Secrets in adoptions must come to light!
10 August 2023

The TV2 broadcasts 'The secret in the shadow archive' which were broadcast on TV2 on 2 and 9 August unfortunately support our knowledge of the very unacceptable conditions in adoptions from South Korea, which the Danish Korean Rights Group already documented last year in their investigations of several hundred adoptions. This concerns, among other things, about:

  • Exchange and falsification of adoptee's identity
  • Systematic lying in South Korea about the background of many adoptees, as they have been lied to as orphans and provided with suspiciously similar background stories about whereabouts etc.
  • The Korean adoption agencies' refusal to hand over the adoptees' personal documents/information to them.

As a result of DKRG's documentation, investigations into adoptions from South Korea to Denmark in the 1970s and 80s have been initiated both in South Korea and in Denmark.

Apparently the "business model" itself was invented in South Korea and very conveniently adapted to the country's laws that only orphans could be adopted out, which explains the false backstories that have been attached to the adoptees.

According to the broadcasts, however, the Danish adoption mediation organizations were not just naive recipients of children, but actually also active players in the process, as they - at least as described in the broadcasts - with so-called "donations" pushed for more "deliveries" of children. It goes without saying that if this is true, then the former mediating organizations, now DIA, have a very big problem of explanation, but so do the Danish supervisory authorities in truth!

Adoption & Society demands that the extent and nature of possible bribery be thoroughly investigated, as well as the actions of the adoption brokering organizations and the role of the supervisory authorities as a whole be scrutinized. In the documentary, the role of the Danish supervisory authorities is largely not mentioned. The lack of effective supervision and control is obvious. There is no doubt about the enormous responsibility of the authorities in these cases!

Adoption & Society therefore demands that the authorities' obvious lack of supervision and/or tacit acceptance of adoptions of children under illegal conditions be thoroughly investigated. In this context, it must be stated that it is not sufficient for the authorities to investigate themselves – or their predecessors. An investigation should be raised to a completely impartial, independent and professionally competent level.

The documentary does not touch on the difficult situation of the adoptive parents. Adoptive parents are also - just like the adopted and the biological families - seriously violated parties in connection with these illegalities. No adoptive parents have wanted to adopt children who have been deprived of their biological parents and their history. Adoptive parents have always trusted that the "adoption professionals" in both countries have done their utmost to ensure that the children really did not have parents or another family to care for them before they were adopted.

Adoption & Society finds it extremely problematic and critical that neither adoption agencies in Korea, the mediating organizations in Denmark, nor our supervisory authorities have ensured that this can be trusted. It is quite unforgivable.

Many thousands of adoptees and their families in both countries are far too often left with no means – let alone assistance – to clarify the true stories and find family members. 

Adoption & Society takes it for granted that the Danish and Korean authorities are now cooperating to ensure that both the Korean adoption agencies and the Danish mediating organizations hand over all personal information to the adoptees.

Furthermore, it must be ensured that all parties concerned receive the necessary assistance and advice to deal with both the emotional reactions and the concrete practical questions that naturally arise in this context.

In Adoption & As a society, we have a great desire for all current and former sending countries to have a contact person who can help with practical questions, contact with authorities and interpretation on return journeys. In addition, we see a great need for guidelines to be prepared for all countries for adoptees and adopters for use when, for example, searching for biological family. The financing of this should of course be a state responsibility.

It is Adoption & Society's opinion that there are many children in the world who can still benefit from international adoption, but only when all alternative options have been exhausted and of course in compliance with international rules and conventions.

For us, it is always about what is best for the child!

With best regards

Michael Paaske      
Adoption & Society