Geographies of Kinship - The Korean Adoption Story

Funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, Cal Humanities, Berkeley Film Foundation, and our Kickstarter backers.


Sponsored by Katahdin Productions and Center for Asian American Media.

Katahdin Productions  

GEOGRAPHIES OF KINSHIP-THE KOREAN ADOPTION STORY (working title) is a  feature-length documentary that follows Korean adoptees from the U.S. and Europe, each on a unique journey related to their adoptions. We meet, for example, Estelle Cooke-Sampson who revists the orphanage where she lived until she was adopted by an African American soldier. She wonders how the nuns felt about having a black child in the 1950s. Emma Andersson is a Swedish adoptee who visits Korea for the first time and unexpectedly meets her birth mother, discovering family secrets along the way. Meanwhile, Michael Holloway is in San Francisco when he meets his birth family via webcam on a live television show. He is shocked to discover he has an identical twin. These and other riveting stories unfold against a wider backdrop of the Korean War and the hidden effects of post-war industrialization and globalization on women and families in South Korea.

Since the Korean War (1950-53) approximately 200,000 children from South Korea have been adopted into primarily white families in North America, Europe, and Australia. The Korean adoption experience and its subsequent adoptee diaspora have transformed not only how adoption is practiced worldwide, but also how kinship, identity and race are perceived and contested. As the forerunner for a growing number of international adoptions from China, Russia, Guatemala, Ethiopia and other countries, the Korean model challenges us to reflect on universal questions of identity, assimilation, family and belonging. Geographies of Kinship-The Korean Adoption Story will explore these provocative and timely themes by listening closely to those who have lived the experience most intimately-adoptees-while relaying a compelling story of epic scope. The film will enable audiences to better understand the socio-economic and political forces that brought tens of thousands of foreign children to the U.S. and Europe, the ethical quandaries of those who supported as well as those who opposed international adoptions, and the legacy, in human terms, of transracial and transnational adoptions.

Project Status

GEOGRAPHIES OF KINSHIP-THE KOREAN ADOPTION STORY is currently in production. We anticipate that the film will be completed by May 2015.

The film has received major production support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Cal Humanities, and the Berkeley Film Foundation. We are extremely honored to receive these grants, along with the wonderful support from our Kickstarter backers. Thank you!

Meet our Outreach Partners:

We are honored and thrilled to have the support of an amazing group of Outreach Partners who are supporting the film and who supported our Kickstarter campaign! Our Partners are:  Adopterade Koreaners Forening (Stockholm), AdopSource (Minneapolis), AK Connection (Minneapolis), Also-Known-As, Inc. (NYC), Arierang: Dutch Association for Korean Adoptees (Amsterdam), Asian Adult Adoptees of Washington (Seattle), Assoc. of Korean Adoptees San Francisco, Assoc. of Korean Adoptes So-Cal, Boston Korean Adoptees, Center for Asian American Media (San Francisco), Global Overseas Adoptees Link (Seoul), IKAA: International Korean Adoptee Associations (Seattle), Korean Focus (Metro D.C.), Ko-Root (Seoul), Korean Adoptees of the Hawaiian Islands (Honolulu), KAAN: the Korean American Adoptee Adoptive Family Network (Camp Hill, PA), Korea Klubben (Copenhagen), Korea Quarterly (Minneapolis), InKAS: International Korean Adoptee Services, Mixed Roots Foundation (San Francisco), One World: Chinese Adoptee Links. Thank you for your support, Partners!

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Korean War Adoptions

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