Step by Step Korea Social Service (KSS) Birth Family Search.

1 February 2024

International Social Service (ISS).

Please Note: If you are adopted through this KSS’ Partner Western Adoption Agency (in the time frames during which KSS worked with this Partner Western Adoption Agency) then you should initiate a Birth Family Search through KSS in Seoul. For KSS Adoptees ONLY, please see: Step by Step Korea Social Service (KSS) Birth Family Search.

1964 - 1967 (exact ending date is unknown but is probably around Relinquishment Year 1967): KSS adopts to International Social Service (ISS) in the US.

Please note that International Social Service (ISS) in Korea is now closed. If you were a KSS / ISS Adoptee, your files are likely to be at KSS in Seoul. However ISS’ files may also be maintained by another Korean Adoption Agency which remains open, Social Welfare Society (SWS), which is now called Korea Welfare Society (KWS). This may depend on your case. 

ISS may have been based in both Korea and the US.

ISS may have partnered in the US with a US ISS office and / or local US based Adoption Agency to conduct the home studies with adoptive parents. We do not know what all of these local US based Adoption Agencies might be. In one KSS / ISS Adoptee’s case, her US Adoption Agency was Children's Home Society - we are not sure if Children's Home Society simply conducted the home study in this Adoptee’s case, or if they had further involvement with her adoption.

ISS is now closed, and its files are now housed with Social Welfare Society (SWS) which is now called Korea Welfare Society (KWS) in Korea.

If you are a KSS / ISS Adoptee, contact both KSS (see link below) and SWS (now KWS) for a birth family search. This is because ISS files are now housed with KWS, but your files may also be at KSS (this may depend on your case). Please do a Google Search to locate the website for SWS / KWS in Korea.

If you are a US KSS / ISS Adoptee, we highly recommend starting a Birth Family Search with KSS in Seoul.

We have heard that KSS was originally supposed to have partnered with ISS to become K-ISS, but this apparently never transpired. 

We know of only a few cases of collaboration between KSS and ISS, and all of these cases were between (Relinquishment Year) 1964-1967. There are currently no ISS cases which we know of AFTER Relinquishment Year 1967.

We know of one KSS / ISS Adoptee whose US Adoption Agency was Children's Home Society of Oakland, California. This is the one case which we know of where KSS partnered with Children's Home Society of Oakland, California (or any other Children's Home Society in any other US state). Of course, this does not mean there weren’t other instances of this partnership happening - we simply don’t know of them. 

ISS originally came to S. Korea mainly to send Hapa (mixed race) children for international adoption in the wake of the Korean War. ISS was considered to be a more ethical organization, and apparently the man who ran ISS, Gardner Monroe, had a particular dislike for KSS Founder Kun Chil Paik  (alternately: Baek Geun-chil / Paik, Kun Chil / 백근칠) because Monroe considered that KSS was attempting to follow in Holt’s footsteps by processing the maximum number of children with the minimum number of child protections. ISS eventually left Korea, perhaps in part due to its more ethical practices - ISS only wanted to serve Korea in the wake of the Korean War, and ISS apparently had no intention of turning adoption into a business in the way that Holt, ESWS, SWS (now KWS) and KSS all eventually did


According to the KAS (Korea Adoption Service) website (KAS was the predecessor to NCRC): 

External Link

International Social Services (ISS)

The International Social Services is an international organization with its headquarters located in Geneva, Switzerland, and it was authorized by the Korean government in 1957 to carry out activities related to intercountry adoption.

There are three branches worldwide, and the Korean branch withdrew from Korea in 1967 due to operational problems, handing over all relevant duties to Child Placement Service.

The ISS mostly took care of intercountry adoption, settlement of refugees, international marriages, family counseling, adoption problems, mediation and solutions.”