Document Type


Date of Degree Completion

Spring 2018

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Resource Management

Committee Chair

Jessica Hope Amason

Second Committee Member

Mark Auslander

Third Committee Member

Chong Eun Ahn


An estimated 150, 000 Korean children have grown up in culturally and racially different homes in the United States and other countries since the increase of transnational adoption in 1953. Due to the large number of Korean adoptees living in the U.S. the potential for ethnographic research is profound. Past studies have favored adoptive parents’ perspectives over that of Korean adoptees. This study aims to address that limitation in hopes of contributing to the growing trend of Korean- adoption ethnographic research led by Korean adoptees. Drawing on semi-structured interviews with six Korean-American adoptees living in the Seattle metropolitan area in Washington State, this thesis focuses on economic consumption, material culture, and the performative ways that Korean adoptees in Seattle, Washington, present themselves to others and how they see themselves. This thesis interrogates the path from biological birth to the severing of the national, cultural, and biological ties, and the reconstruction and rebirth of the Korean adoptee in a white, American family. These participants’ stories and experiences of belonging, fitting-in, experiencing racism within and outside the family, embracing their chosen identity, and reflections on their adoption origin stories show how Korean adoptees differ from Korean-Americans within the diaspora. The limitations of previous adoption research and the lack of focus on the experiences of Korean adoptees allows this study to help show that Korean adoptees struggle with their ethnic and racial identity and have unique experiences that fall outside the Korean diaspora.