Woman Legally Adopts Best Friend So They Can Take Care of Each Other as Family

A South Korean woman made international news headlines for legally adopting her adult best friend after a medical emergency made her realize that they needed a stronger connection to take care of each other.

44-year-old Eun Seo-ran grew up in a stereotypical South Korean patriarchal family in which her father was the breadwinner and her mother was consigned to the role of homemaker, serving her husband’s family. She slaved for them her entire life, but never got so much as a bit of gratitude from her spouse, but she made sure that Seo-ran followed another path in life. She never even allowed her in the kitchen as a young girl and always told her to preserve her freedom. Eun Seo-ran vowed to never end up like her mother, and decided to not get married or have children. To this day, she believes that it would be irresponsible of her to get married, but she also understands that there are situations where family members are the only ones who can help…

Photo: Hannah Busing/Unsplash

In 2016, after moving to rural Jeolla in order to get away from the stress of city life and be closer to nature, Eun Seo-ran met Lee Eo-rie, a like-minded woman who had moved there for very similar reasons. They became great friends and within a year, they moved in together. They shared a love of plants, vegetarian cooking, and DIY projects, and they were both happily single.

The two women decided that living together alleviated the insecurity of living by themselves, while also ensuring that they both had someone to take of them in their old age or in case of medical emergencies. It took only a few months to harmonize their lifestyles, and even though they weren’t romantically involved, they started behaving like family. They shared the bills, and the house chores and even owned the house they lived in together. But they soon learned that in certain situations, they were still little more than strangers…

A few years back, when Eun Seo-ran ended up in the hospital because of chronic headaches, she realized that South Korean law only allows family members to make critical decisions for the patient, or even visit them in the hospital. It was a rude awakening, one that left both women wondering what would become of their plan to look after each other.


“The family defined by current law is essentially based on sexual union, and those derived from that sexual union, that is, children,” Eun Seo-ran told AFP. “But I think emotional connections hold the greatest importance. So when I’m with someone and feel utmost emotional stability and peace while thinking about them, I believe that person could indeed be my family.”

At first, the two friends contemplated the idea of faking a romantic relationship so they could get married, but South Korea does not recognize same-sex marriages, so they had no choice but to take advantage of the fact that adult adoptions are ridiculously easy to accomplish. All Eun Seo-ran had to do was prove that she was older than 38-year-old Lee Eo-rie, getting her mother’s approval and not being her biological child. Once the paperwork was submitted, the adoption process only took 24 hours.

“What we want are simple things, like taking care of each other, signing a medical release, taking time off work to take care of one of us when the other is sick, or organizing a funeral when one of us passes away. But that can’t be done in Korea unless we are a legal family,” Eun Seo-ran said.


The story of the South Korean woman who became her best friend’s mother spread like wildfire and inspired Eun Seo-ran to write a memoir titled ‘I Adopted a Friend’.

Although adult adoptions are rare, this is actually the second such case we’ve covered in less than a week, after the story of the Hermes heir trying to adopt their former gardener.

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