Choose Your Own Adventure: The adoptee community is multi-generation and global. Some attendees are coming back for their 5th Korea Gathering, while others are coming back to Korea for the first time. We expect participants to have varying interests. Our approach is to offer a wide variety of programming that appeals to a range of interests. Think of our programming like a buffet. There will be a lot to choose from and you can decide what you want to do. There is no need to do everything and there will be opportunities to try things that may not be familiar.
Programming for a Diverse Community
We've expanded our programming, so there's something for everyone.
Welcoming Newcomers: Are you newly exploring the adoptee community? Will this be your first trip back to Korea? No worries! Let us help you prepare for this trip. We have designed intentional programming for newcomers that includes virtual sessions to help connect attendees prior to Korea and a newcomers welcome event which was well received when it launched in 2019. IKAA will also be providing guidance on how to navigate Seoul and recommendations on things to see and foods to eat! Virtual sessions for attendees will begin in May.
Pre & Post Gathering Virtual Sessions
New to this IKAA Korea Gathering is the inclusion of virtual sessions before and after the weeklong event in Korea. Prior to the start of the Korea Gathering, we’ll be hosting virtual sessions to help connect, engage, and inform registered attendees. Newcomers are encouraged to attend! After the Korea Gathering, we will also be hosting post-event virtual sessions to encourage reflection and to facilitate post-event discussion.
Newcomers Welcome Event
In 2019, we launched a welcome event for newcomers to the IKAA Korea Gathering and large adoptee community events. The event will be held at the beginning of the week on Monday July 10th and is intended to facilitate connection among newcomers in a friendly and supportive environment.
Opening Ceremony and Reception
The Opening Ceremony will be held on Tuesday July 11th and will feature presentations and remarks from adoptee leaders and allies in the community. This session will also service as a preview to the rest of the week’s programming. In the afternoon, we’ll gather together for light appetizers and drinks.
Sixth International Korean Adoption Studies Symposium
The Sixth International Symposium on Korean Adoption Studies (IKAS) will be held at the 2023 IKAA Korea Gathering on July 12th, 2023. We recognize and celebrate the interdisciplinary nature of Korean adoption studies with scholars from both the humanities and social and behavioral sciences. This research also engages with issues of race and ethnicity, migration and diaspora, gender and family, and globalization and transnationalism. The day-long symposium will bring together scholars from around the world who are conducting research in the field of Korean adoption studies. We also welcome submissions from scholars creating linkages between transnational adoptions from Korea and other sending countries such as China, Ethiopia, Guatemala, and Russia. We firmly believe in the dissemination of Korean adoption studies scholarship to a public audience to address the gap between research and practice. We particularly welcome research that is jargon-free and accessible to a general audience.
IKAS is open to the public for a door price of 60,000 KRW or 30,000 KRW for students.
Meet the research symposium planning team
Making Home: Adult Korean Adoptees Living in South Korea
Anti-adopterism as Resistant Knowledge: An Autoethnographic Case Study of Colorblind Distortions in Transracial and International Adoption
Seungmi Laura Cho
Dwelling in Exile: On the Extraterritorial Phenomenology of Transracial Adoptees
Reconciling DNA : Making Kinship and Nation through Genetic Testing in South Korea
Transracial Korean and Chinese Adoptees Navigating Discussions About Racism and Intersectional Identities with Adoptive Parents
Jason D. Reynolds (Taewon Choi)
Ethiopian Transnational Adoption Through the Lens of Adult Adoptees and Relinquishing Family Voices
The generative power of queer adopteeness: a multi-sited ethnography in the returned Korean adoptee community
Pregnancy & Childbirth Experiences for Asian American Adopted Adults
Institutionalising Adoption History: The Implications and Limitations for Korean Adoptees of the Report of the Dutch Committee Investigating Intercountry Adoption
The Importance of Community: Preliminary Findings on the Nature of Korean Adoptee Groups/Spaces and Adoptee Well-Being
Transnational Korean Adoptees: Family Communication “In Reunion”
Keynote: Sara Docan-Morgan
Presentations, Workshops, and Discussion Groups
IKAA Gatherings provide the opportunity for participants to explore a wide range of topics related to adoption, the adoptee experience, and the themes of the Gathering. We expect to have over 40 sessions throughout the week. These sessions will take place Thurs July 13 to Sunday July 16. Most sessions will be between 60 and 90 minutes in length. Some of these sessions will be presentations / panels, while others will be more interactive workshops and discussion groups. This year we will be featuring more perspectives from birth family members and adoptees living in Korea.
The 2023 IKAA Korea Gathering will explore themes and topics including birth family search, post reunion experiences and support, empowering adoptee voices, storytelling, navigating relationships with adoptive family members, mentorship, stereotypes / biases, adoptee activism, living in Korea as an adopted Korean, DNA testing, and more. Additionally, we will expand beyond our popular age breakout discussion groups and feature more discussion group sessions on various topics.
Cultivating Space for Adoptee Voices
Liz Kleinrock and Patrick Armstrong
Liz Kleinrock and Patrick Armstrong lead this session on what cultivating adoptee spaces can look like, as well as how to support adoptees of all ages in speaking their truths.
LIVE-ing in Korea
Antonia Giordano, Barbara Kim, JK Song, Amy Chu, Luke McQueen
Discussion with adopted Koreans who have been living in Korea on how to move and maintain a balanced life in Korea.
Childfree by Choice or by Circumstance: A New Legacy
A safe space for adoptees without children to build community as they share the challenges of being childfree.
DNA Testing and Privacy Issues: What Does This Mean for You?
Delight Kim Roberts
Learn about the privacy issues inherent in DNA testing and how you can make an informed decision about sharing your personal data.
Ibyang International Network: Global Activism
Ibyang International Network (IbyangIN) is a newly-formed nonprofit that advocates for the rights of overseas adopted Koreans in South Korea.
Family Matters: Navigating Relationships with Adoptive Family Members
SunAh Laybourn, Amanda Assalone, Patrick Armstrong, and Shaun Hardwick
The panelists will discuss key moments in their adoptee exploration, how they’ve navigated sharing those moments with their adoptive parents, and the strategies they’ve used to successfully overcome challenges.
How do East-Asian women face stereotypes/biases in the workplace?
Christine Reinders and others
Shedding light on the challenges driven by stereotypes and biases we face due to race and gender in the workplace across geographies.
Navigating Academic Institutions as Adoption Researchers
Jason D. Reynolds (Taewon Choi)
Connecting transracial Korean adoptee (and other transracially adopted individuals) researchers and academics with other adoption scholars from around the world.
Adoptee Organizing 101
Taneka Hye Wol Jennings and Kate Firestone
Meet like-minded peers and gain knowledge and skills in the basics of organizing issue campaigns that advance human rights for adoptees, and intersecting communities.
Age Break Out Group Discussions
Providing a space for adoptees to share their own stories and hear experiences of other adoptees in age similar group settings.
How to Become Competent at the Korean Language as an Adult
Attend this workshop to learn techniques on how to become adequate at speaking Korean in your adulthood.
Estelle Cooke-Sampson, Leslie Griep, Allen Majors, Moderated by Filmmaker, Deann Borshay Liem
A lively conversation with adoptees sent to the U.S. during the early wave – 1950s and early 1960s.
Building Community and Mapping the Life Course of Adoption: Revelations and Reflections
This presentation/workshop will provide an emergent space for the community to sit with some of the preliminary findings from a community-embedded and engaged project seeking to map the life course of adoption and the role of adoptee-led groups and spaces on adoptees in adulthood.
NCRC: Birth Family Search
National Center for the Rights of the Child (NCRC)
Overview and discussion of Korean Birth Family Search services from the Korean government agency overseeing family search.
How one Adoptee’s investigation of her switch case led to the reunion of twins with their birth father
Viewing and discussion of a SBS documentary of how one Adoptee’s investigation into her switch case ultimately led to the reunion of Adoptee twins with their birth father in Korea.
Film: Hangul Blues
The life of 28-year-old Petra is turned upside down when she receives a letter and a picture from her biological mother from Korea.
Film: RE KNOWN Reflections on adoption
Kim Soo bok Cimaschi
Documentary about adoption perspectives in which the adoption subjects like adoptees, adoptive parents, adoption agency representatives, and social workers talk about adoption topics.
Discussion group for spouses/partners of adoptees.
Empowering Your Birth Family Search
In this session, we will discuss some of the basic steps of birth family search (BFS), as well as alternative options to agency and government procedures, so that you can feel more proactive in your search.
Certificate of Family Relations and Impacts to Inheritance
This session will explore lawsuits aimed at the correction of the certificate of family relations since some adopted Koreans were adopted with false documents stating that they were orphans. Issues around inheritance will also be discussed since the correction of the certificate of family relations is directly related to inheritance.
Perspectives of birth families and adoptees post-reunion
Jannie Westermann and birth family members, Jeon Hyunsuk, Shannon Doona Bae
This panel aims to examine the needs of both adoptees and birth families in post-reunion relationships. By inviting a panel of speakers composed of adoptees and birth family members in reunion, and by offering audience members a space to share their own experiences, we hope to open an honest discussion of the joys, difficulties, and all things in-between, that are commonly experienced in reunion. After establishing real needs in post-reunion relationships, we ask our audience to imagine with us how post-reunion needs might be met by related organizations and government programs. This program will be bi-lingual with Korean/English interpretation.
Empowering FLINTA1: creating strategies together to overcome the insidiousness of sexism and heteronormativity by the patriarchy in South Korea.
Mirae kh RHEE
Only FLINTA (Female, Lesbian, Intersex, Trans and Agender) may attend this safe space discussion circle.
Mirae kh RHEE’s discursive presentation mixing both personal, historical, and contemporary perspectives will be followed by an exchange with attendees to discuss our intersectionality and experiences with discrimination in our birth country. This an opportunity to come up with strategies to confront and protect ourselves from misogyny and trans-/homophobia, as overseas adopted FLINTA.
We are hosting a new Creative Arts Program at the IKAA Korea Gathering in 2023. In these sessions, adopted Koreans share their artistic talents as an expression of their adoption journeys. As a multi-disciplinary arts program, Koreans adopted to various countries will provide opportunities for the community to engage in a range of mediums which include visual arts, performance arts, and literary arts.
Comic Reading of ‘Pyeongtaek’
Meg O’Shea walks us through an autobiographical work written in the last weeks of her two years’ living in Korea
Creatively Express your Identity through Art
Karin Lim facilitates an art therapy workshop using mixed media collage, writing and sharing to guide adoptees to their “authentic voice” and greater self-awareness.
Unraveling our identities: Re-knotting with each other
Marie Gong Li Blouin, Tong Zhou Lafrance, and Marie-Christine Peiyu Savard
Chinese Adoptees of The Soft Gong Collective create an opportunity to connect with Korean adoptees in a discussion about the intersectional identities of Asian adoptees while creating a work of solidarity through the arts of Chinese and Korean knot making.
Collaborative Art Project: Journeys + Migrations
Jennifer Joy Swedell
Jennifer Joy Swedell constructs a collaborative art piece created by attendees which will be displayed during the IKAA gathering.
Claiming Your Narrative Writing Workshop
Alice Stephens speaks about her adoption journey, her novel Famous Adopted People, and leads us in exploring our own adoption stories through creative writing prompts.
Exploring Multiple Identities Through Movement
Mihyun Lee leads us in growing awareness of how our bodies express identity through movement.
Seeds From The East: The Korean Adoptee Portrait Project Drawing & Poetry Through The Senses
A.D. Herzel leads a drawing and writing exercise to explore our Korean identities inspired by her work in Korean Adoptee Portraits.
To my imaginary twin
“if we stayed in Korea, would we still be us?”. Laure Badufle invites us to explore our double identity as transracial adoptees by recreating memories of her imaginary twin sister, consisting of drawings, sound recordings and pictures based on real or imaginary places and objects.
Adoption Healing through Sound and Touch
Sarah MeeRan Cave
Come experience a violin sound healing, safe touch, and intentional grounding visualization techniques to encourage healing around adoption wounds.
QT*KAD – Queer Korean Adoptee Artists sharing narratives of care and love
Timm Shik Therre, Kim Stoker, Byol Kimura, Alex Myung
In this panel four queer adopted Korean artists discuss how their intersecting identities have played a part in their artistic careers and inspired them to bring visibility to the transracial/transnational adoptee community.
With the increased number of adoptees bringing their families to the Gatherings, IKAA introduced a “Family Program” in 2013. The Program includes family friendly activities, and presents opportunities for joining families to bond and jointly explore Seoul.
- Family Welcome Event and Lunch
- Activities: Aquarium, Norebang, Game Room
- Amazing Race Scavenger Hunt
- and more!
Amazing Race Scavenger Hunt
An “Amazing Race” style competition/scavenger hunt in Seoul, where groups of participants go to various locations around the city, completing activities and tasks to see who can successfully complete the most in the least amount of time.
During the week, we’ll be screening a selection of films that explore the complexity of the adoptee experience and touch on themes relating to relationships with birth family members, the history of Korean adoption, and the unique experiences of traveling back to Korea as an adoptee. To add to the richness of the event, some of the films will be accompanied by Q&A sessions with those involved in the films.
Feature Films showing at CGV
- Return to Seoul
- Geographies of Kinship
- Mother Dear
Get ready for a Korean baseball experience at Jamsil Stadium! Attendees can sign up to join us for an exciting game experience with an electric atmosphere that’s not to be missed. Tickets will be covered for registered attendees.
Hanjeongsik restaurants in Seoul offer a culinary experience deeply rooted in Korean tradition. It is a dining style that presents an array of prepared dishes, showcasing the rich flavors and diversity of Korean cuisine. We’ll be hosting multiple, large group community hanjeongsik dinners. Participants sign up for one of the time slots during the week. Dinner will be covered.
On the last day of the Gathering, we’ll gather for a closing reception.
Come party with us as we celebrate the close to this weeklong event!