Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education, Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Ruth Chao

Second Advisor

Jennifer Cornish

Third Advisor

Patton Garriott

Fourth Advisor

Michele D. Hanna


Adoptee, Adoption, Identity, International adoption, Korean, Korean adoptee


Since the end of the Korean War, Korean children have been placed for international adoption due to their marginalized status in South Korea. In the United States, Korean children have predominantly been adopted to White families through transracial adoption (Bergquist, 2003; Lee, 2003). Transracial adoption describes the process of children being placed in a home where there are racial differences with one or both adoptive parents. Through international transracial adoption, Korean adoptees may undergo events that impact the salience and development of multiple minority identities, including: racial, ethnic, cultural, and as an adoptee. These experiences may be shaped by interactions with socialization/reculturation experiences with race, culture, or ethnicity; minority distress; or difficulties coping with mental health concerns. Moreover, Korean adoptees confront an array of legal, cultural, and social barriers stemming from their minority identities in either their adoptive country or birth country. Based on the multifaceted experiences and backgrounds of Korean adoptees, this study utilized an interpretative phenomenological approach that identified eleven themes: Coping with Adoption; Experiences Around Visiting Korea; Identity; Mental Health; Minority Distress; Personal Values; Reactions to Participation; Relationships; Self-Beliefs; Social Support; and Strengths. The study highlighted the Korean adoptees sense making and recall of significant experiences over the course of a lifespan. The participants also depicted their interactions within numerous settings and contexts as Korean adoptees in the United States and Korea. The theory of intersectionality was critical to contextualize the individual differences, multiple minority identities, and the individual’s interactions with social and cultural oppression. The implications for the research are noted for clinical and training purposes. These include how the data can inform clinical decision-making when integrating the Korean adoptees’ strengths, values, multicultural considerations, and processing meaningful experiences. There are additional research directions that could continue to progress the research with Korean and international adoptees as well. Lastly, it touches on how this project was personally meaningful and important for me to complete.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Jared Utley


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

368 p.


Counseling psychology, Asian American studies, Psychology