There are a lot of Korean adoptees in the United States. Today’s blog is courtesy of a story in The Guardian about the LINK>Truth Commission investigating foreign adoptions. Some adoptees sent to Europe and the US say they were wrongly removed from their families as the government in Seoul actively promoted adoption. These adoptees suspect their origins were falsified or obscured during a child export frenzy in the mid-to late 20th century.
The adopted South Koreans are believed to be the world’s largest diaspora of adoptees. In the past six decades about 200,000 South Koreans – mostly girls – were adopted overseas. Most were placed with white parents in the US and Europe during the 1970s and 80s.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has decided to investigate 34 adoptees who were sent to Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and the US from the 1960s to the early 1990s. The adoptees say they were wrongfully removed from their families through falsified documents and corrupt practices. The adoptions to be investigated are among the 51 adoptees who first submitted their applications to the commission in August through the Danish Korean Rights Group led by adoptee attorney Peter Møller. There are now more than 300 applications filed.
The applications cite a broad range of grievances that allege carelessness and a lack of due diligence in the removal of scores of children from their families amid loose government monitoring. During much of the period in question, the country was ruled by a succession of military leaders who saw adoptions as a way to deepen ties with the democratic west, while reducing the number of mouths to feed and removing the socially undesirable including children of unwed mothers and orphans.
Most of the South Korean adoptees sent abroad were registered by agencies as legal orphans found abandoned on the streets, a designation that made the adoption process quicker and easier. But many of the so-called orphans had relatives who could be easily identified and found. Some of the adoptees say they discovered that the agencies had switched their identities to replace other children who died or got too sick to travel, which often made it impossible to trace their roots. The adoptees call for the commission to broadly investigate agencies for records falsification and manipulation and for allegedly proceeding with adoptions without the proper consent of birth parents. They want the commission to establish whether the government was responsible for the corrupt practices and whether adoptions were fueled by increasingly larger payments and donations from adoptive parents, which apparently motivated agencies to create their own supply.