Destruction of adoption files was not according to the law: 'Careless management'
27 July 2023

The destruction of adoption files in 1983 and 1999 was not in line with the Archives Act. This is the conclusion of the Government Information and Heritage Inspectorate in a new report in response to questions from adoptees, parliamentary questions and a publication by the NOS .

This concerns thousands of destroyed files from the Child Protection Directorate of the Ministry of Justice and Security dating from the period from 1967 to 1979. The files contain data of people who had registered as adoptive parents.

This information was necessary for the so-called 'consent in principle', in which it was determined that people met the criteria to be allowed to adopt a child. The files also contained personal information about the adopted child, so that they could obtain a visa.

About a hundred files from that period have not been destroyed. It is not clear why they have been preserved.

Careless management

According to the inspection, the destruction of the adoption files was carried out "insufficiently carefully", because the retention period of the files had not been determined in accordance with the rules. The inspection could find no evidence that the interests of the 'citizen seeking justice and evidence' were taken into account when determining this period. And that had to be done according to the Archives Act.

In addition, the registration of adoption files was inadequate, the inspectorate wrote. "The overall picture is that of careless management."

It is not certain whether the retention period would have been different if it had been determined in accordance with the Archives Act, the inspectorate qualifies. "During that period, the importance of access to adoption files in the long term was less recognized."


It is especially sad for those who have nothing, who have been desperately searching for decades.

Stephanie Dong-Hee Kim

Stephanie Dong-Hee Kim is happy with the "recognition that everything was wrong". She was adopted from South Korea in 1980 and was informed that the Ministry of Justice and Security no longer has a file on her. "It's too sad for words," she says about what happened at the time. "It was not taken into account that those cute, brown children would grow up and start searching."

Kim also lacks information about her adoptive parents. "What were the reasons they adopted me, how did the conversations go?" Yet she knows a lot about her adoption because her file was available at the Child Protection Board. “It's especially sad for those who have nothing, who have been desperately searching for decades,” she says. "Or who have been abused by their adoptive parents. Those adoptees want to know: why were my adoptive parents given permission to adopt?"

Kim hopes the ministry will apologize and "take full responsibility for what happened." She is thinking of compensation for the costs that adoptees have to incur as a result of the mistakes. She herself had to pay to have her surname restored and her Korean passport returned.

"It is terrible that you cannot find out what your origins are and where your roots lie," responds a spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice and Security. "Unfortunately, we cannot reverse the destruction of files. We can only do our best now to improve the supervision of new files."

Adoptees with questions about their adoption file can visit or email