Hello! My name is Katelyn Hemmeke and I recently completed a Fulbright research grant (2016-2017) in Seoul, South Korea. My research project focused on investigating the twists and turns of the international adoption and birth family search system. Roughly 200,000 people have been internationally adopted from Korea, but the estimated success rate for adoptees searching for their birth families is as low as 2%. Through my research, I investigated the obstacles impeding these searches and sought ways we might begin to break them down. As a literature scholar and an adoptee myself, I am also interested in personal narrative and the ways that adoptees navigate the complex experience of birth family search and reunion. My research therefore included an oral history project for which I interviewed 30 Korean transnational adoptees from around the world about their experiences with birth family search and reunion.

I recently graduated with my M.A. in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where I wrote a thesis on trauma and birth family search in Korean adoptee memoirs. I’ve also been working on a series of discourse analysis projects with another Korean adoptee scholar. Before graduate school, I was a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Iksan, South Korea (2012-2014).

Disclaimer: This is not an official Fulbright Program site. The views expressed here are entirely my own and do not represent the views of the Fulbright Program, the U.S. Department of State, or any of its partner organizations. Learn more about the Fulbright Program here.

Photo credit: Drew Le