5% of Korean Adoptees Were Successful in Meeting Their Birth Parents

Here is a good article in the Joong Ang Ilbo about the difficulties Korean adoptees are having tracking down their birth parents in South Korea:

Left: Lida Bouts returned to Korea in February 2016 as an exchange student at Sungkyunkwan University, 22 years after she was adopted by a Dutch couple. Her search for her family failed as there was no response to letters sent by her adoption agency to her birth parents. Middle left: Bouts’ adoption document drawn up in 1993. Middle right: Megan Green as a 2-year-old before an adoption that sent her to the U.S. state of Nebraska in 1986. Right: Green’s adoption document drawn up in 1986. [LIDA BOUTS, MEGAN GREEN]

Korea Adoptions Services collects all family search requests from private adoption agencies. It reports that in 2016, there were 1,940 requests from Korean adoptees trying to find their birth parents. Only 102 of them, or 5 percent, ended up meeting their biological parents. The year before, the figure was 91 out of 2,012 requests, or 4.5 percent.

And such reunions are getting harder with time. Parents who gave their babies up after the Korean War were poor and had no choice – and were more likely to agree to meet them two or three decades later.

But adoptions processed in the 1980s and later often involved single mothers, who were afraid of the social stigma attached to unwed mothers. “They have probably found someone to marry after sending children away for adoption, and now have a family,” said Kim. “They are much more reluctant to be reunited.”

In 2016, 880 children were put up for adoption both domestically and internationally. Of the total, 808, or 91.8 percent, were born to unmarried couples.

“While it is important for an adoptee to trace his or her family roots, it is equally important for parents to keep their privacy,” said an official at the adoption bureau at the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

“We have many single mothers in the country, and a large number of birth parents who wish to hide their adoption records. Many have moved on and have families on their own,” the official continued.

Bouts is frustrated because she has a lot of information about her birth family from the time of her adoption, but can’t do anything with it. “I know full names of everyone, birth dates and even the region they lived in,” she said. “I’m not angry at my birth parents for anything. I can even accept that my parents wouldn’t want to know or meet me. I would just really want to meet my sister.”

Bouts’ adoption document mentions a sister seven years older than her.

“I think it would make me more complete if I would meet them,” she said. “I would like to tell them that they made the right choice and that I’m living a very happy and blessed life.”  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

I recommend reading the rest at the link.



I am a US military veteran that has served all over the world to include in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Korea. I have been blogging about Korea, Northeast Asia, and the US military for over 10 years.