Confronting a Mother’s Pain – Redux
New (to me) horrifying discoveries about adoption in Korea.
New unwed mothers homes and name changes
ESWS opened new unwed mothers home and changed their names.
Location Before After Pyeongtaek Esther’s Home Esther’s Home Seoul Sharon’s Home Saengmyeong Nuri Gyeongbook Sharon’s Home Sharon’s Home Anyang Sharon’s Home Hanbit Nuri Daejeon None Hatssal Nuri Incheon None Seum Nuri Jeonju None Gippeum Nuri
Maybe that doesn’t seem so horrible to you, but in Korea, there is no time limit between birth and relinquishment like there is in most other countries. That means the mothers are never given the opportunity to bond with their babies and possibly experience what they might be missing by relinquishing. This means that mothers can relinquish while the children are in utero. So this particular one waits until after the child is born – I don’t know what is worse for the mom…
This practice used to occur in the United States and Australia, but was OUTLAWED because it essentially exploited vulnerable girls. (often at the behest of their parents) These homes for unwed mothers were called Baby Farms, because privileged people who wanted babies to adopt were essentially cultivating them…
More unwed mothers homes by – AN ADOPTION AGENCY. No conflict of interest there…
Even more horrifying to me is that the adoption agencies RECOGNIZE how traumatic this is, and hope to ameliorate it with ceremonies to facilitate closure. I call that twisted. I call that damage control in the aftermath of manipulation and exploitation. Read below. It’s truly horrible. There’s nothing I can add to that, as it speaks for itself.
from ESWS’s website:
There are many kinds of farewells in this world. All partings are heart
wrenching but is there one more painful than that of a baby separated from its mother as soon as it is born? Though the baby cannot express itself, the distress it causes is quite real.
At the same time, the distress caused by the separation is also enormous for the birth mother who has relinquished all rights to the baby. There is a report that identifies undeniable effects to the birth mother after her decision to give up her baby for adoption. In her report about Birth Mother Syndrome, Paik Yun Oak writes that giving up the right to a baby is like a living death. There is a finality to a typical death but in this living death, a mother who has given up her baby must cope with the range of emotions that comes from one extreme which is the hope of one day perhaps being able to meet her child and the other extreme, her current unbearable hopelessness. Mothers report repeatedly dreaming about losing their babies, fantasizing about marrying the fathers of the babies and living happily together, denying ever having given up their babies for adoption, losing themselves in alcohol or drug addiction or promiscuous sexual behavior. There are some who report having lost all memories of the birth or adoption, having bitterness towards the person who recommended adoption, feeling extreme isolation, living with guilt and shame and with the fear that she will be punished or in extreme cases attempting suicide caused by depression. In addition, these mothers are reported to have very low self esteem in raising their children after marriage and question their parental competence.
At Esther’s house, we aim to not only provide housing and prenatal care for safe births but programs for psychological support so that birth mothers can ease their loss and increase their confidence. According to Director Lee Kwang Mi who plans and oversees these programs, “many birth mothers experience much psychological pain and because there is so little to help them assimilate back into society and their previous lives, I have keenly felt that we need a rehabilitation program. As such, at Esther’s House, Choi Seung Hee, a social welfare Professor from Pyongtek University provides a loss program, farewell program and a confidence program for birth mothers.” Academics have reported that if a birth mother does not see her child or does not go through the process of saying good-bye, her ability to overcome her loss will be much more difficult. In this environment, accepting the reality of the adoption and being allowed to say good-bye allows birth mothers to accept their situation and lead a much more enriched life.
In our magazine, we describe a “farewell” ceremony for the birth mothers at Esther’s Home.
The ceremony began with a prayer by social worker Chang Bo kyung on behalf of the mothers who have decided to say farewell so that their children could have a better future. There were four babies in the middle of the hall. Even before the prayer began, there were sounds of sadness from the mothers. A birth mother stood by the foot of her baby with her head hanging down in tears and sadness. Once the prayer ended, Esther’s House employees took square pieces of paper to make a stamp of the babies’ feet and cut locks of hair. These will be passed along to the birth mothers so that they can cherish it.
Following was a time for reading letters by the mothers to their babies. The mothers each read a letter that they have written. Mothers read and stop overwhelmed by emotions and then read again. The mothers cried in sorrow because this might the last chance for the babies to hear their mothers’ voices.
Soon thereafter, the director of Esther’s Home, Lee Kwang Mi read a poem about birth parents and adoptive parents entitled “Legacy of an adopted child”. The director then asks the mothers to promise that they will pray for their child at least once a day and the mothers respond that they will. Then she prayed for the birth mothers who have physically and psychologically toiled and for the babies who will meet new adoptive parents. Then she approached each baby to bless them so that they will meet good families and grow up to be fine people.
The official part of the ceremony ended thus and the employees left the mothers to be with their babies. The mothers held on to their babies who have no idea what is happening and murmured words of love and sorrow. Mothers cried “baby, I’m so sorry. Your mother loves you so much. I will look for you later… I am so sorry.” Babies who had been born only three to four days ago stare up at the ceiling, only to start crying when the mothers hugged them hard in their sorrow.
The babies were then taken on a van to a temporary care center in Seoul and the mothers sat there in their sorrow unable to move.
The tummies of young mothers are now back in shape but the pain was added in their hearts. We should help them heal the pains in their hearts
Um, how about not cause the trauma to begin with and help these girls keep their babies?
Eastern Social Welfare Society is a licensed, nonprofit organization dedicated to finding nurturing homes for children. Founded in 1972 by Dr. Duk Whang Kim, ESWS has placed more than 35,000 children in loving homes in Korea, USA and Australia.
This is not the 1950’s. This is still happening TODAY.
Ugh. And try this one on for size…
“CHANGE THE IMAGE OF ADOPTEES” PROJECT
ESWS 06.04.07 51
Victims, orphans, sadness, unstableness, and anger are the images that Korean media have created for adoptees who live overseas. This kind of images made Korean people feel sympathy on overseas adoptees and treat them with pity, which a lot of adoptees feel uncomfortable about.
ESWS is trying to change images of adult adoptees to a more positive way by showing they are happy, generous and mature adults who contribute themselves to this society.
PROJECT #1> PUBLISH THE BOOK BASED ON THE SURVEY OF EASTERN ADULT ADOPTEES
ESWS had a survey for adult adoptees in the US and Australia last year. We traced where they live, what they do and have achieved and what they think about adoption. The survey turned out that many adult adoptees are well-educated, mature, strong, smart and well-rounded. Thus, ESWS decided to publish a book on the survey results to help change the prejudice of Korean people on adopted people. This book will mainly focus on the present and future of Eastern adoptees, rather than on the past that most media have focused on. However, we are in need of budget to publish this book.
To publish the Korean version, we need approximately
USD 3,000 for 500 copies. If you send sponsorship money, we will publish your name in the book and will send a copy to you. Photos and comments are welcomed.
I don’t think they want my photos or comments. I’m certainly not going to give them credit for the hard work and accomplishments I’ve achieved IN SPITE OF having to deal with racism, abuse, and loss of everything they take for granted.
The adoption agencies worry about the adoptees being seen as damaged products on the supply side or sending defective goods on the demand side, because to them it’s a business. Adoption agencies see Korean sympathy for adoptees as a problem. This is a good thing, only because they’re worried about their income source. We need and deserve sympathy. Pity, no. But yes, give us your sympathy. This tactic of theirs to interchange the two emotions of sympathy and pity is used to divide adoptees and weaken the opposition to their unethical practices. And I’m sorry – whatever benevolence they think they are trying to achieve are misguided fantasies. Unethical practices are unethical practices, no matter what their intent.
I also think it takes a really strong, thoughtful, well-rounded people to have the fortitude and commitment to see injustice and battle it for the good of all society.
What’s evident to me is the adoption agencies, as exhibited in the defensive acts quoted above, know they are causing harm, no matter how they try to justify it. The criticism stings precisely because it is accurate. And these efforts to ameliorate criticism just goes to show how flat their rationalizing is.
There is no war. There is no starvation. There is only exploiting the vulnerable. We adoptees have a right to be angry. Stripped of our names, birth dates, country, culture, and language – and then placed in a world where everyone must stop and decide how to process our difference. Being angry at the adoption agencies does not mean we are imbalanced. It just means we have hearts and brains.
These practices need to stop.
Have they no shame or human decency?