Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Parents Show Up Suddenly, and Snatch Away the Orphanage Separation Funds from Aging-Out Orphans

Graphics: Orphans leave orphanages when they turn 18. For the last four years around 1000 orphans aged out each year. Of the 242 orphanages with 11,665 children.  The pie chart shows where the orphans turn to for help at the time of separation. Deciding alone is 60.3%, orphanage and support center 20.3%, families/relatives 11.3%, friends 5.2%. miscellaneous 2.9%.

Parents Show Up Suddenly, and Snatch Away the Orphanage Separation Funds from Aging-Out Orphans 

갑자기 나타난 부모.. 보육원 퇴소 아이들의 자립정착금 가로채

Original Article at Donga.com published on 7/1/19: http://www.donga.com/news/Main/article/all/20190703/96296073/1

  • Orphanages give out $3,000 - $5,000…Parents with no news for 10 years show up
  • Parents entice “If you give me the money you can live with me” …then disappear with the money.
  • Even the orphanage directors ask for the Money

Choi XX (20) is just barely getting by with hard labor these days. Some days he has no money and he begs those around to buy him some meals. But when Choi left an orphanage two years ago he had over $10,000 in his possession. $5,000 from the orphanage, and the other $5,000 was what he saved.

But his birth mother took all $10,000. Choi was admitted to an orphanage when he was an 8th grade student. But when he was about to leave the orphanage his mother came calling. The mother never once visited her son during the five years he grew up in the orphanage. But she asked Choi for the money to help out with his new step father in a hospital. She also promised Choi that she will have him live with her if he gave the money over. Choi gave the entire $10,000 to his mother. But once the mother got the money, she cut off all contact with him. Choi stated, “I regret so much for giving my mother the money.”

According to the regulations outlined by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the orphanages are required to pay out the orphanage separation fund ranging $3,000 - $5,000 to the aging-out orphans. They are usually given 18 years old when they leave the orphanages. There are some exceptions for those that go to college or have special needs the separation may occur after 20 years old.

Choi is not an exception as there are other cases of parents that suddenly show up to take the money and run. KimXX (24) has suffered a similar situation as her mother showed up at the time of her separation from an orphanage. The mother never once contacted Kim during her 11 years at the orphanage. The mother said to Kim to live together in the future. Kim followed her mother to Kwang-ju City. The mother took away the $5,000 fund Kim had. And the mother disappeared soon after. She even changed her cell phone number.

Mr. Kim Sung Min (34) is the founder of an organization called ‘Brothers Keepers’ that helps out the aged-out orphans, and he labels these types of parents as ‘Separation Fund Hunters’. He also said that the biological parents are the worst offenders of snatching the separation funds. Because there are many similar cases, some orphanages are now informing the parents that no funds were issued to the aging-out orphans to protect them. At one orphanage, one biological father kept asking about the status of his about-to-be aged out child’s funds availability, and a worker simply circumvented the situation by saying no such funds have been issued. So the father complained to the city hall and the orphanage worker had to go to the city hall to explain the situation.

There are cases where orphanage directors have even asked for the money from the orphans aging out of the facilities. KangXX (26) was asked by his orphanage director to ‘leave the funds for your younger friends remaining in the facility’. The orphanage director explained that this was the least Kang could do since he was cared by the orphanage for many years. Kang therefore left his funds of $3,000 in the orphanage.

According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, during the last four years (2015-2018), there were around 1000 orphans that leave orphanages due to reaching the separation age. The ministry said that they are conducting surveys based on these youths. The survey deals with the use of the separation funds, job situation, their income level, and other questions related to their lives after leaving orphanages. However, the survey is not successful. Those who take the surveys are the ones that have successfully integrated into the society. But those that have hard time getting by in the society, they do not respond to such surveys. Mr. Choi Sang Kyu of the ‘Good Neighbor’ organization that supports the aging-out orphans, stated that ‘there is hardly any reports on the orphans that are struggling gets noticed by the authorities. So in truth, there is really no viable survey for those orphans that have aged-out of the institutions.