I ask myself every day who I actually am

(unpolished google translation)

Source: DER SPIEGEL 3/2023 

By Fiona Ehlers; January 13, 2023, 1 p.m.

Since the 1960s, 60,000 children from countries such as Chile
and South Korea have been adopted in Sweden – some have
been sold, others even stolen. Now some are asking for

Occasionally, when he is pensive or lonely, Patrik Lundberg sits
with Astrid Lindgren. In Tegnérlunden Park, near Stockholm
Central Station, there is a small memorial in her honor in the
shade of a tree. Lundberg’s Swedish adoptive parents once read
him from “Mio, mein Mio”, the story of the orphan boy who comes
to this park when he misses his father, the king in the land far
away – and all around the windows are lit up and children sit
together their mothers and fathers. Patrik Lundberg knows this

Lundberg, a reserved Swede with a fondness for
Vikings and football, is a reporter for Sweden’s highcirculation newspaper, Dagens Nyheter. About two years ago he uncovered a scandal. In the series of articles “Children at any price,” he and two colleagues
highlighted the fate of individuals who were illegally
adopted. They started a debate about Swedish parents
who, often because of misunderstood mercy, saved
children – children who didn’t need saving at all. Lundberg’s
research found that in at least 11 countries, infants were
taken away, pronounced dead, or bought from mostly poor

“We were able to prove,” says Lundberg that
afternoon in Lindgren Park, “like Sweden Courted
dictators it officially despised: How it supported China’s
long-standing one-child policy by taking in the banned
siblings. Or South Korea’s patriarchal system that made life hell for unmarried

A system came to light, a kind of child trafficking,
certified in a state that for a good year saw little reason
to question its adoption policy. – to be a pioneer in human rights, a moral model nation – falter as much as in the Child adoption from abroad. Because no other country in the world has adopted
so many foreign babies in relation to the number of
inhabitants. Since the 1960s, children from more than countries raised. There were always suspicions again, fake birth certificates, rumors of kidnapping;
Diplomats have been warned about so-called “pillow adoptions” – that is, women who steal other
people’s children by sneaking into maternity wards with pillows in front of their stomachs and leaving with babies in their arms.

To this day, foreign children are adopted in Sweden, much
less, but still under dubious circumstances, says Lundberg.
And also from countries like China, Vietnam and India,
which have signed the Hague Convention on Intercountry
Adoption, according to which children their countries should of be origin raised in
whenever possible. “As a journalist, I’m fighting,” says
Lundberg, “to prevent that.” Born as Kim Jong-dae in South Korea Lundberg’s research has prompted the Swedish government to investigate all adoptions since the 1950s.
A team from Uppsala University is currently investigating
whether there were any irregularities on the part of the
state, such as judges declaring adoptions legal and how
state-controlled placement agencies such as the Adoption
Center operated. They want to be finished by the end of
this year, “but we’ll probably need much longer,” said chief
investigator Anna Singer, whose official trips she last went
to Chile and Colombia led. There, too, illegal placements
and even suspected child abductions took place. And not only in Sweden, but also in France, Belgium, Switzerland and occasionally in Germany, adoptees have joined forces and demand
clarification. In the Netherlands a similar investigation into children
adopted from abroad led to an interim freeze on adoption.  Many of the Swedish activists want a ban on international adoptions and an institution that supports adoptees
and their adoptive parents – psychologically and financially. In Stockholm
the enlightener Patrik Lundberg is a middleman, he collects their stories and
establishes connections between adoptees from India, Chile, South Korea.

Lundberg himself was born as Kim Jong-dae im
in Busan, South Korea, and was adopted by Swedish parents when
he was six months old. For a long time he thought he was an isolated case.
He got his from a tattoo artist
And not only in Sweden, but also in France, Belgium, Switzerland and
occasionally in Germany, adoptees have joined forces and demand
clarification. In the Netherlands with . A similar investigation into children
adopted from abroad led to an interim freeze on adoption.
Get case number stitched on left forearm, /SJH. For Lundberg it is a kind of raison d’être, his guaranteed identity. When Lundberg was years old, he traveled to Seoul to learn Korean,
where he met other adoptees from Europe who had similar questions
about their origins. The Korean recruitment agency gave him his parents’
address, but when he drove there, he hugged the wrong people. They are
only relatives, the Koranic couple explained to the shocked Lundberg, the
real parents were too young at the time. Therefore, one would have had to
cheat with the information, otherwise the mediation would never have come
about. Lundberg’s previous existence turned out to be a lie: the date of birth,
the name of his parents – everything he had imagined year in, year out –
none of it was correct. Later he met his father, later still his mother. “Unlike many others,
my story had a happy ending,” says Lundberg in the park. Two years ago
he took his sister to Seoul – they reunited with hers Korean families and keep in touch to this day.

It was her destiny to have been the fourth daughter The sister was also put up for adoption as a baby in South
Korea and taken in by the Lundbergs in Sweden. It was her
destiny to have been the fourth daughter, a girl again. Her Korean
mother wanted to keep her, her father wanted a son, and he secretly
gave the baby away.  “My sister and I came with forged papers and identities at the
height of the illegal adoption wave,” says Lundberg. Both
biological mothers did not know, to date no declaration of consent
has appeared – and where exactly the mediation fee of the
Swedish parents of the equivalent of a few thousand euros has
leaked is also unclear.

»Sweden«, says Lundberg, »has too many of these countries trusted.” Historically, adoption is one of humanity’s oldest cultural
achievements, at best it can save lives. Literature and
mythology are full of characters who are more resilient than others
because they suffered more early on – Moses in the basket
became him Recipient of the Ten Commandments, from Harry Potter a powerful one Wizard. And Nelson Mandela, Jack Nicholson or Oprah
Winfrey sometimes grew up with parents who were not their
biological parents.

You could also think that Lundberg made it: An award-winning
career, the chance to change something in his country, families
on two continents. And yet, he says, “I know this fear of being
left behind.” Maybe that’s what drives him. Perhaps the fear of
being meaningless is the reason “why I do all this here.” And
why he is sometimes drawn to Park Tegnérlunden

Lundberg was adopted as a baby, while Jyothi Svahn was
five and a half when a Swedish couple took her from an
orphanage in Bangalore, India. And that had consequences for
her whole life.
For as long as Svahn can remember, memories of her
birth mother have plagued her—her voice, light and low; how
she squats in the market, sorting flowers by color and tying
them into chains; her crying in the night. For years she lived
with this secret, feeling guilty in front of her Swedish parents.
Guilty to her Indian mother too. She must have done something
wrong, otherwise she would have been given away?

Jyothi Svahn, now years old, is a short woman with jet
black hair, lots of necklaces, lots of make-up. They rotate
in Stockholm’s trendy district of Södermalm. People look for her, she has something rebellious and yet
seems insecure. Most of the time she feels like one “Extraterrestrials,” pushed back and forth, not belonging
to any group. “Not even migrants accept me, for them I’m
Swedish,” she says on the way to her favorite Indian restaurant.
Migrants usually have a choice as to whether they want to live
here. But she never asked anyone. “I think,” she often says, “I’ve never really been happy. I ask
myself every day who I actually am As Svahn came of age and this need to belong
grew, she confessed her pain to her baffled Swedish
parents. Svahn can turn to her mother remember – but the adoption papers say: mother
unknown. How did that fit together? Together they flew to the orphanage in Bangalore. The
headmistress, an elderly lady in a sari, was no help, Svahn
says. Because Svahn wasn’t an orphan, she was made one,
maybe for money Back in Bangalore, says Svahn, she wanted to see her
file, wanted names and addresses. “You’re the most
ungrateful adoptee I’ve ever met,” the headmistress
blurted out. There it was again, the sentence that transplanted children fear: You have been saved, be grateful and
be still. Despite this, Svahn finally learned two names, that of her
biological father and that of her mother, she couldn’t get any further. She flew back to Sweden and complained to the adoption
center, she was one of around    children who had come to the country through the placement agency.  “I want them to put pressure on the orphanage and tell me where
my mother is.” The conversation ended and Svahn stormed off,  she says. She flew back to Bangalore with a film crew that got her father’s address and fell into his arms. He swore in tears that he knew nothing about the adoption and
had been looking for his child for months. Her mother has been
missing for years, presumably dead.  Svahn was in a reunion frenzy. She knew now she had not been
cast out. But then the film team traveled  off, the happy ending was shot, a new story began, it
continues to this day: It is about an uneducated father who
has little in common with his daughter From adoptive parents who understand their search but are hurt by
the accusation of being naïve. Svahn now smiles briefly and then looks back at her plate.
She carries her story around with her like a backpack,
everyone can take a look inside. “Like many adoptees,” she
says, “I have a penchant for mean guys who find me exotic and
pass them around as a trophy.”  A study of mental health problems among Swedes
adopted from abroad found that these children are three imes
more likely to commit suicide than native Swedes and five
times more likely to be drug addicts. Svahn also describes herself as suicidal; she met other
adoptees in a Swedish clinic. ‘Seven of them have now taken their own lives taken,” she says.  “My story,” says Svahn, “is a crime committed by colorblind white men who indulge in the role of Mother Teresa for poor
children. The easy  decided this baby would do better westbound. Who tells me if my life would not have been happier in
the bosom of my blood relatives – as one among equals in India?” Svahn’s photo appeared in Lundberg’s adoption series. One
reaction was particularly important to her. Her Swedish
adoptive father texted: “I saw you in the newspaper, well
done!” Svahn says she’s been waiting for this encouragement for a
long time.  Fates like Svahn’s aren’t the only things hidden behind Sweden’s
high adoption rates. You are too  Reflection of world politics: In the 1950s war orphans were
sent around the world from Korea and since the 1970s from
Vietnam. Another wave came in the 1970s and 1980s with children
from Latin American dictatorships like Chile. From the In the 1990s, Russia, China and, again and again, South Korea
ranked high on the list of child-exporting countries. Partial were the
boundaries between humanitarian Engagement and child trafficking blurred. Tobias Hübinette, , university lecturer, has been researching this
for years and advises the investigative commission that has now
been set up. You meet him in front of the Royal Library in Stockholm. He wears horn-rimmed glasses
and has a tattered briefcase under his arm. He says he was friends with the late best-selling author Stieg
Larsson, and one of the role models for the character of the
hacker Lisbeth Salander in Larsson’s Millennium trilogy.
Hübinette is also an investigator, a adoption detective. For TV shows he is looking for biological
parents in Africa, Asia, Latin America. He has already good united families.

In his own family affairs, however, Hübinette did not get any
further, and to this day he only knows his fake identity. Like
Lundberg, he had come from South Korea as a baby, albeit a
good decade earlier. Here in Sweden, many of us stay with wealthy people
Raised in academic families,« says Hübinette as he leads us
past the Wilhelminian style houses on the posh
Stureplan in Stockholm city center. “And this is where the
very elderly upper-class ladies live, many of whom brought
us here as babies. I still know a few of them personally.” He
says that wives of Swedish embassy employees and
businessmen have set up networks in various countries to look
for suitable children to search. Why? ‘There are cases like that
of a Swede in Chile who received over a month from the
adoption center for her services until the late 1980s. But most
ladies negotiated Hübinette speaks of a »left-wing intellectual Experiment«, making Sweden – until the 1980s a country
almost exclusively inhabited by white people – »more colourful should be. With children like him, it should be shown that a
multicultural society can be formed, beyond ethnic borders and
prejudices. Swedish couples didn’t take the babies in because they were infertile
themselves: »Our parents wanted to save the Third World, toAdoption as a political act – backed by the Swedish state and
an adoption agency that was believed to be more concerned
with parenting than locating children. In the eyes of many
adoptees, this is a kind of neo-colonialism. “Because Sweden,”
says Tobias Hübinette, “wants to prove nothing other than
their own superiority.”
free children from misery and poverty!«  Hübinette says that the topic is not off the table just because
international adoption is being phased out, because thousands
are no longer coming, but just a few hundred a year. “It we meet again in reproductive medicine and in surrogacy.”
A new industry is emerging here.  Also, children born today through sperm donation,
egg donation, and surrogacy around the world can find it difficult
to know biological origins.  The right to know one’s parentage, which has existed for
years in Sweden for children from sperm or egg cell
donations, was often deferred in Swedish international
adoptions, the argument of humanitarian aid apparently
weighed more. Now, in the age of reproductive medicine, says
Hübinette, it must finally gain in importance.