Adoption System Overhaul
from the JoonAng Daily
Many Koreans adopted to foreign countries return to Korea every year and are pleasantly surprised to see the development of their mother country. But the pain they feel at losing family, language and culture is difficult to overcome, regardless of the environment in which they were raised.
One young girl adopted by a white family in the United States even said, “I was almost going mad because I was not what I was. Though I have an Asian face, I was not an Asian person. Even though I was raised to be white, I am not white either.” That’s why Korean adoptees and their biological parents, brothers and sisters have been urging the government to overhaul our adoption system.
Even after Korea became a proud member of the G-20, the shameful practice of sending babies overseas, which began over 50 years ago with the Korean War (1950-53), still continues. Every year more than 1,000 children leave their homeland for an unfamiliar country shortly after their birth. Over 95 percent of these children are the children of unwed single mothers. Simply put, our deep-rooted prejudice and social discrimination forces them from their mothers.
The shameless practices of the related agencies also contribute to the situation, because they pressure women with nowhere to go to send their babies overseas in return for assisting them with their delivery. It goes beyond common sense to think that the agencies are coercing these women to sign on a form relinquishing their babies even before the babies are born, and refusing to return the babies without some form of payment if the mother changes her mind.
To curb this malpractice, we need to thoroughly separate unwed mother care centers from adoption agencies. We should also provide women with as much information about raising their children as is given about adoption. And we should listen to what adoptive father Dr. Richard Boas has been saying for many years: “The best solution to this problem is to create an environment in which unwed single mothers are able to raise their children themselves.” After meeting a group of unwed Korean mothers, he devoted his life to advocating for their rights.
The Korean people must also make an effort to get rid of their prejudices of Korean families who adopt. Domestic adoption is undoubtedly better than overseas adoption. But the number of domestic adoptions has been at a standstill for years, in part due to the emphasis on blood ties in our society. Therefore, a new perspective on families should take root here. Building a country that considers both single-mother families and adoptive families as legitimate would be the best way to remove the stigma that brands us as a country that exports its children.