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Negotiating your identity as a Korean adoptee

posted Mar 8, 2009, 11:22 PM by Luke K

University of Newcastle PhD student Jessica Walton is exploring the unique experiences of Korean adoptees affected by being adopted to another country.

After being adopted to the United States in 1983 at the age of eight months, Jessica returned to South Korea in 2004 to teach English in Korean public schools.

Jessica said she was confronted with issues about what it meant to her to be Korean by birth, but grow up in America.

“I began to question the significance of where home is and what it means to belong,” she said.

“I wanted to know what other Korean adoptees felt about these ideas and so I decided to make sense of these issues through research.”

Jessica is researching the processes and experiences involved in being a Korean adoptee from an anthropological perspective, through the School of Humanities and Social Science.

She is looking for South Korean adoptees, aged 18 to 50 years, to participate in her research through email interviews.

“I’m looking at how adoptees consider their identities, how they view where they belong and where they feel their home is,” she said.

“I’ve found that Korean adoptees explore art, film, poetry and academic research to express themselves and identify with their birth country in diverse and challenging ways.

“As part of my research, I’ll travel to Seoul in South Korea next month, where I’ll interview Korean adoptees about their experiences in Korea.”

Intercountry adoption is now the most common form of adoption in Australia, following a decline in the number of Australian-born babies available for adoption in the past few years.

Anyone interested in participating in Jessica’s research can contact her via email on