Campus Location

Dallas Campus (Online)

Date of Award


Document Type



Organizational Leadership

Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Committee Chair or Primary Advisor

Bill Hunt, II

Second Committee Member or Secondary Advisor

Andrew Lumpe

Third Committee Member or Committee Reader

Scott Strawn



South Korea has been the largest sending country of adoptees since the Korean War. Many of the adoptees were placed in predominantly White communities in the Midwest United States. In the existing literature, researchers revealed that Korean adoptees expressed feelings related to loss of ethnic identity, birth culture, and place of belonging. It has not been fully understood how attachment and identity influence Korean adoptees in their pursuit of a higher education. Therefore, this study sought to examine the impacts of attachment to birth culture, adoptive culture, and adoptive family combined with issues of ethnic identity in the lived experiences of Korean adoptees in pursuit of a degree in higher education. This was a qualitative case study designed to inspect the how and why questions of this problem. The researcher collected data through interviews, journals, and member checking. The sample included 14 adult Korean adoptees who had grown up in the Midwest and had graduated from a four-year college or university in the Midwest between 1987 and 2017. There were two male participants and 12 female participants. Data were deconstructed, continuously rearranged, and analyzed through in vivo coding. The researcher found that Korean adoptees experienced concerns related to attachment to birth culture, Korean identity, and stereotypes. The researcher concluded that Korean adoptees pursued higher education because of their adoptive family’s expectations.

Keywords: Asian, attachment, ethnic identity, higher education, international adoption,

Korean adoptees (KADs), South Korea, transnational adoption

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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