KAAN 2016 Conference Sessions
KAAN 2017 info will be posted here in mid-January 2017. Below are details from our KAAN 2016 conference for your reference.

Friday
01:00 PM to
04:30 PM
Sign in and pick up conference materials. Maps of the local area and other items will be available as well. Book store may not be fully stocked at the beginning of registration depending on when authors drop off their materials.
Friday
01:30 PM to
02:30 PM
College is a transformative time for young adults. This can be especially true for transracial adoptees, as they search to find community and explore their racial identity. This session will begin by examining the Asian American Racial Identity Development Model that is widely used to understand college student development, and consider how it may exclude the unique narratives of transracial Asian American adoptees. Participants will then be invited to engage in a reflective dialogue about transformative college experiences around racial identity development and discuss ways to promote inclusivity for transracial adoptees in college.
Friday
01:30 PM to
02:30 PM
Hallyu, the Korean Wave, has brought Korean popular culture into the international limelight. Korean film and drama enjoy intense popularity all over the world.  Discussion will address a variety of examples of adoption, Korean adoptees and single mothers in dramas over the past two decades. Also discussed will be the spectrum of responses and effects from consumption of Korean popular culture from both the adoptee and the adoptive parent’s perspectives. Examples from specific dramas as well as a suggested viewing list will also be included.
Friday
01:30 PM to
02:30 PM
This conference packs a lot of emotions, epiphanies, and energy into one weekend. Learn how to pace yourself, set and respect boundaries, and make the most of your time at KAAN.
Friday
01:30 PM to
02:30 PM
This conference packs a lot of emotions, epiphanies, and energy into one weekend. Learn how to pace yourself, set and respect boundaries, and make the most of your time at KAAN.
Friday
01:30 PM to
04:30 PM
Meet other conference youth in a series of activities organized by Connect-a-Kid. Details TBA.
Friday
01:30 PM to
04:30 PM
Parents who enroll their child/ren in this program may drop them off for play and activity during all four time blocks but are required to volunteer during one of the slots. Adoptees who wish to volunteer are encouraged to contact KAAN as well.
Friday
01:30 PM to
04:30 PM
Come check out the work other organizations are doing and purchase items from our vendors. Interested in a table? Forms can be found on our main conference page.
Friday
01:30 PM to
04:30 PM
A quiet place set aside for contemplation and a break from the emotions and busy-ness of the conference.
Friday
02:45 PM to
03:45 PM
Mentorship for youth is a time proven model that benefits the young person on multiple levels. Mentorship for adopted children by adult adoptees, particularly transracial adoptees, helps them to develop healthy identities specific to issues of race and culture. Learn more about Connect-A-Kid's team based mentorship program which provides support to the adopted child, family, and adult adoptees.
Friday
02:45 PM to
03:45 PM
Adoptive parents will learn why empathy is so critical when it comes to parenting your child, teen or young adult. Katie will discuss when empathy turns into pity, why that is an issue and how to combat it. She will invite adoptive parents to think personally about how they can relate. When authentic empathy is there, it can be incredibly powerful and when it is not, your relationship can suffer. Highly recommended for parents who are first-time conference participants.
Friday
02:45 PM to
03:45 PM
As transracial adoptees, discussions of race and microaggressions with our adoptive parents and siblings may be fraught with tension and contradiction. Often these conversations become more prevalent during a year of a presidential election. Yet, we also know that even in non-presidential election years, race is a political issue. This session offers adult adoptees the opportunity to discuss strategies for negotiating racial microaggressions in the family, specifically as it relates to politics. We will consider what it means when family members are unaware of the fact that their perspective on race damages the communities of color adoptees' claim membership and share tools for navigating these conversations.
Friday
02:45 PM to
03:45 PM
A review of the history of Korean adoption from the perspective of the adopted person.  For over 50 years, children have been adopted from South Korea.  Who are the adopted ones, where are they now, and what are they doing?  What is the impact of this community on the Korean American diaspora?  How are Korean adoptees impacting the conversation around adoption, identity, immigration, community and creating relevancy in the history of the United States in the 21st century.
Friday
04:00 PM to
04:45 PM
Meet KAAN's leadership and get the scoop on conference details.
Friday
05:00 PM to
07:30 PM
Please join us in a special area of at the hotel restaurant if you would like to meet and connect with other conference participants over dinner. Order and pay off of the menu.
Friday
05:00 PM to
07:30 PM
This year's Adult Adoptee Dinner will take place at the Korea Garden (414 Semple St). We have the entire upstairs reserved at the restaurant. Cost: $30 (gratuity included; cash bar). Please let us know if finances prevent you from attending, and we can see if a scholarship is available.  

Buffet Menu includes:  Galbi, Bulgogi, Jap Chae - Gluten-free, vegetarian, Ggan Poong Gi, Jae Yook Bokkeum, Fried Rice, Various Jeon - vegetarian options.  

Adoptees: Please RSVP by June 17 to Stephen Johnson at stephen.david.johnson1@gmail.com  if you can join us, AND also if you are able to offer a ride to others from the hotel. It is approximately 15-20 minutes from the hotel by car. 

*** You must be a registered conference participant in order to join this dinner. ***
Friday
07:00 PM to
07:30 PM
Sign in and pick up conference materials.
Friday
08:00 PM to
09:30 PM
Matthew Salesses will be reading from his acclaimed novel, The Hundred-Year Flood, about a Korean American adoptee in Prague. The Hundred-Year Flood was an Amazon Best Book of September, an August Kindle First pick, a Millions Most Anticipated of 2015, a Buzzfeed Best Book of Summer and Fall, a Refinery29 Best Book of Summer, and a Gawker Best Fall Read.

Alex Myung Wager wrote, directed, and animated the short film Arrival. This beautiful 2D-animated film explores one boy's struggle to face the truth of his life and love, and reveal it to the person he cares about most. Arrival delves into the often unexamined ripple effect that hiding your true self has on loved ones around you.
Friday
08:00 PM to
09:30 PM
Get active with hands-on activities: jonghi jeopki (Korean paperfolding), calligraphy, K-pop, taekwondo, and more. Open to everyone. Children under seven should be accompanied by a parent.
Saturday
07:00 AM to
08:30 AM
Continental breakfast; please wear conference name tag.
Saturday
07:30 AM to
08:00 AM
Meet up with other conference youth at a special table in the ballroom prior to heading out for the day's activities.
Saturday
07:30 AM to
06:00 PM
Come check out the work other organizations are doing and purchase items from our vendors. Interested in a table? Forms can be found on our main conference page.
Saturday
07:30 AM to
06:00 PM
Stop by to sign in and pick up conference materials. Books and other materials on sale all day.
Saturday
07:45 AM to
05:00 PM
Youth will travel with adoptee mentors to local Pittsburgh sites, enjoying time together and building community in preparation for the next day's discussions.
Saturday
08:00 AM to
08:30 AM

Saturday
08:00 AM to
04:30 PM
A quiet place set aside for contemplation and a break from the emotions and busy-ness of the conference.
Saturday
08:45 AM to
10:00 AM
Listen to the voices of Korean adoptees as they share their experiences  from their first trip to Korea to living as residents. Hear distinctly different narratives from those searching, in reunion, parenting, archiving and engaging in activism.  Our discussion of remigration welcomes questions from attendees about resources and challenges in a extended Q&A.
Saturday
08:45 AM to
10:00 AM
As parents, it is easy to slip into a "checklist" mentality, checking the boxes of things we need to do for our kids. But helping a transracial adoptee form a healthy identity is more like piecing together a jigsaw puzzle. Adoptive parents must begin to put down the corner and edge pieces of the puzzle when their children are young, laying a foundation of understanding and openness about race, adoption, culture and language, and community and family. We will talk about personal experiences and share resources to help parents begin piecing together the puzzle.
Saturday
08:45 AM to
10:00 AM
If struggling with your identity as a Korean adoptee in a world of differences wasn’t already enough, try growing up with often debilitating chronic health issues while navigating the healthcare system alone. This session will give you insight into one adoptee’s ongoing journey of overcoming illness and a very rare disease. The speaker will facilitate an open dialogue for adoptees to share their experiences or challenges with disability and chronic health issues in hopes of creating a stronger community. Learn tips to positively thrive in a chronically challenging world and bring some of your own.
Saturday
08:45 AM to
10:00 AM
Writing and sometimes sharing  our narratives as members of the adoption community can serve many functions: self-discovery, building community, addressing the isolation of under-representation, and advocating for adoption to be included in larger discussions of race, class, culture, family. During this session, we will discuss various narrative models for using writing as a method of healing, empowerment, and subsersive movement against restrictive biases that are active in our culture and in ourselves.
Saturday
08:45 AM to
11:30 AM
Parents who enroll their child/ren in this program may drop them off for play and activity during all four time blocks but are required to volunteer during one of the slots. Adoptees who wish to volunteer are encouraged to contact KAAN as well.
Saturday
10:15 AM to
11:30 PM
Do you recognize the name Hines Ward? Not only because we’re in Pittsburgh, but the name also represents something far greater – the most famous Korean-American football player of all time. Asian-Americans in “tough and physical” sports in the US are few and far between. But have you heard of Kaleb Kim or Reggie Ho? This session will highlight America’s evolving sense of masculinity, particularly among white-Americans and Asians, and how both groups are perceived in mainstream sports. This presentation will provide examples of often overlooked achievements, personal struggles with identity, and conversations about the shifting masculinity of Asian Americans.
Saturday
10:15 AM to
11:30 PM
Talking about race is crucial for white adoptive parents, especially when speaking with their children of color. However, the thought of initiating these conversations is often a daunting and difficult task. This session aims to prepare white adoptive parents for the race-related discussions they will encounter at (and outside of) the conference; explain how and why they must respect adoptee, and other people of color's voices and spaces; encourage them to be open to topics that might be challenging and uncomfortable at first; and overall provide ways to move the conversation forward as white parents.
Saturday
10:15 AM to
11:30 PM
Should our spouse/partner/significant other be part of our experience as Korean adoptees?  The way we navigate the intimate relationships in our lives depends on our expectations.  Join us as we explore together what those expectations are, and what is meaningful for each person. This session includes active discussion and group participation.
Saturday
10:15 AM to
11:30 PM
This session aims to provide a safe space for conversations revolving around the intersection of sexual orientation, gender identity and adoptee status. The panel of self-identified LGBTQ adoptees will share their experiences and create a safe space to discuss and question what it means to have these intersecting identities and/or support others as allies.
Saturday
12:00 PM to
01:30 PM
By 2004, it is estimated that the number of intercountry adoptions had reached almost 45,000 adoptions per year (an increase of 42 percent from 1980). While the establishment of a global adoption network has no doubt reshaped the demographics of receiving countries, it has also had often overlooked implications for sending communities.  
 
Through three case studies (South Korea, Guatemala, and Uganda), this presentation will explore the following questions:
1) What cultural, social, and economic factors allowed for the movement of children across national borders?
2) What has been the impact of international adoption on local sending communities?
3) Lastly, what support can Korean adoptees offer as members of a larger international adoptee community?
Saturday
02:00 PM to
03:15 PM
Katie will facilitate a discussion with other adoptees on the meaning of being a good adoptee -- what that entails, why the discussion is important and what happens when we are not able to achieve it. She will share personal narratives and general clinical examples. Non-adoptees are welcome to attend to listen. There will be time at the end for questions.
Saturday
02:00 PM to
03:15 PM
Adult transracial adoptees of all backgrounds share many commonalities: racial identity formation, lifelong experiences of racism, marginalization and exclusion, issues around adoption and adoptee identity, body and facial image issues, questions around birth family and birth search, dating/relationship issues, and issues around family and friends. This session will include a panel of adoptees who are East Asian, South Asian, and African, and will provide insights into the commonalities they share as transracial adoptees. This session embodies the conference’s theme, “Widening the Circle: Inclusivity & Beyond.”
Saturday
02:00 PM to
03:15 PM
Beginning the search for your birth family is a big step. How can you tell if you are ready for the range of emotions and answers you might find? Join in this frank conversation with other adoptees. Leaders will share some of their experiences and give advice on how to prepare. 
Saturday
02:00 PM to
03:15 PM
Cerebral Palsy is considered a neurological disorder caused by a non-progressive brain injury or malformation that occurs while the child’s brain is under development.  While it primarily affects body movement, muscle tone, muscle control and coordination, reflex, posture, balance, it can also impact fine motor skills, gross motor skills and oral motor functioning. Though Cerebral Palsy can be defined, having CP does not define the person that has the condition.  Shannon Jordan and Jaime Hooker, both Korean adoptees, will share their experiences growing up and living life with CP in their upstate NY communities.  They will talk about their family, relationships, religion, adoption, physical/occupational therapy, surgeries, associative conditions, disability language, "otherness," support systems and their recent trips home to Korea.  Shannon's older sister, Kristin Jordan, will explore ways in which family can act as allies.
Saturday
02:00 PM to
04:45 PM
Parents who enroll their child/ren in this program may drop them off for play and activity during all four time blocks but are required to volunteer during one of the slots. Adoptees who wish to volunteer are encouraged to contact KAAN as well.
Saturday
03:30 PM to
04:45 PM
This interactive presentation will explore the intersections of Korean adoptee subjectivity and feminism. Using the work of theorists like Jacqueline Jones Royster and Lisa Lowe, special attention will be paid to the ways in which cultural representations of Asian female sexuality affect how female Korean adoptees construct their individual and group identities.  Audiences of adoptees, adoptive families, spouses, friends, allies, and institutions are invited to consider their roles in the construction, perpetuation, and resistance of these representations, as well as gain and create tools and critical frameworks for interrogating those representations in ways that empower and affirm adoptees.
Saturday
03:30 PM to
04:45 PM
This session is an honest conversation about the struggles and rewards of navigating relationships with adoptive families post-reunion. We will discuss the challenging landscape of balancing families.
Saturday
03:30 PM to
04:45 PM
Many mainstream conceptions and narratives of race focus on white people’s feelings and experiences. Intended for more “intermediate” and “advanced” audiences, this session aims to challenge these narratives by recentering our conversations around people of color, the people most negatively and directly affected by race-relations in the United States. Comprised of adoptees from different professional angles, we will discuss behavioral, educational, and media techniques that can be used to "retrain" ourselves to not allow the conversation to derail back to a white audience.
Saturday
03:30 PM to
04:45 PM
Hear the experiences of four mothers who are adult adoptees with bi-racial children. Raising bi-racial children can bring forth unexpected moments of validation and fear. Listen to the difficulties and profound joys that have been experienced as well as concerns for the future. This session will include time for questions and answers.
Saturday
04:45 PM to
05:15 PM
Come decompress and process feelings from the day. No formal session ... just a safe place to talk.
Saturday
04:45 PM to
05:15 PM
Come decompress and process feelings from the day. No formal session ... just a safe place to talk.
Saturday
04:45 PM to
05:15 PM
Come decompress and process feelings from the day. No formal session ... just a safe place to talk.
Saturday
04:45 PM to
05:15 PM
Come decompress and process feelings from the day. No formal session ... just a safe place to talk.
Saturday
04:45 PM to
05:15 PM
Come decompress and process feelings from the day. No formal session ... just a safe place to talk.
Saturday
04:45 PM to
05:15 PM
Come decompress and process feelings from the day. No formal session ... just a safe place to talk.
Saturday
05:30 PM to
06:00 PM
Visit with friends, grab a good seat for dinner, and purchase drinks at the convenient cash bar. Dinner begins promptly at 6:00PM. ***NEW*** Peruse our raffle items and buy tickets to see if you can win your favorite items. All proceeds benefit KAAN.
Saturday
06:00 PM to
09:30 PM
Enjoy dinner, cash bar, and conversation with your tablemates before we begin our evening program and festivities. Program will include performance by Selahart, recognition ceremony, adoptee group picture, and more. ***NEW*** Peruse our raffle items and buy tickets to see if you can win your favorite items. All proceeds benefit KAAN.
Sunday
07:00 AM to
08:15 AM
Visit this quiet place for prayer, meditation, or reflection. Come and go as you want during this time ... candles and soft music will be available, but there will be no specific service or structured gathering.
Sunday
07:00 AM to
08:15 AM
Continental Breakfast ... please wear your name tag.
Sunday
08:30 AM to
09:30 AM
In a fast-paced world of evolving roles, both biological and adoptive fathers desire and are also expected to be equal participants in parenting. Historically, we have been conspicuously absent in discussions of the adoptive family, but that is changing. Whether in straight or gay relationships, all men are expected to step up. In this session, we provide a forum to concentrate on parenting from the father's point of view. We will talk about the children’s unique relationship with (and needs from) their dads. Discussion topics include: racial identity, sexual identity, white privilege, patriarchy, and models of masculinity.
Sunday
08:30 AM to
09:30 AM
Being an adoptee involves navigating a variety of social groups. Many Korean adoptees start this life-long process in their white adoptive families and continue throughout their lives with their peers, colleagues, and partners. We will talk about how as Korean adoptees, we enter other social groups outside of adoptee/Korean circles, such as white, black, and gay spaces, both individually and with our partners.  Discussion will center around the meaning and process of this and how navigating these groups impacts both the Korean adoptee and their partners.  
Sunday
08:30 AM to
09:30 AM
Listen to the experiences of four adult adoptees who have become parents. Becoming a mother can raise unexpected issues especially as an adoptee.  Hear how becoming a parent has had an impact on our own identities, our relationship with our own parents, and how it has sparked feelings about our birth families. There will be time at the end for questions and answers.
Sunday
08:30 AM to
09:30 AM
Maybe you know what you want to do with your life. Maybe you are just starting to figure it out. Either way, you are beginning to spend more and more of your academic, work, and social time separately from your parents. This leads to questions. Who are you, really? Who do you want to be? Are there labels you would like to shed, new identities you would like to explore? How does the world see you and is it different from how you would like to be seen? Join your peers and older adoptees to talk about how to find and define yourself at this time in your life.
Sunday
08:30 AM to
09:30 AM
Your parents brought you to this conference to learn more about your brother or sister, who is adopted. Whether or not you like it, this is a good thing. You will find people sometimes ask rude questions or make jokes about adoption and will want to do something about it. Still, it would be nice if something at this conference was about YOU. Well, guess what? This session is. Join with other non-adopted siblings of adoptees, including a few who are already grown up, to talk about what it is like to be the sibling of an adoptee. 
Sunday
08:30 AM to
10:45 AM
Youth can choose from a variety of options, including mask painting, Korean language, games, and more fun activities.
Sunday
08:30 AM to
11:30 AM
A quiet place set aside for contemplation and a break from the emotions and busy-ness of the conference.
Sunday
08:30 AM to
12:00 PM
Come check out the work other organizations are doing and purchase items from our vendors. Interested in a table? Forms can be found on our main conference page.
Sunday
08:30 AM to
12:00 PM
Last chance to pick up books and other materials on sale through KAAN. Shop early as some items may run out or be picked up by departing speakers.
Sunday
08:30 AM to
12:00 PM
Parents who enroll their child/ren in this program may drop them off for play and activity during all four time blocks but are required to volunteer during one of the slots. Adoptees who wish to volunteer are encouraged to contact KAAN as well.
Sunday
09:45 AM to
10:45 AM
Racial jokes on social media. Comments around the holiday dinner table. Classmates repeating a snide political jab at someone of color. We've all been there. How do you respond?  Connect with your peers and other adoptees to learn some tips and tools for handling these challenging moments.
Sunday
09:45 AM to
10:45 AM
This session hopes to discuss the complexities of romantic relationships with Korean adoptees from the perspective of adoptee partners. Over time, common relational issues can be identified and mitigated, but this remains an ever-evolving process. Participants will leave with an awareness that will ultimately create stronger relationships.
Sunday
09:45 AM to
10:45 AM
A writing workshop  - supporting members of the adoption community in using narrative as a process of self-discovery and a method to build community.
Sunday
09:45 AM to
10:45 AM
Your mom or dad is an adoptee. Just like them, you have questions about birth family you may never have met. You are not always sure when it is OK to ask, though. Maybe your parents are different races too, and you get questions at school about that. Here's a chance for you to ask your questions and talk with others who share the same experiences as you.
Sunday
09:45 AM to
10:45 AM
Kids and adults both often need advocates - for everything from racism to societal bias. This session will explore issues surrounding being and having an advocate. Among the diverse experience and opinions of the panelists, many have attempted avenues of advocacy for their own kids as well as others at school and in the community, all with varied degrees of limited success. We intend to discuss when to step in for your child and how, when to let your child lead, and when & how to use identity privilege as potential leverage. 
Sunday
11:00 AM to
12:15 PM
Gather with friends and mentors for treats, group pictures, and some special parting activities.
Sunday
11:00 AM to
12:15 PM
Susan Harris O'Connor will perform her pioneering work on identity theory, captured within her autobiographical narrative.  This model, published in The Harris Narratives: An Introspective Study of a Transracial Adoptee, is the result of three months of introspective research through which she unfolded four dynamic and non-hierarchical dimensions of her mind's identity: vulnerable, solid, bi/co-existent and roles. This presentation offers the audience a relatable framework for the complicated topic of identity. Susan will be joined by educators Amanda Woolston (an adoptee and Lost Daughters' founder, psychotherapist and author of The Declassified Adoptee); and David Amarel (an adoptive parent, clinical psychologist and writer). After the performance, discussion will focus on how this model of self-knowledge and growth can be effectively used in psychotherapy.