My Adoption Records and Birth Family Search

When I finally decided that I wanted to open a search for my birth family, I wasn’t sure where to start. I knew I was adopted from Holt in Korea and Bethany Christian Services in the USA. I decided to start with BCS.

April 7, 2014
I went to the BCS website and filled out their contact form for what they call “Post Adoption Support.” I received an email that said I would get personal contact from Bethany within two business days.

April 14, 2014
I haven’t heard from anyone. I called 1-800-BETHANY and was told that the person who handles international adoptions only came in on Wednesdays and that I should expect a call from “Josh” on the 16th.

April 16, 2014
I did not get a call from Josh nor any other person from Bethany.

April 17, 2014
Sent an email to info@bethany.org explaining my anxiety and disappointment that I had not heard from anyone as promised.

Same Day
I receive a generic email from a lady named Sue outlining the basic personal information that I need to supply in order to officially request my adoption file. Here’s a snip-it of the email with key highlights:

All requests of this nature are handled by Joshua Kok here at Bethany Christian Services Global in Grand Rapids.  He is our Post Adoption Support Services Coordinator, and can assist you with post adoption questions related to your international adoption.”Please know that Josh works part time and services all Bethany offices that have an international program.  As a result, it may take him one to two weeks to retrieve your file and attend to your request because of the volume of requests he handles.”

You can read the full email if you’re interested.

Question: Why is there only one part-time employee that handles ALL of the international offices? And even if that’s how it has to be, then maybe Bethany shouldn’t promise 2 day response time when a 2 week response time is more likely. It took a lot of self-talk to get myself to finally start The Search. The last thing I needed was broken promises of prompt communication.

Same Day
Received an email from the man himself, Josh Kok! Once again, it’s pretty generic with all the information that I need to submit. It was certainly not the basic information that Sue told me I needed. Here’s what Josh wanted:

1.  Post Adoption Services Request Form
2.  Notice of Privacy Practices
3.  Acknowledgement of Receipt of Privacy Practices
4.  Authorization of Release of Record Information
5.  Copy of Passport or Other Photo Identification
6.  Holt Post Adoption Request Form
7.  Petition for Adoption Information Disclosure
8.  Post Adoption Fee Agreement
9.  Proof of Citizenship
10. “Dear Birthfamily” Letter
11. Two Photos of the Adoptee

Post adoption fees? Josh explains:

“You’ll see that there are primarily two fees that are charged, and the amount will vary depending on the service you are requesting. The fee for requesting one’s adoption file from Korea is a flat fee of $50.00. For those individuals wishing to initiate a search of one’s birth family, there is an initial flat fee of $125.00, and this includes your receiving a copy of your adoption file in Korea. Additional fees will be accrued if family contact and reunion services are utilized. You can pay either amount by check, made payable to Bethany Christian Services Global, and include it with any other documents you are mailing to me, or make a payment by credit card over the phone.”

Guys! It’s going to cost me $125.00 just to initiate the birth family search. If I actually get to meet anyone, it could cost who knows how much! Luckily for me, I was impatient by the time Josh emailed me, and I started communicating with someone from Holt Children’s Services.

Lee, Yoon-Joo was phenomenal! After I started talking to her, things moved much more quickly. She typically responded to my emails the next day or two which is impressive considering she was half a day ahead of me in Korea. Lee, Yoon-Joo answered all of my questions colloquially without the pre-set email responses. And guess what? She only wanted 3 pieces of information! THREE! And the best part, all the post-adoption services are free. Free records, free birth parent search, and as far as I know… free reunion services. All the fees that Bethany charges are bullshit. If you go through HCS, you will get a fluent English speaking case worker who will help you in a timely and humanly manner.

[How to Request Adoption Records – Holt Children’s Services]

In order to “upgrade” to a birth family search, Lee, Yoon-Joo asked me to write a letter to the birth family. It can be written in English and an interpreter will translate it to Korean for you. She also suggested to send pictures. That’s it. It was that easy. I hope you have as much luck as I did.

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