The workshops and sessions at the IKAA Gatherings provide a time for participants to explore specific topics related to adoption, the adoptee experience, or the themes of the Gathering. We received an amazing diversity of proposals and are happy to share the IKAA G19 Workshops & Sessions!

In addition to the Workshops & Sessions listed below, the past attendee favorite, the Age Breakout Sessions, are returning to the G19! The age ranges for each session will be posted at the Gathering, and while these sessions are for adoptees only, there will be a session for adoptees’ partners held at the same time.

NOTE: All Workshops & Sessions will take place on Thursday, August 1st.

11:10 am – 12:25 pm

Adoptees Without Children

Have you wondered what it would be like to know someone who looks like you? For adoptees who do not have children and have not reunited with our Korean families, this may never be possible. If this is part of your adoption journey, how has it impacted your identity as an adoptee?

This session is for those who have not connected a 1st degree relative and who also do not have their own, biological children.

Presenter(s): Julayne Lee

From Abandonment to Access/Inclusion in Korea – Coming Full Circle

We are a community of generations of KADs who have met to face issues and have talks involving identity, culture, birth search, starting families, etc… in Europe, the US, or in Korea, but never have we tackled how to subgroup into a group of peers and supports who feel called to join on how to get further access and post-adoption services for disabled adoptees. We have struggled with anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts and got a diagnosis (or not), and we welcome you, as we who live a life with a physical disability, as well.

The presenter Mitja has experienced and survived both and professionally works with mental health issues, the co-presenter Jill works on advocacy rights of disabled people. Both are Korean Adoptees.

This workshop is the first of its kind in creating a safe space, dialoguing to interactive talks, to identify our peers to get better access to Korea.

We call upon YOU to examine whether you and your spouse/friend/partner can network with us and find competent and well-experienced KADs with disabilities to start a movement where we see ourselves staying for longer periods of times in Korea, and as our bodies and minds grow older, begin to think about how and where to rest, recover and even also retire?

This workshop is also for non adoptees who may or may not have a physical disability and/or mental health, as we need to build a strong network to make the change needed.

Presenter(s): Mitja Kristine Munk Klarup and Jill Geroy

LGBTQ+ Discussion

LGBTQ+ Korean Adoptees discussing the intersection of culture, gender, and sexual orientation and the impact on the future generations of LGBTQ adoptees.

This session is open to all attendees*

*Additionally, there will be a closed session only for adoptees in the LGBTQ+ community

Presenter(s): Min Matson and Ryan Gustafsson

You Are What You Eat: Food, Culture, Identity, & Belonging

In an increasingly globalized world, food and cultural barriers seem more permeable, and access to other cuisines is greater than ever before. For adoptees, however, food has always been a complex signifier of identity, culture and our sense of belonging. An interactive workshop to discuss our personal experiences with food growing up in countries other than Korea: what we love to eat, what we don’t, and what food means to us as transracial adoptees. Explore questions of ethnic, social and cultural belonging and how what we eat shapes who we are – in every way imaginable.

Presenter(s): Jennifer Kyung Conn

Creative Expression: Identity Through Poetry & Music

Part 1: Music
Nature vs. Nurture: Musician and artist Jacquelyn Wells will tell her adoption story through the lens of music. The “LAP” Music video w adoptee hip-hop artist Heesun Lee (directed by adoptee Jon Maxwell of AKA Dan/AKA Seoul) and the original hip-hop music she created with her biological brother (recently reunited) will be shared with the story behind the music.

Part 2: Poetry
The aged traditional art forms of sijo and p’ansori have cemented themselves as examples of intangible cultural heritage in Korea. In contrast, slam poetry arose during the eighties in Chicago. How are they similar? All three of these have defined themselves for serving as mediums for storytelling and raw human expression. Participants will not only learn, write, and perform* their own poetry, but also have the chance to navigate their identity as Korean adoptees and embracing each other’s stories.

*Performing is not mandatory; it’s based on purely the voluntary decisions of participants who are willing

Presenter(s): Jacquelyn Wells and Josie Robinson

A Letter for Sang-Ah Documentary Film + Q&A w/Director and Co-Producer

A screening of A Letter for Sang-ah (27 min.), a documentary about single mothers in Korea, and the challenges and triumphs of raising a child alone followed by a 45 min. Q&A discussion around the birth mother experience. Presented by co-producer, Emily Strong, and director Mina Fitzpatrick. You can find out more about the film on the website at and follow the film on Facebook:

Presenter(s): Emily Strong and Mina Fitzpatrick

2:00 PM – 3:15 pm

The Ugly Model – Documentary Excerpts + Skype Q&A with Protagonist Kevin Kreider and Producer Bianca Kuijper

Excerpts from The Ugly Model, a Documentary following Korean American adoptee and fitness model Kevin Kreider who has spent his whole career trying to answer the question: “Can Asian men be sexy?”

The Ugly Model Producer Bianca Kuijper will share her drivers behind making the documentary and lead a Q&A over Skype with Kevin Kreider and open conversation on the topic of Asian Masculinity.

Presenter(s): Bianca Kuijper and Kevin Kreider

Overcoming Relationship Woes: Recovery and Rebuilding Post-Marriage

While many adoptees are able to have successful long-term relationships, some often struggle through relationship challenges, breakups, and divorce. There may be struggles related to initial abandonment or old coping strategies that were formed in childhood that have not translated to a healthy functioning level in adult relationships. This unique session offers space and support for adoptees to engage in an open discussion about relationships, dating, marriage, and divorce. This session will benefit those who have experienced unhealthy relationship patterns; and offer a space for individuals to share their experiences and advice for recovering and rebuilding their lives post-relationship or post-marriage.

Session for Adoptees Only

Presenter(s): Amanda Assalone

Race & Belonging: Exploring Racial Determination through a Transnational Adoptee Lens

Race can be a controversial topic of conversation; additionally, it is often a critical consideration for many individuals because they are aware of the way race, like all social identities, impact their daily lives. People’s experiences are significantly impacted, consciously and unconsciously, by their racial identity development as well as the perceptions, beliefs, and actions of others. This session examines the social construct of race as well as the challenges, limitations, and functions of racial categorization. This session welcomes international perspectives to facilitate the exploration of the complexity of race in an interactive learning environment.

Presenter(s): DeLa Dos and Aysha Dos

Dear Seoul: A Self-Love Creative Workshop for Adoptees in and out of Dating and Reunion

There are many parallels throughout our relationships with dating, our birth families, and ourselves that we may or may not know. Self-love and self-care has emerged as a trendy topic in the same global culture that often promotes workaholism, perfectionism, etc. For many of us adoptees, self-love can be a challenge in a global culture that often prescribes how we should exist, especially in regards to our adoption. As we discover and embody our identities and stories, self-love is an important foundation for our mental, physical and emotional health, as well as, our relationships. In this workshop, presenters will share ways that self-love practices have helped them navigate dating and reunion journeys. We will discuss more about self-love practices and use creativity to heal and empower.

Session for Adoptees Only

Presenter(s): Leah Garlock and Kate Powers

Adoption, Immigration & Citizenship

Prior to passage of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, adoptive parents in the United States were responsible to naturalize their children. However, not all adoptive parents completed this process, leaving an alarming number of adoptees without citizenship – including 18,000 Korean American adoptees. This session will provide a historical context for adoptee immigration and citizenship in the United States, reflect on what’s at stake for those currently living without citizenship, and highlight ways to get involved with current efforts led by adoptees and allies to secure citizenship for all adoptees.

Presenter(s): Taneka Jennings and Peter Yoon

Parenting by Adoptees. Benefits and Obstacles

The interactive workshop Parenting by adoptees. Benefits and Obstacles explores how expecting a child, becoming a parent and raising child(ren) challenges your perspective on your own adoption story. Ruth Willems and Yomi van der Veen, both adopted and parents themselves lead this workshop and hope to share stories that might be useful for professionals encountering adoptees in these phases of their lives.

Session for Adoptees and Partners of Adoptees

Presenter(s): Yomi van der Veen and Ruth Willems

3:25 PM – 4:40 pm

LGBTQ+ Closed Group Session

For those who self-identify as LGBTQ+.

Bringing Our Best Self to the World

As Korean Adoptees, we exemplify unique life circumstances and experiences that may be intriguing and also difficult for others to comprehend. However, our experiences allow us to view how we accept others and even ourselves through another lens that others could learn from. This session will take the attendee through their own experiences that may not be so easily relatable and how they can take their life skills of acceptance, understanding and humanity and eliminate cultural expectations while encouraging society to be a more open and accepting place for all.

Presenter(s): Cindy Wilson

Bridging Parallel Universes: My Birth Family Reunion and Beyond

Three months before starting business school, Matt Aehle quit his job and moved to Korea with one goal: reconcile his unlived Korean life with his present-day American life. In this session, Matt gives us an intimate look into the courageous journey that found him reuniting with his birth family just one week after IKAA 2016, and navigating the complex realities of life post-reunion.

After the talk, join us for a Q&A session and small-group discussions, where we will reflect on the concepts of identity and shaping a relationship with Korea as an adoptee.

Presenter(s): Matthew Aehle (오준석)

Healing Through Knowing Our History: An Overview of Adoption from South Korea

When, how, and why did adoption from South Korea start? Why did adoption continue well after South Korea recovered from the war and economic development change the country? Why are there so many of us? What are some current issues and trends? If you have ever wondered, why us, why South Korea, this presentation will provide an overview of how adoption from South Korea began, grew, and continues.

Presenter(s): Leslie Griep, Dina Buck, Jasmine Healey


Korea dominates in the E-Gaming industry with games like Starcraft, Overwatch, and PubG, but not many know what goes into becoming a professional player or why people are drawn to this growing industry. Emily Carlson, an adoptee from upstate New York, is the Global Business Manager at the world’s top training academy and also manages Asia’s top Overwatch Team, Mystic Element. Through her company, some of the world’s top players have been trained at their facilities and has a high success rate in sending players to other top professional teams such as Seoul Dynasty and London Spitfire. She will be speaking about the evolution of the E-Sports industry in Korea, her experiences, as well as what it takes to be a professional player today.

Presenter(s): Emily Carlson
Company: Big Picture/GameCoach Academy

NOTE: There are also special classes available for IKAA G19 Registered Attendees at GameCoach Academy for those who are interested in a more hands-on experience (at an extra cost). Click here to sign up!

K-Pop session
4:50 PM – 6:00 pm

The description will be posted shortly!

Presenter(s): SM Entertainment