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–

Thank you for visiting my blog. I no longer have time to update this blog regularly, but I appreciate your comments, even though I cannot respond to all of them. All comments (except spam) have been allowed to go through unmoderated since June 16, 2014. Any comments you see prior to that date have been read and approved by me. Thanks again, and wishing you peace and blessings.

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