What’s a Korean Adoptee Doing in Korea?

Here is what Korean adoptee Kasey Buecheler has been doing in Korea!

by Kasey Buecheler

I am back in America from Korea and visiting family while I figure out the rest of my year.  As some of you may have read before, I have been keeping myself busy studying Korea, teaching English, and participating as part of a mentor program for domestic adoptees in Korea!

I began teaching English through the Language Bound program, started by InKAS (International Korean Adoptee Service).  This is a special program where adoptee teachers are sent to teach children from low-income households who may not be able to afford English classes for themselves.  I had never taught English in this way before, and being employed by InKAS gave me experience in a classroom and memories I will never forget.  My kids were absolutely wonderful. I soon found myself looking forward to each class.  It was so rewarding to see my kids develop an interest in learning–and for me to provide them the opportunity to do so.

It was also through InKAS that I became involved in the Korean domestic adoptee mentoring program, which I can say is one of the most rewarding accomplishments for me from last year.  In Korea, adoption is still very much stigmatized in society and adoptive families usually choose to keep this aspect of their lives secret.  This mentoring program was designed to pair us up with a younger domestically adopted child and help them accept their adoption and learn it is nothing to be ashamed of.  We went to an over-night retreat where we were first introduced to our mentees (mine a 14-year-old girl) and spent time getting to know each other.

It was not easy at first. I had one of the oldest mentees, and she was very shy and seemed really uncertain about her participation in the program.  However, I could tell right away how supportive and encouraging her family was (her mother ran up to me and gave me a big hug the first time we met) and we have been able to get closer by meeting up after the retreat finished.

At one point, her parents invited me and a couple other mentors (who were assigned to two of their other children) to go with them to a church service/adoption get-together at their adoption agency (which I’m assuming specializes in domestic adoptions only). It was amazing to see these families celebrate their adoptions together and feel absolutely no shame in doing so.  It reminded me very much of adoption get-togethers that my own family would go to when I was younger. Food, fun, and friends.  This mentoring program helped me to realize how different the problems of the domestic adoptees are from international adoptee. However, seeing the families connect with each other at this agency made me realize how much we have in common as well.

InKAS Mentoring group

InKAS Mentoring group


  1. Lisa Ercolano says:

    Kasey, thank you so much for sharing this and for doing such good work. In a future essay, could you talk a bit about why domestic adoption is stigmatized? I have read a bit about Korean society and have gotten the impression that the notion of family bloodlines is very important there. Does that have a bearing on how adoption is perceived?

    • Sure! I’ll just leave a quick response here. In recent years, Korea has been making efforts to change this image of adoption in Korea. But it’s hard to change the way a society has been for years and years and years. Yes, bloodline is a huge part of it (which is a result of Confucian views on society that are embedded in many aspects Korean culture). Giving birth out of wedlock and being a single mother is also not part of this traditional portrait of a family and is taboo as well.
      However, one article that I read said that many adoptive parents in Korea are worried about their kids because of the way that adoptive kids are portrayed in the media. Apparently, adopted children are usually portrayed as characters who “scheme” and “damage families.” This was something I had never heard of before, so we can see that even in the present, where there are efforts on the part of the Korean government to encourage domestic adoption (while DIScouraging international adoptions as well), there is not much being done to change the social stigma that exists in Korea.
      here is the article I read if you want to read more about this in detail: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/09/world/asia/09iht-09adopt.16801435.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

  2. Lisa Ercolano says:

    Thank you so much, Kasey, for the thoughtful response. I will read this story right away. Please contribute more essays (and photos) pertaining to this important work you are doing. I can’t wait to share your observations and experiences with my daughter, who joined our family from her birthplace in China. She plans to return to China in the coming years to work with babies and children, as well.

  3. This is very inspirational and I think it’s so noble of you to share what you can 😊


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