Joy Lieberthal Rho



Joy was adopted from Korea and came to her family just shy of her sixth birthday. While she grew up in upstate New York, Joy lived in Korea for a year in her early twenties where she worked and volunteered in the orphanage where she once lived. During her time in Korea, she learned how to speak Korean again and discovered that her birth mother had been searching for her for 21 years. Through this journey, Joy realized that her identity as a Korean adopted person was a significant aspect of who she is.


Joy received her Master’s in Social Work from Columbia University and has since been in private practice serving intercountry adoptees and their families. Joy was on the planning committee for the First Gathering of Korean Adoptees in 1999 as well as the Gathering in Korea in 2004. As a Policy Analyst for the former Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, Joy co-authored the 2000, Report on the First Gathering of Adult Korean Adoptees in Washington, DC, the first report of its kind to center first-person perspectives on what it means to be adopted. She has also been published by the Child Welfare League of America in their Adoption and Ethics series in 2001.


Over the course of her career, Joy has engaged with children and their parents through her presentations and workshops addressing issues and experiences around being adopted. Joy has facilitated Kids Groups, run Teen Forums, and helped to create a youth Mentorship program for domestic and international adoptees. Joy worked for a brief period as a international placement social worker for a private adoption agency in New York City, but ultimately worked in their post-adoption department for six years.


Joy has spoken in local and national forums, in particular, at the Joint Council on International Children Services, Adoptive Parents Committee, Families with Children from China (Now known as Chinese Adoptee Alliance), the North American Council on Adoptable Children, and the St. John’s Adoption Initiative. Joy was also the President of Also-Known-As, a NY-based non-profit volunteer organization for internationally adopted people and families, for six years and in 1996 created and co-directed the Youth Mentorship Program, which continues to this day.


Joy was the 2014 recipient of the Caring for Children Award from the Coalition on Asian American Children and Families; the 2016 Outstanding Practitioner Award from St. John’s Adoption Initiative Conference and the 2020 Dynamic Achiever Award from OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates (OCA-WHV).


You can connect with Joy by emailing: [email protected]