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Adoption documents to be digitized

Dec. 15, 2014 - 21:34 By Claire Lee
A government agency is digitizing some 35,000 documents related to transnational adoptions that occurred in South Korea since the 1950s, in its effort to help Korean overseas adoptees find their birth parents.

The process is expected to be completed by the end of this month and the digitized documents will be archived in the agency’s database, said Kim Moon-jung from the Korea Adoption Services.

According to the state-run organization, the number of adoption agencies in Korea dropped from about 400 in 1978 to 280 last year. This means about 120 agencies closed down since the late 1970s.

This year, the Korea Adoption Services discovered some 6,149 copies of adoption documents belonging to the now-defunct adoption agencies.

The state-run organization plans to track down the representatives of seven other shuttered adoption agencies and archive any remaining documents that they may have next year.

Once digitized and archived, the documents will be housed at the agency indefinitely, Kim said.

Of the 1,033 Korean transnational adoptees surveyed last year by the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs, 83 percent said they were interested in finding their birth family, with 71 percent saying they had pursued the search already.

However, only 28 percent of those who searched were able to reunite with their birth parents.

Those who were most inclined to search for their birth parents were individuals who had been treated for mental conditions, who had a hard time adjusting as transnational or transracial adoptees, or who had experienced a severe identity crisis, according to the research.

According to KIHASA, South Korea has sent about 165,000 children overseas for foreign adoption over the past six decades. As recently as 2005, the country was among the top nations for sending children abroad.

By Claire Lee (