Sweden halts South Korea adoptions

Sweden halts South Korea adoptions

SEOUL: South Korean government has passed a new International Adoptions law Photo credit: CC/Tristan Surtel

SWEDEN’S principal adoption agency has halted South Korea adoptions amid claims of forged papers.

South Korea’s International Adoptions law passed earlier this year means that in future all adoptions will be handled by the state.

Meanwhile, Kerstin Gedung, managing director of Adoptionscentrum, confirmed that the agency would cease South Korea adoptions now that its partner in Seoul, Korea Welfare Services (KWS), would be winding down its mediation operations in 2024.

“It will take up to two years for South Korea to implement the new law,” Gedung told Associated Press. “At present, we do not have sufficient information to assess whether we should apply to resume cooperation with South Korea in the future.”

Adoptions already underway would go ahead, she added.

Privately-run Adoptionscentrum took over adoption formalities from Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare in 1980, processing 4,916 adoptions from South Korea between 1970 and 2022, with five more this year.

When the Korean War ended in 1953, Swedish aid workers began arranging adoptions for children who were orphaned during in the conflict, although most left the country during the military dictatorships of the 1970s and 1980s.

A succession of South Korean governments viewed the adoptions as a way of strengthening links with the West, while freeing the beleaguered economy from the burden of providing for the orphans’ upkeep.

During this time 200,000 children – more than half of them placed in the US –were adopted as four government-approved adoptions agencies sought out foreign couples hoping to adopt.

But hundreds of these children in Europe, the US and Australia who are now adults are calling on South Korea’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate the circumstances of their adoptions.

Many suspect that the adoptions were pushed through using bogus papers incorrectly registering them as abandoned, offering no details that could in future have allowed them to locate their birth families.

Adoptionscentrum has asked the Swedish government to mediate in the South Korea adoptions, with a decision expected in February.

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Written by

Linda Hall

Originally from the UK, Linda is based in Valenca and is a reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering local news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at editorial@euroweeklynews.com.