How to start a birth mother search
When I was 5 months old, I was brought from Korea to Minnesota, where I grew up with a loving mom, dad, and sister. Searching for my birth mother never was a necessity growing up. Even going to Korea wasn’t even something I considered. It all seemed too far -fetched. I do remember times growing up being so fascinated in figuring out what characteristics my friends got from their parents.
It wasn’t until I was a teenager, when I was allowed to fill out my doctor forms myself, when I realized something important I felt was missing from being adopted. There are questions asking what illnesses or ailments your family has. I had to put N/A for all. Even the reason I was adopted was because my mother did not want to past down her hereditary physical disorder. That is when hereditary diseases started to flood my thoughts, even the simplest thing as being able to know if I am prone for high blood pressure.
It was my senior year that I Googled Birth mother Search. I then stumbled upon my adoption agency’s webpage, Children’s Home Society, and its Post Adoption page. I saw all the services they offer for a small fee for adoptees over 19 years of age:
BIRTHLAND JOURNEY TO SOUTH KOREA
TRAVEL SUPPORT & IN-COUNTRY MEETINGS
BIRTH FAMILY SEARCH SERVICES
CORRESPONDENCE WITH LOCATED BIRTH/FOSTER FAMILY
FILE REVIEW & FILE COPIES
When you see birth family searches, you picture a private investigator and think that would cost hundreds of dollars. Luckily, adoption agencies are trying to make-up for the past adoption system, where some paperwork was forged, never completed, or inaccurate.
I wanted to write this blog in hopes of helping other adoptees easily go through the birth mother search.
Note: This is specifically for Minnesota’s Children’s Home Society and ESWS, other Korean adoption agency sites, are very similar. Other country post-adoption services can be different.
Figure out what adoption agency your family went to. The most common adoption agencies for South Korea are Eastern Social Welfare Society and HOLT International . If you find a different name, like for me, Children’s Home Society, you will most likely find out they are the US Place Agency of the adoption while ESWS or HOLT are the Korean Place Agency of the adoption process.
You can go to their websites (links above) and/or search your adoption agency with “Post Adoption.”
You will fill out a document requesting the Service “Birth Family Search”
During this process you can choose to see the adoption paperwork that the Korean Agency has, because sometimes, in the past, they withheld information.
You may also want to meet your foster mother. Some foster mothers remember the adoptee very well and they seem to be very excited to be remembered!
You will sign a Privacy Disclosure form
Send in the small registration fee ($35 when I did it)
Very soon, a coordinator from the US adoption agency will email you to set up a phone call.
The agency will collect some information as to why you are adopting and to remind you that it is not a guarantee, so you can be prepared for disappointment
They will send you documents via email that is specific for a birth family search
Specific adoption facts: Korean Name, date of adoption, birth place etc.
Why you are searching
What you would like to know
Write a letter and send photos to be put on file if your birth mother reaches out or if they find her
I sent photos from all ages and just told her about my family and what my personality was like.
In the form, I wrote that I did not care if my birth mother did not want to meet, but if they could request medical records or ask if there are any hereditary diseases I should be aware of.
Then it is a waiting process. They say to wait for 8+ months. If they do not respond within 8 months check-in with them.
Please do be aware that I am a rare case that I found my birth mother within 8 months. I have friends that never found their parents and a friend who waited for 6 years until her mother would be willing to meet her.
Even if you do not find your birth mother right away, I HIGHLY suggest visiting Korea and going through the adoption agency. They set you up on a really nice tour and help you with housing when you are there. It is cool to finally feel like the majority and to see just another side of who you are.
I hope this helps anyone interested in doing a birth mother search. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have ANY questions!