SEOUL – A court in Seoul ruled Friday that a woman adopted by an American couple almost four decades ago must be recognized as a daughter of an 85-year-old South Korean man, providing hope for the thousands of Korean-born adoptees who want to know the identities of their birth parents.
On Nov. 18, exactly 36 years after she was found abandoned in a parking lot in a city in central South Korea, Kara Bos, now an American citizen, filed her paternity lawsuit, the first in South Korea by an overseas adoptee. After winning the lawsuit, Bos now hopes to confront her father to ask him who her mother was.
Bos was flown to the United States 10 months after she was found, becoming one of thousands of South Korean babies and toddlers shipped annually out of their birth country for overseas adoption in the 1970s and ’80s.
In recent years, Bos has been making trips to South Korea in search of her birth mother. She wanted to meet her biological father not only to press him on her mother’s identity but to find out why she was abandoned.
But three women she believed to be her half sisters have blocked her from meeting the elderly man, claiming that she was not family. As a last resort, she filed the paternity lawsuit.
“Because of the lawsuit, I actually now have a right to register as his daughter,” Bos said outside the Seoul Family Court after its ruling. The ruling followed DNA test results that showed a 99.9981% probability that the man and Bos were father and daughter.
Bos has lived in Amsterdam since 2009 with her Dutch husband, a son and a daughter, running a drowning-prevention program for children.
If she is included in her father’s family registry, Bos by South Korean law will become entitled to split his inheritance with her other siblings. And her half sisters cannot stop her from meeting her father.
“My whole intention was just to be able to talk to him to find my mother,” Bos said.
Her case has been closely watched because it could set an important precedent worldwide for adoptees who are taken from their home countries, especially for the thousands of Korean adoptees abroad who have recently started returning to their birth country in search of their biological parents.
But Bos’ struggle is not over.
Even though she won the lawsuit, she cannot force her father to meet her — or force him to reveal the identity of her mother even if he agrees to meet her.