' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Korean adoptees are returning to their native land

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Korean adoptees are returning to their native land

After the separation: the persistence of roots
Stories about adoptees from other countries often talk of corruption in the system, of mothers being scammed into giving up their babies, of the angst of individuals raised in a culture not their own. But they seldom actually mention the grief of the birth mothers--or how the adopted individual might process it.

But a single sentence in a New York Times Magazine piece did it for me: "My life in the United States, no matter how good it was...never made up for my omma's grief."
Omma is the Korean word for mama, and the sentence was spoken by a Korean adoptee, Amy Mihyang Ginther, who moved back to South Korea in 2009, reunited with her first mother and now sees her regularly, after living with her for a month in 2006.

Lorraine at public hearing on OBC accesss
As Ginther understands her story, her parents were married but struggling financially. Her father insisted that she, the youngest of three daughters, be given up for adoption. He said he would leave the family if she were not. So the mother acquiesced. "Her choice...was no choice at all," Ginther told the Times.

So rarely do we see this concept accepted by adoptees in this country, at this blog, for instance, that her sentiment leapt off the page for me. If only, I thought, if only women today who believe adoption option is a good one would understand that nothing can make up for the singular fact of being "given up," or what "giving up" a child will do to them. Those agency workers who are this very minute convincing single teens and poor mothers that they cannot handle one more child--he deserves more--ought to consider exactly what they are doing: irrevocably damaging the lives of two people--mother and child--in a way that will never heal. (Yes, we do understand that some adoptions and terminations of legal parenthood are necessary. We posit the vast majority of adoptions are not necessary.)

The piece, Why a Generation of Adoptees Is Returning to South Korea, is scheduled for the Times Sunday Magazine this weekend, and so is only available on the Internet as of today, but it's quickly circulating, it appears, among the 200,000 Korean adoptees and their parents and friends. At this writing, there were already 600 comments, many critical of the approximately 300 to 500 adoptees who have moved to South Korea, primarily from the United States. Since we urge you to read the piece in its entirety, we are not going over chapter and verse. Below are some highlights from our perspective:
  • Adoptees acting in concert with both Korean birth mothers and single mothers have been able to get South Korea's adoption law amended in an effort to discourage overseas adoption. The legislation there now makes that in some states here look positively puny. Today in South Korea women considering adoption must receive counseling and wait seven days before signing consent. All adoptions must be registered through the courts, which gives individuals an accurate avenue for tracing birth parents. 
  • Adoption to other countries from South Korea has been seriously slowed: While it hovered around a 1,000 a year between 2007-12, it dropped to 263 in 2013. 
  • Conditions for single mothers in South Korea lag far behind ours, are not dissimilar to what it was like here up until the 80s. Single mothers are ostracized; prospective employers ask female candidates if they are married; parents reject daughters who raise their children alone; the children of single mothers are often bullied and called names. 
  • When talking about their adoption, the attitudes and feelings of those quoted might have come from any group of adoptees, including those not adopted internationally or transracially: feelings of betrayal if they search for their original parents; difficulties in growing up with a different color of skin from their white parents; bristling over hearing that their adoption was "god's plan." Would adoptive parents of children from anywhere finally understand that most of the issues the Korean adoptees raise are common to adoptees everywhere?

Maggie Jones, the author, is an adoptive mother who appears to have adopted in her late 30s. One child was born in the U.S. of African and Japanese heritage; the other was adopted in Guatemala when she and her husband were in their early 40s. Yes, Guatemala. (See links below.)

When they were adopting in a country where we now know at least half of the adoptions during the height of the "baby rush" were corrupt, she and her husband were creeped out by the lawyers and others they witnessed so easily handing over brown-skinned babies. Shortly after they got their child, she writes, "a well-dressed Guatemalan man in his 50s or 60s passed my new daughter and me and muttered, 'There goes another baby taken from our country.'" The comment apparently startled her and made her look into what was going on.

Through voices of adoptees back in South Korea, the piece discusses what's its like now to try to be part of the Korean culture. Not all have bad relations with their adoptive parents; others have not spoken to their adoptive parents in years. Just like adoptees here who say they are not fully part of either family--adopted or natural--so say the transplanted Korean Americans about moving to Korea. South Korea lets them apply for dual citizenship.

There's much more in this meaty piece, including the author's personal connection to adoption. Some of the comments criticize her for writing about that, but we ask the same of people who comment here. No one is completely neutral when they sit down to write, and so including the author's point of view is entirely valid. I've written about Detroit for the Times magazine myself, and my editor definitely wanted that I was from there up front. We urge you to read the piece and leave a comment, and please copy it and leave it here too.

I'll end with a quote from the piece that blew me away. It was left in the suicide note of an adoptee: "I'm going to meet my birth mother."--lorraine

About the picture of the tree root above. I took this shot a few days after the hurricane Sandy that buffeted the East Coast in 2012. The tree had fallen over, but the pith of the trunk stayed connected to the stump.
Why a Generation of Adoptees Is Returning to South Korea,    

Adoptionland: Brutal essays by adult adoptees expose the truth of intercountry adoption
The Vance Twins: Raising awareness about adoption realities
Korean Adoptees Fighting to Reform Adoption Laws in their Homeland
What We Think About Adoption
Kidnapped in Guatemala, 'adopted' in America
Guatemalan Army Stole Kids for Adoption
At the hospital: The innate need to know who you are, the desire to return 'home'
Korean Adoptees Fighting to Reform Adoption Laws in their Homeland
South Korea: Culture is not an excuse to abuse a MOTHER'S rights
Encouraging intercountry adoptions with hard cash

We have written many more pieces on international adoption. To search for them, put in a country or relevant words in the search function in the upper left corner.
To order Adoptionland: From Orphans to Activists From Lorraine's review: "The Vance Twins, Janine and Jenette, adopted together from South Korea and raised near Seattle, compiled the essays after their awareness was awakened at the 2004 Korean Adoptee Conference in Seoul they attended together. What is revealed in the writings is how adoptees were treated like chattel and scattered from their native culture hither and yon. In essay after essay, the rush of anger sizzles on the page."

Fugitive Visions: An Adoptee's Return to Korea by Jane Jeong Trenka, one of the strong voices writing about the disloction of Korean adoptees. Trenka is one of the political activists quoted in the story. She's an intelligent, beautiful writer. 

"Jane Jeong Trenka's willingness to stay with the pain of her alternate lives as a transnationally adopted infant, an exiled Korean child in America, a returnee to Korea where she was neither truly Korean nor truly "other" --is one of the bravest journeys of discovery and naming I've ever seen. It is amazing, and should be required reading for anyone considering transnational adoption: the price exacted from the adoptee is all visible here, and it is heartrending. This is a fine piece of writing and an important book. Highly recommended."--from Amazon

Ten Thousand Sorrows by Elizabeth Kim
"I started this book at 10:30pm thinking I would read a chapter before going to bed, and ended up finishing it at 3:30am. A testiment to the cruelty and inhumanity in the world, but also to the human will to survive, overcome and carve out love in one's life."--from Amazon. I've dipped into it and yes, it is an amazing story, beautifully told in evocative language. 

Thank you for ordering through FMF. Click on the book jackets or titles.


  1. I can not wait to read the entire article. I know of one Korean adoptee, she is in her 30's now, and has no relationship with her adoptive family. Her a-mother had no idea how to handle a child from a completely different culture. She tried to mold the girl into her dream
    Of a daughter, just like my AP's did with me. She not only completely ignored the child's Korean heritage.... she actively bashed Korea as a country. She made the girl think she should have been so happy to have been rescued from such a backward country. She was completely mis-informed and ignorant. The Korean girl has not spoken to her a-mother in over a decade. I do not know if she has the means to go back to Korea.

    I am very interested in Korean language and culture. I am also an adoptee. I tried to gently educate my friend that what she was doing was wrong... on so many levels. Our relationship disintegrated as well. She did not want to hear about any perspective but her own. Thinking about it all now, her selfishness astounds me.

  2. I wanted to add to my comment that my friend had adopted from Korea after years of unsuccessfully trying to conceive. Lo and behold, when the Korean child was 12 years old, my friend gave birth to a son. The euphoria surrounding the son's birth was unbelievable. Any adopted child would have felt extremely out of place in the situation. This poor girl from (miserable, backward, poverty stricken) Korea didn't stand a chance. The problem already existed, but the birth of the bio child made it much worse. Not to mention the ignorance of the a-mother.

    I knew this family for many years. I told the young girl that if she ever needed to talk about being adopted, I was more than willing to hear anything she had to say. She never took me up on it. I wonder how she is doing, and I hope she finds some peace.

  3. For those interested in numbers, I just added a chart that shows which countries the adoptees from South Korea went. The big winner: USA.

    Some of you know I had an ankle replacement recently, and my wonderful doctor was a Korean man in his 40s. I have had to restrain myself from asking if he was adopted.

    1. I'm glad you bit your tongue. I'm assuming this man had no accent in English, because if he did, it would imply that he came here late enough in life that he was likely not adopted.

      I have a couple of close Korean-American friends who also speak accent-free English. They are of the generation of your doctor, and neither of them are adopted. To my knowledge, none of them have ever even been asked that question, but they *are* often asked "Where were you born?" or "Where are you from?", both of which they find very hurtful, offensive, and racist.

      When you speak English with an American accent and are *still* asked these questions, it implies that the asker thinks that you are somehow not a "real" American. You must be from somewhere else because of how you look.

      Asking "Are you adopted?" implies the same thing.

      I understand you see the world through an adoption lens, but the majority of Korean-Americans and Chinese-Americans you meet who speak American English are children of immigrants--or come from families who have been in this country for even more generations than that. Adoptees are only a very small percentage of the Korean-American and Chinese-American communities.

    2. That's funny, Lorraine. I was adopted from Korea, and when in grad school, I made friends with several guys with what I now realize was Yellow Fever. With this fever, they knew many other Korean women, some living in NJ. Although I didn't know much, I had read articles in my childhood about Korean adoptees in NJ, culture camps, etc. Thus, I thought these friends/girlfriends of my friends were also adopted, and was surprised to learn that they weren't.

      I now know better about many things.

  4. You mentioned Guatemalan adoptions. This brought to mind a recent tragic situation that happened to someone I know. Her youngest sister ,who adopted a Guatemalan baby boy as a single parent, died unexpectedly and the only person able to take care of the child who is about 10 years old now is this friend of mine(we go way back to 1st grade) who will now be dealing with raising a teenage boy when she is 70 years old In addition she (as do my other childhood friends) looks down on me for giving up a baby, so I have limited contact with them. Also, her view on adoption is very old-fashioned and typical-the child being a gift given to an infertile couple or woman or saving someone from a poverty-stricken childhood. If I didn't think she would bite my head off, I would suggest that she read"Primal Wound" and a few other books. That poor child has lost 2 mothers now and has to move to a different state and lose all his friends,school, activities,etc.Also,she's a widow and a very strict person but maybe she's mellowed in her old age like most of us do.I hope so. I wish her the best of luck She's a very strong,good person so she will probably do a good job.

    1. Since you have limited contact with this friend because you are the bad woman who gave up a child but on the other hand, this woman thinks adoption is great...why not send her Primal Wound and a few other books--anonymously? It's not like you are going to be great friends ever, and she may not suspect you anyway. It's worth something, and may do the poor kid a world of good.

      I had a younger friend who was adopted at four from Poland. Her adoptive mother died when the girl was seven, and she was living then with a ... man who provided food and shelter but not much else. She lived a few doors down from me when I found Jane, and once she found out about me, she started hanging out at our house a lot. Eventually, I was able to help her find her family in Poland--full siblings, a mother (father was deceased, my young friend was the last child in a large, poor farm family) and this rich American woman swooped in and offered to take the girl. She got married young and early when she got pregnant, partly to be able to leave her father.

    2. Because this book deals with adoption through the years, I would suggest you send: Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self. I thought I knew a lot but I found this book to be interesting as well as helpful in dealing with my daughter post reunion. And I lent it to the girl mentioned above, you quickly read it and lent it to her best friend, also adopted. They both loved it.

  5. For a sad side effect of Korea shutting down out of country adoption:


    1. Yes, when a cultural situation changes, there are difficulties that take time to adjust to. But South Korea's export of babies and children--which was done willy nilly, faked identities, mothers and fathers not told their children were being adopted--had to end.

      Since you didn't have any comment except to tell us the "sad side effect" I have to assume you are an adoption social worker, agency owner who helped facilitate foreign adoptions, or an adoptive parent. We published this link--it's hardly a comment--but not your other link and if you wish to "comment" again, we need more information about your point of view, Anonymous.

    2. The BBC article is definitely one-sided -- nothing from adoptees like Jane Trenka who worked to get the law passed. The children in orphanages are not there because their mothers didn't want them but because Korean mores, like those in the US in the post-war period, humiliated mothers into giving up their babies. None of the Korean adoptees who have found their mothers have found an uncaring woman. The mothers were overjoyed to have their children return.

      The answer to the high number of children in orphanages -- if that is the case -- is to change the culture not ship the children thousands of miles away.

      Note that a source for the information appears to be the Holt's daughter who has an interest in continuing adoptions.

      The UK like Australia, Scandinavian countries, and other western European countries has depended on foreign children to meet their desire for adoptable children because the number of babies available domestically each year is low, less than 150 in the UK. Consequently the Australian government and likely others are pushing for more intercountry adoption. The media which often doesn't have a clue about what really goes on in adoption joins the chorus parroting those who tug at our heart strings to fill their pockets.

      If Henry Holt and others had minded their own business, Korea would have come to terms with the plight of its children. As it became wealthy, it would have provided for them.

    3. Hello, Ladies!

      Jane & Lorraine, remember I posted my opinion about the Vance sisters ( the Korean twins) who were somewhat agian adoption? I too read both article ( the NYC and the BBC link) and this was the very same thing I was talking about. Many of these children don't have a chance when they are raised in orphanages and their country's government DOESN'T want to help them because they are the children of the lower classes. The adoptees in the NYC article, to me, didn't think of what will happen to the children if adoptions are stopped? "I" got the feeling they don't care what would happen to the children because they were more concerned with their agenda. And like many of the commenters asked: "who will take of the children if adoption is stopped". It's apparent many Korean birthmothers cannot bring their child home and raise them, so what is to become of the children? Is it best for them to languish in an orphanage with no education and love or is it better for them to be raised in an orphanage in order to keep their language and culture intact ( many Koreans don't believe in adopting children, so Koreans aren't adopting these children)?

      I don't think that's a hard question to answer, do you?

    4. It's not a hard question to answer, it's a stupid rhetorical question not worth anyone's time to answer. Adoption is not an answer to orphanages and never has been.

    5. Jane:

      If it's stupid then what is suppose to happen to these children? If their parents/families can't or don't want to raise them, and their country's government sees them as unwanted burdens, then what is suppose to happen to these kids? Are they suppose to raise themselves and suffer the hardships of being illiterate and unable to navigate the world as adults all in the name of growing-up in one's culture and speaking the language? What would you suggest?

  6. So Mya, you would continue the wholesale shipping of children overseas? Since we know there is a burgeoning bull market in baby futures here in America, of course there would be babies to fill the demand because the price would be right and corruption would be rife.

    From a PBS Story:
    These controversies increasingly led childless couples to look abroad. By this time, legal and administrative arrangements of international adoptions from South Korea had become extremely efficient, reliable, and reportedly free from corruption. These factors, combined with the changes in the domestic adoption market, soon made children from South Korea the most popular alternative to healthy, White American infants.

    The year 1988 was a turning point in South Korea's adoption history. The Seoul International Olympics attracted the attention of journalists worldwide about many aspects of Korean culture, and much of this attention focused on Korea's primary export: its babies. Journalists like Bryant Gumbel of NBC commented that Korea's primary export commodity was its babies, and articles like "Babies for Export" (The New York Times) and "Babies for Sale: South Koreans Make Them, Americans Buy Them" (The Progressive), embarrassed the South Korean government. North Korea also criticized South Korea's adoption program, pointing out that selling its children to Western countries was the ultimate form of capitalism. As a result, the South Korean government delayed the scheduled departure of adopted children before and during the Olympics. And the number of Korean children adopted by American families began to decrease, from over 6,200 in 1986 to just over 1,700 in 1993.

    for the whole story:http://www.pbs.org/pov/archive/firstpersonplural/historical/skadoptions2.html

  7. @Lorraine Thank you for suggesting I send my friend some adoption books. She may not suspect me and even if she does-so what Even though we have limited contact now -a few times a year at most- we were closest of friends all through grade school and high school That was amazing of you-finding someone's family in Poland She is very religious and even though religious people are supposed to forgive I think I will always be a sinner in her eyes. Also,I don't think she considers me a mother

    1. If she is a good woman, she may be surprised, but just maybe she will look at the books and learn.

  8. @Lorraine I don't want to feed into stereotypes here so I felt I should clarify that my friend's sister who adopted was not a rich woman trying to steal a poor woman's baby. She was struggling to support herself and the child she adopted, working in the medical field Due to a congenital condition I don't think she could bear children and really thought she was giving some poor kid from a war-torn country a better life Also, she was one of the nicest,sweetest people. She wanted to be a mother and from what I hear the kid was doing well with her

    1. Oh, you hadn't said she was a trying to steal anyone's baby. But the concept of giving some kid from a war-torn country is part of the there-are-so-many-babies-to-adopt myth that leads to massive corruption and child trafficking. Everyone who adopts thinks they are doing "god's work," whether or not they frame it in those terms. I know that sounds harsh, but the mistaken attitudes about adoption have crept into society carte blanche, leading to ever more adoptions....

  9. Jane wrote:"If Henry Holt and others had minded their own business, Korea would have come to terms with the plight of its children."

    If they had minded their own business, they wouldn't have made any money.

    Mya wrote:"( many Koreans don't believe in adopting children, so Koreans aren't adopting these children)? "

    Well, that's quite a mouthful. I mean, really, think about that. South Korea sends a large number of its children out of the country to be part of an institution that they themselves don't even believe in. Wow! Just wow!

    If native citizens don't even believe in adoption, it seems logical that a change in mindset supporting single mothers keeping their babies is entirely possible for the country.

  10. Robin:

    I don't think so. In Korea, as the article states, everything is based on bloodlines and marital status. So if a person doesn't know who their parents ( or were born out of wedlock), it's impossible to get a job, education, or to have a good life. To many Koreans, raising a child from the lower classes, and of unknown stock, is considered unimaginative (as is being born out of wedlock). So to me, there is no way a change a country's mindset that would support adoption or single women to keep their babies, because they don't want to.


    As I have stated before, what will happen to the children? I am more concerned about the children and the consequences of growing up as an illiterate orphan whose chance for survival is either being a worker in the sex trade ( be it male or female) or a poorly treated indentured servant.

    1. Mya: see the comment I took from the NYTimes below.

    2. Mya, in regard to your persistent question of, "But what will happen to the children?" How about doing the best for the children placed there? If Mom/Dad can't afford to care for them. Fix that situation if it can be fixed. Help the families with the monetary assistance that would be used for foster care or for care in the orphanage. (Money *is* being spent on the child's care one way or another and it is known they do best when home with mom/dad. Especially considering they don't grow up having to pretend to be someone else or forever wondering who they 'are'. They don't grow up feeling abandoned in the ''you ran off and left me'' sense. They won't have to feel uncomfortably 'out of place' being in a foreign family/ country/ culture/ ethnicity.
      If that option is in --no way-- possible due to parents/family cannot be found (but NOT due to lack of effort in searching.) or the parent/s or extended family simply cannot due to willful/malicious (no hope of change) abuse and neglect, or they refuse to raise their child, then orphanages are there for them until such time as a placement can be made. Work should be done on making the orphanage as homelike and as pleasant as possible. Not the dreary, drab, unpleasant environments so often found when only pennies of funding dollars are spent. It can be done. I believe there is someone in Haiti doing just this very thing.

      In regard to your concern about them ''growing up as an illiterate -orphan-''.
      If a child has a living parent or parents they are not orphans. Stop lumping all children in these places as such. It is not speaking truth. (no, I'm not calling you or anyone else a liar. I'm saying it simply isn't truth that all children in these places are orphans.) Yes, a child that has only one living parent is unfortunate (I know. I became one when my mother died a few days before I turned 7.) but they still have a true living parent, they are *not* an orphan. Plus we all know that many times parents place their child to get necessary care for them which they are unable to provide. That child is certainly *not* an orphan.
      Find a way to set up a basic education program appropriate for age. There is absolutely no good reason why children in orphanages should "grow up illiterate". Basic education, learning to read, write and do basic math is not rocket science (i.e. too difficult for others to teach). Aren't the children worth it?!

      If the child is truly and fully "available for placement" with a non-relative family, guardianship needs to be the first step, with full adoption at a time when the child can express their will and (fully informed) consent. The child is what adoption is supposed to be for and 'all about'. If that is true, or to be considered truth, the child needs to be given their full right and opportunity to express what *they* desire. Adoption (being adopted) effects them, no-one else, in the case of possibly/probably losing name, heritage, history etc. Parents are the people that love you... doesn't matter the title or rank. After all, how many foster parents are still called mom/dad? Is there a document stating they are the legal parents? No. Love and nurture is what made those family ties.

      I know there is no one perfect human solution to the difficulties and needs concerning the children and families in these circumstances... but I do believe that families should be preserved, and any care facilities need to be 'in the best interest of the children' therein, and with adoption the child needs to have some say.... it shows in many adoptees that not having any say in any of it.... doesn't help them... nor, do I feel, is the process respecting them as human beings. They do, after all, spend the majority of their lives as adults.

  11. Mya: your perception of South Korea and what is stated in that article is completely dated and wrong. The country's mindset is changing. I suggest you do some further reading.

    1. I have heard that, too, Julia Emily. But the voices that really matter are the voices of the South Korean adoptees themselves. How they feel and what they think is best for children born out of wedlock in their country.

      The same thing happened in the U.S., Canada, Great Britain and Australia in the 1950s through the 70s. Children born out of wedlock were believed to better off with married couples, even if they shared no genetic relationship. And we are all dealing with the fallout of that now.

      In the 1990s scores of Chinese girls were placed in American adoptive families. That is no longer the case. Things do change, mindsets do change, and those of us who know the negative side of adoption have an obligation, imo, to speak our truth.

      I do agree with Mya, totally, that children need families. And I appreciate (and share) her concern and compassion for the children's welfare. But I don't believe the best humankind can do is this wholesale shipping of 'illegitimate' children to foreign countries to be raised by strangers. Even using the terms 'sending' and 'receiving' countries when speaking of children makes my skin crawl. We are talking about human beings not widgets.

    2. Dear Robin, The ''children born out of wedlock were believed to be better off with married couples even if strangers'' didn't end in the 70's. That mindset lost me my son in late 1981, and it is still very much alive and '''''well'''' in many circles today. The -that was a certain time frame- myth needs to be tossed out the door as it's just not true. It is not as harsh for some as it was then, but there are many who were alive then that are still affecting and influencing the whole process. Children do need father and mother -and- married to each other. If those of us who became pregnant and were in love had been allowed to marry it would have ''solved'' the ''single parent'' issue. But.... there was a demand for ....babies. ...still is.

  12. This is a comment from the NYTimes comment section, over 800 at this time:
    I am not an adoptee or an adoptive parent.

    The more I read adoptee stories, the more I am coming to believe that international adoption - and perhaps even domestic transracial adoption - should stop, at least temporarily. There just seems to be no way to take someone of one race or ethnicity and have them grow up comfortably, without regret, in a family of another race or ethnicity - at least, not that I have read. Even adoptees who report being happy in their adoptive families reference a feeling of not "belonging" in the community where they grew up, and report dealing with racism that left them feeling sad and alone.

    I don't know. There are no easy answers, and I don't believe children should be left in orphanages to languish. But surely this situation needs significant re-examination, if we have so many adoptees coming forward with stories of shame, guilt, racism, and feeling like outsiders their entire lives. Something that needed to happen in these adoptions didn't happen, and maybe we should halt international and transracial adoptions until we figure out if there is a way for them to proceed, and leave everyone - including and especially the adoptee - with a sense of self and dignity.

    1. That is a wonderful comment. It is nice to see that someone took the time to think the issue through instead of just spouting the usual politically correct rhetoric. Too many people, unlike this commenter, seem to just want to believe what they want to believe, even when there are facts staring them in the face telling them they're wrong.

  13. The comment from the NY times is dead-on. If so many Korean, transracial, and even domestic infant adoptees are coming forward, stating their issues and unhappiness ... how can this be a good thing? It is time for everyone to stop pontificating and listen to the experts on adoption: the adoptees. All these unhappy, empty people can not be wrong. Adoption fails on so many levels it boggles the mind. And yet, people still want to believe otherwise.

  14. Reader Mya assumes that Korean children are in orphanages because their mothers don't want them. Using stupid rhetorical questions, she argues that the only resolution for these children is to send abroad to adoptive families.

    Mya's supposition is wrong. Children are rarely in orphanages because their mothers don't want therm. They are there because their mothers lacked support to care for them or the mothers' families were ashamed of having a bastard in the home or both.

    South Korea can reduce the number of children in orphanages by not taking them in in the first place by helping mothers find resources and working with families to accept their kin. Orphanage officials should work with the mothers of children in orphanages to help them take their children home. We have examples of these programs like this working in the US. States have reduced the number of children in foster care by working with families to care for their children. Check out the research of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, www.nccpr.org.

    Often the reason this common sense approach to children in orphanages doesn't happen is that the people who would have to initiate it are administrators of orphanages who make money by keeping children there. They also receive large sums of money by grateful adoptive parents. Empty out the orphanages and those who run them and run adoption agencies would go broke.

    The simple answer to the problem of children in orphanages is to pressure the South Korean government to find solutions that are not spelled f-o-r-e-i-g-n a-d-o-p-t-i-o-n.

    1. Jane, there is no "simple" answer to changing deeply entrenched cultural attitudes - which doesn't mean it can't be done, with hard work and over time. Repatriated Korean adoptees are fighting to do just that.

      Here is an excellent article about Korea culture and adoption, written by a journalist who was adopted from Korea:

  15. We adopted our son in 1988 from Korea. He was 5 years old. He is justs now wanting to investigate his relatives in Korea. I fully support him! He is a wonderful son.



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