Birth Family Searching and Meaning: A Korean Transracial Adoptee Perspective


Social Work

Date of Paper/Work


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)

Type of Paper/Work

Clinical research paper


Kari L. Fletcher


The decision and process of initiating a birth family search is truly a unique journey for every adoptee. However, through examining the birth family search process of Korean transracial adoptees themes and patterns emerge surrounding the meaning making process within their own journey. This study sought out to understand how adult Korean transracial adoptees use the process of birth family searching to create meaning of their ambiguous loss and adoption experience. Additionally, this research aimed to give voice to the stories and perspectives of Korean transracial adoptees’ unique experiences and knowledge. Interviews were conducted with eight participants ( n = 8) who are Korean transracial adoptees and had participated in a birth family search or been contact by their birth family through a reverse birth family search. This study found that the process of birth family searching effected participants’ experience of ambiguous loss, adoptee cultural citizenship, meaning making, and identity tension. In addition participants explored the experience of traveling to South Korea, navigating language barriers, using support systems, experiencing guilt in relation to the search process, and the use of Facebook for support and searching. The findings of this study indicate that social workers need to become more aware of the dynamics surrounding the experience of being a Korean transracial adoptee in order to support and advocate for the services that would be beneficial for adoptees who are completing birth family searches.


Birth Family Searching birth family searching, International adoption, Korean adoption, post-adoption services

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.