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Birth family search

 

Things to think about:

What are you hoping to discover?

What prompts you to proceed the search at this time of your life?

  • General family information

  • Family traits and personalities

  • Medical history information

  • Circumstances of the adoption

  • Establish connection with birth family

  • Let birth family know you're okay

 
Step 1: Make contact

There are a few different contacts you can start off with in Australia or Korea. Most of these organisations will assign you a case worker to keep track of your information, act as a mediator and provide advice to you throughout the birth search process.

Australian state departments

Every Australian state has a department of human services which manages intercountry adoptions. Contact the state where you arrived when you first came to Australia.

International Social Services (ISS) 

International Social Services support and advocate for intercountry adoptees and their families. They provide an Intercountry Adoption Tracing and Reunification service.

Eastern Social Welfare Society (ESWS)

Most Korean adoptees sent to Australia were processed through the Eastern Social Welfare Society. Find out more about ESWS's post-adoption services.

Korean Adoption Services

Korean Adoption Services is an adoptee organisation based in Korea that helps with birth family searches. Visit their website at Korean Adoption Services.

Global Overseas Adoptees Link (G.O.A.L), International Korean Adoptee Service (InKAS)

G.O.A.L and InKAS are volunteer-run not-for-profit organisations based in Seoul. G.O.A.L and InKAS provide birth search support for adoptees wishing to visit Korea, as well as other special programs for adoptees throughout the year such as the First Trip Home, language learning programs and translation and interpretation services. Visit G.O.A.L and InKAS for more information.

 

STEP 2: PREPARE YOUR DOCUMENTS

When you are adopted, you are supplied with documents from your adoption agency such as the Initial Social History report above. These documents should contain vital information for your search such as:

  • your case number

  • your Korean ID number

  • your Korean name

  • your parents' names 

For some adoptees, they have more information than others. This is normal.

You will be asked to fill out a form including your identification details such as your drivers license, birth certificate in Australia and citizenship.

If you are missing some information, your adoption agency and State social welfare departments may be able to supply you with copies. 

 

What happens next?

Your adoption agency will attempt to send a telegram to your birth parents. The telegram is designed to be strictly confidential and asks birth parents to call the agency's phone number.

If you are willing to travel to Korea, you may want to consider reaching out to local police, hospitals and orphanages who may have more information about you or your family.

Possible outcomes:

  • Birth family is found and able to have contact with you

  • Birth family is found, but not able to have contact

  • Adoption agency (ESWS) send telegram to the presumably birth parent’s address, but 

    • no one responds to the telegram or the telegram can’t be delivered

    • the receiver denies having a child

  • Adoption agency informs you that that your birth mother or father has passed away

  • Adoption agency finds that birth parents' ID number were cancelled for various reasons, and advise that no further step can be undertaken from their end.

  • You may find that find that your birth parents were married couple with older siblings, which is very different info from their adoption records. This is quite common for Korean adoptees born between 1980 to the mid 1990s.

 

Perspectives from birth families

In a culture where adoption is not discussed openly and seen as shameful, birth families also face their own challenges.

Birth families sometimes talk about:

  • Feeling ashamed

  • Thinking they are not good enough, and they don't don't deserve to be found by their child.

  • Fear of others finding out that they had a child given up for adoption. 

  • Being judged by their family member, including their own children they raised.

  • May not know their child was adopted to Australia.

  • May not know where/how to begin the search process.

  • May be afraid of their children ‘hating’ them for not being able to keep them.

  • They may have contacted the adoption agency, but it may not have come through to adoptive parents/adoptees for various reasons

  • They worry about causing problems in the adoptive family by wanting to contact them.

 

Looking after yourself

From searching to meeting, or not meeting birth family, it is normal to feel overwhelmed. KAiAN exists to help you feel like you are not alone and that there is help.

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