Profile for Sara Docan-Morgan

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Sara Docan‑Morgan

Communication Studies
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

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Specialty area(s)

interpersonal communication, family communication, Korean adoptees, race and culture

Brief biography

Sara Docan-Morgan (PhD, University of Washington) is Professor of Communication Studies. She uses she/her/hers pronouns.

Dr. Docan-Morgan's work has been published in Adoption Quarterly, the Journal of Family Communication, the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, Communication Quarterly, Family Relations, and the Journal of Korean Adoption Studies, as well as in edited volumes. Her research focuses on how personal identity and family identity are formed, maintained, and negotiated through discourse in both adoptive and birth families. She teaches courses in interpersonal communication, family communication, gender and communication, research methods, intercultural communication, and advanced topics in interpersonal communication, and directs senior thesis projects.

During the 2016-17 academic year, Dr. Docan-Morgan was a Fulbright Senior Scholar in Seoul, South Korea, lecturing at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies. She is a 2014 recipient of the UW-L Eagle Teaching Award (formerly Provost's Teaching Award), the UW-L College of Liberal Studies Excellence in Teaching Award, and has been honored by the University of Wisconsin System as an Outstanding Woman of Color in Education. She serves on the editorial board for the Journal of Family Communication and has presented her research to adoptees, adoptive parents, and Korean birth families. 


PhD, University of Washington
MA, University of Arizona
BA, Augustana College


Teaching history

Before coming to UW-L, Sara taught communication courses at her two graduate alma maters, the University of Arizona and the University of Washington. She also taught communication courses at several community colleges in the Bay Area.

Research and publishing

Docan-Morgan, S. (in progress). In Reunion: Transnational Korean Adoptees and the Communication of Family. Under contract with Temple University Press.
Suter, E. A., & Docan-Morgan, S. (2022). Setting the Agenda: A family communication research agenda for examining birth family search and reunion in the transnational adoption context. Journal of Family Communication, 22(4), 387-395, doi: 10.1080/15267431.2022.2108429
Docan-Morgan, S. (2021). Discursive struggles in “real” families: Korean adoptees, adoptive parents, and birth family reunions. Family Relations.
Docan-Morgan, S. (2017). Korean adoptees’ discursive construction of birth family and adoptive family identity through names and labels. Communication Quarterly. Advanced online publication.
Docan-Morgan, S. (2016). Cultural differences and perceived belonging during Korean adoptees’ reunions with birth families. Adoption Quarterly, 19, 99-118.

Docan-Morgan, S. (2014). "They were strangers who loved me”: Discussions, narratives, and rituals during Korean adoptees’ initial reunions with birth families. Journal of Family Communication, 14, 352-373.

Docan-Morgan, S. (2014). Adoption bibliography for interpersonal communication. Adoption and Culture, 4, 98-102

Docan-Morgan, S. (2011). “They don’t know what it’s like to be in my shoes”: Topic avoidance about race in transracially adoptive families. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 27, 336-355.

Docan-Morgan, S. (2010). Korean adoptees’ retrospective reports of intrusive interactions: Exploring boundary management in adoptive families. Journal of Family Communication, 10, 137-157.



Sara Docan-Morgan, Communication Studies, co-authored the article "Setting the Agenda: A Family Communication Research Agenda for Examining Birth Family Search and Reunion in the Transnational Adoption Context" in the Journal of Family Communication published on Aug. 5 by Taylor and Francis. The article sets an agenda for family communication research in the context of transnational adoption, raising three questions: (a) Whose history is this?, (b) Whose search is this?, and (c) Whose culture is this?

Submitted on: Oct. 26, 2022



Sara Docan-Morgan, Communication Studies, authored the article "Discursive struggles in "real" families: Korean adoptees, adoptive parents, and birth family reunions" in Family Relations-Interdisciplinary Journal of Applied Family Science published this fall by Wiley Publishing.

Submitted on: Dec. 10, 2021



Sara Docan-Morgan, Communication Studies, authored the chapter "Transnational Korean adoptees and the discursive burden of establishing individual and family identity. " in Korean Diaspora Across the World: Homeland in Memory, Imagination, and Reality published on Dec. 1, 2019 by Lexington Books.

Submitted on: Jan. 27, 2020



Sara Docan-Morgan, Communication Studies, authored the chapter "Adoptive Families" in "Macmillan Encyclopedia of Intimate and Family Relationships: An Interdisciplinary Approach " published on Sept. 2, 2019 by Macmillan Publishing.

Submitted on: Sept. 3, 2019



Sara Docan-Morgan and Uttara Manohar, both Communication Studies; and Gita Pai, History; received the award for their grant proposal "Women of Color Collective: Advancing Inclusive Excellence and Fostering Collaboration." at UWL on Jan. 1, 2019 in La Crosse, WI. The grant was awarded by the College of Liberal Studies.

Submitted on: Feb. 7, 2019