After 40 years of Adoption, I learned the true background of my birth.
I was born on August 3, 1976, and arrived at Copenhagen Airport in Denmark on October 31 of the same year. I was adopted when I was 3 months old. My (adoptive) parents said that I was found as an orphan on the steps of a police station in Busan and that I lived in an orphanage called Namgwang Orphanage, located a little away from Busan.
When I arrived in Denmark (from Korea), I was wearing a small bracelet on my wrist, and my Korean name, Kim Young-sik, was written on it.
My parents said I weighed only 3.7 kg when I came to Denmark. For a 3-month-old child, he didn’t weigh that much. But not long after, I had a double chin and a plump cheek weight that was close to being overweight. Why was I so malnutrition when I arrived in Denmark?
The adoptive parents heard that the children eligible for adoption do not receive much food at Namgwang Orphanage because there is a shortage of food. My family and I believed that.
My parents couldn’t have children, so I was like a wish for them.
Now 46 years old, I’ve been thinking all my life about my Korean parents, who were able to leave me on the street and go their own way. This is the story that I have believed in. I lived in a crisis of identity, not knowing where I came from or why my biological parents had to leave their baby on the street. They say I was only a few days old when I was found.
My mother said that she adopted me to give me a second chance in life because my biological mother didn’t have the money to raise me.
My whole family has believed the story told by the Aarhus Adoption Center, a Danish adoption agency.
I grew up in a small town called Ribe in western Utland, Denmark. I also have a Danish-born younger brother who was adopted. I was trained in steelmaking and later worked as a marine engineer. I have a long career in the marine industry and am currently working on two-stroke marine engines using green technology. Once, I went to Busan for work and passed the police station while walking around the city. I stopped and took some pictures of the police station.
I thought maybe this was the police station where my biological mother left me.
If you are adopted from Korea to Denmark, you will be different from others. It reminds me every day that I’m different from other children. This undoubtedly affects personality formation as well as relationships with others.
Adoptees live with trauma from the beginning of their lives.
The loss of our biological parents leaves us with a deep wound. It’s very hard to get out of the trauma. It can be difficult to explain that feeling to others, and it can be difficult to explain the feelings I feel to my family.
I remember asking my father if he could find his biological parents one day, and he answered that it would be more difficult than finding a needle in a pile of hay because no one knew about them.
Father, Can I find my biological family?
My adoptive father, a doctor, was asked in 1986 if he would be willing to go to Korea. While in Seoul, he visited the Korean Community Service (KSS) and asked if they had any information about my biological parents.
The Korean Social Service Association said that biological mothers often came to see how their children were doing after they were adopted, but no one came to find me.
When I started dating as an adult, I had a big problem with attachment formation. I also unconsciously stayed away from my girlfriend because I was incredibly afraid to experience the loss. It was only when I was 33 years old that I was able to maintain a stable relationship with my girlfriend. I married her and live in Copenhagen. Marriage gave me a sense of security and gave me the courage to face the difficult feelings I felt as an adoptee.
I still feel the aftereffects of adoption, and the aftereffects always follow me.
My wife encouraged me to get in touch with other adoptees from Korea, which allowed me to get out of the identity bubble for the first time. I felt closer to myself as I spent time with my fellow adoptees. In 2020, I contacted the Korean Social Volunteer Society to get more adoption information.
Their reply suddenly contained information that would turn everything upside down.
I wasn’t born in Busan, and I’ve never been to Namgwang Nursery. Years back, at the age of 35-year-old, my biological mother became pregnant with a man she was dating, and this man left when he found out she was pregnant. She revealed she was my mother. The adoption agency said that I was born in a midwifery center, and the midwife brought me to the adoption agency.
My world stopped.
Is it really possible that someone had information about my biological mother? Since then, I have exchanged several emails with the adoption agency to request documents and personal information. If you want to adopt a child by law, you must submit certain documents in order for the adoption to be legal. One of these documents is the consent form from the child’s parents. The adoption agency claims to actually have this agreement but is refusing to show evidence of it. The adoption agency says that adoptees have no right to have access to this document.
Hope to find the truth about my birth record
Surprisingly, Danish adoption agencies also legally require the consent of biological parents, but they also did not see the consent forms. In the hope of finding the truth about my birth record, I really want to be reunited with my biological mother and family. Also, I would like to have a chance to ask them if they really gave me up for adoption and made such a decision voluntarily.
“I know some people don’t think biological blood ties are that important. But as I lost my connection with a certain person, there was a gap in my life.
It’s like a person who fell from the sky.”
I am one of the many adoptees who submitted a case to Korea’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC),
and December 8 last year, when the investigation of the first 34 cases was confirmed, became a historic day for all of us. I earnestly hope the Truth Commission will reveal the truth about all adoptions, including me. I live in a country that is well known as a universal welfare state, taking good care of the people and making sure that no one lacks anything.
On the outside, I live a privileged life, but there is an emptiness in my heart.
I am often asked which one I would choose: Grow up in Denmark or in Korea? I would have chosen to grow up with my biological mother. Adoptees lose their identity, language, culture, and, above all, their relationship with their biological family. This is to inflict irreversible wounds on the child. Adoption must be the last option after all other methods have been tried.
Pression Editor’s Note: In September 2022, 283 overseas adoptees submitted an investigation application to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to determine whether human rights were violated at the time of adoption. The number of people increased to 372 as additional applications were submitted twice on November 15th and December 9th. They requested an investigation into whether human rights were violated in the adoption process of overseas adoptees adopted from Korea to Denmark and around the world during the authoritarian period from the 1970s to the early 1990s and whether there was any intervention by the government in the process. Fortunately, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission announced on December 8 that it had decided to open an investigation into ‘human rights violations during the overseas adoption process’, and on June 8, it announced that it would open an investigation into an additional 237 people. This is the first government-level investigation decision in 68 years since Korea began overseas adoption. <Pressian> plans to continue publishing articles written by overseas adoptees who have requested an investigation by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
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