I was contacted by a news media (I won't reveal the name and the associated media agency) with some questions related to pros and cons of intercountry adoption. Below is the response I wrote to the editor who asked for my comments.
The intercountry adoption issue is all about where you want to stand on the issue rather than for what it really is.
So you have adoptees on both sides of the argument, both for and against it.
And many adoptees are divided with passion and emotion on both sides.
While I can't speak for all adoptees, I will let you know how I feel about it.
I am an Aerospace engineer developing and building the GPS III satellites that will serve the peoples' needs all over the world.
Because of my scientific nature and logic, let me start of with this equation:
ADOPTION = OPPORTUNITY
Adoption is an opportunity to have a family, an opportunity to get educated, and opportunity to become somebody.
Interestingly, adoption also provides opportunity to speak for or against adoption itself.
If adoption is not a choice available, then what is the alternative to adoption for a homeless child in Korea?
In Korea, children are usually separated by unwed mothers or birth parents that choose to abandon them, either due to them not able to take care of the babies, or due to cultural pressure where out-of-wedlock births are not accepted, or children that are caught between the divorce situation or economic hardship...all play into many adults giving up their children.
But the great majority of the children are given up by undwed mothers that do not wish to take care of the children due to unacceptance of their situation by their families and the society as a whole. It is really difficult for an unwed mother to try to raise her child in Korea. The greatest of the difficulties is the social stigma against them, unacceptance by their families and peers, and economic reasons and inability of the young mothers so burdened with such heavy responsibilities at such young age.
For these children, there are four options available:
1. To be placed back with their biological parents...this seldom happens
2. To be adopted domestically...this happens, but not enough
3. To be adopted internationally...this is being choked off each year with very few leaving Korea now
4. To be placed in institutions (orpahanges)....this happens to most of the homeless children in Korea
What happens to the significant majority of children that are placed into the institutions?
The children usually stay in institutions until age 18 and then forced out of orphanage system with very little education and preparation to face the world by themselves.
For these adult orphans, most of them are not well educated or even go to colleges. So they may find jobs that don't pay much and work long hours. Many turn to criminal activities, and many girls become victims of abusive men, and some turn to prostitution to survive. And many wind up giving out-of-wedlock births, repeating the cycles all over again, just like their parents did.
There are some exceptions to this. Some orphans are self-motivated and do well in school and able to go out into the society and make something of themselves. Some have become teachers, businessman, social workers, etc. but these are very rare as most of the children are not motivated or guided or taught to study, and the orphanage life does not promote proper learning environment for the orphans.
Believe me, I lived eight years in an orphanage and I know what I'm talking about.
Today you hear many adoptees who are well educated and some are endowed with PhDs and teach as professors in some universities, but have chosen to speak against intercountry adoption. I do not think their hearts are evil in any way, but simply naïve with the facts. The fact that had they stayed in Korea, they would not have had the opportunities they enjoy now. Some adoptee activists are living in Korea to campaign against adoption. Some are even against domestic Korean adoption stating that adoption separates children from birth parents when in fact the adoption is in response to already separated children, not the cause of it.
Some of them seem to have the illusion that they might have been better off staying in the country of their birth, culture language, and identity, the things that many adoptees lament as something lost in the process of adoption. But the hard truth is that to grow up in Korea as an orphan the loss is many times worse than the loss of a culture or language. They have lost the opportunity to be somebody in the society as the institutional living has robbed them of their rights.
Many think that they might have had the chances to be reunited with their birth parents had they not been uprooted out of a country without their consent and transplanted in the strange places. Again the hard fact is that children being reunited with their birth family is very remote and most of them would have grown up in various institutions with very little hope or opportunity to make something of themselves.
Many of the orphans are tied down because of the law that requires parental consent to be adopted. One orphanage director who I have known for many years has stated, "The fact that there are the parents of these children existing somewhere in Korea is ruining the lives of these children." She was lamenting the fact that some of her children were admitted to her orphanage as babies, and now they are about to be forced out of the system. These children have waited all their lives for their parents to show up, but the parents have never stayed in touch nor visited them. For these children their lives would have been better off had they been adopted early, even through intercountry adoption.
Sure there are risks with intercountry adoption. I remember the news of a child being killed by his adoptive parent in the US two years ago. Some are abused physically and sexually. Some are not loved and neglected by their adoptive parents. But these types of risks should not stop the needs of the children to have opportunities they deserve. While there are some unfortunate placements of the children with bad parents, significant majority of the parents are good parents.
The study has shown that the rate of children being killed by their biological parents is ten times higher than those killed by their adoptive parents. So should we pass a law that forbids parents from having their own children because of the risk? We need to be careful to have a proper and balanced view before we rush quickly into making a judgment against intercountry adoption. That's why a few isolated cases do not represent all the adoption cases.
Adoption process has some holes as it is not perfect, but we should continue to improve on it, but at the same time don't tie down the hands of so many children from being adopted or their placement period drawn out so long because of some procedural bureaucracy. The current special adoption law is supposed to work for the children, but in fact it is working against such children that need to be placed as young as possible. Due to the law, many are now being placed two or three years of age. The most important period of their development years has already been tarnished with trauma because of the law.
Life itself is a risk. People get killed, there are wars and terrorism, natural disasters and famine, and diseases with all kinds of sickness, and one could consider that life is not worth living with such risks abound. But does that mean that we stop giving births to our children and give up the hope in living because of the risks? Definitely not. Likewise, should a few bad cases of adoption stories kill the hope for thousands of many children that deserve families and opportunities to become who they can be? Having opportunity means having risk. But for a child in an institution, there is no opportunity for the child, but the presence of even a greater risks.
I know I have rambled on a lot.
But I hope you will understand what I am trying to say.
All I am saying is that ADOPTION = OPPORTUNITY.
Let this opportunity not be taken away from the children.
“Opportunity to succeed or fail through adoption is better than having none at all.”
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
The following blog is by my daughter Helen, who has written a blog as a part of her school assignment to write on an issue, and she has chosen the issue of intercountry adoption. Helen is not an adoptee and currently is a freshman at Biola. I really appreciate her insight into her exposure and experience in the issues related to intercountry adoption.
For as long as I can remember, my father was always saying, “Every child was created to be loved.” But, how can they be loved if they have no home and no family? I have a lot of experience with the idea of adoption because I was raised in a home where adoption was highly promoted. Of course, my knowledge is miniscule compared to my father’s knowledge of what is going on, simply because as an adoptee himself, he set out to advocate international adoption in Korea. Therefore, he has done extensive research and thinking to better understand the situation.
Adoption in Korea is a taboo, of course--if you are reading this blog, it is most likely that you know that already. In Korea, adoption is often done in secret and families that go public with their adoption are often looked down upon. The stigma of adoption in Korea has even affected the mindset of some of my friends, who come from a Korean background. I remember the first time I experienced this was when I was having a conversation I had with one of my friends wherein she asked me why my brother and I were the same age but, weren’t twins. I told her that he was adopted and then she asked, in surprise, “Oh, and are you just okay with just sharing that information?” Surprised and confused by that response I replied, “Yes.” In an obvious tone. Then she went on and called my parents brave for not being ashamed of adoption. That was not the only time I experienced something like this. Throughout the years, I’ve seen traces of the negative social stigma in the people I interact with daily. This leads me to the purpose of writing this blog post.
I believe my dad being orphaned was an immense blessing. It’s a strange assumption, correct? However, if he wasn’t orphaned he would not have had a passion to change Korea’s views on adoption. Because of my dad’s suffering and experiences, he is helping to ensure that nobody goes through the same experience as he has. He is also igniting more hearts to the problem that is still very much relevant today. One of those hearts is mine. I believe that me being my father’s daughter was not coincidental. My father being who he is is also not coincidental. My dad’s vocation is to promote international adoption in Korea, and he has inspired me to take on that lifestyle as well.
-- Helen Morrison
Monday, September 7, 2015
You are invited!
“MPAK Gala Event to Raise Funds for the Baby Box!”
초대합니다! “베이비박스를 위한 후원 밤”
Date/Time: Thursday, October 22, 2015, 6:00 PM
Place: Taglyan Cultural Center, 1201 Vine Street, Los Angeles, CA 90038
Keynote Speaker: 이종락 목사 (베이비박스), Pastor Lee Jong Rak (Baby Box)
Registration/Tickets등록/티켓 구입 정보: $150/person, Register at:
Organized By주최: 한국입양홍보회 (MPAK-US)
6:00 PM - 7:00 PM – Reception and Silent Auction
7:00 PM – 9:30 PM - Dinner, MPAK Children’s Choir, Baby Box Story, Live Auction
Semi-Formal, Suite & Tie, Black Tie Optional
MPAK (엠펙) 후원의 밤은 가정이 필요한 어린이들을 위한 행사입니다.
MPAK Gala is all about helping homeless children.
MPAK is putting together a fundraising event to support the Baby Box in Korea, and we are honored to have Pastor Lee as our Keynote Speaker. Due to the enactment of the special adoption law in Korea approximately 700 babies have been abandoned through the Baby Box by the unwed mothers who couldn’t take care of them. Pastor Lee’s story has been featured in a movie, ‘The Drop Box’ by a young producer named Brian Ivie, who will also be in attendance.
후원의 밤 행사에 오셔서 이종락 목사님을 만나보시며 그의 스토리를 직접 들어보시고, 어떻게 베이비박스를 위해 도울 수 있는지 많은 한인들의 따뜻한 사랑과 참여를 부탁드립니다.
Please come to the Gala event and meet Pastor Lee personally, and listen to his story. We ask that many Korean-Americans to attend and show your love and support.
이 행사를 주최하는 엠펙은 지난 16년간 한국에 가정이 필요한 아동들이 가정에서 자라야 하는 뜻으로 입양홍보운동을 열심히 해왔습니다. 공개 입양을 주장하는 엠펙은 한국에 부정적인 입양문화를 바로 세우기 위해 노력해왔으며, 그 결과 수많은 입양가족들이 공개입양을 통해 입양의 소중함과 아름다움을 한반도에 전파하며 많은 아이들이 가정에서 행복하게 자라게 되었습니다. 엠펙에서는 베이비박스에 버려지는 모든 아기들이 좋은 가정에서 자랄 수 있기를 희망합니다.
MPAK has been promoting adoption in Korea for the past 16 years on behalf of many homeless children. We advocate for transparent adoption to bring about positive changes to the Korean adoption culture. Since that time, many adoptive families have joined MPAK to promote the importance and beauty in adoption in Korea, and this has resulted in many children growing up in loving homes. It is our sincere desire that all the babies abandoned at the Baby Box will find homes.
For more information, please contact:
For those that are not local or cannot make it to our event, please consider donation at the registration site below, or use this form to send in your donation.
MPAK Gala Registration at: http://www.bidpal.net/mpakgala