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Hollee McGinnis, MSW, PhD.

Hollee is an Assistant Professor at the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) School of Social Work. In addition to being adopted from South Korea, she has more than 25 years of community organizing, practice, policy, and research experience relating to the life course of orphaned and separated children in alternative care (adoption, foster, institutions). 

Hollee’s research broadly examines social and cultural determinants of mental health and well-being, with a focus on improving outcomes for youth and adults with histories of childhood adversity and involvement in systems of child welfare. Specifically, her research centers the lived experiences of individuals who are adopted or experienced institutional care, and their adoptive and racial/ethnic identity development; stressors specific to the experience of attachment trauma, racism, cultural loss, systemic oppression; and adoptee-led mutual aid. 

She has conducted research on the mental health of adolescents in South Korean orphanages and adapting trauma-based interventions for child welfare involved youth. Her current study will explore adult outcomes among US adoptees and foster care alumni and explore how connections with adopted and foster care alumni peers contribute to adult health and well-being. Prior to obtaining her doctorate at Washington University in St. Louis, Dr. McGinnis was Policy Director at the Donaldson Adoption Institute, a national organization focused on adoption policy and practice in the U.S., where she headed a national study on adoption and racial identity among adopted adults.

She received her Master of Science from Columbia University School of Social Work (New York City), and completed a post-Master’s Clinical Social Work Fellowship at the Yale University Child Study Center. In 1996, she founded Also-Known-As, Inc., a non-profit adult intercountry adoptee organization providing post-adoption services to international adoptees and adoptive families. Dr. McGinnis speaks regularly at national conferences and organizations, and has numerous published scholarly articles, book chapters, and essays. She has been regularly sought out by the news media for her research on South Korea’s child welfare system and overseas Korean adoptees by such outlets as the New York Times Magazine, BBC News, and NPR. In 2008, she was recognized by the U.S. Government with a Congressional Angel in Adoption award for her work on adoption. 

Consulting Areas

Dr. Hollee McGinnis is available to consult on intercountry adoptions from South Korea; institutional care in South Korea; adoptive and racial/ethnic identity development; adoptee-led mutual aid groups and spaces; and the lifecourse of adoption.

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