Thursday, June 10, 2021

The Movie "Forget Me Not - A Letter to My Mother" - My Perspective

I heard of this movie, "Forget Me Not - A Letter to My Mother" a month ago while I was in Korea. Here is an article on her interview.

https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/2021/06/07/entertainment/movies/Sun-Hee-Engelstoft-Forget-Me-Not-A-Letter-to-My-Mother-international-adoption/20210607155100378.html

When Sun Hee Engelstoft, a Korean-Danish filmmaker, decided to make a documentary in Korea, she had planned for it to be a happy tale about a young woman's journey to becoming a mother.  She had strong convictions that unwed mothers in Korea wanted to keep their children, but always ended up working out differently.

While this may be true for some unwed mothers, significant majority of unwed mothers really do not.  This is evidenced by so many babies being abandoned or given up for adoption even after multiple counseling and advices at the Baby Box and at the agencies. Even after two years after the initial adoption process, and being notified multiple times to take their babies back by the agencies, the Ministry of Health and Welfare, and the children's court, hundreds of unwed mothers do not want to take their children back.  Only a handful of them change their minds during the long process.

So her statement, "I’ve never met a woman who actually wanted to give away her child and that was very surprising to me because in the West, everybody has this idea about Korean women that they just easily give away their children because there are so many adoptees. I found out that this was not true."  is itself not true.  She just met only the ones that fit her narrative.

In truth, most women want to hide their child birth history as this will be a liability to them when they want to get married, or continue with their education or keep their job.  Of course the unacceptance by her family is definitely a reason.  This is obvious that her birth mother didn't want to meet with her because the birth mother wanted to remain anonymous.  If the birth mother really wanted to keep her child and was forced to give her away against her will, it doesn't make sense that the mother would not want to see her birth daughter.  Another reality is that there are many teen unwed mothers that are simply not  ready to be mothers or don't want to.  So she should have met and spoke with many other women that have given up their babies, and this would have helped her to look at a broader perspective in the movie. 

Perhaps the biggest fallacy with this movie is that she is just one-sided in terms of her view of adoption.  She needs to consider what would have been the alternative if she was not adopted. She most likely would have wound up in an orphanage, suffer parental love and care and experience the loss of emotional support and a loss of intellect and education.  She would be labeled as an orphan, and face discrimination and ridicule from the society, and would be forced out of the system at age 18 and live the rest of her lives with so much struggle and loss.  She is only looking from the perspective of a birth mother and the adoptee who was given up for adoption because the birth mother wanted to avoid being shamed, including the pressures from the society and the parents, and that adoption agencies are co-conspirators that were involved.

Her other statement, "“instead of building on the infrastructure, supporting their population and taking care of our own children, they have been sending the problems away.” is na├»ve, or a willful rejection of reality.  The reality of the infrastructure in Korea is that if you don't get adopted, you go into an orphanage.  Would she have preferred this instead?  

It is so unfortunate that during the eight years of making this film, she has not even attempted to understand the hearts of the thousands of orphans in institutions that long for families of their own.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Let Us Meet At SEOUL - Meet Me Via Zoom

I am honored and privileged to be a guest speaker at "Let Us Meet At SEOUL" - a program by Rev. Sung Chul Park of the Korean Adoptees Ministry (KAM). I will share my adoption story and the current development/happenings on the intercountry adoption law in Korea. This is followed by a demonstration on making "Bibimbap", a delicious Korean dish that is widely gaining world attention.


The Program is scheduled for June 19th (Saturday) at 1 PM PST, 2 PM MST, 3 PM CST, and 4 PM EST.
Below is the Zoom information:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88539565487
ID: 88539565487

Hope to meet many of you at the meeting.

-Steve Morrison