Transnational Korean Adoptees and the Communication of FamilySara Docan-Morgan
“Do you know your real parents?” is a question many adoptees are asked. In In Reunion, Sara Docan-Morgan probes the basic notions of family, adoption, and parenthood by exploring initial meetings and ongoing relationships that transnational Korean adoptees have had with their birth parents and other birth family members. Drawing from qualitative interviews with adult Korean adoptees in the United States and Denmark, as well as her own experiences as an adoptee, Docan-Morgan illuminates the complexities of communication surrounding reunion.
The paradoxes of adoption and reunion—shared history without blood relations, and blood relations without shared history—generate questions: What does it mean to be “family”? How do people use communication to constitute family relationships? How are family relationships created, maintained, and negotiated over time? In Reunion details adoptive and cultural identities, highlighting how adoptees often end up shouldering communicative responsibility in their family relationships. Interviews reveal how adoptees navigate birth family relationships across language and culture while also attempting to maintain relationships with their adoptive family members.
Docan-Morgan details the challenges, rewards, and contradictions of reunion. She also offers practical recommendations for transnational adoptees in reunion, adoptees considering reunion, adoptive families, and adoption practitioners.
In tracing the stories of the intercultural dynamics inherent in adoptees’ reunions, Docan-Morgan demonstrates the effort, flexibility, empathy, self-reflection, and time required to navigate long-term relationships with birth families.