Global Citizen Adoptee. Journey to find my identity in Jeonju homeland. Belgian-Korean Tintin
THE “KOREA” MIRROR EFFECT
I have rejected Korea all my life. Besides, strange thing, I didn’t see myself in the mirror like a Korean.
It was at 42 that I emerged from this “denial”. There, I discovered the culture, the cuisine, the history, the language of my native country. I was able to meet other Korean adoptees through an association and chat with people who understand the feelings we have about adoption.
First trip in 2018, I decided to go alone to explore this unknown country.
What to say? It was magical. For the first time in my life I felt myself in line with my image. The way I looked at people gave me my own image, what I call the mirror effect. The return was painful and a lack settled in me. Lack that I have filled with films, K-Drama, K-Pop, Korean lessons, documentary and video by Youtuber like Laurent Caccia and Jake, Korean Dream.
Abandoned on the street the day after I was born and found by a certain Mr.Han on April 6, 1975, I recently realized that my Korean name Park Chol Hee (박철희) as indicated in my file, born in Jeonju on April 5, 1975 is unconsciously converted to the Belgian one Kim Foucart, age 44 today. From the Korean name: Park Chul-Hee changed to Belgian name: Kim Foucart Subsequently, I stayed at the Bisabel orphanage in Jeonju (which no longer exists), then headed for Holt in Seoul. There, I was placed with a host family to leave for Belgium, 5 months later. I had a very happy childhood in Binche and still live there to this day, surrounded by my wonderful belgian adoptive parents.
Korean adoptee uses DNA test and historic court case to demand to find birth family
The first overseas adoptee from South Korea to file a paternity lawsuit in 2019.
Kara Bos’s lawsuit could help her find out why she was abandoned and who her mother was. It could also change how adoptees use the legal system.
The Seoul Family Court concluded that a man, Bos believed could be her father, was indeed her biological father.
Bos, who traveled from her home in the Netherlands just to be in the courtroom in southern Seoul, quietly wept after the verdict was read out.
"I want to hear his voice and his story. That's what this journey for the search was about ― getting him to talk to me," Bos told "And I want to ask him who my mother is."
Bos was found on Nov. 18, 1983 in a local market parking lot in Goesan, North Chungcheong Province. According to the adoption papers, her name was Kang Mee-sook and she was two years old when she was found. Ten months later, she was adopted by a family living in Michigan, U.S.
As she explained, her assimilation in the U.S. was successful. She grew up in a loving family, got married and moved to the Netherlands with her husband 10 years ago. They have two children. Bos said she had never felt the need to look for her birthmother until she had her first daughter.
"Two years of intensely taking care of my daughter, who was a very demanding baby in every sense of the word, brought me to the realization of what kind of bond is created during this time," she said.
In 2017, her family came to Korea and visited the agency which had arranged
her adoption in an attempt to find more information about her biological mother.
Separately, she took a DNA test and posted the result on MyHeritage, an online genealogy site, in 2016, with the hope that she could find a match. Nothing turned up and she forgot about it.
In 2019, after learning the story of two Korean adoptee sisters finding each other through the platform, she went back to the site to check on her account.
Kara Bos with her family during their visit to Korea in 2017 Courtesy of Kara Bos
For, Kara Bos, 38, a Korean adoptee who's been searching for her birthmother since 2016,
This time, she found a match: a 22-year-old South Korean male student.
As she communicated with him, it seemed to Bos to be most likely that he was her nephew, not her cousin, and that the young man's mother who was in her 50s could be her half-sister and the student's grandfather could be Bos' father. But then, her search had to stop because her assumed nephew stopped talking to her ― in fact it was his mother who didn't want her son to stay in contact with Bos.
On Nov. 18 last year, the same day she was abandoned 36 years earlier, Bos filed a paternity lawsuit against the assumed father, the first such case in Korea. "It wasn't intentional at all. If feels like fate," she recalled. Bos flew to Korea to visit her assumed half-sister to meet her father, but in vain.
Korea previously saw many overseas adoptions ― more than 167,000 babies were adopted by foreign families after the Korean War ended in 1953 ― and many still occur today due to a reluctance among Koreans to adopt.
In March this year, she flew back to Korea to have a DNA sample taken, part of the paternity lawsuit procedure, and saw the assumed father's address in the court documents, something she had wanted so badly to find but was unable to do until then.
"I went to visit him," she said. As the man was stepping out, she asked him, "My name is Kang Mee-sook. Do you recognize my face? He looked at me but didn't say anything, and that kind of ended everything."
She could communicate with her half-sisters only through a lawyer who said that their father would not show up for any of the legal proceedings.
The father also took the DNA test and the result came in April, saying the chances that Bos and the man were daughter and father were 99.9981 percent.
At the end of the emotionally intense legal battle, Bos is disappointed with a lack of support in Korea for adoptees.
"I didn't know how the law would be interpreted after my lawsuit. I started this journey wanting to only know one question, 'Who is my mother?' and I ended up having to spend countless amounts of money and time, and endure endless emotional trauma by even filing a lawsuit to have proof of a relationship to my father," she said.
She hopes things will change in Korea so that "it will become the country that's known to fight for all of adoptees that were sent away to give them their fundamental rights back. They can be the frontrunner in the world since they were the frontrunner in the export of babies that can instead turn that page to a new chapter and be the frontrunner of giving rights to them."
(article by Kim Se-jeong, Korea Times)