Thursday, April 4, 2013

My Perspective

Thanks to all who visited and exchanged (or argued) on the board of the last blog "Confirmed - No Summons Needed by the Family Court". Your exchanges are all important as I have to respect the opinions offered by those that are different from mine (ours).  It just goes on to show how complex the issue of adoption is for adoptees, adoptive parents and birthmothers, and all those who are involved.

However, it is important that we step back and think about what we are doing, and how we are responding to someone who seems to display a lot of anger.  Like most of you, I am not one for a big argument.  The angry “KAD” has the right to display her emotion and opinion.  But it is far more important on how we respond to her comments than what was said by her.  So I do not believe that harsh and angry comments should be responded back in the same manner that she has. It just isn’t worth it.  If you do, you both lose. 

The “KAD” in question is most likely living in Korea, and is heavily involved in an organization that strongly opposes adoption, especially the intercountry adoption, and advocates birthmothers’ rights.  She seems to be very knowledgeable regarding the issues of Korean adoption.  I can’t agree with her on most of the things, but I think it has more to do with how we choose to look at the same thing in different ways.

For her, the adoption has been a painful experience as she claims that she was ‘stolen’ from her birthmother. That Korea sold her to a foreign country for economic reasons, and that the adoption agencies have coerced her mother into giving her up for adoption.  If her claims are true, then she has the right to be angry. She has the right to demand justice.  I think this is more important to her, and perhaps it has been eating away her life in a way that causes her to be very negative and angry in life. The pain and anger that she feels probably won’t go away soon, but what is happened is happened, and I hope that she will be able to find forgiveness and compassion in her heart and move on with her life.  The one thing that I know is this.  God loves her just as much as He loves me, and it is not up to me to condemn her in any way.  We can disagree with her, but we should not condemn her.

Whether we agree with her or not is not that important.  She is shouting at what she feels as the injustice done upon her past.  For many adoptees the supposed injustices of being separated from their birthmothers, and seeing that there are other adoptees that have gone through the similar experiences find common ground for protests. But for many other adoptees, probably the great majority of adoptees, they are content to be who they are as most of them were willingly abandoned or given up for adoption by birthmothers.  Even the KAD mentioned 70% of birthmothers choose to give up while 30% prefer to keep their babies.  Of the 30%, who know how many actually wound up raising their children without giving them up later?

For me I have been too blessed through adoption to make any complaints.  I am very grateful that I was adopted. And believe me, there are many times more adoptees out there that are happy and content, and when one is content and happy and busy with their lives, there is little expressed in the way of gratitude.  So the absence of gratitude does not mean it isn’t there.

I have been tremendously blessed through the intercountry adoption.  So much so that I have expressed through my past publications that if I were to start my life over again, I would choose the life of becoming homeless, being hungry and cold while living in the streets of Korea.  I would choose to be admitted to an orphanage at six and growing up in an institution for eight years before being adopted at age 14.  I would again choose this path, just so that I could be with my parents John and Margaret Morrison. 

What about my birthparents?  It does not mean that I was without pain when I was separated from by birthparents.  While my mom was a very loving person, my father was very abusive with his words and hands.  He would come home drunk almost every day and we would live under his terror.  Therefore living with a birthmother or a father does not guarantee the safety or happiness for a child.  It is not an answer to all the problems.  There are many children that are unhappy living with their birthparents.  And I am sure that this is true even among the adoptive families as well.

Having a birthmother raise a child does not solve all the problems or insure happiness for the child, but it does have one thing that can never be replaced – that she is the mother that gave her life. That she is her own flesh and blood.  This is the reason why adoptees are drawn to birthmothers.  And of course to find the answers on how they came to be and why they were given up.  Many are better able to cope with the absence of birthmothers in their lives, but many others don’t.

As for me, I have long buried my pain of being separated from my birth parents, but my adoptive parents are my REAL parents, and it was through their love and by the grace of God I was healed. If I ever meet my birthparents, I want to hug them and tell them that I love them, and that I turned out OK after all.

100 comments:

  1. Thanks, Steve. This is certainly a topic with many emotions and views.

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  2. Thank you Steve for your thoughtful commentary. Adoption is a difficult topic and I respect how well you responded to the latest threds on your blog. Wonderful and we look forward to your future posts.

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  3. Steve,

    Can you please provide us some insight into how the North Korean threats may impact adoption? Is it too early to tell? It makes me think back to Haiti and all that transpired in the wake of their tragedy.

    Also, has anyone seen the documentary "Stuck?" If not, I highly recommend it. It highlights many of the difficulties of international adoption. I would be interested in getting your response (as well as those who subscribe to this blog) to this thoughtful documentary.

    Thank you for all you do. Please forgive me for not addressing your latest blog. You did it so well that I have nothing to add.

    Again, thank you!

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    1. NK threat will not impact adoption unless there is an imminent danger of war or in the process of war. But it seems it's getting closer to it, but NK has been known for bluffing, and if there is an agression they essentially will be passing their own death sentence.

      I have seen the Stuck and I also liked it.

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    2. I have not seen "Stuck", but recently saw "Mercy Mercy". "Mercy Mercy" was one of the best, most comprehensive documentaries I have ever seen on recent intercountry adoption. It shows an example of the multi-dimensional layers that are inherent in every intercountry adoption.

      Everyone considering intercountry adoption should absorb as much info as they can. It is a decision that permanently affects you and your families.

      To watch "Mercy Mercy", please click on this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTirNtngWTE

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  4. Thank you Steve. This was very thoughtful and well said.

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  5. Thank you Steve for all that you do. You are the perfect example of grace and understanding. I am sure your birth family would feel that you turned out more than "ok." :) Your adoptive family is so lucky to have you. I pray that our son will think of us with such love someday. We will do our very best:) Much thanks!

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  6. Thanks again Steve for again restoring hope. I admire your optimism and dedication.

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  7. Thank you Steve, I appreciate your response and reflection. I don't know how it feels to be adopted and I worry about being able to help my son process these things as he grows. I love him with all my heart and the thought of losing him to anger when he is older is just too scary to imagine. Although I will never know what it feels like, I do feel for the KAD and she is very much entitled to feel as she wants about her experience and to have her opinion. Her story of being "stolen" is terrifying though. I would be crushed if I ever learned that my son's birth parents didn't willingly make an adoption plan for him.

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  8. "The “KAD” in question is most likely living in Korea, and is heavily involved in an organization that strongly opposes adoption, especially the intercountry adoption, and advocates birthmothers’ rights."

    The KAD in question does NOT live in Korea, and is NOT "heavily involved in an organization that strongly opposes adoption, especially the intercountry adoption, and advocates birthmothers’ rights."

    I know this, because I am the KAD in question. You do not know my gender. But I can assure you that I was stolen from my family, and the scars left on my family and myself are immeasurable.

    I am simply one of many who have discovered through the simple act of search things more awful than I could have imagined "adoption" could have meant in my wildest dreams before that.

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  9. Hey Steve, has anyone ever told you that you're a patronizing, egotistical, misogynistic jerk? If no one has, I'm glad I'm the first.

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    1. I wish there was a "like" button on this. :)

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    2. Personal attacks Kevin? So disappointing. I have read and follow your work. I am disappointed you have to try to personally attack Steve (no matter how much you dislike him or his opinions)

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    3. Sometimes you just have to call people what they are, because just suggesting their behaviour is problematic has never worked in the past. I'd call his attitudes gawd-awful patronizing, and I'm in part the person he was referring to.

      Maybe there is a point to be made in that many KADs (and at least one spouse of a KAD) have chosen to post here after this blog post was put up. Apart from being the partial subject of this post, I had nothing to do with how this circulated, so am quite heartened to see so many others come out and critique Steve's condescending attitudes.

      - THE KAD IN QUESTION (who posted on a previous blog post, not the KAD(s) I've been misconstrued as because Steve's personal issues have clouded his judgement and made him believe there are few other critical KADs)

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  10. Hey Steve, since your ego is large and all, I thought you'd appreciate knowing you're kind of famous on Land of Gazillion Adoptees: http://landofgazillionadoptees.com/2013/03/28/steve-morrison-of-mission-to-promote-adoption-in-korea-mpak-is-not-your-friend-the-comic/. Well done!

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    1. Famous because he is on your blog? Interesting. What were you saying about ego?

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  11. Steve,
    You are so disrespectful of "the KAD in question" and all KADs who don't share your point of view. Your posts are patronizing and pander to the prospective adoptive parents reading your blog who, frankly, are among the most entitled people I've ever heard. You didn't find the comment comparing kids to LG tvs offensive? The whining of people who expect a baby to give up his or her country, but complain about a few weeks in Korea? Yet you call out a woman who has spent years fighting for the rights of Korean children.
    My husband is also a KAD. Also older when adopted, from a pretty messed up family. But at least it was a messed up family that loved him. Social workers from KSS convinced his mother he was better off in America. Told her that his American family was required to send him to college and then he could come home. When he never came back she thought he was dead. Welcome House and Wide Horizons placed him in a home with a bi-polar pedophile. He ran away when he was 17 and ended up homeless. Does that sound like a fairy tale ending to you? He had no family for almost 20 years until he found his Korean family and reunited with them.
    Ahh, but I'm sure those days are over, right? Adoption agencies are so careful now. Tell that to the Sueppel kids.
    I know my husband's Korean mother. I know her story, and I know her heartache. She would never have given my husband up if she'd had enough resources. That's what "the KAD in question" is working to change - so that mothers WHO WANT TO can raise their own children - something we in America take for granted. That is not anger - that is empowerment and God's work.
    I am constantly amazed that those who profess to be doing God's work and quote "Be kind to widows, orphans, fatherless children and strangers. Share whatever you have with them." Deuteronomy 24:17-21 or "Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows." Isaiah 1:17 seem to forget that God commanded them to help the existing family - help the mother - not just take the child.
    I am really happy for you that adoption was such a wonderful blessing in your life. I would hope you can acknowledge that it has destroyed others' lives, and been a huge challenge for many adoptees to overcome. Most adoptees would not say that they were glad that they lost their families, their culture, their language, their roots, their medical history, their citizenship and their country. Many make the best of it...but I think you might be the only adoptee I've ever met who says they are glad it happened to them. And yes, I know a lot of adult adoptees.
    In Korea, there are no enforceable child support laws. There are no food stamps. There is no Section 8. There is no WIC program. If you are a single mom, it is legal for your employer to fire you. There is stigma but it is reinforced by the social welfare structure, or lack thereof. There is no social safety net, and that is why children are being relinquished - not because mothers don't want to raise their children. Can we really call that a choice? An "adoption plan"? Korean mothers love their children just as much as mothers everywhere else do!
    A KAD who works to help mothers build support for that safety net; works to make sure that women are not coerced; that children who are adopted are legally protected with citizenship; who had the courage to share her story so that people finally see the whole picture of adoption; is not "angry" and "bitter" - she is making a difference every day in the lives of Korean women and children. That is so NOT complaining. And if you actually knew her, she is a gentle and generous person.
    I really hope that someday you choose to learn more about other adoptee's experiences with an open mind. I also hope someday you focus some of your efforts for Korean children in Korea, helping their families so that that intercountry adoption isn't necessary. IA is a bandaid, not a solution.

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    1. Where is the LG TV comment?

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    2. It was a comment on the previous blog post, unless it has been removed. It was incredibly offensive and entitled, as were other comments from prospective adoptive parents.

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    3. Hi -

      Really sad to hear your husband's story. It gets me in the gut every time I hear another. I wish there were more extensive statistics kept on what happens to us. I don't know if the US is too arrogant, or too afraid to make sure accessible statistics are kept on adoptees. I've heard it is really hard to get statistics in on adoptees in the US. The Swedish study is the closest I've seen to comprehensive outcomes for us and it doesn't involve things like abusive adoptive parents. The Swedish study should make the US afraid, but also highlights how necessary it is if it wants to see improvements in selecting adoptive parents who will have high potential to be good outcomes for us. If anyone knows if there is some US research I'd like to know. I guess I've become "the KAD in question", I should set up a facebook page under that name...

      As much as I'd like to be seen to be as hard working and dedicated as the person you have assumed I am (and who Steve presumably thinks I am or heavily associated with), I'm not. I do know her through her writing, we've met even though we live in different countries, I have considerable respect for her and tremendous appreciation for her work, but we have both travelled different paths to get to where we stand being mostly uninfluenced by each other and still arriving at similar positions. We are two separate entities.

      I don't usually post anonymously, but in this forum, at that time, I made a choice. I gauged the people who were posting as potentially hostile from past experience with P/APs with the attitude set displayed and decided I didn't want to take a chance with the risk of some imbalanced person making it personal. I have seen some start going of the rockers and devolving into the most puerile, vindictive, and slanderous behaviour in the past. Personally if I had the power I'd fail people like that's home-studies in a flash. I believe I made the right decision in this case.

      - THE KAD IN QUESTION

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    4. The lg tv comment was offensive on every level and it was directly put down by an adoptive parent (and others) who denounced it. In an effort to be brief, everyone is entitled to their own opinions. We don't all have to agree. However the personal attacks and absolute disrepect by KOV and others is beyond reproach. It is the reason why I (and many others who are professionals) have chosen to ignore as much as possbile and not engage in the past- the immaturity is not something that warrants constructive discussion. I am a KAD who wholeheartedly agrees with Steve's post here (apparently you don't know as many KADs as you think you do).

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    5. beyond reproach: to think that one is above criticism. They should not but they do.

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  12. I hope you come know peace. Lots of people come from an extremely painful past. It is possible to live a full and healthy life when you reconcile the fact that no matter what happened to you in the past, you have the ability to choose to live a full life without hate and bitterness.

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    1. Are you talking to Steve or the post above? If its the post above, I'm not sure what's wrong with you. If it's Steve, Bravo!!!

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    2. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, despite ones childhood and upbringing the bottom line is you have a choice to find happiness in life. One can dwell on their past --of which they can't change or have the determination to make a good life for themselves. I did not have the best childhood either, though I have found peace and happiness in life.

      Steve your efforts are appreciated. Thank you for sharing your story.

      From someone whose life has been changed by adoption .....we are all on a journey in life. Gods Peace.

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  13. Thanks Steve, however, you are mistaken. Free yourself. You are an adult now and you don't have to spit out the messages you clearly internalized as an Adoptee of Color. I will pray for your recovery.

    In struggle,
    a fellow Adoptee of Color - Stephanie Cho

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  14. I've never really felt great about MPAK, but this blog post just sealed it for me. Was it really necessary for you to be so callous and hurtful in this post? Shame on you for your narrow-mindedness and condescension.

    Signed,
    A random KAD whose feelings and experiences you've insensitively discounted with your acrid and ignorant post(s).

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  15. Steve, I am proud to know you--a man of character, grace, and integrity. I know your heart for the orphans in Korea and am so glad that you are a man that rises above these attacks on you. I'm so thankful that you chose to live your life to help others and move forward in grace rather than hurling anger and insults at the past. Thank you for all that you do, all that you represent, and living up to all that God has made you to be.

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  16. To all those who are commenting out of anger--Steve never says that all adoptees should/would/or did have a blessed, wonderful life. He clearly acknowledged that there are adoptees who have had tragic and negative adoption experiences. It's not Steve's fault that the Korean government has been so inadequate when it comes to caring for orphans. It's not Steve's fault that there is a stigma against orphans and single moms in Korea. It is not Steve's fault that Korean orphanages made mistakes in the past.

    Everyone is dealt their lot. It's up to your own choices and character how you choose to respond to it. You can either live life angry for the rest of your life for what has happened, or make peace with it. Steve has decided to make peace with it and has the freedom to express it.

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  17. There is a big difference between making peace with the past and accepting that the injustices of the IA system are inevitable and acceptable.

    Likewise, disagreeing with someone is one thing. Defaming someone else's character and making incredibly judgmental assumptions about her motives and experiences is entirely another matter.

    Not to mention that the "KAD in question" wasn't even the person that was commenting...there are plenty of KADs who disagree with MPAK's efforts with IA. Disagreeing with Steve does not make anyone angry or bitter. Steve has every right to express his own views, but what gives him the right to incorrectly express hers?

    "My" KAD is a successful businessman, an awesome father and a kind and compassionate person. That doesn't mean he feels good about what was done to him and his mother - or that he should.

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  18. What should happen to the waiting kids until things change? As God is my witness, I'm not judging anyone's views or individual experiences or trying to stir the pot, but what should happen? Do those who oppose international adoption suggest that we turn our backs on these children?

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  19. As someone who is waiting for my grandson to soon be home with his adoptive family who have already loved him from before they knew his name,I feel all the pain of all the posts. No matter how someone feels about Steve, he at least is able to give information to those waiting. I encourage bloggers to let their feelings and knowledge be known; however can we please get back to a "string" of basically just information. As political things begin to appear to escalate, any information that we can receive as to the safety of my grandson and others waiting to be adopted as well as my children and other adoptive families who could be traveling to South Korea very soon would be so grateful. Thank you Steve for keeping us informed.

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  20. I'm amazed at the ugliness from some of adoptees here. It's hard to keep track of which KAD said what here because most of you are posting as "Anonymous". So, please forgive if we get some of you confused.

    It seems a lot of the adoptees here have grown up to have opportunities and found love. Great to hear! Child abuse is never acceptable – adopted or not. Unfortunately, it happens – adopted or not.

    Those of you who found “birth/biological/families of loss” and have gotten their side of the story of how your adoption came to be. With all due respect to your families, could it be that there were some misunderstandings between agencies and your families? I know I’ve had misunderstandings that were critical, especially when it’s on a topic I’m not knowledgeable in.

    Adoption, like many other things in life, isn’t perfect. I think Steve/MPAK does a great job of promoting LEGAL/PROPER adoption. He’s promoted better treatment/rights of single mothers in Korea. But, he’s also realistic in that it’s not going to happen overnight. In the meantime, rather than watching the child and mother live in poverty, why not give them BOTH a chance to live better.

    Someone mentioned that mothers felt they had to give up their child because the agency wanted them to pay them back for medical, etc. if they changed their mind. Can you try and see it from the agency’s point of view? What if every single mom did that and basically “used” the agency for free medical/child birth, etc. In a perfect world, every woman should get the best medical care to deliver a baby, all for FREE! If a woman has used their facilities to get medical treatment for the purpose of adoption and then changes her mind. I think the agency has every right to bill her for the services. I’m sure they didn’t ask for it in one lump sum and they’d work out some payment plan.

    I know to some, Steve sounds like the bad guy here. But in my opinion, he’s actually very level headed. Yes, MPAK stands for “Mission to promote Adoption in Korea” – the way I look at it, adoption isn’t about placing a child in another home. It’s a process. Starting with the birth mother to when the child is grown. By promoting adoption in Korea, it’s to make sure adoption is done legally and respectfully to the mother, the child AND yes, the families waiting to adopt them.

    Thanks, Steve and MPAK!

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    1. I'm amazed at some of the condescending dismissal of some of the non-adoptees here. It's hard to keep track of which patronizing non-adoptee said what here because most of you are posting as "Anonymous." So, please forgive if we get some of you confused.

      See what I did there?

      In any case, I feel that the reason KADs have spoken out so defensively is because we feel we are being attacked by one of our own, in a way. Pro-adoption, anti-adoption, or indifferent, we all have a right to think and feel the way we want to, but we do not have the right to publicly, unabashedly judge and call out our fellow KADs the way Steve did in this post.

      All the non-adoptees who are writing in to defend Steve don't understand how or why we seem so angry about this. I wonder why that is? Perhaps because you have no idea what it's like. Perhaps because you have no business attempting to judge us or our anger or our feelings.

      Also, "misunderstandings between agencies and your families"? HA. HA. HA. If that isn't a ridiculous non-adoptee point of view, I don't know what is.

      "Child abuse is never acceptable...unfortunately, it happens - adopted or not." OMG if I hear that "non-adoptees also deal with x, y, and z from their families, so adoptees should just suck it up" one more time from a NON-ADOPTEE, I swear, I'm gonna lose it. Are you trying to be dismissive or trite, or are you just naturally a condescending jerk?

      Stop lecturing us on a topic about which you clearly know very little. Stop judging us over feelings about which you will never understand. Stop putting your two cents in where it doesn't belong.

      This goes for all the "Anonymous" posters out there who are railing against any angry KAD comments. You have no right to weigh in on this subject.

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    2. My mother in law didn't misunderstand anything. She was lied to. My husband wasn't an orphan - though the agencies that profited from his adoption packaged him as one. And if you don't think things like that happen these days then please take the time to watch Mercy, Mercy on YouTube. Unlike Stuck, you don't even have to pay to see it.

      As far as the Korean mother who lost her child...the agency refused to give her the baby, immediately after the birth...because she didn't have the money for all of their fees. Any woman in America can go to a hospital and give birth, not pay a dime, and take her baby home. Any hospital worker who refused to give her the baby would go to jail. They could sue her for the money, but not take her child away. I can't believe any decent human being would suggest that is okay! There is a whole documentary about this kind of stuff...do a little research!

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    3. "Child abuse is never acceptable...unfortunately, it happens - adopted or not." OMG if I hear that "non-adoptees also deal with x, y, and z from their families, so adoptees should just suck it up" one more time from a NON-ADOPTEE, I swear, I'm gonna lose it. Are you trying to be dismissive or trite, or are you just naturally a condescending jerk?

      Wow - is this a new angry KAD or the same one? in any case:
      "Non-adoptees also go through identity crises, abandonment issues, self esteem issues, hormonal issues, boyfriend/girlfriend issues, "ugh, i hate my mom" issues, "my dad is so lame" issues, etc. Just because your adopted, doesn't mean you win the pity party award. suck it up. Gandolf said it best (ok, not best - but it's what this reminds me of:
      Frodo: "I wish none of this had happened."
      Gandalf: "So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." You can stay angry or you can try to be open minded and help make the situation better in Korea.

      ***

      Exactly, in AMERICA. They are in KOREA. It's DIFFERENT there. As I said, every woman SHOULD be able to get great medical care to delivery her baby - no matter what their situation, no matter where they live.

      If the woman really wanted to keep her child, she should have agreed to making payments on HER medical bill that SHE incurred using THEIR medical facility. Is it right that organizations charge for medical services for a poor pregnant woman? NO! So, if you want to do something construction, there's a suggestion for you.

      Trying to "stop adoption" is just a band-aid approach. You work to get pregnant women in Korea free medical care and financial support to raise her child and I will work on promoting LEGAL adoptions that are mutually good for the child, birth family and adoptive family. Quite frankly, I think the birth families should be involved in the adoption process. they should meet with the adopting family and be entitled to get photos and updates if they want.

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    4. Well Anonymous who gets confused by other Anonymous's -

      There could only be a misunderstanding between an agency and family if the family had any contact with an agency whatsoever. And if there was contact, it is inexcusable of the agency not to be one hundred percent transparent about what they intend to do. If you took your child to childcare one morning and then turned up in the afternoon to take them home and the childcare facility said, "look, you signed your child away for international adoption, oh you didn't understand what it meant, just a misunderstanding, the fault is yours for not understanding, the kid is gone, too bad," would you think that was acceptable?

      In my case my family had no contact with an agency, had not even contemplated being in contact with an agency, probably didn't even know what one was, was not even on the landscape of what they knew could happen to an unsuspecting family. I was entrusted in temporary care, and shortly thereafter vanished. Only I didn't just vanish, the child my adoptive family had been "promised" either died (what the agency said) or was sent to a different adoptive home (there have been cases where the same child was promised to multiple families and substitutes were sent in lieu to some of those families), in either case, I was suddenly made adoptable by faked paperwork within a couple of days of this other child not being available. There was a demand from PAPs and the agency filled it, I was presumably the quickest snatch job for the solution. I probably would have been processed for another adoption if this hadn't happened because the agency had their hands on me at this stage and aren't really known for letting go of kids they can do business with, but since my family had no contact with the agency and did not know my whereabouts since my disappearance, there can have been no misunderstanding. Do you people not understand what the term stolen means?

      Here's my excuse for being Anonymous:

      I don't usually post anonymously, but in this forum, at that time, I made a choice. I gauged the people who were posting as potentially hostile from past experience with P/APs with the attitude set displayed and decided I didn't want to take a chance with the risk of some imbalanced person making it personal. I have seen some start going of the rockers and devolving into the most puerile, vindictive, and slanderous behaviour in the past. Personally if I had the power I'd fail people like that's home-studies in a flash. I believe I made the right decision in this case.

      Yes, I really have experienced this from PAPs on enough occasions to know there are too many of that ilk wanting to adopt.

      - THE KAD IN QUESTION (who posted on a previous blog post, not the KAD(s) I've been misconstrued as because Steve's personal issues have clouded his judgement and made him believe there are few other critical KADs)

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    5. From a PAP. Thank you to both Steve and the KAD in question. I have been prompted to look at the links suggested by the KADs on this blog and have been diving into a deeper investigation about adoption history in Korea and the issues from both sides. I've been reading the Land of a Gazillion Adoptees blog and listening to the podcasts to gain a better understanding. So thank you for posting your opinions/perspectives and thoughts -- both to Steve and KADs. I'm sorry that both of you have had to face tough words. I appreciate being challenged in my thoughts about adoption. Regardless of what I decide - to continue the process or not - I am much better informed.

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    6. Thank you Anonymous PAP for being broadminded in willingness to seek information.

      - THE KAD IN QUESTION

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  21. Why all the negativity and hatred?
    Accusing adoptive parents of having a entitled attitude?
    Our family decided we wanted to have more children. We have our biological children. We thought about having more. We also considered the option of adoption, knowing there are so many children who need loving families. This is where we feel God has lead us. A feeling of entitlement of a child, no.
    We have a birth story and feel comfortable with it. We have no concern that the child we are hoping to adopt was "stolen" from their biological family.
    It is not the AP's or Steve's fault that there are cultural/social stigma's to single mothers and children of single parents. Would it be better to leave these children in limbo or in a orphanage?
    We are doing this out of love and for no other reason.

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    1. You're right; it's not your fault that the social stigmas exist in the first place. But when you decide to support the institution of adoption instead of using your resources to work toward change so that children are able to stay with their original families, you become part of the problem. Instead of writing out all those checks to adoption agencies and governments who don't support family welfare, why not take your money and help a poor family get the resources they need in order to keep their family intact? If you have so much "love" for the children, why aren't you working tirelessly to research how you can really help them in the long run?

      I don't think it's truly love for the children when the actions only work to serve your own end goal. The entitlement comes from you assuming your love and your home is the best thing for this child, and therefore that's the only thing you work toward.

      If there was really, truly love and the best interest for the child at the heart of all these people who adopt, I think there would be more advocating on behalf of keeping families together or working to reunite children and give support to mothers/fathers/family members. But there's not. I wonder why that is...

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    2. No one answered the question about the children who are waiting...what about them...should they suffer while we sort things out? Why do these things have to be mutually exclusive...in other words, why can't we help push for change while addressing the needs of the MANY children who currently need good homes. Personally, I don't feel entitled to anything. My husband, our two children, and I are blessed and know that we have been called to welcome a third child into our home through adoption. If that makes us bad people, I'm happy to hear why, truly...

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    3. Here’s a couple of links to how much adoption agencies pay their executive staff.

      http://www.reformtalk.net/2012/04/19/adoption-agency-executive-salaries-then-and-now/

      http://poundpuplegacy.org/node/38035

      I hope you understand by this that adoption is a business, it makes profit. This profit comes from the amount that you as a PAP or AP are willing to pay. I’m sure you are better aware of the amounts of money than I am, I have heard in the ball park of $35,000. I sorely wish we could afford a new car in that price range, an item that includes the base materials, the manufacture of a huge number of components, construction, research and development, safety checks, a whole lot of administration for all the manufacture processes and marketing and selling process, importation costs, taxes, dealership fees etc. Versus a child which the manufacturer (mother) gets nothing (perhaps the hospital fees paid for), foster care, in-country admin, home agency admin, home-studies, travel, and marketing so essentially mostly admin, marketing, foster care, travel.

      I hope you can see how profitable this can be, especially when you start analyzing the costs. Only in order to stay in business and keep those 6 digit salaries coming in and paying for random sundries like over a million dollars worth of Christian sheet-music/recordings (Holt) they need to keep a steady supply of product (children), without children this whole business will collapse. C.f. CWA agency’s recent closure, heavily linked to the closing of the Russian adoption program.

      This should explain why adoption agencies use certain ploys to get children. Like opening unwed mother’s homes associated with agencies, and pressuring women to relinquish. C.f. Duri Salvation Army Home in Korea for unwed mothers which is not affiliated with an adoption agency and provides support for mothers to make up their own minds where the majority of mothers keep their children. Other ploys like sending unsolicited adoption agency agents to ambush unwed mothers after giving birth to get them to sign away their children. This keeps a steady supply

      Now about all those waiting children. The agencies know that capping adoptions caps profit, you can’t move enough children (product) for the size of the infrastructure set up to stay viable. If mother’s are availed greater protections so they can make up their own minds about whether or not to relinquish this also threatens numbers, because mother’s (with rare exceptions) are biologically wired to want to keep their children, if they can see a realistic way to do this most will. What do you do when you are an agency who sees the whole business threatened? You do what you have to do to stay afloat which is try to keep the market open. You cry foul about the new laws that protect mother’s and children. You portray them as victims caught up unable to give up their children to deserving or open hearted westerners, so PAPs hearts will break. You instill in PAPs the fear that these children will grow up stigmatized if mother’s bereft of their sense try to keep them. You paint doom and gloom about where these children will be. You don’t mention things like bonding issues, adoption disruptions (estimated 10-25% in the US), you don’t mention things like all adoptees will face radicalized stigma in western countries, nor the fact that adoptee outcomes in terms of mental health, addiction, suicide, socio-economic status are not that favourable. Simply put, they use propaganda to play on PAP’s emotions. All of this is to cause more demand, causing PAPs to lobby both the sending and the receiving country to change the laws back to make it easy, and kick-start business again.

      To be continued…

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    4. Continued…

      I don’t know if you are aware of the history of the Baby Scoop Era? It’s an era in western countries which due to the stigma of single motherhood and bastards, combined with conservative religious values, many single mother’s were coerced and had their children taken from them to serve the adoption industry. People then believed that society would never change, but when mother’s got protections, and support, things changed radically, relinquishment rates plummeted. We grew up with friends who had single mothers, many of our parents were forced to reevaluate their attitudes to their children’s friends and their mothers. Attitude change happened because mothers raising their children alone became more normalized. Sure, a lot of kids suffered stigma in the early days, but it radically changed society into a more accepting and tolerant one. Westerners then looked abroad to adopt because the supply diminished, and in the case of South Korea are playing all the old ploys of how attitudes are too entrenched to change. I don’t believe this, Korea shows an aptitude for radical change.

      I’m going to ask you a question now. What about all the children waiting in foster care in your country? More children are caught in limbo in the US than in Korea. Canadians adopt American children because it’s easier than adopting in Canada.

      It’s all very noble of you to care about children in Korea, but when you leave children in your own country left in limbo, that doesn’t seem so noble to me.

      If you have a family already and have room in your heart for more, you can give to children without taking them home. Working on the rights of mothers is one way. Adopting from your own country whereby the child doesn’t necessarily have to loose language and culture, is another.

      So the answer is being part of the “demand” part of supply and demand detracts focus and resources, and undermines other efforts by giving adoption agencies support and revenue. There are children waiting many places, I think fundamentally looking close to home should be people’s focus.

      - THE KAD IN QUESTION (who posted on a previous blog post, not the KAD(s) I've been misconstrued as because Steve's personal issues have clouded his judgement and made him believe there are few other critical KADs)

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    5. "But when you decide to support the institution of adoption instead of using your resources to work toward change so that children are able to stay with their original families, you become part of the problem. Instead of writing out all those checks to adoption agencies and governments who don't support family welfare, why not take your money and help a poor family get the resources they need in order to keep their family intact? If you have so much "love" for the children, why aren't you working tirelessly to research how you can really help them in the long run?"

      I do help such causes and I do want better practices in the "long run", but what happens to the children who truly need homes, those children who do not have a family to go back to or stay with (because this situation DOES exist)? What do you propose happen to the children who are currently matched for IA? If all PAPs decide we no longer want to be "part of the problem", what is the plan for the children? I will feel better if I knew what was going to happen to them...

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    6. In the end, efforts to increase Birth Parent resources, societal acceptance, the implementation of more stringent monitoring of adoption agencies AND adoption have to exist together. To completely stop adoption when the other things have yet to catch up is irresponsible. I think Korea understand this and is currently trying to act responsibly so ALL parties are supported through this transition. To suggest adoption should not be supported when societal issues are not yet at the point they need to be, is harmful. Again, I may have missed the answer to this, but not one of you who suggest PAPs should not adopt have given us information on what will happen to the children that will not return to their birth family.

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    7. Just to clarify, that $35k estimate to adopt is pretty accurate. HOWEVER, it's not as if that whole amount goes to one person. That 35k includes travel to Korea, agency services in the US AND Korea, and lots and lots of other fees here and there. For this current adoption, we paid Holt Korea about 17k. Now, consider what that covers. Medical and counseling services the birth mom received. Also, our child has been in foster care for almost two years. I don't know what they get paid, but my guess is about $500 a month? The kids get a monthly check up and if there are any emergency room visits, Holt picks up the tab for that. The kids get great medical care. There are also staff members to consider, social worker, lawyers, translators, doctors/nurses, etc. Not to mention medical supplies, diapers, etc. for the kids. As for the US side of things, our agency gets about $8000 for their service fees. That includes two social workers, lawyers and a lot of other people that we are not aware of, but help facilitate adoptions. Our US agency facilitates domestic and international adoptions. Yes, most of the CEOs make six figures, but don't most CEOs? CEO salaries are always very/too high.

      Yes, adoption IS a business. Because it takes so many people to make it happen and to make it happen legally. People are held accountable. It's hard to do that when people work there on a volunteer basis.

      Most people in this "business" is not in it for the money. I don't think it's a secret that social workers don't make much in any country. Most are in it for the safety and well being of the kids.

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    8. Regards Anonymous's comment that they paid Holt Korea 17k. Korea's Ministry of Health and Welfare have said that about $9,000 is reasonable and suggests that as a cap for agencies in Korea. I'm guessing what you overpaid (including the other "services" you overpaid for in the US) went into stuff like those 6 digit salaries you think are completely reasonable for a non-profit tax dodging organization that can afford over a million dollars worth of Christian sheet-music/recordings (please feel free to tell me how this is relevant to the core business of adoption and how any non-profit whose business isn't music related can justify that? - If you don't understand what I'm talking about reread the links regarding executive salaries). If you don't mind selling children as a business where many take a handsome cut of the profits which does so by counseling women to give up their children (the only kind of counseling I've heard about from services related to adoption agencies), then I guess your conscience is clear, and we just differ ethics.

      Tae - for all those in the process of adopting and are matched and unwilling to back out, which is what I really entered this blog about when I ended up just being appalled by certain attitudes from some, I would suggest, don't take short-cuts just because they might inconvenience and cost you, finalize your adoptions in Korea, get the correct visa to ensure your children's citizenship is secured (believe me, life can change, it did for my APs and my citizenship lay in limbo until my teen years, I never received US citizenship in spite of being adopted to the US so I don't have matching citizenships with my APs or extended adoptive family). Don't put pressure on having the new reforms in Korea reversed. If you can't find a way to verify your matched child's ethical relinquishment, be willing to realize that in the future you may find out that the mother who relinquished the child you end up with may not have done so as willingly as you believe. If you find out this is the case, take responsibility for the role you played in not verifying this, and in the role you played in being part of the "demand" part of the equation. Make sure you honor your adoptive child's cultural heritage, language if it is lost will sever communication (I don't trust translators and like to have things verified many ways). Don't assume you know their backstories even if you have something from the agency (many times this does not sync up with what adoptees find out from their original families). Do a lot of reading on adoptees experiences, even if you find it hard going with some of these stories. Be prepared that your adoptive child's experience may not be what you had hoped for them. Make yourself available to genuinely hear what they say about their experiences rather than downplaying, or dismissing them. Support them if they want to return to Korea, and if the want to search. Be their ally in both childhood and adulthood no matter what they are going through. Be aware the statistical outcomes for adoptees aren't great (especially intercountry and transracial adoptees), and do the things that will assist your adoptive child into positive areas of the spectrum. You might find some the stuff suggested by people like John Raible to be useful.

      - THE KAD IN QUESTION

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    9. BTW, Tae, the quote you put up isn't mine, I would not write cheques as checks (my spelling is mixed US and British styles but checks isn't something I'd write). It's another person's, probably another KAD, I'm not chasing it down from where to figure it out, just letting you know not all the critical comments are mine even if we share the same sentiments.

      - THE KAD IN QUESTION

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    10. Now I see it at the first comment to the thread's original post, so understand the context. You'll hopefully get 2 answers.

      - THE KAD IN QUESTION

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    11. Thank you so much for your response. I am in support of Korea applying more stringent measures and ultimately adopting Hague standards, I know this is the route they are working towards. I am Korean-American, so I will be able to perpetuate culture, language, and so on (my parents still live in Korea so yearly visits are always scheduled). Also, I will always be transparent about the adoption process and all that goes along with it. Honestly, I wish there were a way to meet the BPs and speak with them directly. I would like to do my due diligence in making sure our child's (I know saying "our child" can strike a chord, because honestly I know he is not "our child" and his BM has not been approached about relinquishment, but I really don't know what other term to use) BM/BP was counseled properly regarding relinquishment, but how do we go about doing this? I know that currently, a court official will be present during the BM interviews, do you think the court official will be ensuring this happens?

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    12. I hope the Ministry ups the cap then. 9K is very little to provide care to the birth mom and children for the first 18months to 2+ years of their lives. I hope Holt and the other agencies will continue to provide great medical care. If they need to raise the fees to do that - I'm all for it. When my sister gave birth to a healthy baby in the US, the cost was $30K (thankfully she had insurance). I realize it's two different countries - however medical care is expensive in both countries.

      Adoption is so complicated. I don't even know how many people it takes to help families in the adoption process (at the US agencies). Those people need to be and should be paid for their services. It is, after all, a job. They aren't in the business of selling babies. They are in the business of building families. Just because they get paid for their work, doesn't mean they are "selling" babies.

      Just recently, we looked into domestic adoption. The cost is $50k. of that $8000 went to the adoption agency. The bulk of that money goes to medical care.

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    13. Tae -

      I don't know how to ensure that the mother of the child you are seeking to adopt was fully aware of her options and was not counseled or coerced into relinquishing. There are some countries where you can hire a private investigator to investigate the mother/family's situation, but I've never heard of this in South Korea, or even if this is legal which it may not be. If this relinquishment happened after August 2012 she will by law have been given better protection. Theoretically she is in a better situation for informed consent than before. I am not in a position nor knowledgeable about this to speculate about court officials, nor the interview process. I hope it is conducted in a respectful manner.

      I think PAPs need to voice their concerns about wanting an ethical adoption to their agencies. I know many fear to make a fuss because they fear being dropped from the programme (and PAPs have been dropped and defamed for making fusses over certain other things). You will probably just get reassurances from the agency that everything is above board, but I think that is the first thing any PAP should do when seeking to adopt is make their position clear that they want an adoption where informed consent was given regarding relinquishment, and inquire how they can be assured of this. Agencies need to keep hearing PAPs concerns, and then being held accountable.

      Anonymous regarding Ministry cap - I had some medical issues in Korea and ended up being tested, examined, and treated in a hospital there on a couple of occasions, I was stunned how inexpensive it was, compared to some smaller issue I had as a foreign tourist in Hawaii and having 10x the medical bill for one visit. What I'm suggesting is stop speculating that it's reasonable because you want to believe it is, investigating what things actually cost might be a better way. Comparing what the agency can outlay in other extravagances is a way of ascertaining they are doing extremely well out of this business. I've seen prices for US domestic adoption infants. I consider this is also unreasonable. It doesn't work that way in all parts of the world, where adoptions are considerably less because they are less commercially driven.

      - THE KAD IN QUESTION

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    14. I was in Korea about 5 years ago. Before the trip, I had no known allergies. After I ate at a restaurant, face hands and face got very puffy. I went to the ER and it cost us about $500 US. all they did was draw blood, gave me some meds and told me it was an allergic reaction. To me, $500 was expensive for the incident. I can't imagine what giving birth would cost. I could look into it, but I'm just going to put my trust in the agencies. If they want to make a profit so it it. Ultimately, it's on their conscience.

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  22. It's my understanding that in the past all that prospective adoptive parents had to demonstrate was that they had the necessary finances to support a child and that they went to church regularly. While I'm sure that many of these people were loving and genuine in their desire to provide a good home to a child, clearly some were not fit to look after a dog let alone a young human being.

    The requirements that current families must meet are far more stringent than they were in the past. Background checks must be passed, medicals are required and must be updated throughout the process, any mental health issues (even possible ones) must be investigated - even to the point of some people (who may have issues in their past) having to be evaluated to demonstrate that they are mentally stable and fit to be a parent. Neither prospective parent can be on medication for anxiety or depression, and any concerns must be addressed in full by a medical professional in writing.

    Prospective adoptive parents must complete education on relevant topics and demonstrate understanding of said material. They must also complete a CPR and First Aid course and undergo a home study conducted by a social worker.

    While none of these newer requirements for prospective adoptive parents can guarantee that a person won't randomly snap without warning, I think that everyone can agree that they are a step in the right direction and must surely help to avoid children going to unsuitable homes.

    As to the many social issues within Korea and other countries that lead to children being given up by their birth parents in the first place, I think that everyone can also agree that reform is necessary and that more financial support should be made available to single mothers and to families who are perhaps facing only a short-term crisis. However, the more complex issue of how very badly single mothers are viewed by Korean society cannot be solved overnight. From my limited understanding there are many factors that need to change, some of the most pressing of which would seem to be the entrenched discrimination by employers and the lack of affordable child care.

    I do not believe that anyone really disagrees with the steps that have been taken so far to reform the adoption process - what people are unhappy about is that it has been executed poorly and left some children and families in limbo for an extended period of time, which isn't fair to anyone involved.

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  23. I think it would be a lot easier for prospective adoptive parents to listen to adoptees who have a different view if they weren't being branded as self-entitled ignorant selfish baby thieves by people who don't know them and seem prejudiced against all adoptive parents because of the actions of some. Nobody likes to be judged by the actions of other people.

    It is also NOT true to state that children are ALWAYS better off with their biological family, in the same way that it would be wrong to suggest that children are always better off being adopted, or always better off being raised in a 2-parent family. From the perspective of someone who is infertile, it pains me to be told that I am inferior to biological parents who beat, starve, and neglect their children.

    It is also not helpful to state as though it were a fact that all adopted children will grow up to resent their adoptive parents. Many biological children grow up to resent their biological parents, but I don't see anybody railing against the selfish ignorant biological parents who pop kids out as though it were a hobby and then do a poor job of parenting.

    In the same way that I don't judge all biological parents by the actions of a few, it is unfair to judge all adoptive parents on the same basis.

    I saw that several posters had previously commented asking for suggestions on how to investigate whether or not the adoption they were engaging in was ethical and the response seemed to be that they should just figure it out by themselves, which is hardly constructive.

    Personally, our family welcomes birth mothers being contacted again. If circumstances have changed for the birth family no adoptive family would want to find out in the future that they showed up 2 days after the child left the country.(I know some people don't like the term 'birth mother' but let's not get hung up on semantics here - in an adoption situation I feel that the birth mother, the foster mother, and the adoptive mother all have the right to be referred to as the person's mother and how individual people choose to distinguish the three is up to them).

    As scary as it is to be in limbo and not know whether or not we will get to raise the child we are in the process of adopting, I wouldn't trade the past year of loving and preparing from a distance just because it might cause us heartache. I do, however, wish that we could have shielded our families and friends from the pain of loss that we might face and, if we adopted again in the future, I would tell far fewer people and much later in the process.

    Most adoptive parents that I know also want to make sure that their children CAN have the possibility of a relationship with their birth families in the future. They look for ways to incorporate the birth culture and birth language of their adopted children into daily life. They carefully preserve any and all information that may be available and share it with their children.





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  24. As a hopeful AP I have no concern over the notificiation of the birth mother prior to final adoption. If circumstances have changed and the mother decides to keep and raise the child that is their right.

    What I do not want is to go to court in S.Korea and then wait there for two weeks for this decision. It should be made prior to AP's traveling thousands of miles and spending thousands of dollars for airfare. This only makes sense. I do not see it as whining. I could not imagine making the trip and then finding out we would not return with the child we were hoping to be part of our family.
    I

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    1. That isn't how the process is working. The Courts aren't asking families to fly over and wait.

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    2. they were, it changed.

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  25. Steve, thank you for your tireless efforts on behalf of children who need families. The issues presented here are real, uncomfortable, difficult and emotional and I cannot ignore that unethical practcies existed in the past and probably still do today. But I also can't ignore the fact that some children have been permanently abandoned and need families. It would be nice if people on both sides of this issue could come together and agree on a few key goals and work toward those common goals to help as many children as possible.

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  26. Steve, you took the high road by not calling people names, degrading them, tearing them down, and in fact, you tried to acknowledge that people's adoption stories are as varied as the adoptees themselves. I empathize with many of the KADs out there, but it's their bitter and caustic approach which makes it difficult to hear their message. Yes, changes to the IA program are necessary, but a more polite and intellectual approach would further their cause greatly.

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    1. I think KADs who speak out against IA are some of the most intellectual and well spoken individuals I know. I don't think we should be required to be polite when we've been spoken about with such disrespect, both by Steve and by people like you. Clearly your version of "the high road" is different from mine.

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    2. Yes, clearly. Your tantrums will likely be dismissed as just that. If you spoke with clarity and respect, you might actually get people to listen.

      - a KAD who is speaking up on behalf of Steve who has always and only had love and respect in his heart.

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  27. Steve, you work tirelessly and endlessly on behalf of adoptees and adoptive parents. Thank you for your advocacy and continued efforts. I hope you know there are grateful parents and children everywhere that are supporting you and keeping you and MPAK in our prayers. Stay strong and positive, regardless of the negativity and hatred. We are behind you.

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  28. I find it almost humorous that most of the people who are in support of what Steve is saying in this post and has said in previous posts are not KADs, yet they feel entitled to judge the KAD community and speak about adoption as if being an AP or a PAP somehow gives them insight that we who actually lived through the process lack.

    We are all entitled to our own opinions, but when a KAD uses his public platform, one that is read by many different members of the adoption triad, to belittle other KADs the way he has, he deserves to be called out for that. I don't want that kind of language or attitude to be representative in any way of the KAD community, and I find it appalling that he feels justified in speaking the way he does about others on a website that reaches and influences so many different people. Our feelings and thoughts are already so often discounted by people outside our own community, and now he has given other people even more of a reason to continue to ignore us when we speak.

    He ought to be ashamed of the way he is representing himself, the Korean adoptee community, and "Christianity" in the way he writes and the things he says. And all the APs on this site who write in to comment ought to take a step back before accusing other KADs of anything. We are entitled to feel the way we feel, and no one--ESPECIALLY adoptive parents--has the right to tell us we're wrong about that. It sickens me, the entitlement. Check yourself.

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    1. Isn't that what is written in this blog post? You are entitled to feel the way you feel. As for me, I feel sad for your anger, and I love you. I pray you will feel peace and encouragement from your work to promote children & family rights. Your divisive hate is smothering your message.

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    2. Are we reading the same blog? I thought what Steve said was respectful to both parties.
      The KAD did paint with a broad stroke in describing people and the adoption process.

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    3. yes, we are reading the same blog. It's hard to see straight when you are so full of anger and entitlement. I don't know Steve. I've been following his blog for a while because he has the most recent information on what's been happening in Korea regarding adoptions. The only opinion I have of Steve is the is respectful of everyone involved adoptions and respectful of opinions. I don't think he's an eloquent writer, but that's what I like about his blog. He's a simple, honest guy trying to make some big positive changes when it comes to adoption.

      Instead of being so personally angry about what he does/stands for/writes about, why don't you try working with him. Rather than attacking him, how about respectfully posting with suggestions on how to better the entire adoption process - starting with better support for birth mothers.

      In the end, we all want the same thing. Respect and protection for the birth moms, children and families who adopt children when a birth mother/family cannot/refuses.

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  29. Steve, thank you so much for being such a tremendous resource and advocate!!! You are truly appreciated!!!

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  30. Steve,
    I applaud the work you do. You have worked tirelessly to be a voice for the children in Korea that need you. You have provided resources and information to adoptive parents. I can only imagine how difficult it must be for you to read such hateful and angry messages from other KADs. I am a KAD myself and I am proud of it. I have also adopted a child from Korea. Much like you, I would not change my life as I have a wonderful and supportive family that provided me with many opportunities that I may not have had if in Korea. I feel sorry for those individuals, KAD or not who were unfortunately not given the opportunities to thrive in a loving family environment. I wanted to thank you for all that you have done and please keep up the work you are doing. You are making a positive difference in many children’s lives! Prayers for you and your family!

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  31. Steve, please know there are many of us who appreciate your tireless and endless efforts to advocate for these children. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you. Stay strong, and keep working!!!! We support you!

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  32. We do support you and all you do!!! Please keep the course and we will do what we can to support you. Thank you a thousand times over!

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  34. I hope that we all keep in mind that this is the MPAK Blog. There are several forums that take an opposite stance, and out of respect for them I choose not to make personal or observational comments on those forums. Any post on any forum should be respectful to the topic and mission. Thank you, Steve, for allowing a blog topic on this sensitive issue.

    Let us please refocus on what MPAK should stand for. Let us please move forward with the issues at hand.

    I heard that some other countries (I believe Sweden) have had their adoptions cleared through the courts. Can anyone substantiate this? It looks like some movement may be happening. Any updates?

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    1. YES! Hoping someone with some insights to the Sweden family can share some updates on this. We've been submitted to court, but haven't heard much since then. Spring time is very beautiful where my family and I live. We hope we can bring our daughter home soon so she can see and experience this beautiful season with us.

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  35. I have been involved with MPAK and have known Steve before they became the rep for all of Korean IA (which probably happened when he posted an update about EPs). MPAK has and still stands for Mission to Promote Adoption IN Korea and has been a great resource for me as a Korean person who has adopted a Korean child. Although I am not adopted, the majority of Korean adoptive families I met seem to be KADs, not non-KADs. So, it's not only Steve, but there are MANY KADS who see adoption from a positive perspective, enough so that they would adopt themselves.

    The accusation that MPAK encourages babies to lose their birth country or culture does not make any sense. Its promotion is originally for domestic adoption in Korea and has branched out to Korean heritage families abroad. All the Korean families I know (including my own) who have adopted are actively and successfully integrating Korean culture, language, travel, etc. in their homes. Most times without much effort since it is our own culture and original country. MPAK has helped my family to meet and gain support from other Korean adoptive families. Our children will still face adoption-related issues, but they are different from those who are transracially adopted. So, the support needed is very different. And I am truly grateful for the support and social connection that MPAK and Steve have given my family and me.

    To the poster who said adoption is only a band-aid and not a solution: I have to say I agree. But, simply throwing money or forcing birth families to stay together / not relinquish is not necessarily a solution either. As a person who has done some social and volunteer work in Korea as well as lived there extensively, there are many troubled families there with complex problems. There are parents who cannot or do not want to raise their children. They do love them, but there are situations where they can't or won't take on that responsibility. It's not always just about removing the stigma or giving them food or money. In that case, you have a child who needs a home and a family. Why deny them adoption at that point? The real solution is to build healthy, stable families where adoption becomes unnecessary. But, that does not happen overnight or even with a special adoption law. Until that happens, it's all about band-aids and trying to make the best given each situation - whether it's a response that involves adoption or not.

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  36. Thank you, Steve, for sharing your story. I admire your strength and candor. I pray that we can all join together to advocate for the social and legal changes necessary to ensure that every child in South Korea is raised in a loving family.

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  37. As a mother if two children born i Korea, who I love more than life itself, I get really sad when I hear some voices judging them to grow up in an orphanage.
    Because with the access I have to their biological mothers situation, I am painfully aware of the lack of likelyhood for them to stay with their biological family. In fact none of them would exist if their biological mothers had lived in my country. First, they would both be well educated about how to avoid a pregnancy and secondly they would have used the resouces available to end the pregnancy, as in both cases it was certainly not a child wished for. Now they both live in Korea and thus gave birth to their children and then immediately gave them up for adoption. They would not have kept the child even without social stigma och financial support. Most probably a korean adoption would not happen either as both children had some " defects" and certainly their mothers was not of great heritage. None if them asked to be born into this situation. Why deny them and other children in simlilar circumstances a right to a loving and caring family? My heart is breaking for the increased amout of children now being denied a family. Obviously children are kept being abandoned. Why not focus all the power and strong emotions in trying to fix the root cause why unwanted children are born and abandoned rather than punishing innocent children already being abandoned?

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    1. Thank you for your perspective and for pointing out that there are several issues that are not always one and the same.

      "Why not focus all the power and strong emotions in trying to fix the root cause why unwanted children are born and abandoned rather than punishing innocent children already being abandoned?"

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  38. Dear Disgruntled KADs

    The name calling and acidity in your words does nothing but discredit you.
    If it is still so bad where you are in life, GO BACK. Renounce the families that have raised you and the country that has supported you and given you sovereignty, and GO BACK.

    Reunite with the family members you can find in your native country. Let them recant the stories surrounding your adoption, which are guaranteed to be self serving, and see how much you have in common with this strangers you are so heated up about. Do you think they pine for you daily? That their lives have been frozen in time since the day the “plan” or decision” to relinquish custody was enacted?

    For every one of you who cannot get past this part of your lives, there are two others either living in an institution or worse yet, taken their own lives due to the stigma and loneliness, who would or would have gladly taken your place. Wherever that is in this world.

    There are two sides to every story, and no one is forced to live their lives where they do not want to be once an adult. Go “home”.

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    1. I think in the end, there are going to be polarized views of adoption because people experience adoption in so many different ways. It is along a continuum of positive and negative. For those that have experienced adoption positively, I don't think it's necessary to convince those that have had a negative experience to see it in a positive light. In essence, trying to convince them that adoption is positive is completely negating and undermining their experience. I agree, that some KADs were quite disrespectful in relaying their experiences and opinion, but let's try to see it from their perspective. I think they have a right to be angry...I would be too if I found out I was stolen. For those of us who have had positive adoption experiences, and those of us who are PAPs, let's exude what drives us to adopt in the first place, LOVE.

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    2. It is certainly true that no adopted person is forced to live where they do not want to be. However, for many adoptees, HOW they got where they are is often the result of injustice, unethical behaviors and downright corruption. These are things everyone should work to end.

      Even when an adoption is legal, ethical and truly the best way to serve the needs of a particular child, we APs should care and step up to do something about the cases that are not. That starts with opening our ears, even when what we hear may hurt.

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    3. Dear insensitive ugly-spirited person -

      I sincerely wish I could go home, unfortunately intercountry adoption robbed me of my nascent language, I wish it had not, it would make that transition so much easier if I could go home. Intercountry adoption robbed me of forming the kinds of relationships with my family I should have been able to form if I grew up with them, I have but a short experience with them to build on, with little language in common to do so, this is hard beyond words, it's a work in progress. I wish the hard years of building a life with meaning had been in Korea, but they were not, this life now includes a spouse who is not Korean, does not speak Korean either, and whose work and lifestyle priorities would almost be impossible to transit to Korea. We have talked of this and although willing, we realise how hard it would be on both of us. The tragedy of intercountry adoption is that my homeland has become a foreign country, my family an uncannily familiar set of strangers. Being stolen has its price, we paid it, and continue to pay for it. There is nothing self-serving and there is nothing to "recant" in my family, the story throughout my immediate and extended family on both sides is consistent and involves a multigenerational search for me, this is a reflection of your own self-serving ignorance to even suggest there is anything but tragedy in this.

      If you are a PAP please give me your name, and the agency you are adopting through, because I'd very much like to pass on the kind of attitudes and behaviour you have manifested to them, and hope they have the good sense to drop you from their programme.

      If you are a PAP please feel free to reconsider your position of GO HOME to adoptees, but one where YOU GO to their home, adjust to their language and culture, and do them credit by raising them at home, in their homeland. No, don't really consider that, I wouldn't want you to pollute their lives with your insensitive being.

      Margie - thank you for your kind insight. However I have heard a number of cases of destitute adoptees living on the street. Destitution doesn't give much option to where they live.

      - THE KAD IN QUESTION

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    4. I don't think it's very productive to tell "Disgruntled KADs" (as you call them) to "go home". In some of the KADs cases, they are stating they were taken from their homes. So, to tell them to "go home" is rubbing salt in their wound. Is an adoptee from another country only welcome if they are nice and accommodating? And if not, they are told they don't belong? I wasn't going to comment when I first read your comment because I didn't want to present division in the adoption community, but I can't tolerate what you said. It is hurtful to all parties.

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    5. "Another PAP," I am also a PAP and I could not agree more. There are many diverse views represented on this board, but I think one thing we all can and should agree on is that the comment you refer to is intolerable.

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  39. This is directed to all the KADs following these posts. I don't want to generalize, but from what I've read so far on these matters, the basis of the argument for why international adoption is so harmful to KADs centers around the loss of culture, country, language, etc. Where does this leave domestic adoptions in your perspective? Would it be more acceptable to be adopted within South Korea by an unrelated family? What about international adoptions into a Korean heritage or Korean American family? What about being adopted by parents who were adoptees themselves who could understand you beyond just your racial identity and also share with you the experience of being adopted? Is the matter of adoption really so polarized?

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    1. From what I've heard from domestic adoptees is that domestic adoption is also problematic, around sealed birth certificates, but significantly around identity, and we have all lost our mothers, our fathers, our extended families, so we all have grief, we all loose the affirmations of self that comes with seeing genetic reflections of ourselves, our personalities, our talents, our quirks, in others. However, we all know that there are some situations where children need to be cared for outside their immediate family, but this does not have to include erasing identities, changing names, reissuing of birth certificates with the pretense that adoptive parents are what most people understand as parents, or not having contact with original family.

      There are some losses that are mitigated by being adopted within South Korea, but it is better if people are encouraged to raise their children rather than relinquish for domestic or international adoption. I see this as the difference between genuine hardships in life by being faced with challenges that anyone with ordinary misfortune could be faced with, and the unnecessary challenges of loosing family and facing the challenges presented by this alone, and all of life's other challenges on top of it. I think Tobias Hubenette uses the term multiple burdens to describe why intercountry transracial adoptees fare badly, even compared to domestic adoptees. You loose a few burdens with domestic adoptions, but not all of them.

      Likewise, non-transracial intercountry adoptees are also faced with multiple burdens, including the burden that people assume they gained somehow by being adopted within ethnic lines. They may not have the same burdens as transracial adoptees, but they are not free of them.

      I don't really care how you term fostering or adoption, as long as you are clear what these things mean, but I think there needs to be reform in adoption which some have chosen to call permanent fostering in terms of it not including the pretense of kinship and change of identity. Previously adoption in the west did not include changes of name, with the exception that sometimes adoptees took on the surname of the adoptive parents after their own surname. Work needs to be done in western countries regarding this, and I hope attitudes toward non-kinship care other places change as well.

      I consider it problematic that domestic adoption in Korea heavily trends towards secrecy and pretense of kinship, like it once did in the west during the height of the Baby Scoop Era. It seems to be a matter of the burdens you loose when you are not internationally transracially adopted versus the burden's you gain with identity shock if you learn that you are adopted later in life, and the emotional problems you might have not knowing they stem from a primal wound caused by the loss of original mother, or stigma by others knowing you are adopted (I should remind people this kind of stigma was common in the west and still exists too).

      I'm not really comfortable commenting on adoptees adopting and if they have any better insight for helping their adoptive children. There are some adoptees who've internalized a lot of the prevailing attitudes about adoption, and live in a state which some have termed adoption fog, and there are some adoptees that act out and externalize their emotions. I'm not entirely convinced that an adoptee in adoption fog could give greater support for an adoptee who externalizes rage. However John Raible who is a transracial domestic adoptee is also an adoptive parent (along racial lines) whom I have considerable respect for their work.

      to be continued...

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    2. continued...


      The whole point about intercountry transracial adoption being harmful comes first from the principle that loss/grief of mother/family causes harm to kids, so lets try to make sure that happens first. And second, from the loss of identity, and culture, and being racially dissonant with the prevailing culture and adoptive family. If a child must loose their family (I mean people having done their best to make this not happen as opposed adoption agencies counseling and coercing women to relinquish), let's look at ways to not increase the burdens, and taking children from their country into a culturally and racially different country and family is adding multiple burdens.

      I believe that children need to have support so their mother's can raise them first, if not this, extended family, if not this, in-country options first, then international adoption last. In principle this is what the Hague convention and UNICEF advocate. This is not what the Korea adoption program adheres to, South Korea has not ratified the Hague convention. There are issues with the Hague convention in that it is lip-service but not really that accountable. But even with lip-service you can at least point to hypocrisy if a country is not holding up its end of the bargain. And it is an agreed upon principle from which to work from.

      Evidently the matter of adoption is quite polarized. I know some adoptees who would abolish any form of adoption. I am not one of them, I advocate adoption reform, and in-country solutions. Many have painted me, and many who share similar attitudes as anti-adoption, which is not really listening to the message and just creating a "bogey" for P/APs. I encourage P/APs to rethink their attitudes (even if I'm a bit rough on them because I'm appalled), rethink what they really know about what they are getting involved in by trying to get them to research and/or by passing on information (which I don't really think is my responsibility as I think it is theirs before they get involved with adoption but realise is a necessity), and letting them know that some adoptees REALLY don't appreciate their unethical adoptions, and try to get P/APs to rethink and re-evalute their motivations.

      I would rather spend my time on my own life, but in all conscience can't not speak out, it gets me badly every time I hear a young intercountry adoptee speak out in pain. I'd like justice for myself and for my family, but I don't think we will ever see it. I'd rather support enterprises in other countries that support family reunification that work because I see this as a positive thing I can do, but I'd like to do what I can for unwed mothers in Korea, however I am not in Korea and what I can do is try to talk to the people directly affecting adoption industry which is an industry that needs mothers to relinquish, which are the people who are paying amply to support this industry, P/APs. And I really don't like doing this.

      - THE KAD IN QUESTION

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    3. "The whole point about intercountry transracial adoption being harmful comes first from the principle that loss/grief of mother/family causes harm to kids, so lets try to make sure that happens first."

      I meant "...so let's make sure this doesn't happen first."

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    4. I agree with so much of what you said above (except maybe your points on adoptees adopting, but I can't comment on that because I am not an adoptee. Thank you for stating your points without attacking PAPs or APs. In essence, I think we all (hopefully) want the same thing, at least I do. I complete agree with your following statement: "I believe that children need to have support so their mother's can raise them first, if not this, extended family, if not this, in-country options first, then international adoption last". Thank you so much for your perspective.

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    5. This another KAD. While it may have been true for some children to be 'encouraged' to give up due to what the agencies may have determined that birthmothers may not be able to take care of the children, and even in some cases that the agencies made mistakes of overstepping their boundaries by placing them for adoption. However, these cases are actually are much fewerr than the children are willingly given up by birthmothers, not coerced or forced as a KAD suggests. There are a whole lot more children being given up williningly. And this is still going on in Korea. Look at Steve's other blogs on like Baby Box. Certainly the birthmothers were not forced to abandon the babies. We can try to put into the place a process where the agencies will not take any action without the consent of the birthmothers, and I think that is what the new adoption law is trying to do. But do not try to paint that all children given up are coerced or forced, and in so doing make the AP feel guilty of participating in the adoption process.

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    6. To the KAD who brought up Baby Boxes. I believe there was a steady increase in the use of this facility long before the August 2012 amendment took place. I saw a chart published in a Korean newspaper with the statistics that showed steady increase prior to this date, so people were using it as a shortcut option because knowledge of it increased regardless of how easy it was prior to just relinquish to an agency. MPAK may discount the rise being attributed to the increased media coverage of it raising it into the consciousness of women with unwanted pregnancies, but MPAK’s version does not take into account its rise in use prior to August 2012. The rise in the media attention after the change in laws must have made an impact, thus making a well known easy route for abandonment for women ill-informed on their choices and how to relinquish legally, or women who have not found the courage to do so.

      Undoubtedly, as the example MPAK used, there were abandonments related to the new law changes. With the change in role that agencies must perform in appraising women of their options and what the new regulations require, I imagine many agency staff are not adept at counseling women who are afraid of being revealed as to how to deal with her particular circumstance when a woman arrives wanting to relinquish and afraid. It takes a skilled counselor to help someone afraid and desperate to come to terms with the choices available and give support to help a person find the courage to do the right thing. I doubt this is in the repertoire of counselors more used to the old system where they only had to get a woman to sign relinquishment papers.

      Certainly there is a problem if women continue to use the baby box, and it is open to other abuses, for example people other than the mother using the box to remove children for whatever personal motivation. But in whatever solutions that are discussed regarding how to make safe relinquishments, it must include respect for the rights of the child to identity.

      The question is not about there being women who genuinely want to relinquish, of course there are, and their numbers of relinquished children might be able to be absorbed by domestic adoption. The real question is how many women would relinquish if they were given the information and support to raise their own children. Evidence seems to suggest a lot will by the example of Duri Home with a 0% relinquishment rate since the new laws (this home already had low relinquishment rates prior to the law change), and I read that another home (name I can’t remember) had something like a 5% relinquishment rate since the new laws. These numbers are trending towards what you’d expect in the west where women are better appraised of what support is available.

      - THE KAD IN QUESTION

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    7. Tae –

      I don’t think I understand your agreement with family first, in-country options second, international adoptions last, with your desire to continue to adopt internationally. Korea, like many other countries involved in intercountry adoption, is doing so little to promote family first, that international adoption is jumping the gun at a sprint. The basic failure in promoting family first, makes intercountry adoption extremely problematic, especially with the large sums of money concerned. Korea has been an example of promoting intercountry adoption above the first two choices. Korea’s priorities have been ICA first, in-country adoption second, family last. It has to it’s credit legislated to attempt in-country adoption first, and the only sign it has made to support family has come only recently.

      I’ll also give you an example of what I consider a problematic situation with adoptee attitudes towards their adoptive children. A famous opera singer who was adopted became an adoptive parent but has cautioned her children regarding original family search, I find this a problematic attitude for any adoptive parent, let alone an adoptee adoptive parent. Her cautionary reasons are personal, she had a brief reunion with a family member, the media got hold of the story, she became suspicious the family member was interested in her fame and money even though there was nothing in the media to substantiate this, and it was refuted to the horror of the found family member who was just saddened and hurt to be portrayed this way. This paranoid experience is the basis of her discouraging her adoptive children to search. Not sure this is very supportive of them, rather a projection of her own experience.

      There are certainly a number of adoptees that I’d find I’d be completely at odds with if I had had the misfortune of being adopted by them. If my APs failed to shape me and my attitudes in the way they wanted me to be, I sincerely doubt I’d have less of a problem with an adoptee who wished to project their own adoptive attitudes on me. That being said, there are adoptees I’d have less a of problem with hypothetically being parented by, but they are probably less likely to become adoptive parents.

      - THE KAD IN QUESTION

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    8. "I don’t think I understand your agreement with family first, in-country options second, international adoptions last, with your desire to continue to adopt internationally".

      Family First: "and the only sign it has made to support family has come only recently". There's not a tremendous amount I can to support this from overseas, but I do believe Korea is working towards funding programs that support Birth Mothers raising their children. My mother directly works with BMs regarding job readiness and job placement services.

      In-Country Adoptions Second: Children are available for 6 months domestically before they can be matched internationally.

      International Adoptions Last: In the end, if children are available for IA, it means 1) the BP was unable to parent in the CURRENT Korean culture 2) they were not matched with a domestic family so 3) since BPs are being re-approached regarding relinquishment if I get a call to continue our adoption process I will. I do not want a child who cannot be raised by their BP and cannot be matched domestically to
      grow up in an orphanage. I will not boycott IA because of a possible injustice. Injustices happen, but to boycott IA for the possible injustice is hurtful to the 70% of children who do not have a home in the current situation in Korea.

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    9. Tae,
      Thank you.
      The intercountry adoption should continue, and Hague supports this. I have always stated that the intercountry adoption should only stop when there are no more children to be sent abroad. Before that we need to promote adoption within Korea as there will always be birthmothers that will continue to choose to abandon or relinquish their children no matter what social condition or financial aid are given to them. Just as in the US, Korea will always have birthmothers that do not wish to be mothers.

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    10. That is exactly my feeling also - it seems ridiculous to suggest that adoptive parents who are mid-process should abandon children to life in an orphanage just because we can't personally eyeball every piece of paper or speak to the birth parents directly. It is up to the Korean court, which as far as I am aware has no vested monetary interest in adoption, to examine each case to determine whether or not the adoption should be allowed to proceed. If birth mothers decide to parent that is one thing but, for those children whose birth parents still feel unable to parent them, it would be very sad for those children to grow up in orphanages because their prospective adoptive parents had been encouraged to abandon them out of fear of possible injustice.

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  40. It makes me so sad to see so much anger. I believe that anyone over the age of 20 (and many under that age) have some experience with intense pain. No one should be judgmental of anyone else's experiences. Clearly, in this imperfect world we live in there are no perfect solutions. But, just because someone is justified in their anger and has a right to their feelings does not turn angry insults or personal attacks into a positive or productive exercise. Anger and negativity is not a very good life compass. I think that one of the biggest problems in our world is an increasing intolerance for the opinions of others when they differ from our own. Everyone has a right to their opinion, yes. But, being mean or petty towards those who have a different opinion tends to be ineffective. I, for one, appreciate the information that Steve provides. I hope he is able to sort through all of the negativity above to note my appreciation. I think he's is trying to do something helpful with regard to something he feels strongly about.

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  41. Steve,

    Is there any movement that you know of going on. Still in the dark about the whole process. Please help us get any kind of info

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