Adoptees as parents: How Korean American adoptees talk about ethnicity, race, and adoption

Each year University of Washington Tacoma invites faculty to present on their research and I was fortunate to be asked to participate in this year’s Lightening Talk. These are very short presentations (5 minutes!) with timed slides. It was challenging to condense a research study into 20 slides in five minutes, but here is a video of my presentation, highlighting the findings of our study on Korean adoptee parenting.

For more information about this study, please click here.


Middle Brother post-show discussion


Join me September 21, 2014 for a post-show discussion after Eric Sharp’s Middle Brother performance.

From Mu Performing Arts

The plan was so simple.

1.) Eat Korean food.

2.) Drink Korean beer.

3.) Live and work in the homeland for the first time in 22 years.

But only days away from moving back to the Midwest, Billy is unexpectedly reunited with his Korean birth brother and must somehow reconcile his modern American life with his newfound Korean past.

Written by and starring longtime Mu performer Eric Sharp (Yellow Fever, Into the Woods, Ching Chong Chinaman), Middle Brotherexpands Mu’s body of work exploring the Korean adoptee experience. Director Robert Rosen (Theatre de la Jeune Lune) helms this imaginative world premiere with his signature physical theatre style.


For ticket information, click here.

Presenting at 2013 Korean American Adoptee Adoptive Family Network Conference

August 3, 2013 – Transracial Adoptees: Commonalities Across Countries

10:30 – 11:45 am, 2013 KAAN Conference, Grand Rapids, MI

As the authors of the book  “Parenting as Adoptees” have shown, adult transracial international adoptees from different countries  have a huge amount in common. Adoptees from South Korea, Vietnam, India, and Colombia, all of whom were part of “Parenting as Adoptees,” will lead a wide-ranging, adult adoptees-only, discussion.

Mark HaglandKevin Haebeom VollmersJaeRan KimSusan Branco AlvaradoStephanie Kripa Cooper-Lewter

August 4, 2013 –  Seeking Asian America: Finding Culture in Contemporary Literature

8:30-9:45 am – 2013 KAAN Conference, Grand Rapids, MI

Asian American authors provide windows to the social history that has shaped the perceptions of a “model minority” and the pervasive stereotypes and racist attitudes that are part of today’s American experience. This discussion group will use themes presented in books by popular authors as pathways to understanding Asian American culture today.

Terri SheridanJaeRan Kim


Summer updates

I have been traveling for a lot of work-related duties this summer, and have a lot to process. Unfortunately, much of my thoughts are too personal to share on a public blog and although I’ve not been too shy in the past to voice my thoughts on a wide range of topics, I am somewhat torn between sharing some of my thoughts on this blog and protecting people’s privacy. If I can figure out a way to write some of my thoughts without being too publicly invasive, I’ll do so. It would be good to figure out a more consistent groove on the blog either way.

Just some highlights:

  • I spent a week in California at an adoption family camp, where I was privileged to be one of the keynote speakers, facilitated three workshops for parents, two workshops for the teens, and one workshop for the teens and their parents. By far the best part of going to Pact Camp is the opportunity to be with other adult transracial adoptees who are creating, sharing, advising, counseling, educating and mentoring adopted children and youth and their adoptive parents. One of the things that has been difficult is the in-between state we adult transracial and international adoptees who work with adopted individuals and families find ourselves. We are often considered less expert than the Professionals and Adoptive Parents who do the same work. We are also routinely criticized by other adult adoptees for working at camps such as Pact because we are seen as perpetuating the adoption industry. It is such a thin tightrope that we walk. I’m eternally grateful that I have found a cohort of adult transracial and international adoptee professionals that just get it, and with whom I can share both the joys and the frustrations of doing this work.
  • I attended the Summer Institute for Indian Child Welfare in my home state of Minnesota. For several days I learned about best practices in tribal child welfare services by those who are the experts – the tribes. I have to say I was very, very impressed by the speakers and the special opportunities for learning that I was privileged to be invited to participate. One of the biggest takeaways from this conference was that not only are some of the tribes that took over their child welfare services from the state governments doing exemplary work in their communities, that the outside world should be implementing their practices. Shouldn’t every child have active efforts conducted on their behalf? Shouldn’t every placement be determined on a hierarchy of the best interest for a child’s continuation with their family and community (placement first with family, extended family, community, and with new resources outside the community as a last resort)? My greatest frustration in leaving this conference was the huge disservice our child welfare service practices have done to children and families. What arrogance do we as a system of care have that we think children thrive better when completely severed from their families and communities, not to mention cultures? I challenge any adult to think about what it would be like to be forced to move away to a strange new place and start over without anything from your former life and prohibited from talking to anyone from your former life – family, friends, colleagues, everyone – and told to be grateful for it. Imagine being in a witness protection program only you had no choice over whether you wanted to be in the witness protection program because someone else decided it was in your best interest. I would guess it would be your last choice, chosen only if there were no other options available. Now imagine that you have to do this as a child. And that, sadly, is what we are doing to thousands of children each and every day.
  • I presented at a shelter that provides crisis counseling, services and beds for youth that are experiencing homelessness. I was asked to present because in the past few years, this agency has seen a big rise in the number of teens who were transracially or internationally adopted. These teens have either run from their adoptive homes or were kicked out by their adoptive parents. While reunification is the goal, the counselors have been challenged by the difficulty with working with the adopted youth and his or her parent(s). One staff person told me that nearly all the youth they saw at the center during one recent month were adopted.
  • I am continuing to work on my dissertation proposal as well and hope to be finished in early September, so I can begin to collect data for my research and thesis. I am also continuing with my “day job” which is to coordinate the Permanency and Adoption Competency Certificate through my university, that will begin this fall.
So in a nutshell, that’s what I’ve been up to this summer. Hope summer has been good for you as well.

Virtual Boundaries: Ethical Considerations for the Use of Social Media in Social Work

My colleague Ericka Kimball and I are presenting on ethical considerations in the use of social media in the social work profession for our local chapter of NASW this afternoon. A lot has been discussed already about the professional-client dyad or using social media for professional development, but we are focusing on the ethical sticky issues that crop up between colleagues and within agencies or organizations regarding social media.

Here is the description of our presentation:

Virtual Boundaries: Ethical Considerations for the Use of Social Media in Social Work
Ericka Kimball, MSW, LGSW, U of MN-Twin Cities
Jae Ran Kim, MSW, LGSW, U of MN – Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare
The National Association of Social Work (NASW) and Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) published standards for the use of technology is social work practice in 2005.  This guide provides a starting point in considering ethical guidelines of the use of social media in personal and professional contexts. However, given the rapid adoption of social networks and microblogs since 2005, there are some areas that need further consideration.  This presentation will begin the discussion of examining the personal and professional uses of social media; the benefits and pitfalls of using social media; and the ethical issues and policies that guide the use of social media by social workers.


It’s been a busy few months but I am finally coming up for air! I am in the exam phase of my doctoral program and just submitted my specialized exam paper, as well as completed all my final assignments for the last of my courses. Hard to believe that I am now finished with my coursework! It feels great, but I have to admit that I am one of those students who LOVES to take classes. I always enjoy learning new things. I’m eying another certificate program but have to hold myself back….maybe one day I’ll be able to take more classes.

Additionally, in the midst of finals I was traveling for fun and for business, presenting at a conference and taking a training and preparing for a webinar which I just presented today. The summer is going to busy too, but not nearly to the same extent. I’m presenting for the local chapter of the NASW’s conference in June, keynoting at an adoption family camp in July, and in between working on my dissertation proposal. Exciting times ahead!

Webinar presentation

On December 9, 2010 I will be presenting:

Passages: A Lifetime Perspective on the Developmental Tasks of Adopted Persons (#2006)
Presenter: Jae Ran Kim
Date: Thursday, December 9, 2010
Time: 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM (CST)

Jae Ran Kim, distinguished adoption presenter, reseacher and AHA Advisory Group member, discusses the model created by psychologists David Brodzinsky, Marshall Schecter and Robin Marantz Henig to illustrate how the developmental tasks of adoptees differ from those of non-adoptees, and how these unique differences manifest throughout the adoptee’s lifespan. Kim also discusses ambiguous loss, a construct originally hypothesized by Pauline Boss, author of Ambiguous Loss: Learning to Live with Unsesolved Grief, and how it impacts the lives of people within the adoptee community.

For more information on how you can register for this webinar, click here.

A discussion about race and relationships

Tonight I’ll be a guest panelist speaking about the role of race in interpersonal relationships in a post-show dialogue for the play, Cowboy vs. Samurai, produced by Mu Performing Arts at the esteemed Guthrie Theater. I’m looking forward to this play and to the discussion afterward; not only am I interested in interracial and multiracial families from a research and academic perspective, but it affects me personally as well. Join the cast of Cowboy vs. Samauri, Professor Rich Lee from the University of Minnesota and myself for the discussion. If you miss tonight’s performance and post-show discussion, there will be another post-show dialogue on November 24th with author David Mura and Asian American scholar SooJin Pate.

Information on the show (you can click here for more info)
The Guthrie Theater presents a Mu Performing Arts production of Cowboy Versus Samurai
by Michael Golamco
directed by Randy Reyes

The lives of the only two Asian Americans in the tiny town of Breakneck, Wyoming, are turned upside down when the beautiful Veronica Lee, a Korean American teacher from New York City, moves to town. Cowboy Versus Samurai is a romantic comedy that re-imagines the Cyrano de Bergerac story in which the “nose” is race. This production features actors John Catron, Sun Mee Chomet (Macbeth), Kurt Kwan (Mu’s production of Yellow Face) and Sherwin Resurreccion (M. Butterfly).