily Carlson, an adoptee from upstate New York, is the Global Business Manager at the world’s top training academy and also manages Asia’s top Overwatch Team, Mystic Element. Through her company, some of the world’s top players have been trained at their facilities and has a high success rate in sending players to other top professional teams such as Seoul Dynasty and London Spitfire. She will be speaking about the evolution of the E-Sports industry in Korea, her experiences, as well as what it takes to be a professional player today.

Presenter: Emily Carlson - Big Picture/GameCoach Academy


Dear Seoul: A Self-Love Creative Workshop for Adoptees in and out of Dating and Reunion

In the past few years, self-love has become a trending topic in our media and global culture. While self-love can be actualized in a variety of ways, for many Korean adoptees, we are often prescribed how we should feel about ourselves and our adoption stories. As we continue to grow and lean into our emerging identities, deepening our sense of self-love becomes increasingly important to our mental, physical, and emotional health, as well as to our relationships with others. In this workshop, we will learn more about self-love practices, and how creativity can be utilized to help reclaim and heal our truths.

Facilitator: Leah Garlock, Kate Powers