Friday, September 9, 2011

9/11 and Adoption - A True Story by Min Lee

Min Lee and Ben Huh leads the MPAK-NY/NJ Regional Group and this is their story on how the 9/11 event forever changed their lives.

The Huh Family - From 9/11 that brought home two sons. 
(From Left Jane, Min Lee, Elliot, Alison, Caleb, and Ben Huh)

It is the 10th anniversary of 9/11. No one can forget the horrific assault our nation had to experience.  What happened on that day has forever changed the ways we lived in America.   My life has dramatically changed since that day as well.  Here is the story of how 9/11 brought life and hope to my family.
As a Christian, I have always carried a burden and knowing in my heart that I was to live for more, although I never knew how I would actually accomplish it.  I was living a typical 1.5 generation Korean-American life.  I was happily married with two beautiful daughters.  We lived in a nice home in the suburbs.  We even had a dog to make it a picture perfect American life.  I was comfortable and content.
Then, on September 11, 2001, I was awakened abruptly from my quiescent lifestyle.
It was a typical beautiful morning in September.   I dropped off my girls at their school and headed to the gym as I did most mornings.  I walked into the lobby of the gym and took a glimpse of the TV which was broadcasting the news about the World Trade Center being hit by a plane.  “A bad accident” I thought to myself as I walked over to do my work out routine.
Soon after, I saw a bunch of people huddled together and sobbing in fear.  I looked over at the TV screen.  The World Trade Center buildings were burning up in flames.  A mass of people on Wall Street covered with debris scrambling aimlessly.  The sound of explosion, screaming and horror was unbelievable.  It looked like a scene out of a disaster movie.
It was surreal.  It felt as if all sound was fading out and everything around me was paralyzing.  On that day, a huge part of America was taken away.  It was a time when even the most secular Americans came together in prayer.  Incredible sorrow struck me and I cried for days.  A heavy burden came upon my heart to repent on behalf of our nation and for my personal life.  I asked God about the purpose of my life.  I reflected deeply on the meaning and the preciousness of my life and the life of others.
My heart was filled with urgency and desire to live as Jesus lived and to love as He loved us. I felt a strong call of God to radically change my lifestyle.  I could not live with only selfish motivations any more. 
I was convicted that I was continuously trying to fill my life with things of the world, bigger house, more glamorous vacations, fanciest cars, etc…  Suddenly, it all seemed senseless.   My husband Ben and I decided to look for somewhere to serve as a family.  During my research, I learned about adoption and found myself becoming more interested and attracted to the idea of adoption. 
Then one day, I discovered MPAK’s website.   I was immediately fascinated to find stories of Korean families who had adopted openly.  I was deeply impressed and challenged by Steve Morrison’s vision and courage to speak up for homeless children.  It became clear to me that adoption was the great choice for our family.  I asked Ben what he thought about adopting a little boy as our third child.  He responded by saying “Maybe”.   I took his neutral response as a “yes” to go ahead with it.  I started by studying more about adoption.  I learned that,
Adoption is another way of building a family and the best way to provide a family to homeless children.  Every child has the right to be loved and have a family.
 I could have a son without having to give birth and provide a family to a child all that the same time.   How perfect!
 Right away, I started having doubts. Would I really be able to love a child who is not my own?  It was already a challenge managing my own two children, how would I care for another child?  What would our family and friends think?  If I could not be a good mother, maybe it would be best not to adopt at all.  I felt very confused and anxious.
Heavy hearted with uncertainty and doubts, my family and I went on a family retreat where I came to realize that I was blessed to be a blessing.
“ I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you: I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.”   Genesis 12:2-3
This very verse was given at our wedding ceremony.  It was God’s way of reminding me of his purpose in our marriage.  Whom shall I share the joy of blessing with? I asked the Lord.  God revealed to me that it would be the child we adopt.
I realized that God gave me the desire to adopt.  It wasn’t because I was a perfect mom or a loving person, but just the opposite.  I was not to rely on myself for good will and action but to know that it is God who works in me.  I was finally comfortable in making a decision.   
The next day, Ben told that he saw a vision of an infant boy wrapped in a blanket while he was praying the night before.  He was so sure that it was God’s will for us to adopt.  
As soon as we got home, we completed and sent off our adoption application.  We wanted to adopt a healthy baby boy.  During our application process I came across “The Waiting Child” program.   I felt guilty that I was not open to special needs children.  I began to pray for the waiting children, and also for the child who was going to become our son.
On the last visit of our home study, I saw a photo of a baby boy in the Waiting Child webpage.  I was instantly drawn to him, but adopting from the Waiting Child list seemed too risky.  Nevertheless, I asked for more information on the baby boy.  Other than the birthmother’s medical history, he appeared to be healthy.  One amazing thing that we noticed was that the baby was born on exact day that Ben saw a vision of a child in his prayer.  We thought that was more than a pure coincidence.
For the next several months, we waited anxiously for the arrival of our son.  On February 14, 2003, I received the best Valentine’s Day gift ever – the news that our son is ready to come home.  Ben traveled to Korea and brought home our son Caleb Jae Won.  He was so small and beautiful.  Our girls and I were thrilled to finally have our baby home.
We watched Caleb thrive day by day.  We thought we were blessing this child by adopting him, but we realized that he was blessing us much more.   The joy and restoration that he brought to our family was immeasurable.  We felt blessed that God had chosen us to make a difference in a child’s life by simply being his parents.    Adoption has also affected our daughters in many wonderful ways.  They have matured into compassionate and open-minded young ladies.  We witnessed the immense effect that a family can have on a child. How vital it is for a child to grow up in a loving family.  Every child should have that opportunity.
In 2005 we adopted another baby boy.  We named him Elliot Si Woo.  Si woo was his given name at the adoption agency.  We had already picked out a new middle name for Elliot but when we saw that his name meant “bestowed enough”, we decided to keep it.   His middle name reminds us each day that God’s grace bestowed upon us is enough.  Elliot was born with congenital heart disease among other conditions.  He too was a Waiting Child. Elliot’s birthmother’s medical history made Elliot less desirable to many people, but Ben and I felt that it was more of a reason for us to adopt him as our son.  After all, we were already so blessed!  We knew that our God is bigger than any ‘unknowns’.   We overcome our fear by relying on God’s grace each day.  We believe that when God created Caleb and Elliot He had us in mind.  I don’t have a single doubt in my mind that we are a family made in Heaven. 
Presently, Caleb is a sweet and kind 9 year old boy. He is an outstanding soccer player and aspires to become a scientist one day.   Elliot is a smart, fun and full of life. He is almost 7 years old.  Our boys are very proud of the fact they were adopted.  They feel very special that God has unique plans for them.  All my children are awesome creation of God and I am so thankful for them.  I am blessed to be chosen as their mother.
Becoming an adoptive parent truly helped me mature as a person.   Through my children, I see the love of our Father in heaven who adopted us as His own.    Although terrible, the incident on September 11th, 2001 triggered something inside me and changed my perspective on life and challenged me to act according to my faith.  God used the evil intent of the enemy and turned it into joy, love, hope and life for my family.  
“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”   2Conrinthians 5:14-15
The Huh Children - From Left:  Elliot, Jane, Caleb, and Alison

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Regarding My Latest Blog on EP Priority for KAs

It appears that my latest blog regarding the Korean Government's preference over Korean-American (KA) couples by giving priority in the EP process has stirred a lot of negative emotions by non-Korean heritage families. Namely, they feel they are being punished by the Korean government by further delaying the adoption process to already delayed process because KAs will be given priority in the EP process. 

I think this is perfectly understandable and justifiable reaction by those that have expressed discontent with the latest decision by the Korean Government (Ministry of Health and Welfare - MOHW).  And I fully sympathize with their feelings and reactions.  I know I would feel the same if I were in their shoes. 

I wish I had a simple and easy solution.  While I have always been pro-adoption, whether the couples be Caucasian or Koreans, there is really nothing I can do about the choice that the Korean Government makes.

However, there seem to be some misconception that there are lots of Korean-Americans adopting, but that is not the case.  To my understanding, of the approximately 100 remaining EPs left for this year, there are only five Korean-American families in the EP list.  So it isn't like giving priority to the Korean-Americans in the EP process would make that much difference.

The group photos of MPAK families in my blog seems to have many KAs mainly because these families have been gathering since 1999 and more and more have joined over the span of 12 years.  They didn't all adopt past two or three years, but started from long ago.  You will see that some of the children are in their teens. 
I want you to know that I am with all of you who are frustrated by the delays due to quota and wish I could do something about it.  I have complained a number of times to MOHW that what they are doing through quota is really delaying the union of children with parents, and that delay will affect children negatively in their growth. 

But unfortunately the powers that be in the government do not view their children like we do.  For instance, there are some in MOHW that those children that won't be placed to be put into various institutions and that would be OK for them.  But then there are some very caring individuals in MOHW that try to advocate for children but unfortunately their voices do not go far up the chain of command. 

Korea sees the intercountry adoption (ICA) program as something of an eye sore in the international community and they deeply desire to close down the the ICA.  ICA also projects image of Korea to the world that despite the economic miracle, it is still a country that cannot take care of its own children, thus not having the character of a strong nation.  Korea's effort to shut down or gradually reduce the ICA is nothing more than face saving effort.

I think if Korea is to be a great nation in the international community, it should adopt the Hague Convention and practice the priorities outlined in the convention to give children the chance to be placed with their biological families, then domestic adoption, and when neither option is available to place them with willing and loving families abroad.  While the Hague Convention does not specifically state the priority should be given to the same race/heritage people residing overseas, it is nonetheless understandable that a nation like Korea would prefer to place a higher priority in placing its children with people of same race or culture.

I have asked the Korean Government numerous times in the past to exclude the KA adoption from their annual quotas, but this request went unheeded so far.  I will continue to try to communicate with MOHW on this and will not stop.  But perhaps one of the biggest force in impacting the reduction of ICA in Korea is largely due to anti-adoption organizations that have mobilized together to voice opposition to ICA, or even domestic adoption by claiming that adoption promotes separation of children from their biological parents, which is a total nonsense.  We all know that adoption is a response to already separated children that need homes, not the cause.

Korea is going through a lot of transition in the policies related to ICA, and will continue to evolve as they get closer to ratifying the Hague Convention.  But they are also struggling to save face in the international community, especially as they get ready to host the 2018 Winter Olympic. Let's hope and pray that Korea will come to recognize that beyond the glitters of their economic success, to be a leading nation in the next decade, they can't just sweep the voiceless children under the mat and hope the problem will go away.  This is essentially what they are doing by ignoring children that need homes by taking away their rights to grow in homes, even abroad.  Let us pray that Korea will truly make the decisions and set the policies that best serves the interests of children. And I promise that I will continue to be a voice for homeless children.