Thursday, March 24, 2011

Adoption of Korean-American Children in the LA County

I had an interview with Mrs. Chung Kim of the LA County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). This same notice was sent to all the MPAK members and potential adoptive families in my list.
I just spoke with Mrs. Chung Kim of the I called her after an article appeared in the Korea Times (please visit my MPAK blog at:, March 18th posting).
The article is about the increasing number of Korean-American babies being given up for adoption in the LA County area.
The article, according to Mrs. Kim was an over-exaggeration of facts and figures by the reporter, but that is not the main point of this email.
Mrs. Kim handles the adoption services, and she is trying to recruit Korean-American families that are willing to become Resoure Family (another term for foster family).
Mrs. Kim's goal is that whenever there are Korean-American children become available for adoption in the LA county, the priority would be given to the waiting Korean-American Resource Families.  The Resource Families would be the first to be contacted when a child becomes available.
A Resource Family may choose to adopt the child once the child comes home.
Unlike the article's claim there are not that many Korean-American children available.
However they do become available time to time.
In order to be a Resource Family, there are a few requirements:
1.  You must reside in the LA County area (I am in the process of investigating similar programs in other counties like Orange County). For those in other states, your county should have a similar type of programs.  The only problem is that there may not be any Korean-American child available.
2.  You must take 33 hours of training on Model Approach to Partnership in Parenting (MAPP) course.  This may take 4-5 hours per night each week for six weeks, or all day Saturdays for 4 weeks.
3.  For those families living in OC or other counties nearby LA, you have to take the class offered in the OC (something similar to MAPP), and depending on availability of children, Mrs. Kim may be able to help you with the adoption process.  The only difference between living in the LA county and not living in it is that for the LA County the families have a chance to start as a Resource Family (or foster care) and then move on to adopt a child, while the non-LA County families would have to start with adoption from the beginning without going through a trial period through foster care.
Other information:
4.  There is no age limitation for the parents
5.  There is absolutely no cost involved.  The County pays on the average of around $500 per child for foster caring (more or less depending on child's physica/medicall needs).
6.  Child's medical benefit stays with him till he/she is 18.
7.  The monthly support (i.e. $500) and the medical benefit stays with the child even after adoption until the age 18.
8.  You are not required to foster any child if you do not wish while waiting for a child to adopt.
9.  The down side is that there are not that may children available.
10.  There is one year waiting period where birth parents are given the opportunity to take the child back.  After the one year is past and the birth parents do not reclaim the child, the parental rights are automatically terminated.  You may adopt the child after this.  However, there are situations where a birth mother may sign a relinquishment paper allowing immediate adoption.
Mrs. Kim has offered this proposal  to MPAK families:
1.  Sign up for the 33 hours MAPP training to become Resource Parents
2.  If there are 5 our more couples, then she can conduct the classes just for the Korean-American couples
3.  Need to be committed with active participation.  The classes will be conducted with several situations of role-playing, where a participant needs to take an active part.
MPAK strongly recommends participation in this training so you can be ready to foster care or adopt when a Korean-American child becomes available.
Many of you have expressed desire to adopt domstically in the US due to high costs and length involved.  This might be your next opportunity.
What's good about this is that you can still proceed with this program while you are in the adoption process to adopt a child from Korea.  If you have not paid the full fee or been assigned a child, then you may keep the Resource Family option open while waiting.
I hope you understand what I have presented.
If you are interested in signing up to become a Resource Family, please reply to me.
The first orientation day is coming April 4th (Monday). 
If you don't understand or have additional questions, please email me at or call me at 562-505-0695.
Take care,
Steve Morrison

Sunday, March 20, 2011

MPAK - OC Region Meeting

MPAK - OC Group Engaging in the Adoption Diaglogue

    While the MPAK Valley Group was meeting at Andrew and Helen Kim's house in Chatsworth, down in 80 miles south of it was the gathering place of the MPAK-OC (Orange County) group at Brian and Kathy Shin's house in Aliso Viejo.  The two gatherings were on the same date and time (not planned on purpose).

The OC group had around 35 people, mostly adults.  What was unusual about this OC gathering was that there were many new couples that came for the first time to MPAK.  According to Brian Shin, the new faces outnumbered the old.  Both Brian and Kathy were very excited about the first timers and wished that they will continue to come and be encouraged.

Brian said that he was very moved by meeting one particular couple that is adopting their first child and he is a special needs child.  It was obvious the way that Brian described the couple that he was really impressed by them. 

Brian and Kathy shared their adoption story, of how they came to one MPAK meeting, and then a long journey after that of adopting three children over the years, and how God had blessed them through the children. 

Brian and Kathy were both tired, but said that they were extremely happy and gratified that they could host the MPAK gathering at their house.  They have been energized by the whole experience.  Brian, Kathy, and myself included, would like to thank all the people that came to make our MPAK gatherings such a great success. 

Next up is the MPAK-LA Group gathering (To be announced later), and our MPAK's 12th Annual Picnic at the Laguna Niguel Regional Park on May 21, 2011.  The picnic will be a combined four MPAK regional groups (San Diego, OC, LA, and Valley) together in one place. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

MPAK - Valley Region Meeting

MPAK had its first Valley Regional Group meeting tonight.
Because MPAK Southern California group became too large to be a single group, it was decided this year that it would split into three groups:  MPAK Valley Region, MPAK LA, and MPAK Orange County (OC).  Today, both the Valley Region and the OC groups met at two different locations.
I attended the smaller of the two and the turn out was great.  There were a total of 30 people including the children.  The picture shows those who stayed through the end to take the picture.  Thanks to Andrew and Helen Kim for hosting all of us tonight.
The food was great with ribeye steak, sausage, grilled chicken, mandoos, and so many other goodies.  The environment was very electric with kids running around the house merrily, and the adults all sharing one another's adoption experiences, or for some the anticipation of waiting for their children to come home soon.
It was good thing that we split into three groups as I heard a couple of comments that because the Valley Region is close to them it made them so much easier to attend. 
The sharing of the adoption story by Andrew and Helen was very touching and moving as they adopted three children from Korea, and how the experiences have blessed them tremendously.  Apparently they are not done yet.  They are contemplating another adoption either through intercountry or through domestic foster care.  I thank them for their openness, and providing great leadership for the Valley Region families.
I will also post the OC group meeting as well.

MPAK NY/NJ Announcement by Min Lee

엠펙 가족 여러분,
재원엄마 (이민경) 입니다. 제가 오래간만에 인사 드립니다 . 저희 가족은  ‘07샬롯 근처로 이사온후 계속 이곳에서 살고 있습니다.  아이들도 많이 컷고,  저는 대학원에서 상담학 공부도 시작했습니다.
해나 와 리베카  부모님이신 이상환, 이영주 님의 수고로 그동안 엠펙 가족들의 모임을 잘 이끌어 오셨고, 그외 많은 가족들이  적극적인 도움을 주셔서 엠펙 입양 가족들은 계속 모임을 갖었고 서로에게 많은 도움과 격려가 되었습니다.
해나 부모님 께서 육아,  직장, 사업등 으로 매우 바쁜 시간을 쪼개서 엠펙 일까지 하시느라  너무나 수고가 많으셔서 제가  이제 부터  적극적으로 도와 모임을 더욱 활성화 하려고 합니다.
앞으로 여러분의 편리를  위해 남부 뉴져지 (해나나 집 근처) , 북부 뉴저지 (도현이네 근처) 에서 모임을 나눠 각자의 편리한 시간에 갖도로고 하겠습니다.  그리고  일년에 두번정도 (여름, 크리스마스) 모두 모여 연합 모임을 갖자는 뜻을 가지고 도전해 보려 합니다.
봄 모임 소식은 각자 해나 부모님, 도현이 부모님 께서 이멜로 연락해 주실것입니다.
연락을 받으시면  편리한  모임에 리플 하셔서 참석하시면 됩니다.   여러분께 모임의  활성화를 위해 앞으로도 더욱 적극적으로 참가 해주실것을  부탁 드립니다.

7월 둘째 토요일  예정으로 여름 피크닉을 가지려 합니다.  이번 피크닉에는 스티브 모리슨 이사장님께서도 참석 하실것입니다.   정확한 날짜와 장소가 정해지는 데로 제가 이멜로 연락 드리겠습니다.  오래간만에 스티브 이상장님도 만나고, 저희 가족도 만날수 있었으면 좋겠습니다.
이민사회에서 입양가족으로 지낸다는것은 많은 의미가 있다고 생각됩니다. 서로에게 도움이 되고 격려가 되면 더욱 좋은 모임을 가질수 있다고 생각이 되며  또한 이민사회에도 입양을 더욱 활성화 하는 귀중한 모임이 될것이라 생각됩니다. 여러분들의 적극적인  협조가  가장 중요 하다고 생각 됩니다.
입양 문의  또는 질문 등은 연락 주시면 능력 것 도와 드리도록 하겠 습니다. 저희 이멜은,  전화  셀폰:201-294-7976 집) 803-829-8166 입니다.

Dear MPAK Families,
Greetings from the Huh family of Charlotte. I hope this memo finds everyone well.  I missed you very much!  Our family is doing great!  Personally, I have started MA program in counseling.  

I am writing to ask for your active involvement with MPAK once again.
Since we left NJ area, Sang and Young Joo Lee have been very active in leading MPAK meetings and we are very thankful for their efforts. Due to their family, business and job responsibilities, I have stepped up to help out with MPAK business.
For your convenience we have reorganized meetings in two separate regions of NJ/NY.  Mid-Southern NJ area (by Sang and Young Joo Lee) and Northern NJ/NY area (by Ken and So Hee Lee). Of course the place can change from meeting to meeting. The specifics will be notified via email by Sang Lee and Ken Lee respectfully.
There is a summer picnic scheduled tentatively 2nd Saturday of July. Please mark your calendars. Steve Morrison will be joining us at this picnic. When I have a place and a date I will be sending out e-mail to everyone on this list. I hope to see everyone there.
Please make every effort to join our meetings. It is imperative that we gather as much as possible to encourage one another and expose our children to other adoptive families. Furthermore, we are making a difference in our community.

Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions, concerns and/or suggestions. My email is, cell phone: 201-294-7976, home: 803-829-8166
Thank you so much and I look forward to seeing you all again.


Friday, March 18, 2011

More Korean-American Children in Foster Care in LA Area

A friend of mine forwarded me this article from the Korea Times published on March 10, 2011.  It reports that there are more and more children being born from Korean-American single women or students.  I will contact Ms. Chung Ja Kim mentioned in the article and see how MPAK can get involved with this situation.  In the past I have been requested by many Korean-Americans that have expressed their interest in wanting to adopt Korean-American children locally in LA, and always gave the answer that they are very rare.  But it looks like this article is making me rethink about the situation and  this might be a new opportunity for the adoptive families.

More Korean Kids Ending Up in Foster Care
LOS ANGELES—There is a silent and often unspoken tragedy growing in the Korean-American community involving broken families and the children they leave behind.

According to the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) in Los Angeles, the number of Korean children in foster homes has risen steadily in recent years, an effect of the increasing number of divorced or single parents choosing to give up their kids for adoption.

What’s worse, for many of these “deserted youth,” foster homes have become their final destination, as few in the Korean community are willing to adopt.

Kim is a 20-something Korean mother who left her child with DCFS a week after giving birth. An international student, Kim, who asked that her last name be withheld, says her family back in Korea never learned of the pregnancy. “I had no choice. I don’t have the capacity to raise the child and could not bring myself to tell my parents.”

Despite three days of counseling with social workers from DCFS, Kim made the decision to give her baby up “for the sake of my education.”

In a similar case, Ms. Park, a young mother, left her one-year-old daughter with DCFS following a bitter divorce from her husband of three years. Although she was given custody of the child, the 30-year-old divorcee said her daughter would prevent her from ever being able to remarry and start a new family.

Efforts by DCFS to reunite the daughter with her father were unsuccessful, officials said, as he had returned to Korea and remarried soon after the divorce, showing no interest in taking responsibility for the child.

DCFS says the number of such abandoned children has spiked in recent years, attributing the rise to increased instances of unwed mothers and broken families within the Korean community. They add that while the number of such cases is still relatively small compared to the larger population, among Asian communities the situation has grown particularly acute.

Chung Ja Kim, a social worker with DCFS, says it is becoming more common for her to come across young Korean mothers looking to give their kids up for adoption. “Last year I worked on 10 cases involving single Korean mothers who were unwilling to raise their children, three of whom were newborn infants,” she noted.

Kim added that most women were either international students from Korea or Korean Americans in their early 20s, and that a majority of them were driven to give their children up for adoption out of concern over their own futures. “I recently came across one mother who gave her first child up for adoption several years ago. She had recently gotten pregnant again and was looking to leave her second child with DCFS.”

For some parents, alternatives to adoption include abandoning their children with a friend or with a day care center. According to DCFS, many of these children are traumatized by the experience.

Experts say the issue of adoption remains an awkward one within the Korean community, where the emphasis on blood ties remains strong. Soon Ja Lee is a practicing psychiatrist in the Los Angeles area. She says that compared to other ethnic groups, “Koreans tend to lay a great deal of stress on blood relations.”

Kim with DCFS says that in recent years there has not been a single Korean family that has approached the organization seeking to adopt. She adds that many Koreans harbor preconceived notions about the nature of abandoned children.

And while there is a consensus among adoption experts that abandoned children do better when adopted by parents from the same ethnic group, statistics show that on average the number of adoptions among Korean-American families remains miniscule at best. DCFS adds that there is not one Korean family registered on their list of eligible foster care homes.

“The Korean community has to step forward,” says Kim. “It is essential that they take more interest in the welfare of these children.”

The Chosen Son – A True Christmas Story

As a part of the blog beginning, I wish to share some of the writings from my past that have been posted in the Korean MPAK website in 2004.  This is a true Christmas story of my family from 2004 that actually happened, and you have to read it to the end to understand the signifcance of the story.  This story will tell you a little about who I am, and why I do what I do through MPAK.

It was first written in Korean, then translated to English.  I heard that many people shared this story on other blogs, and some pastors have used it as illustration on their sermons.  I am very privileged that so many have been blessed with this story.

The Chosen Son A True Christmas Story

I will never forget the special Sunday of December 26, 2004.
My family was visiting my parents for the Christmas Holiday, and I had the opportunity to worship with my parents at their Village Seven Presbyterian Church in Colorado Springs.  As members of the church, both of them had served at the church for many years.

It was the day after Christmas, and the church was filled to the capacity crowd.  We dropped our kids at the childrens ministry, and my wife and I sat together with my parents to worship together. The church was predominantly white and there were around 1000 people, and it has been a while since we worshipped together.  But ironically, the sermon on that day by the Pastor Wheat was on adoption.

Anyone who has attended some church services would have most likely heard about how God has adopted us through Jesus and given us the privilege to call Him the Father.  The pastor spoke about the three important lessons on adoption.  The first was that there is a transformation of our special status. That is, through adoption, an adopted child is entitled equally with the other children in the family the rights and privileges that the family bestows.  Jesus Christ came to this world to give us that right.    

At the mentioning of the words special status, I thought about my parents sitting next to me.  It occurred when they adopted me, I too underwent a transformation into a special statusfrom a lowly orphan to a son of great parents. This realization made me to be more appreciative of my parents while my heart was filled with gratitude. 

Secondly, through adoption we have special relationships with the God the Father. The pastor claimed that adoption was God
s idea.  Through adoption He has given us the right to call him Father.  The pastor used an example where many adoptees become curious about their backgrounds and later ask the question Why? to the parents. Why did my birthmother abandon me?  As many adoptees ask this question, they are often shaken by self identify as to who they are, and in some cases they fall into depression. 

But the pastor stated that he has met many adoptive parents whose children asked such questions, and these parents have taught him some valuable lessons.  The lessons came from what the parents said to the adopted children.  They would say, Do you feel you have been abandoned?  We dont fully understand how you came to be in this world, but one thing that is very clear to us is that we wanted you in the first place, and we chose you.  Because of that you are more precious to us than anything in the world.

The pastor then stated that likewise, God has chosen us while we were yet sinners, and because He has adopted us, we now have special relationship with Him.

As I reflected on the statement, We chose you, I again thought about my parents sitting next to me.  I thought about the hopeless days of living in an orphanage long ago.  I also remember the time when my picture was featured on Holts newsletter at the end of my 13th year.  In that issue of the newsletter there were pictures of many other children needing homes, and most importantly they were all younger than me.  My father looked at all the pictures of the children and his eyes caught mine, and upon seeing my picture, I dont know what inspired him, but he said to my mother, Here is the boy. Here is my son.  That day, far away across the Pacific Ocean in America, a man chose me as his son.
As I listened to the sermon I looked at my father.  He was now 81, and he could hardly walk even with a cane as he was very weak.  I wondered as he was listening to these words what thoughts were running through his mind?  And what would my mother be thinking of?  I became curious.
Likewise, they were probably wondering the same about their son Steve.
I was chosen and adopted, and through adoption I had a special relationship with them.  I was able to experience their sincere and deep love for me.  Because of this I was someone very special.  My wife and I adopted Joseph from Korea in 2000.  Someday my boy Joseph may ask the same question, Why?  When that day comes I hope to answer him with confidence the words filled with strength and love.

The third lesson on adoption was that it renews ones life.  When God adopts a person, He does not try to fix the person up.  He doesnt take apart the wrong things one by one and fix them back.  Instead, He renews the person. When I heard this, I realized for the first time that there has never been a time when my parents tried to take my bad habits or behaviors and put efforts to fix them.  Of course it doesnt mean that they never scolded me for my mistakes, but all I know is that they never gave up on loving me, and their kindness and love made a new person out of me.  They accepted my weaknesses and allowed me to experience a new love, a new family, a new faith, a new hope, and a new dream.

It was evident the pastor
s sermon moved my mother immensely.  After the service my mother got out of her seat and hugged me, and she buried her face in my chest and started to sob. I understood what she was going through. Mother held me for some time and finally lifted her face up to me.  Her eyes were red and filled with tears streaming down as she said, I am so thankful that you are our son. And then she buried her face again and cried.

My heart was indescribably moved, and all I could do was to caress her shoulder.  I said, No mother, it is I who is even more thankful.  My wife was watching this whole episode and she took out my video camera and starting taking shots while tears streaming down her face.  I was thinking, How could she even think about shooting this scene at a time like this?  My wifes tears were the tears of love.  My father also came over and we hugged each other.  In a trembling voice, he said, We truly are grateful that you are our son, Steve.

After the service, my mother and I, along with my kids Joseph and Helen went over to the pastor Wheat to thank him for the message.  Later when our family was talking in the hallway, the pastor passed us by. While he was exchanging the greetings with my parents, I directed his attention to my father sitting on a chair, and said, Pastor, this is the Dad who chose me a long ago.  Pastor Wheat exclaimed, Thats Wonderful!, and after exchanging a few more words he went on his way. 
In looking back on that Sunday, I couldn
t help thinking about many things. Was our visit that day a coincidence? Or was it Gods will to bless me with this experience?  Or how I was reluctant to drive from LA to Colorado for the Christmas, but my wife, who was at the time eight months pregnant with the fourth child, insisted that we visit my parents for the Christmas. There are many possible explanations, but I believe our trip to Colorado Springs that winter was divinely guided.  It was Gods affirmation of how my parents chose me as their son, as well as Gods way of showing me His story on adoption.  The Christmas of 2004 will always live in my memory.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Introducing Mission to Promote Adoption in Korea (MPAK)

Greetings from the founder of MPAK

Thank you for visiting the MPAK blog site! My dear friend. Mr. Harry Holt once said, "Every Child Deserves a Home of His Own." I believe the time has come for Koreans and Korean-Americans to reach out and help homeless children in Korea. Although each year over a thousand of homeless Korean children find homes overseas, there remains much greater number of children who are not adopted and must grow up in orphanages in Korea. Also the intercountry adoption program will come to an end someday. Time is short and there is an urgent need to promote adoption in Korea.
In my attempt to create this blog site for MPAK, every effort will be made to cover the topics that are of interest to Korean-American adoptive families.  This does not exclude so many great families that are not of Korean descent that have adopted children from Korea, you are certainly welcome to join the blog. 

This blog is also hopeful of many potential Korean-Americans that are considering adoption but have various concerns or issues that stand in their way. The blog does not have all the answers, but it will evolve to cover inputs by viewers. The web site is designed to help the viewers to look at the concept of adoption positively, and help them to overcome fear in adoption. It is designed to address the needs of homeless children in Korea. It is designed to help them to see the beauty in adoption for the sake of children as well as for them.

Stephen C. Morrison
A Korean Adoptee
Founder of MPAK

MPAK's goal - is to bring about positive changes to the Korean adoption culture, so that all the homeless children will grow up in loving homes.