Cultural Differences and Perceived Belonging During Korean Adoptees’ Reunions With Birth Families

Sara Docan-Morgan, Adoption Quarterly 2016, Volume 19, No. 2, 99-118

This article examines the cultural differences Korean adoptees perceived when interacting with their birth families along with the impact of these perceived differences. The article points out that there has been little research on transnational adoptees, as most research focuses on domestic adoptees.  The researchers interviewed 19 adoptees and examined their perceived differences.  They found that differences had a wide variety of impacts on the participants’ sense of belonging.

According to this article, more than 200,000 Korean adoptees have been sent overseas for adoption since the mid-1950s.  These adoptees grow up with what they refer to as the “transracial adoption paradox” (Page 101).  These adoptees are racial minorities who are treated as if they are members of the racial majority.  In examining cultural differences in reunions, the study showed that there were significant cultural differences perceived by participants.

In addition to observing cultural differences, the study examined whether these cultural differences affected the participants sense of belonging.  The participants reported a varied range of feelings during this portion of the study.