My boarding ticket said this is my 12th trip to Korea. I don’t remember when the first couple were, but counting backwards, I know at least these:
- 2010 Research trip
- 2007 Research trip
- 2006 Library and Information Science study abroad program/IFLA
- 2005 Tour with Maja
- 2003 Fun/family
- 2000 Fun/family
- 1998 Daewoo trip
- 1995 Fun/family
- 1992 Fun/family
It seems, as the years go by, and as I am now an adult, each trip becomes more work-intensive, but I love my work, so it’s not so bad.
I’ve been in Korea for about 28 hours and am already pretty well adjusted to the time difference, although around 4pm – which is 2am in Minnesota – I almost fell asleep. To stay awake, and because I intend to be fully immersed in my research during these next 5 weeks, I started reviewing some Korean adoption texts, and as always, it has definitely kept me on my toes.
The International Korean Adoptee Resource Book (Overseas Korea Foundation 2006) reports that adoptees visiting Korea most desire to conduct birth family searches. According to multiple surveys, approximately 3/4 of adoptees are interested in searching. The Resource Book therefore suggests that “OKF (Overseas Korea Foundation) needs a policy that supports adoptees in searching for their birth families” (49). As well, The Book repeatedly states that the government needs to be more supportive of granting adoptees access to their files. However, The Resource Book also reports that “lack of information was the biggest drawback concerning the search for birth family” (50).
Approximately 2.7% of querying adoptees (or, 2,113 of 76,646 counseling sessions) were reunited with birth relatives (622). Granted, the queries could have come multiple times from the same adoptee, but isn’t 2.7% rather low?
So I wonder, is it the lack of information, or the denial of access to information… or the falsification of information? Given what I’ve read, heard and observed, I suspect it’s all of the above; the information may be there, but it is concealed until the right (or wrong, depending on how you look at it) person grants access. Or the information may have been fabricated in order to create what Deann Borshay Liem calls an “orphan template” (In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee 2010). Or the information may not have been provided in the first place, in which the “lack of information” would surely be a travesty. In any case, more and more adoptees return to Korea, with one of their goals being to conduct a birth family search. We’ll see what they find…
I hope my research can be one factor in increasing this number.