I AM ADOPTEE. To connect adoptees locally, nationally, globally.
Created by adoptees for adoptees, IAMadoptee comes from the singular vision that the international adopted person is the heart of the international overseas adoption story. We seek to provide our international adoptee members with a platform to find others like ourselves, to make connections and to share the many ways we can help each other. At IAMadoptee, we welcome you, the adoptee, to be the narrator, commentator and contributor through this interactive online community. No matter where you are in your discovery of your international adoption identity, IAMadoptee seeks to provide resources to guide you through your journey by crowd sourcing ideas and inviting your participation in the worldwide conversation of how adoption has impacted millions of people.
Tom Kaplan and Joy Lieberthal met in 1997 shortly after the incorporation of Also-Known-As, Inc. in New York City, a non-profit volunteer organization created for international adoptees. We teamed up to create the Youth Mentorship Program which we are so proud to know continues today. Our friendship has gone from attending years of adoptee functions, speaking on panels, serving the Korean adoptee community to traveling to Korea, navigating our relationships with our birth families, attending each others’ weddings and raising our boys; we each have 2!
Over the last 20 years, social media has become the seminal way for international adoptees to connect and create community. As adoptees, we still thrill when we make a connection with another adoptee. It never gets old! Because these connections become intimate fast, Tom wanted to find a way for adoptees to meet and connect, “Like a dating app for adoptees!” He wondered if there was a platform he could create for adoptees to find each other easier.
Joy has really never left the adoptee community, primarily working as a therapist for the last 12 years, specializing in issues related to adoption, identity and family. In the intimacy of the therapeutic relationship, she heard would hear repeatedly – are there others like me, are there others who have the same experience as I did, is there a good book for me to read, is there any research being done on adoptees, have you seen this documentary on adoption, do you know any organizations for adoptees, how can I travel to my birth country, how do I begin my search for birth family, where can I learn to speak my birth language? There has never been one clearinghouse of information for adoptees to seek resources specifically for them. She wondered, maybe there could be a way for her to create this platform where she can purge her brain of resources and create a community of fellow helpers.
For decades, navigating a sense of what it means to be an international adoptee has depended on word of mouth or the perseverance of the individual adoptee to find resources on their own.
IAMadoptee was born out of the desire to find the platform Tom and Joy were seeking, a place to connect and provide resources just for people like us all the while making the seeking a little easier and less alone. We hope you will join us in self discovery and pave it forward for the next generation of international adoptees.
Meet the Team
Joy Lieberthal Rho (Song Eun-Hee) is a Korean adoptee, social worker, advocate and mother of 2. She grew up in New York. She has been in reunion with her Korean mother since 1994.
Thomas Kaplan (Lee, Sung Joo), is adopted from Korea and grew up New York. He has been in reunion with his paternal birth family since 2000. Tom is a board advisor for Also-Known-As, Inc.
Whitney Fritz is a Korean adoptee who has been in reunion with her birth family since 2010. She is married to Lee, a fellow KAD, and together they run a popular adoptee blog, titled We the Lees. The two reside in Nashville, TN.