The Special Adoption Law was enacted in Korea August 5, 2012. It has been one year since the enactment of the law, and the fallout from has been tremendous.
While there is no data available nationwide showing the true number of baby abandonments by birthmothers, I would like to show the results from the number of babies that were abandoned through the Baby Box in Korea. The Baby Box operated Rev. Lee Jong Nak of the Jusarang Community Church is the only one of its kind in Korea.
The birthmothers fear the birth registration requirement imposed on them by the Special Adoption Law, as they fear having the records of births of their unwanted babies in their family registries will hurt their future and their family. Many of them are teenage moms and they simply cannot raise the babies, nor do they want to.
I participated in the 2013 International Korean Adoptee Association (IKAA) Gathering during the week of July 29th - August 4th. There were around 500 Korean adoptees from all over the world, and I had a privilege of conducting a workshop to speak about the impact of the Special Adoption Law on both the domestic and intercountry adoption. The room assigned to my presentation overflowed with people and the responses have been great.
There were some individuals present in the room that clearly had differing views on adoption compared to MPAK, but they were very civil and cordial.
Below are just the three of many charts I presented, clearly showing the fallout results from the Special Adoption Law during the past 12 months of enactment. I think the charts are pretty much self explanatory. During the August 2012 to July 2013, there have been 192 abandonments of babies at the Baby Box (nationwide it would be higher, but no data so far). Most of the birthmothers have left the babies with notes attached. Out of many notes left, 82 birthmothers specifically mentioned the Special Adoption Law as the reason for their abandonments. That's 43%, a significant number that clearly refutes against the argument that the Special Adoption Law was not responsible for the increased abandonments.
I got the data directly from the Baby Box, as it appears they keep a good record of all the babies being abandoned, and they went through each notes and gleaned out all the notes that mentioned the difficulties associated with the Special Adoption Law.
I countered this argument with a reasoning that having homeless shelters and exposing the availability of such facilities does not cause the increase in the number of people becoming homeless. But rather, the exposure of such facilities come to the aids of the people that are already homeless and looking for places to be fed.
Likewise the mere exposure of the Baby Box does not cause more abandonments. It offers as a method to birthmothers that have already abandoned their babies in their hearts. Rather than risk the babies to be abandoned in unsafe ways, the Baby Box provides a safe way.
I must agree that it is important for children to have access to their records. But there are different ways to do this than to force birthmothers to register their unwanted babies. While the intent of the law may have been good to bring it up to the international standards, it has to adjust to the cultural aspects of the people involved, and not force upon them when they are not ready. Especially, when it risks the lives of children at stake. Having a good record is important, but in the process of having the good records, let's not risk the lives of children.