Guide to Search and Reunion
These services are available to persons adopted from Eastern Social Welfare Society in Korea and their families. To initiate post-adoption services, all clients must download, complete, and submit the appropriate forms below:
New Beginnings File Review begins with retrieving the file from storage. For the most part, the information we have in our file at New Beginnings was the same provided to the adopting parents at the time of the adoption. It would be the referral packet consisting of the Initial Social History, Medial Report, pictures, and any updates. If the birth parents were known, the initial social history would have non-identifying information on the birth parents. Also, the legal documents would be in the file. For adoptions before June 2013, these would include the Birth Certificate issued by ESWS, the Extract of Family Register, Certificate of Appointment to Guardian of Minor Orphan in Orphanage, Statement of Consent to Overseas Adoption and the Certificate of Adoption issued by the court. If we received a copy from the adoptive parents, we should have a copy of the Certificate of Citizenship.
File Information Held by ESWS. We can request the foreign agency to review their files for additional information regarding the adoption. Otherwise, the information provided to the adopting parents and information in our file would be all that is available. Files in Korea may also contain intake documents, counseling notes, or identifying information for birth family or foster family, depending on how you came into care. To maintain confidentiality, ESWS and New Beginnings’ will not release birth parent contact information without that person’s permission. Also, ESWS and New Beginnings will not release your identifying information without your permission. With the exception of additional information, ESWS requires you to come to their office in Seoul to personally review the file. Although the information may not be available to the adoptee or their parents, a file review by ESWS is a necessary first step in a birth parent search. The file review would tell them whether or not there is enough information to search and if a search is otherwise warranted. Correspondence. If you have requested a file Review by ESWS, we encourage adoptive parents and adoptees to send letters and photos through us to the adoptee’s file at ESWS.
Foster Parent Contact: For some adoptees, contact with foster parents may be possible. New Beginnings can help you determine this by reviewing your file and discussing your case with our overseas partner agency. Adoptees and their parents may seek this outreach to learn more about the early part of the adoptee’s life. There is no minimum age to request this service. Families often request the foster parent meeting when visiting Korea.
Birth Parent Search: Adopted persons age 19 and older and adoptive parents of children 13 years and older may request outreach to a birth parent. Not all searches are possible or result in contact. ESWS, in cooperation with New Beginnings, would review the file to determine that a search is possible. The circumstance of how a child came into care, and the information provided to ESWS, would make a search more or less possible. There could be other factors as well. If a search is possible, ESWS will send the request to the Korean Adoption Service (NCRC). NCRC will check their database for the birth parent’s current information and address. If the contact information is available, NCRC will notify ESWS. ESWS will inform New Beginnings of what they received from NCRC. New Beginnings will then speak with the adoptee on reaching out to the birth parent(s). If no contact information is available, your information is now with NCRC. If at a later time, a birth parent should update the registry, we could reopen the search. At no time would your information be released to the birth parent without your consent.
If everyone agrees that ESWS should try to contact the birth parent(s), ESWS will send one or two registered letters requesting they contact ESWS. If there is no response, ESWS will not make any additional efforts at that time. ESWS will record your request for contact in your file. If at a later date, the birth parent reaches out to ESWS, they will notify New Beginnings. We, of course, will notify you. Some birth parent search results in contact, with some having reunions. Many requests for searches do not. A number of things must come together to have contact with a birth parent. There must be enough information in the file to search. After ESWS has requested KAS to search, they must have valid contact information. Once ESWS’s has mailed a request, the birth parent must respond that he or she wants to contact. Only then and with their approval, will identifying information be released.
The decision to search may vary, but below are the most common reasons:
- Need for updated medical information
- Wish for personal answers to adoption decision questions
- The desire for knowledge about their current life situation and opportunity to meet and establish
If you are considering a birth family search, this article may be helpful: “10 Questions to Ask…” by Holly McGinnis
Frequently asked questions on birth family searches:
Do birth parent searches often result in contact? Contact depends on the availability of specific identifying information, but the presence of a birth parent’s name does not ensure that a successful search will be possible. It also requires the birth family to consent to contact. Although some birth parent searches do result in contact, many do not.
How long does the average search take? The search process and time varies, but generally, the search takes one to six months or longer.
When is the best age to search? There is no perfect age, but a few years older is probably better. Ideally, you would search when you are settled and happy in your life. Birth family searches can produce difficult or complicated information. As you can imagine, the details surrounding the birth family and the relinquishment are often more intricate than the brief information provided with the referral. A birth parent’s current life can have hardship and difficulty. Sometimes the birth parent cannot be contacted or does not want contact. This rejection can be painful. Often there is simply frustration. Unless the birth parent can be contacted and consents to the release of their information, there is very little or no new information. The adoptee may feel that more could be done, but again, the birth parent has a right not to communicate. The minimum age permitted by ESWS to initiate a search is 13. To initiate a search, we would expect the adoptee to have the maturity to manage the various and potentially complicated outcomes that could result from the search.
Search and Reunion Resources for Adoptees and Families
- Beneath the Mask: Understanding Adopted Teens – Debbie Riley
- Searching For a Past: The Adopted Adult’s Unique Process of Finding Identity – Jayne Schooler
- Mother Me: An Adopted Woman’s Journey to Parenthood – Zarah Phillips
- It’s Not About You: Understanding Adoptee Search, Reunion and Open Adoption – Brooke Randolph
- Birthright: The Guide to Search and Reunion for Adoptees, Birthparents, and Adoptive Parents – Jean A.S. Strauss and Clarissa Pinkola Este
- A Single Square Picture – Kathy Robinson
- All There is to Know – Nicole Chung
- Once They Hear My Name – Ellen Lee, Marilyn Lammert and Mary Ann Hess
- First Person Plural – Deane Borshay (Korea)
- Somewhere Between – (China)
- Center for Adoption Support and Education www.adoptionsupport.org
- I am Adoptee, www.iamadoptee.org
- National Center for the Rights of the Child, www.ncrc.or.kr
- Global Overseas Adoptee Link, www.goal.or.kr
- The KAD Diaries, http://zekeanders.com/kaddiaries-onset
- Adapted Podcast, www.adaptedpodcast.com
- The TICS Program, www.adoptivefamilytravel.com
- CHLSS Birthland Tour, www.chlss.org/tourkorea/
- Adoptee Bridge, www.adopteebridge.org
- Dillion Heritage Tours, www.dillonadopt.com/heritage-tours
- Me and Korea, www.meandkorea.org