Nearly 300 Korean adoptees in Europe and the United States have filed applications demanding that the South Korean government investigate the circumstances of their adoptions.
Many of the adoptees suspect that their adoption papers contained falsified or distorted information to launder their real identities. During the 1980s, many Korean children were taken from their families during the foreign adoption boom.
The 283 applications that were submitted to Seoul’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission contain many complaints regarding false or lost biological origins in their adoption papers.
Some adoptees discovered that their adoption agencies had switched their identities with children who had died, were too sick to travel or were taken back by their birth families. The adoptees added that the false adoption documents led them to reunite with relatives who turned out to be strangers. Oftentimes, the limited details in the adoptees’ papers turn out to be inaccurate information.
Peter Møller, the attorney and co-founder of the Danish Korean Rights Group, is planning to sue two Seoul-based adoption agencies, Holt Children’s Services and KSS, for not cooperating with adoptees who wish to open their records.
As adoptees increasingly express frustration at the lack of details in their adoption papers, Møller believes that the agencies are creating excuses to avoid suspicions regarding their practices.
Last month, 51 Danish adoptees requested an investigation into their adoptions, which were handled by Holt Children’s Services and KSS. On Tuesday, 232 additional applications were submitted from around the world, including 165 cases from Denmark, 36 from the United States and 31 from Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway and Germany.
Seoul’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission was set up in December 2020, and although the deadline for applications is in December of this year, Møller stated that his group will continue to persuade the commission to allow a later submission date so that more adoptees can request for investigations.
The commission must decide in three or four months whether an investigation will be initiated into the applications submitted by adoptees.
“There are many more adoptees that have written us, called us, been in contact with us. They are afraid to submit to this case because they fear that the adoption agencies will … burn the original documents and retaliate,” Møller told the Associated Press, noting that such concerns are greater among adoptees who discovered that the agencies had switched their identities.