Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Tragic Decision by the City of Seoul on Baby Box

Below is the statement that came from Ms. Young Ran Jeong of the Jusarang Community Church, which houses the Baby Box. I ask for your prayers that God will reach out to the hearts of the government officials to protect the lives of the innocent babies. I love many things about Korea, but certainly this is not one of them.


Here is Ms. Young Ran Jeong's message:

This morning we received a call from the person in charge of the Baby Box at the Kwanak-Ku office.  I was told that the city of Seoul and the Seoul Metropolitan Children’s Welfare Center (서울시아동복지센터) and the Seoul City Children’s Hospital (서울시립어린이병원) had a discussion and they have decided they will no longer accept the babies abandoned through the Baby Box.

They have concluded that other than in emergency situations, they cannot accept additional babies as there is no spaces available in the institutions in the Seoul areas.  They told the Jusarang Church (where the Baby Box is) that it would be up to them to take care of the abandoned babies from now on.  The city was scheduled to come on Thursday to pick up the children, but they will not do that now.  They also stated that the best solution is for them to move to another area region other than Seoul.  The other regions have enough rooms to accommodate the children, so it would be good for the Baby Box to move there. 
I asked whether it would be possible for the city of Seoul to contact the regional areas and arrange to have the children be transported to those regions.  But their excuse was that this would not be possible without changing the administrative related laws.
I also asked the city employee to help the Jusarang to host a children’s center, but was told that if the condition was ideal for Jusarang this would be no problem (stipulation that Jusarang does not qualify under the current facility regulation as they are not legally approved to take care of children as the facility is too small).    
They were clearly aware of our limitations, and I could not believe the city was telling me these things. The room at our facility for the newborn babies barely can hold seven babies…and what are we suppose to do for all the children that continue to come to our care…and we can’t even help with the birth registration matters.
I think the bottom line message from Seoul is that they want us to close the Baby Box.  Because there have been lots of pressures in the past to close the Baby Box, now the government is using this devious scheme to shut us down.   Why can’t they understand that closing the Baby Box is not the solution?
Outside the weather is very cold, and how can they think in this way when just a few days ago there was another news article where a baby was discovered abandoned somewhere and the baby was in a critical condition!!!!
We are at a loss as to what to do as they didn’t even give us how much time we have, but they just dropped the news on us.   We can only pray.
I ask for your prayers that this sticky situation will be resolved soon.
Young Ran Jeong's message in original
오늘 이른 아침 관악구청 베이비박스 담당직원으로부터 전화한통을 받았습니다. 서울시와 서울시아동복지센터와 서울시립어린이병원과 이야기를 나누었는데 더이상 베이비박스에 들어온 아기들을 받을 수 없다는 것입니다. 정말로 긴급히 병원에 가서 꼭 치료를 받아야 하는 아기를 제외하고는 더이상 받아 줄 시설이 서울에는 없다는 것입니다. 이제부터는 주사랑공동체에서 알아서 하라고 하더군요. 낼 목요일이 정기적으로 아기를 데리러 오는 날인데 낼부터 아기를 데리러 올 수 없답니다. 가장 좋은 방법은 빨리 지방으로 이사를 가는 것이랍니다. 지방 시설에는 자리가 많이 나기때문에 그쪽으로 베이비박스가 가면 괜찮다는 것입니다. 

 그렇다면 현재 베이비박스에 보호되는 아기들을 서울시와 연계해서 지방으로 보내면 되지 않겠느냐고 했더니 행정절...차상 법을 다시 바꿔야 해서 안된다는 것입니다. 그럼 우리가 일시보호소를 운영할 수 있게 해 달라고 하니 조건만 갖추어준다면 얼마든지 할 수 있다는 겁니다. 주사랑공동체 열악한 환경을 뻔히 알면서 어떻게 이런 말이 나올 수 있는지...신생아실로 쓰고 있는 믿음방은 신생아가 7명만 누워있어도 어른들 자리가 없는데 앞으로 베이비박스에 보호되는 아기들을 어떻게 해야 할지...그렇다고 출생신고를 할 수 있게 해 주는 것도 아닌데 말이죠..

 결국은 베이비박스 문 닫으라는 소리나 다름없는 거죠. 베이비박스 폐쇄압박이 직접적으로 먹히지 않으니 이렇게 우회적으로 돌려 이야기는 하는 정부의 형태가 참으로 어이가 없고 기가막힐 따름입니다. 이제는 베이비박스 문을 닫는다고 해서 해결될 일이 아니라는 것을 왜 모를까요?
날씨는 점점 추워지고 있고 며칠전에도 바깥에서 버려져 아기의 생명이 위험해진 기사를 봤을텐데도 이런 생각이라니!!!! 언제까지 기한이 정해진 것도 아니고 어떻게 해야 할지 참 막막합니다. 현재로써는 기도할 뿐입니다.

 이 문제가 원만히 잘 해결 될 수 있기를 간절히 기도해 주세요.


  1. Can we get a suggestion over to them to see if they can set up a "sponsorship" program so that individual children can be sponsored by families here in the US and elsewhere? I know my foundation can participate in this way. Is this even an option that is allowed? I know we need to pray... But we also need to act.

  2. I'm sure our Christian school would sponsor a child as well. Let us know what we can do from the U.S. message me on facebook if there is something tangible we can do.
    Traci Bailey LeBrun

  3. South Korea could change adoption laws..
    There are many women who cannot have children who would be very happy to adopt them. There are single women with careers who would be very happy to adopt children..
    The adoption laws in Korea make it impossible for anyone who does not meet the standard set to adopt...
    As a single for Foreigner woman who is not married but well educated and well able to provide for a child and over the age of 40 and was never physically able or medically able to have children it breaks my heart to see so many kids so many children left without homes or loving families or loving parents because the standards do not allow for an adoption to happen because the standards are inflexible. I would have been happy to adopt one of those children and I would have been very grateful and I would have given them all the love in the world that a child deserves.

  4. This is so sad to hear. These abandoned babies are not able to be given to the adoption agencies in Korea (Holt), correct? Is it because there was not an official relinquishing of parental rights given by the birthmother? I'm trying to understand how the system is set up in Seoul. What has the process been in the past for the babies who were given to the hospital from the Baby Box? Are they then eligible for domestic adoption? And this is just not happening, so do they stay at the hospital indefinitely (and therefore that might be part of the "lack of room" they are claiming)? I am just trying to understand all of this...thank you!

    1. It's not so much that there's a problem of relinquishing rights (I'm pretty sure anyway), but that the parents don't want their names attached to the baby. Because these babies are just given up in the dead of night with no information, registering a child is difficult -- or so that's what reading many articles have led me to believe. Assuming that they are eventually registered and are available for adoption, there are not many Koreans that are willing to adopt because of the stigma of having an adopted child, that being the families being ashamed of them. Same for those women who are single and have a baby, they are more willing to give up the baby than bring shame to the family over being an unwed mother. Unfortunately, the Korean government also makes it near impossible for foreigners who may want to adopt a child; even couples wherein one spouse is a Korean national, it is difficult for them to adopt. This is all just information that I've gathered or gleaned from just reading random articles. I do not say that all these are facts with the exception of one: the couple wherein one spouse is a Korean national. The belief of this particular thing being fact is because my father and his then-wife went through the system in adopting my sister, and it was extremely difficult.

  5. I can see you haven't, yet, responded to the other comments and questions. I would also like to know how to adopt one of these children. My husband has epilepsy and we have hit many road blocks when trying to adopt. I would praise God to have one of these beautiful children to tuck in at night. We are married (11 years), otherwise healthy, own our home, and have great jobs.

    1. I learned during my last trip to Korea that these babies are available for adoption under the abandonment status. But they are not available for intercountry adoption. Domestically, they can be adopted, but the problem is that the current law has made it much more difficult for parents to qualify, and must be approved by the court. This change and the cultural issue of Koreans wanting secret adoption have driven them away from adopting. Many have dropped out of the adoption processes due to the complexity of the new changes. This aspect of the change to screen out the right parents for children is good one (still not as complicated as ours in the US) but there has to be some balance between the complex process and dealing with the cultural issues in Korea to make adoption work and enhance adoption rather than discourage it. So despite the availability of the children through the Baby Box, adoption is not happening as much as we would like to see. The Koreans see the law as an impediment, thus discouraged to go through it.

  6. Is there a way to directly donate to the organization running the Baby Box?

  7. If anyone is interested in more information, you can check out their FB page:

  8. Is there a way to bring one of these kids home to the US with me? I speak a little Korean and am familiar with the culture. I'll be in Seoul in April, so if anyone can tell me what I can do to help, I'd be happy to. Thanks!

    1. The short answer is no, as they are put into the institutions where adoption is not facilitated. They may be adopted domestically, not intercountry.

    2. Koreans don't WANT to adopt these children (because they overvalue bloodlines). Foreigners WANT to, but CAN'T. However, Dillon International places Korean children.