As Australians find it harder to adopt babies from overseas, one woman has discovered she was falsely adopted from South Korea, where her biological mother was told her baby was stillborn.
Emily Will* was pronounced dead at birth. Born in a small maternity home in the countryside of Geoje, Gyeongsandnam-do, the midwife allegedly told her biological parents the baby was “stillborn”.
“I don’t know how this could have happened to me,” she says. “Why would someone (the midwife) do that? Why would someone make a choice for someone else?”
“Her decision changed my life.”
For 23 years, Ms Will believed she was put up for adoption after her biological parents decided to part ways. Her adoption papers said her parents were in a de facto relationship, a status considered shameful in traditional Korean society, with two daughters.
It was not until she became a mother herself, Ms Will became curious about her biological roots.
“After my daughter was born, something changed. Something changed in me,” she says.
“I didn’t know my medical history. I didn’t know what I could have passed on to my kid. I didn’t know if there were any genetic heart diseases. Nothing.”
After three years of searching and waiting, Ms Will thought she was prepared to meet her biological parents.
“It’s well known that you may possibly or most probably have a false story given to you so you brace yourself,” says Ms Will, 24, a mother of two in Sydney. “But when you finally get the real story, the story you thought you had prepared yourself for… it definitely throws you.”
Her emotional reunion with her biological family was set up in a small room at her South Korean adoption agency, Eastern Social Welfare Society.
“When I saw them my mind went completely blank. I didn’t know what to think at that stage. It was a bit of a shock. I really didn’t think this day would come. It was very surreal.”
It was at this meeting Ms Will became aware of the truth of her past; she was a stolen baby and her parents had in fact been married at the time.
The experience of Ms Will is uncommon, but not unheard of. Intentional fabrication, falsification of documents and unintended adoption has been previously reported in South Korea.
3 months ago