Monthly Archives: April 2010

May 2009 KUMSN booklet


My words in pink and my translation of Korean again, corrections welcome. Read booklet mostly in Korean, with English summary, by clicking on: May 2009 KUMSN

Note: In places where it says 친 in Korean, I translate as “real” because that’s the way Koreans have translated it to me. The way it is used in Korean doesn’t really translate because it’s kind of like a prefix, but I suppose Americans would say “natural” or “biological” (which is also offensive to various listeners). Sorry for the language; I hope you get the nugget of what is trying to be expressed even though my translation kind of sucks.

page 15

2. The Adoption of Korean Children

A. Domestic Adoption Practice (Custom) and System

One can point out that the reason why the overseas adoption of Korean children reached the largest scale in the world is because of Korea’s custom of adopting children with blood ties.  In Korean traditional society, adoption of children within the blood ties relationship exists to carry on the family line, so regular people’s accommodation for the protection and  adoption of children without blood relationships was low. Due to this reason of the emphasis on blood ties there were many difficulties in Korean society in accepting the adoption for children who had became orphans through the war.

During the Choson Dynasty, adoptions of especially blood-related nephews was common, and the purpose was to carry on the house’s family line. The legislation of adoption outside of the blood relationship was carried out under Japanese colonization in 1938. From  1939 when the orphan adoption special law was established until 1961, 4,491 people were adopted domestically as shown by the nation’s records. (Lee Sam-dol) aka Tobias Hubinette. (Note to self: this contradicts what I was told by the lawyer last week, who said that Korean law under the Japanese was the same as Korean tradition and people were still adopting relatives that way. So either my translation here is wrong or this paper is wrong. Note to self: pay for the full copy of the law even though you thought you couldn’t read it before and it would be useless, because more fact-checking must be done!)

In Korea there became two ways to regulate adoption according to the law: the civil law and the special adoption law. In 2008, through the (real child) 친양자 system that was introduced, the one method was supplemented.

footnote 2) In 2008, the family register that held specific personal information that was put into the family  register according to patriarchal ideology about the family’s composition of relationship, birth, marrage and divorce, adoption, etc., disappeared. Instead of the family register, an individual record that shows the birthdate, events of marriage and family relationship was introduced Jan. 1, 2008. The (real child) 친양자 system is on the behalf of recognizing the adopted child having been born in wedlock. If the adoption is established, the biological parents and the biological relatives and inheritance relationship ends, and the adoptive parents legally form a biological parent relationship  and the adoptive father’s family name and hometown are followed.  The establishment of the (real child) 친양자 system  can see with acceptance the reality of the adoptive parents who want to hide the truth of the adoption.

(p16)  In the civil law, in the basic regular adoption there is no age regulation on the adoptee, and depending the adopted child’s age, agreement for and proceedings for a real child relationship can be requested by the related parties.  Real child adoption is possible when the adopted child is under 15 years old and legal consent is gotten from the real father and mother if they are surviving.  It is mostly children in institutions whose real parents have abandoned them that the special law is used for in domestic adoption. (변용찬외, 1999).

Our country’s civil adoption system was revised in 1990  from “위가양자 및 위친 양자” (“do house adopted son and do real adopted son”) changing to a manner of “위자양자,” (do child adopted child) and a secondary contract  adopted child is becoming the center (유병창, 2001). In regular adoption the person who becomes the real child agrees and makes the adoption registration and the adoption process is simple.  However, in the case of special adoption law, they have to go to court first and then adopt in order to strictly determine about the child and the real parents.  When compared to the civil law, the special law has strict regulations of the real parents’ qualifications/requirements, but we know that the parents’ interest in the child’s welfare is more important for raising the child than the parents’ position or their household.

In our society there has been traditional adoption for a long time for the major purpose of continuing the family line through adopting a blood relationship. But outside of that there isn’t yet openly adoption of children. There is a lot of difficulty to recognize members of the family who are not real members who are adopted outside the family line because of the stress on bloodlines and traditional family culture of blood relations. (권지성, 2003). Because the family members’ bloodline is taken seriously,  even if people adopt, there are many cases of “secret adoption” in which the adoption is made up to look like the child was born to the parents. (권지성, 2003; 변용찬외, 1999). In 1993, according to one research based on on the actual condition of adoption agencies, 17.4% of the domestic adoptions that were done publicly and of the domestic adoptions the rate of adoptions registered as 친자 (real child) reached 97.9% (정기원 김만지, 1993). There are many cases of adopted children registered as real children as the method to avoid prejudice against adoption.


Secret adoption is accomplished  by going outside the adoption agency or adopting illegally (권지성, 2003; 배태순, 1995; 변용찬외, 1999). ObGyns or midwife-like agencies that prefer secret adoptions illegally intervene to make individual adoptions and there are even instances where the adoptive parents engage in secret adoption through help by the adoption agencies (배태순, 1995). In domestic adoptions 95% of parents only want to adopt newborn babies less than 5 months old and there is a connection between the preference for adopting newborns and secret adoption (배태순, 1989). People who are choosing to adopt because of sterility face social prejudice about sterility and adoption so to protect themselves from these two facts and hide everything they want to secretly adopt a healthy newborn (배태순, 1998).

According to the special adoption law, the effect of adoption on the family register law (3) takes effect through the reporting, and if it is wanted then the adopted children can be registered with the family names and hometowns of their adoptive parents. (배태순, 1998).  In this instance adoptive parents who don’t want a trace left in the record of the fact of the adoption register their adopted child as a real child on the hojuk.(4) Many domestic adoptions break the law and are secret (배태순, 1998), this is the result appearing because of the combination of the special adoption law, the emphasis on bloodline and the family culture.

Another problem point arising from secret adoption, as it is, is that it’s hard to provide welfare and post adoption support. Adopted children fundamentally want to know their biological descent and one’s roots and understanding the process of separating from one’s real parents are important for identity formation (Etter, 1993). It’s a big burden for adoptive parents to keep the adoption secret, and in the future at the time when the adoptee finds out through a third party, the emotional shock is a problem point and difficulty for secret adoption.

3) Follows the family relationship registration law starting in Jan 2008 due to the abolition of the hojuje system.

4) Since the hojuje system was abolished in 2008, the identification relationship record XX family relationship registration XX (신분관계 서류로서 가족관계등록부가) was substituted for the hojuk.

p. 18

In our country, there is a connection between the birth registration system and the possibility of registering the adopted child as one’s real born child. A hospital birth certificate of a child born at a hospital is can be used to register at the government office, but it is also possible to register a child born at home just by two people vouching. Because of this reason,[ legal registration  after birth does not become a temporary bump; in the long-term] it is possible for a child who cannot carry legally registered papers of their identity and family relationship to exist in our society.

[I’m really not sure about this last part in brackets. Anyone with a better translation, please tell!]

–end of this section–

I heart KWDI and KUMSN


Click on the link below for the papers (in Korean).


Interesting stuff from Page 20.

This shows that domestic adoption in Korea is really quite high and has outpaced overseas adoption for quite some time. (This is important to know for people who say that Koreans don’t adopt their own!) The reason why you haven’t seen that information before is because it has not been reported to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, which is where the overseas adoption agencies are reporting and which is the ministry that people involved with overseas adoption rely on for stats. Here Dr. Lee Mi-jeong has added the private law stats along with the ministry stats. Check this out! (This is my unskillful translation again, so corrections are welcome.  To keep it straight who wrote what (me or Lee Mi-jeong from KWDI, I will set my own comments apart in purple. )

<Chart  Ⅰ-8> Private law almanac and health ministry’s yearly numbers on domestic and overseas adoptees

YEAR Number of Adoptees YEAR Number of Adoptees
private law / ministry private law / ministry
1981 5,388 3,267 1995 2,450 1,025
1982 5,722 3,298 1996 2,417 1,229
1983 4,012 3,004 1997 2,738 1,412
1984 4,350 3,000 1998 2,967 1,426
1985 3,713 2,855 1999 3,190 1,726
1986 3,897 2,854 2000 3,177 1,686
1987 3,580 2,382 2001 3,188 1,770
1988 3,678 2,324 2002 2,591 1,694
1989 3,723 1,872 2003 2,337 1,564
1990 2,866 1,647 2004 2,640 1,641
1991 3,051 1,241 2005 3,247 1,461
1992 3,601 1,190 2006 3,961 1,332
1993 4,909 1,154 2007 3,906 1,388
1994 3,324 1,207

Data: Office of Court Administration “Private Law Almanac” 1976-2009, ministry of health and welfare, Present total of adoption 2008.

Note: According to the 2005 revision of the civil law, the existing adoption system became separate from the 친 (real child) adoption system. This system was enforced according to the additional rule Jan. 1 2008. The 2008 private law almanac divides adoptees into 부통 (regular) adoption 입양특례 (special) adoption, and 친 real child adoption.

So there appear to be three kinds of domestic adoption that are recognized in Korea: Regular, special, and for lack of a better word, real. I need to figure out exactly what are the distinctions between the three.

Dr. Lee made a chart of her estimate of where kids born out of wedlock go every year.  You can look at the original on page 22. As you can see,  there is a certain number of kids born every year that we don’t know where they go!

category 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996
Ⓐ babies born outside marriage 10,017 11,021 11,779 12,185 11,447 9,112
Ⓑ birth statistic 7,259 8,304 8,799 9,272 8,748 6,290
Ⓒ unwed mothers’ baby who was adopted 2,758 2,717 2,980 2,913 2,699 2,822
Ⓓ  being raised by mom 651 727 789 829 790 638
Ⓔ UNCONFIRMED 6,608 7,577 8,010 8,443 7,958 5,652
category 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002
Ⓐbabies born outside marriage 7,278 7,766 8,338 9,246 9,192 8,892
Ⓑbirth statistic 4,196 4,428 4,716 5,540 5,330 5,184
Ⓒ unwed mothers’ baby who was adopted 3,082 3,338 3,622 3,706 3,862 3,708
Ⓓ being raised by mom 517 559 692 795 1,011 1,438
Ⓔ UNCONFIRMED CHILD 3,679 3,869 4,024 4,745 4,319 3,746
category 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
Ⓐ babies born outside marriage 9,546 9,623 9,623 9,706 10,070 10,533
Ⓑ birth statistic 6,082 6,116 6,459 6,805 7,774 8,363
Ⓒ unwed mothers’ baby who was adopted 3,464 3,507 3,164 2,901 2,296 2,170
Ⓓ being raised by mom 2,038 2,553 3,050 3,077 3,192 3,339
Ⓔ UNCONFIRMED CHILD 4,044 3,563 3,409 3,728 4,582 5,024

Some people think that those kids must be “secretly” adopted.  It appears that secret adoption is not going through any kind of legal process, but simply written on the birth registration record that you can see on Dr. Lee’s page 12.The secret adoption would be the Korean horror story of “pregnant unwed mother walks in one door, gives birth; married couple walks in other door, takes baby home; unwed mother goes home alone; adoptee finds out in adulthood and commits suicide.”

Page 23:

Estimate by Year of  the Whereabouts of Unconfirmed Kids

Category 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996
Ⓔ unconfirmed kids 6,608 7,577 8,010 8,443 7,958 5,652
domestically adopted through court 2,568 3,061 4,227 2,791 2,043 2,010
foster care protection 999 1,212 943 927 505 727
facility protection 3,414 3,122 2,940 2,953 2,819 3,161
Category 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002
Ⓔ unconfirmed kids 3,679 3,869 4,024 4,745 4,319 3,746
domestically adopted through court 2,248 2,572 2,713 2,777 2,864 2,423
foster care protection 1,209 2,353 1,249 1,406 3,090 2,177
facility protection 3,917 5,112 4,683 4,453 6,274 4,663
Category 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
Ⓔ unconfirmed kids 4,044 3,563 3,409 3,728 4,582 5,024
domestically adopted through court 2,198 2,562 3,154 3,890 3,853 4,034
foster care protection 2,392 2,212 2,322 3,101 3,378
facility protection 4,824 4,782 4,818 4,366 3,245

Data: The office of the court domestic adoption – private law almanac. Each year and foster care protection and facility protection – Ministry of Health Welfare and Family, Present adoption statistics, report on present child protection 2008.

Note: Out of the the ministry’s domestic adoption  numbers, 2.5%-3.8% can be estimated as registered as having gone through court administration to be registered as a domestic adoption. Outside of that, secret adoptions are not estimated.

주:보건복지가족부의 국내입양 건수 중 약 2.5%~3.8% 정도는 입양신고하여 법원행정처 국내입양 건수로 추계되나 그 외에는 비밀입양으로 추계되고 있지 않음. <– I couldn’t understand this sentence well. Help!

The numbers don’t add up so I suppose this reflects the fact that some children may be counted twice because they are in foster care or a facility and are later adopted. That’s my guess.  Well, this whole thing is an estimate anyway because the government doesn’t keep track of people well enough.

I think the only thing I can say here with 100% surety is that there needs to be better record-keeping in hospitals for birth registration and a more rigorous and honest way of tracking where children go so they don’t “disappear.”

Why I am an adoptee who is frequently made angry by “adoption professionals,” reason #967

KCARE is supposedly going to be the “central authority” for int’l adoption from Korea when and if Korea ever gets around to conforming to international law by signing the Hague Convention and removing reservations to UN CRC Article 21. Excuse my crabby ass tone, but this just takes the cake.

Click HERE to see KCARE’s most recent newsletter (because for some reason I can’t copy it all on my blog. Sorry).

Do you see what’s wrong with the map? Seoul is all fuzzed out and the focus is on … Pyeongyang,  Nampo, Gaeseong = major metropolitan areas in NORTH KOREA. Actually this is a unified Korean Peninsula map, which is sort of cool and a common and wishful way for Koreans to make maps, but come on, it’s not as if the adoptees don’t already have enough problems with people being confused about which part of the Peninsula we come from. Always a fun thing when being stopped at government checkpoints such as immigration at airports, not to mention being asked stupid questions by Westerners who can’t keep it straight.

I also find the airmail envelopes to be absolutely fucking tasteless.  Can they be serious?

Take a look at the birth family search.  These are adoptees looking for Korean parents. It’s ALL IN ENGLISH.

So then I cruised over to their Korean site. Here it is.

Click on the same pictures. You get:

You don’t have permission to access the requested object. It is either read-protected or not readable by the server.

If you think this is a server error, please contact the webmaster.

Error 404
Apache/2.2.3 (Red Hat)

My opinion: KCARE, the “authority,” has FAILED ALL OF THESE ADOPTEES AND ALL OF THEIR BIRTH FAMILIES because they could not even do the simple act of writing in the correct language. What is so hard to get about it? When trying to reach Koreans, speak Korean! When trying to reach adoptees, speak English or French. DUH! DUH!! ERROR ERROR!!

What a huge waste of somebody’s time to stick this on their Web site and what a huge waste of adoptees’ time to send in their information.

I really like a certain staff person at KCARE. I think she’s awesome and a really good human being. But the organization as a whole is stupid stupid stupid. I think that certain awesome human being should be supported because she is an ally, and the rest of her organization needs to give her the resources she needs to help us and also the government needs to give KCARE what it needs to be the central authority.

And as you can tell by their English, KCARE is not working well or much with adoptees, just as their predecessor, GAIPS. None of the adoptees knew what it was or used it because they didn’t bother to reach out to our community in our languages.  Take a look at the writing on this newsletter. If KCARE had close relationships with international adoptees, there would not be typos and almost incomprehensible Konglish everywhere, because the adoptees would volunteer to proofread all that stuff for them.

I feel like if they can’t even figure this out — the most basic, basic service of translation for adoptees — how do they think the adoptions themselves are proceeding? Or maybe that is going fine, and they just pour all their energy and resources into translation and services for prospective adoptive parents —  but if you are yourself an adoptee or birth family, well then, fuck off.

Here we go again … and again …

When will they learn that the adoptees cannot be expected to navigate Korean-language Web sites?

Here’s the board of Koreans looking for adoptees — on the Korean site — 8 entries already on what is the successor to GAIPS which had the same problem:


Here we even have a photo of a big identifiable white French guy,  but who’s going to ever find this on the Korean site? Obviously SOMEBODY knows where these kids went if the family has a picture,  so why does the family have to post on a board where the adoptees are never going to find it??? Why doesn’t the agency help these people? Why doesn’t KCARE just look it up on their database, which has the name and birthdate, Korean agency and foreign agency, plus adoptive name of every adoptee who legally went out of the country?? WHY WHY WHY!?


This is very very basic. TRANSLATION. Hello. How are families supposed to find each other if we can’t even navigate through the Web site!? This is so completely stupid and shows the absolutely utter lack of knowledge that Koreans have about adoptees and the utter disrespect and care they have for our families. We adoptees and families are not a shame. THIS is a shame.

I am so lucky that my mother found ME because I cannot imagine having to put up with this shit.

Big brother looking for Eun-ha

Name: Eun-ha

Adopted to the U.S. in 1974. (Mother died in 1973.)

Adopted to a man from the U.S. Songtan Army base and a Korean woman who lived with him. They were in Korea for 1 year and then went to the U.S.

In 1973 Eun-ha was 3 years old.

I’m not sure but the woman’s name might have been Mee-sook.

Big brother was also adopted to another house, so I have another name on the family register.

Please contact me.

Paek  Seung-bae 010-7447-0583.

이름: 은하

74년도 미국으로 입양 (엄마는 73년도 돌아가심)

송탄미군부대 남자와 동거중인 한국여자분에게 입양되었음.  1년정도 한국에 있다가 미국으로 들어갔다고 함.

73년도 당시 은하 3살

확실하지 않지만 미숙이란 이름으로 갔다고 함.

오빠도 다른집으로 입양가서 이름이 다른 호적으로 됨.


백승배 : 010-7447-0583

Looking for my younger sibling Son Na-jin

***I’m starting to catalogue these little translations that I do in my spare time here.

I’m looking for my younger sibling whom I remember, who was born in 1983.

At that time, our parents were divorcing and there was no one to care for the baby who was born some time before that so the baby was sent for adoption. I was in the 4th year of elementary school at the time. At the time there was information  from an adoption agency in the  Oncheonjang neighborhood in Busan and after the baby was there for a week the baby was adopted and that was the last news I remember hearing. I want to know how my younger sibling is doing. Because there is nothing on the hojuk (family registry) record, and I didn’t know how to find my younger sibling,  so I came here. Until the baby was adopted the name was Son Na-jin.

I remember that this picture was taken before the baby’s first birthday. Grandmother, who is in the picture, passed away in 1994.

83생으로 기억하고 있는 동생을 찾고 있습니다.

그당시 부모님이 이혼하면서 태어난지 얼마 되지 않은

아기를 키울 사람이 없어서 입양하게 되었고 저는

초등학교 4학년이었습니다.

당시 부산 온천장 근처에 있는 입양기관에 문의하였는데

아기가 그곳에 간지 일주일 정도만에 입양되어졌다는 소식을 들은게 마지막으로 기억합니다.

어떻게 살고 있는지라도 알고 싶습니다.

호적상으로 서류가 전혀 없는 상황이어서 어디 가서 찾아야 하는지도 모르겠어서 이렇게 올려봅니다.

입양당시까지 사용하던 아기 이름은 손나진..이었습니다.

사진은 당시 아기가 돌이 되기 전의 사진인거로 기억합니다. 할머니와 함께 찍은 사진이며 할머니는 94년에 작고 하셨습니다.

Handicap, race, and overseas adopted Koreans

Sorry, this post is all squished and I can’t figure out how to unsquish it. Dang computer. Well anyway, from this article in Pressian published on May 14, 2007 are the following statistics:

해외입양아동 수는 보건복지부의 통계에 의하면 1953년부터 2005년까지 총 15만8703명이었다. 이 중 혼혈 어린이는 1955년부터 1973년까지 내보내졌고, 총 5546명이었다. 정부의 또다른 통계에 따르면, 1958년부터 지금까지 입양 보낸 아동 중 비혼모아동은 9만8178명, 결손가정아동이 2만8823명, 버려진 아동이 2만9950명이었으며 전체 숫자 가운데 장애아동은 3만7216명이었다.

My translation:

According to statistics from the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the number of overseas adoptees from 1953-2005 were 158,703 people. Of these, from 1955-1973 there were 5,546 mixed race adoptees. Other government statistics say that from 1958 until now 98,178 children sent for adoption were from unwed mothers, 28,823 from poor families, abandoned children 29,950 and of the whole number there were 37,216 handicapped children.

Let me break those official stats down into percentages.

Mixed race: 3.49%

Unwed mothers: 61.86%

Poor: 18.16%

Abandoned: 18.87%

Handicapped: 23.45%

So, unwed mothers is by and large the biggest issue. Mixed race is without a doubt the smallest issue. If you live in Seoul or meet a lot of adoptees that is not really a surprise.

What is a surprise is — how many handicapped kids? Almost 1 in 4?

Wow, that is a lot of handicapped kids. That’s almost a quarter of all adoptees! But where are all those handicapped adoptees? When we go to an adoptee gathering, are 1 in 4 adoptees whom we meet handicapped? Sure, there are people living with visible  handicaps that we know, but not 1 in 4. Hmmmm….. what’s going on?

Here are some facts on handicap and adoptees from the 2009 National Assembly audit. We got the info in Korean and I translated it into an understandable English expression.

1. Classifications of adoptees
(Dec. 31, 2008, # of people)
agency total sex state of family state of health
M F Unwed mother Lost child, poverty Broken family normal handicapped
total 1,250 773 477 1,114 10 126 1,126 124
Holt 503 308 195 394 5 104 425 78
Eastern 336 209 127 329 5 2 307 29
SWS 378 240 138 358 20 361 17
KSS 33 16 17 33 33

3. State of overseas adoptees’ prematurity and type of handicap from 2006 ~ June 2009

total subtotal premature handicapped children normal
harelip Hand foot mental handicap heart problem etc.
2006 1,899 713 303 21 7 24 86 272 1186
2007 1,264 500 222 4 9 15 41 209 764
2008 1,250 124 48 11 7 3 18 37 1126
June 2009 679 40 19 7 3 1 4 6 639

It’s important to note that “premature” are counted as part of the total statistic of “handicapped.” (See how the 124 matches up.)

Here’s what’s interesting:

What happened to the definition of “premature” between 2007 and 2008? A change of 222 to 48 cannot mean a change in actual condition. A change that large can only mean a change in definition. This change in definition caused the number of “handicapped” children to drop from 500 in 2007 to 124 in 2008. What was the definition of “premature” in 2007, and what did it change to in 2008? Does this mean that many “handicapped” children sent from Korea were not severely handicapped, and not in a life-or-death situation, but were just … small? That’s what I’m wondering.

Some other things that I think are whack on here – since when in the world’s greatest plastic surgery mecca should a harelip be a problem? Maybe back in the day, but in 2008 — ??

I apologize for my language. I realize I’ve been living in Korea for 5 years now so I have no idea anymore if “mixed race” or “handicapped” or “harelip” etc. are correct terms in English anymore. As you know my head is a complete language mess.  Please somebody correct my language if it’s offensive or out of date. Thanks. Anyone else who has more or different statistics — please know I am all in favor of sharing knowledge and please do share if you have.

*Statistics from the 2009 National Assembly audit, Ministry of Health and Welfare

1. 성별, 발생유형별, 아동상태별 입양실적
(2008.12.31, 명)
기관명 성 별 발생유형별 아동상태별
미혼모아등 기아.




비장애 장애
1,250 773 477 1,114 10 126 1,126 124
홀 트 503 308 195 394 5 104 425 78
동 방 336 209 127 329 5 2 307 29
대 한 378 240 138 358 20 361 17
한 국 33 16 17 33 33

3. 06 ~09.6 연도별 해외입양아 미숙아 또는 조숙아, 장애유형별 장애아 현황

소계 미숙아/조숙아 장애아 정상아
언청이 손발기형 정신


심장병 기타
2006년 1,899 713 303 21 7 24 86 272 1186
2007년 1,264 500 222 4 9 15 41 209 764
2008년 1,250 124 48 11 7 3 18 37 1126
2009년 6월 679 40 19 7 3 1 4 6 639