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OAKLAND—Conference: “An Orphan for You”: The Rise of Korean Adoption in the 1970s and 80s

February 23, 2020 @ 1:00 am9:00 am

Korean adoptee, Dr. Estelle Cooke-Sampson, with photos from Songmo Orphanage, Busan, South Korea. Photo: Allison Shelley

OAKLAND—In cooperation with Mu FilmsAsian American and Asian Diaspora Studies (U.C. Berkeley), and the Oakland Asian Cultural CenterMe & Korea is pleased to announce it will co-host “An Orphan for You”: The Rise of Korean Adoption in the 1970s and 80s, a free conference in Berkeley and Oakland, CA. The conference will take place over two days, from February 22-23, 2020.

During the 1970s and 80s, South Korea sent the largest number of children overseas for adoption – over 112,000 out of an estimated 200,000 globally – leading some to refer to the country as “the land of orphans.” But many Korean children, perhaps the majority, who were sent overseas for adoption were social orphans who had at least one living parent and, in some cases, an intact family. What were the factors in South Korea that resulted in so many children being sent overseas at a time of rapid industrialization and rising wealth? What fueled interest in adopting Korean children among parents in the U.S.?

Saturday, February 22 @ 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

David Brower Center
2150 Allston Way
Berkeley, CA 94704

Sunday, February 23 @ 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Oakland Asian Cultural Center
Pacific Renaissance Plaza
388 Ninth Street, Suite 290
Oakland, California 94607

Details and free registration on Eventbrite.

This conference will explore how Korean adoption, which began primarily as a rescue operation for mixed race children immediately following the Korean War, radically expanded in the 1970s and 80s. The goal is to shed light on some of the powerful economic, social and cultural forces that led to children being separated from their birth families and relinquished for adoption by families in the West. A screening of the CDP Film GEOGRAPHIES OF KINSHIP directed by Deann Borshay Liem will take place during the conference.

GEOGRAPHIES OF KINSHIP is supported by a California Documentary Project grant.



Oakland Asian Cultural Center
388 9th Street Suite 290 (between Franklin and Webster, above Asian Branch Library)
Oakland, CA 94607 United States
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