Top on adoptions from South Korea: - Must be thoroughly investigated
15 May 2023

- We can no longer rule out that illegal adoption to Norway has been very extensive, says Minister for Children and Families Kjersti Toppe after VG's revelations about South Korea.

Yesterday VG was able to reveal systematic cheating in adoption papers from South Korea:

Children were listed as orphans in the adoption papers that got them to Norway - despite the fact that their mothers were alive and known to the adoption agency.

This is shown by reports after inspection trips that VG has been given access to. Thus, adoptions could take place without the consent of the biological parents.

On Saturday, seven adoptees from South Korea shared their stories in VG.

In adulthood, several of them tracked down their biological family.

Then they learned that the parents never approved of adopting them away - and that they had been looking for them for years.

- It is very, very serious, says Minister for Children and Families Kjersti Toppe.

- I would already like to say that the adoption practice from South Korea must be scrutinized thoroughly, she says.

Earlier this year, the minister opened an external investigation of foreign adoptions into Norway, following VG's revelations about a number of illegal adoptions from Ecuador.

Among them was the story of Camilla , who was stolen from her mother when she was three years old, then adopted to Norway.

At the time, Toppe said that adoption from Ecuador should be carefully scrutinized.

Now Toppe says that adoption from South Korea will also be scrutinized by the external committee

- With what is emerging about South Korea now, we can no longer rule out that this could be much more extensive. Now we have to go in and examine the system, the responsibility of the Norwegian authorities and whether we are looking at a major system failure here.

- Must go into the light

All adoptions must be voluntary on the part of biological parents. This is required by the Hague Convention, which Norway has committed to follow.

That is why the Minister for Children and Families reacts strongly to VG's revelations about adoption documents from South Korea - and that the Norwegian authorities have been aware of this since 1996.

- It is a completely unforgivable practice. I can't understand anything other than that it must be illegal.

- I also react strongly to the role of the Norwegian authorities - that they did not intervene in a much clearer way when they found out about this, says Toppe.

- Should the adoptions have been stopped?

- There were clear danger signals here, so I think you should have stopped and sorted it out. Now I am happy that the adoption system is to be examined. Everything must come up and into the light. An adoption to Norway must be 100 percent proper.

- Terrible

Toppe says it makes a big impression to hear about the adoptees from South Korea who have now tracked down their biological family and understand that the adoptions took place on the wrong premises.

- It is very, very serious.

- These are truth witnesses who tell. It makes a strong impression to hear about the suffering inflicted on both adults and children and that parents in South Korea have been searching for their children. I find it hard to find the right words when I hear these stories. It's absolutely horrible, says Toppe.

Norway has adopted approximately 6,500 children from South Korea from the late 1960s to the present day, according to figures from the adoption intermediary Verdens barn.

In 2012, a new adoption law came into force in South Korea, which prohibits the adoption of children of unknown parentage. Thus, consent from biological parents is required by law.