South Korea: adopted American recognized in court as the daughter of her biological father

SEOUL | A Seoul court formally recognized an adopted American girl as the daughter of her biological father on Friday, a decision she called “capital” for all adopted children in South Korea.

Kara Bos, 38, could not contain her tears when the Seoul Family Affairs Court ruled that she be included in her biological father’s family register, the official list of her family members. family.

The latter, whom she identified through a DNA test, always refused to contact her.

Ms. Bos, who had been abandoned at two years before being adopted by an American family, embarked on a legal battle to find the identity of her biological mother. And her lawyers say she will now have access to all of the official records relating to her father.

“This is a memorable day for all of us who have been adopted, and who are ultimately recognized as having rights,” she told reporters, visibly moved.

“The hardships we face because we don’t have the right to contact our family … I hope that will change in Korea.”

In search of mother

South Korea was once one of the first breeding grounds for intercountry adoption. At least 167,000 South Korean children have been adopted by foreign parents since the 1950s.

But finding information for adopted children is notoriously difficult. South Korean law clearly leans toward respecting the privacy of biological parents, not the rights of adopted children.

Neither Ms. Bos’ biological father nor her family members were present at the hearing.

The question of her origins had never really preoccupied Ms. Bos, whose Korean name is Kang Mee Sook, before her daughter was two years old, and she became aware of “what it meant to abandon a child.” of this age. “

All of his efforts to locate his biological parents through adoption records had been in vain. So she had entered in 2016 an analysis of her DNA on a genealogy website, and found a match with that of a young Korean studying abroad.

They had contacted each other and determined that their kinship could be his grandfather, who would be her father, and therefore the only person who could have said who his mother was.

But his family refused to hear anything and refused to allow him to meet his father. Her biological stepsister even called the police when Mrs. Bos came to implore her on her knees outside her house.

“Courage”

In November, she brought an action for paternity, which according to her lawyers was the first of an adopted foreigner born in South Korea.

A court-ordered DNA test concluded with a 99.987% probability that the man she suspected was her biological father.

The inclusion in the family register will give him the right to inherit, but also to apply for naturalization. But she says that all she wants is to know her mother’s identity and her origins.

After the Korean War (1950-1953), adoption was a way of getting rid of children born of the relationship between the American military and South Koreans, when the country swore by ethnic homogeneity.

South Korean society remains deeply conservative and patriarchal, and many young unmarried mothers are forced to abandon their babies at birth.

Kara Bos thinks that she too was born of an extra-marital union: “A last attempt with someone else to have a boy, and since I was a girl, he abandoned me”.

She hopes to meet her father next week.

“I hope, in view of all the media attention, that if my mother watches, she will make herself known and be an example of courage, as it took me to lead this fight,” he said. she tells reporters.

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