Only Planet

One Child, One Year, One Planet. A family of three traveling around the world...

You can contact us at werkingwells (at) gmail . com

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Made in Korea

I read an interesting article today in the NY Times about South Korea's policy to make all adoptions domestic by 2012. Unwed mothers, abandoned babies, overseas adoption, and untraceable bloodlines have been a source of embarrassment, grief, and sadness for many in Korea since the Korean War. From 1958 till present, over 150,000 babies (including yours truly) were adopted by families who lived outside of Korea, a majority of them from the United States.

I often wonder what my life would have been like had I not been adopted in 1969. Given the stigma that adoption held in Korea, if not adopted by another, I would have remained an orphan. Rather than the rich life I have now (complete with education, loving family & friends and abundant calories) I’d probably consider myself lucky if I had a job cleaning bathrooms in the subway, since I would have been denied an education or entry into proper society.

I’m the first to acknowledge that figuring out racial identity—during a time in history and in a geographical space where few look like you–can be difficult. And I sense the psychic wound is not small for my fellow Koreans who try to reconcile their country/themselves being unable to care for so many of its own babies. But something inside me feels an equally deep loss knowing that there could be no more adopted babies—from Korea, and if the trend continues—any other place outside our country.

In Korea adoption is a highly political issue, but at the same time intensely private. While there will always be babies who need homes, and finding families in the country of origin should be encouraged, I fear (pardon the pun) that discouraging international adoptions could be throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

note: Andy and I are cuddling baby boys while at the Holt Adoption Agency in Seoul Korea, 2005.


Post a Comment

<< Home