Monday, May 23, 2011

12th Annual MPAK Picnic - a Super Success

There were over 100 people.  The weather was perfect.  Even more perfect were the adoptive families and their children running around the park happy.  With a gigantic obstacle course moonbounce, lots of food and BBQ, the annual MPAK picnic was a smashing success.  There were so many new faces of parents, children, and friends.  There were a few couples that came to learn more about adoption, and went home convinced.  There were games for children, and lots of presents for children.  The picnic was held at the Laguna Niguel Regional Park, and the facility was beautiful.  For now I only have a group picture, but I will post the other pictures from the picnic later.  Thanks to all those that came, and special thanks to all those who served at the picnic. 
12th Annual MPAK Picnic at the Laguna Niguel Regional Park, May 21, 2011 (Steve in red on left)

To see the rest of the pictures from the MPAK picnic, please visit the Picasa link below:

Current Status - A Nice Trip to Korea and Back, Well Almost.

I am currently writing this during my work related travel.  I have grounded myself at a hotel to sit down and finish off the letter to a Korean Government official regarding intercountry adoption.  The letter is too long I believe, but cannot cut out any portion of it.

I have come back from Korea, and what a trip it has been.  The National Adoption Day was attended by well over 1000 people, the next day MPAK had an adoption celebration in Kwachon City, the next day I traveled down to the city of Busan, where the city invited me to speak in front of their city workers.  I spoke for eighty minutes.  I had ten minutes left over for Q&A.  It was such an honor to speak to them my adoption experience, my values, and my work on behalf of homeless children.  Much like what I did at the Forum where I spoke on 'giving back'. On Sunday I gave a testimony at a medium sized church in Chungjoo.  Then I went back up to Seoul.

One of the open days, there was a meeting at the MPAK office with a Government official at the MOHW, representatives from all three big agencies, some came from KCARE, and of course me and Mrs. Han represented MPAK.  There were couple of professors of law that attended as well.  It was about running some public service announcement (PSA) using children's images to tug the hearts of Koreans to reach out and adopt the babies featured.  So the concern on the table was on commercialization of children, with potential implication that children's rights are abused by the PSA. 

Apparently there were some in Korea that were admantly opposed to it, and the MOHW wanted to bring all the concerned members of the adoption community and hear their opinions.  It didn't take long for all of us at the meeting to come to the conclusion that PSA would better serve children by finding homes for them.  This was going to be much like the "Wednesday's Child" program in the US where a homeless child or a sibling group of children are featured at many news stations across the country, and this method has been successful in finding many homes for needy children.

So the MOHW decided to run several children's PSA which is one minute long each.  MPAK worked with the adoption agencies and other organizations to produce the one minute PSA for 30 children, and 50 more were planned. But when the Minister of MOHW took this case to the Blue House and showed to other ministers what her plan was, there was no support for her plan from the other ministers, that argued about abusing the privacy rights of children.  So this PSA idea went nowhere.  It was a devastating blow for many children whose voices have been drowned out by ignorant leaders of the country, that probably have not even adopted one child.

What they haven't considered was that to put a child through an institution for eighteen years, ruin his/her life by not cultivating full capacity that a child could have (due to having no family), forced out of the orphanage when they turn 18 with a very little education and very little motivation, most of these children would struggle through their lives in Korea.  This is even much greater abuse to a child than a mere one minute PSA. What good is the privacy rights when the lives of children are ruined by blocking their rights to children? We are talking about one minute of PSA, which most people would not even remember of think about.  We only need one family for the child.  Compare this to the 18 years of delayed growth and suffering by a child who couldn't appear in that one minute, the only time a child might have a voice to say he/she is in need of a family.  Sigh.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

From Seoul, Korea

I flew in last night and arrive in Seoul.
Every year about this time I make my trip to Korea.
The main objective is to participate in the National Adoption Day event, and this year marks 6th year since the National Adoption Day was established in Korea in 2005. 
The event draws around 1000 people from all over Korea, and it is sponsored by the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) of the Korean Government.  The event usually starts with an award ceremony recognizing all the individuals who have contributed much to the cause of adoption, and the second half of the program usually features adoption story and performances by well know artists.  Last year, the performance was given by a girl group called 2NE1, whom I didn't know anything about, but apparently popular even among the Korean-American teenagers in the US. 
After this event, I have to travel down to the Pusan City, where I have been invited by the city to come and speak to its city employees.  I don't have much information on what type of employees, or how many, but I am honored to be there to give a lecture to the city audience.
After that I will visit an orphanage in the Kimcheon city where they will have an adoption promotion event.  I have known this particular orphanage for many years and is one of my favorite place due to the warmth and care of the children by the orphanage director Mrs. Kim Jung Sook.
The next day I am scheduled to visit Chungjoo City where I am scheduled to speak at a church giving a testimony on Sunday.  After all the events and activities, I am to fly back to the States on Monday.
It is going to be a very busy schedule, and in between times I will try to visit MOHW and an adoption agency on a matter related to the issues of certain waiting children who have been already assigned families but have to wait for next year for visa clearance due to quota placed by MOHW on how many children can leave the country each year.
More to come later.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Mom, Do You Remember? - A Mother's Day Letter by Steve Morrison

With my mother Margaret

I wrote the following letter to my Mom in 2009 on Mother's Day.  The letter was published in a Christian magazine in Korea, and also translated in Korean as well. As we celebrate the Mother's Day, I thought I'd share with my readers the letter I wrote to my Mom and to remember the influence she had in my life. I hope you will all be blessed by my letter, and hope the letter will encourage all of us to relfect on our mothers as we celebrate Mother's Day this Sunday.

Steve Morrison

Dear Mom,

It has been three years since Dad passed away.  How lonely you must have been during those years.  Whenever I think of you and Dad, the first thought that comes to my mind is that of yearning to see you both, and also a swelling heart of gratitude.

Kids are also full of praise for you, and constantly ask me when they could visit their Grandma in Colorado. Thankfully we plan to visit you this summer, and the kids are already excited and they are counting the days.

Mom, do you remember Dad’s funeral service three years ago? Remember that I gave a tribute in Dad’s memory? Do you remember me stating how proud I was to wear the name of Morrison, and how happy I was to be a part of the family? And I also said that being your son was such a great privilege as well.

Mom, do you remember?  I had a second birth in May 28, 1970 as the new 14 years old Morrison.  That was a special birthday for me.  That day as I arrived home, you came out to greet me as I was getting out of the car. I still remember your warm embrace and your loving welcome even to this day.  I still remember your warm smiles, but the best part was that you kept that warm smiles everyday. So whenever I think of you, I always have the image of you smiling at me.

Do you remember the day when I first arrived?  I cannot forget the Kimchi you made.  It was the most interesting Kimchi I have ever tasted.  You said that you had the opportunity to taste the Kimchi a few months before I came.  So you went to work to make me feel at home by making the Kimchi.  To be frank with you, I really had a hard time eating that Kimchi because it was very different.  Instead of using Chinese cabbage you used a regular cabbage, instead of putting garlic you put lots of onions.  You remembered that Kimchi being a bit sour, so you put some strong smelling salad vinegar (Kimchi is naturally sour when aging).  To make it spicy you sprinkled black peppers instead of chili peppers.   But the moment you opened the lid, I knew it was not the real Kimchi.  However, I was 14 and old enough to know and appreciate the fact that you were trying very hard to please me.   That experience has permanently imprinted in my heart your thoughtful and your warm hearted spirit. 

Because of your love, I had a new sense of purpose to work hard at school, and do my best.  While in Korea, I was treated like a second class citizen because of the “orphan” label that I carried with me, and heard a lot of discouraging remarks.  Thus I didn’t want to study, and consequently I wasn’t a good student in Korea.  In America, I had a new family, a new hope and a new dream for my future, and that helped me to do well at school.

Mom, do you remember the day when I brought home a straight-A report card?  You were so proud of me.  Dad was especially proud of me, and for each A he would give us one dollar.  Dad gave me $7 for seven A’s and he was very proud of me, while at the same time he felt his wallet becoming a lot lighter.  But he was still very happy about it.

I can never forget the way Dad loved you.  Every day as Dad left the house to go to work he would hug you and kiss you, and say “Have a good day, honey.”  And at the end of the day when Dad walked into the house he would hug you and kiss you and say, “How was your day, honey?” Dad was such a gentleman and I remember how I admired him.  The way Dad loved you has taught me that I should also love my wife the same way. 

Mom, do you remember teaching me English when I first came home?  I was 14 years old boy, and you made me to watch the Sesame Street and Mister Roger’s Good Neighborhood. I remember Ernie and Bert, the Big Bird, and the Cookie Monster.  Do you remember sitting down with me and teaching me everyday?  It was largely due to your help that I was able to communicate reasonably well only three months after my arrival.

Another fond memory I have as a family was the meal-time prayers.  We took turns in saying the grace.  We didn’t pray individually, but waited until everyone sat down to pray.  We lived as “A family that prays together stays together.”

Not a day goes by when I am not grateful for you.  It is because of you I have become what I am.  Especially I thank God everyday for having brought you into my life.  If God didn’t have a plan and grace for me, I would not be able to become a son of Morrison. 

It was largely due to your warm love that I have become a space systems engineer with a good job, a good family that is based on the unshakable foundation that Jesus has established.  I have a beautiful wife and four great kids.  Also, if it wasn’t for your love, I would not have adopted my son Joseph. I will love Joseph as you have loved me. However, I am only an imitator of your love and I don’t think I can ever love like you loved me.

You are the source of inspiration in my founding a nonprofit organization called Mission to Promote Adoption in Korea (MPAK) ten years ago.  MPAK has brought a positive change to the Korean adoption culture in Korea.  What I am most grateful is that through MPAK I have met so many wonderful families and exceeding joy as I have witnessed so many children finding homes because of my effort.  I fondly remember two years ago when I had the privilege to take you to the land of my birth and meet many MPAK families. They thoroughly enjoyed meeting you and the sharing you had with them.

For 54 long years you have stood by Dad being a true helpmate that God intended.  You have always respected him, and elevated him always, while at the same time acknowledging his headship in the family.  Out of love you submitted yourself to Dad.  You have also done your best to raise us five children, and your ultimate desire and emphasis has always been that we have the right relationship with the Lord.  For that I will always be grateful. 

Lastly Mom, your son Steve would like to express one more thoughts of love for you.  If God gave me another chance to start my life all over again, I would choose the same path.  I would choose the life of being homeless, go hungry, be cold, and become an orphan all over again and live in an orphanage. Why?  The answer is simple.  It is so that I could meet you and Dad again.  You mean that much to me.

Mom, be healthy and I hope you live forever.  I love you very much.  I can’t wait till summer to be with you again.

With lots of love,

Your son Steve