Wednesday, October 22, 2008

You won't be able to adopt from Korea after 2012..?

The above links include three separate articles regarding domestic versus international adoption in Korea. I wrote the following in response to those articles:

I am a 33-year old Korean-American adoptee living in the United States. I was born in Seoul in 1975, and adopted by a Caucasian American family at about 6 months old through what was the David Livingstone Program & Korea Christian Crusade, now Dillon International & the Eastern Social Welfare Society.

Over the past several years I have slowly but surely become more active in my reading and research regarding the adoption experience and adoption community.

I am encouraged by the efforts of Korean society to cultivate and "normalize" domestic adoption in Korea. However, I am disturbed by the goal to eradicate inter-country adoption.

As a product of international adoption, I can honestly say that I am grateful that I was adopted by my American family. Due to the cultural stigmas surrounding unwed birth mothers & their children, I know that I was afforded so much more opportunity not only materially but psychologically, emotionally, and socially than I would have received had I stayed in Korea.

Now, I will say that if I could change anything about my adoption circumstances, I wish that contact with my birth mother and/or birth father and access to information regarding my birth history and family were not so elusive and so secret. I do find this aspect of my adoption experience incredibly frustrating and discouraging. There are certain elements of Korean culture that affect my adoption experience very negatively and extensively. At times, I truly must fight in my heart to have understanding, so that I do not to find myself embittered toward Korean culture and society.

I realize that complex factors contribute to such circumstances, and that is in part, what people like those of TRACK & ASK are working to ameliorate. I completely support such efforts.

However, to completely eradicate the opportunity or possibility for international adoption frightens me and concerns me for the orphans that such a decision directly affects.

The year 2012 seems too soon to execute such a policy. The burden of the cultural stigmas surrounding Korean unwed birth mothers and their children are still so heavy and still so intertwined within the fabric of Korean society.

Again, I admire and appreciate the efforts of people such as those involved in TRACK. But each adoptee's experiences and perspectives are individual and vary widely. To think that one idea is best for all those involved seems a bit immature and presumptuous.

My husband and I have talked before about the possibility of adopting from Korea. However, it is not likely that we will be able to so before 2012, by which we, as Americans, will be shut out. I find this discouraging personally, and incredibly myopic on Korea's part and those involved in designing such a policy.

Again, I fully support the efforts to help Korean adoptees remain connected to their origins and culture. I, myself, long so deeply to connect with my origins. I make great efforts to do so through language classes, reading, researching, etc.

I also think that helping Korean society to undo the negativity and marginalization surrounding unwed birth mothers and their children is admirable and well overdue!

However, to close yet another door of opportunity for the speechless and powerless orphans involved by outlawing foreign adoption hurts my heart for them and quite honestly enrages me.

It seems like yet another wreckless adherence to the Korean cultural precedence of "saving face." If Koreans truly cared more for the well-being of these orphans than about saving face & honor, then, in my small opinion, all that would matter is that these beautiful children find loving homes, no matter in what country or with what race or ethnicity.

I know that culture is a powerful force, often difficult to overcome or see beyond, but truly, what is best for these orphans? In an ideal and perfect world, such dire situations would be absent. But since we do not live in such a world, it would seem that the more opportunity and possibilities available to these precious children to find loving homes would take precedence over the desire to keep them in the hands of Koreans. These are children, not manufactured goods or services.

Again, I am not against domestic adoptions in Korea. Kudos! That's incredibly encouraging and inspiring that more and more Korean families are adopting Korean children. That only makes logical sense.

However, again, to shut the door on other opportunities for these children to find families and homes seems hurtful and ultimately, not in the best interest of these orphans.

Why must it be such an extreme of either/or? Why not keep all options available, including both international & domestic adoptions, while continuing to work toward the de-stigmatization of unwed birth mothers and their children?

I realize I am only one person, one small voice in a mob of loud, strong voices. But as an adult Korean adoptee, I had to at least take this opportunity to express my small, yet still valid opinion.


Third Mom said...

Well said. Each and every opinion is valid, as you say, and I very much appreciate the honesty with which you share yours. Thank you.

(I'm the adoptive parent of two Korean teens.)

Mia said...

Yes, well said.
I never believed the problem to be money, and financial prosperity doesn't all of a sudden change the culture that shun these women and children.
National adoption can definitely be a step in the right direction, but for it to actually be so, the adoptive parents need to be open about it. Otherwise it's just perpetuating the stigma..