Dozens of Korean adoptees sent over overseas for adoption urged on Thursday the South Korean government to make an official inquiry into the program of international adoption from South Korea.
"The adoption issue and its history has never been comprehensively addressed on a national level by the government of (South) Korea," said Truth and Reconciliation for the Adoption Community of Korea (TRACK) in a statement. "The main purpose of the national inquiry is to make the first, decisive step in the process of documenting the full and complete history of international adoption from South Korea."
The first general meeting of TRACK was held on Thursday in downtown Seoul, with some 50 participants including overseas Korean adoptees and supporter.
The Seoul-based organization was launched in 2007, aimed at pushing the South Korean government to set up an independent truth and reconciliation commission to study the 50-year history of international adoption from South Korea.
With fiscal sponsorship from a South Korean NGO and advisors from local universities and the South Korean Truth and Reconciliation Commission, TRACK was initiated mainly by Korean adoptees residing in South Korea.
TRACK hopes that by revealing the problems in the Korean adoption program, the rights of Korean children and families will be better preserved in the future, according to the officials.
"Such an inquiry would rectify and reconcile the past in order to meet a bright collective future. It would be a symbol of human dignity and civil justice, and an act of human compassion for thousands and thousands of divided and shattered families on the Korean Peninsula," the statement said.
Earlier this year, it succeeded in bringing six cases of dubious international adoptions dating from the 1970s-1980s before the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission of Korea, the officials said. Of the six cases, four involved adopted Koreans who claimed they were sent overseas for adoption without their mothers' consent, which they discovered upon being reunited with their Korean families as adults. The final report of the civil rights office showed that Korea Social Services confirmed that two were sent by that agency without their mothers' consent.
However, in the same report, the mother and father of two siblings claimed that they did not abandon their children, but the Holt adoption agency reiterated its stance that the children had been abandoned.
According to the South Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare, 161,202 children were sent overseas for adoption from the end of the Korean War in 1953 to 2006. Last year, the number of South Korean children adopted domestically surpassed overseas adoptions for the first time since the end of the 1960s. South Korea sent 1,388 children, 52.3 percent of the total of 2,652, abroad in 2007.