Monday, February 14, 2011

Good News?!

This article from the Korea Herald was tweeted by an adoption agency with the tag line, "Good news for international adoption:"
Despite a falling birth rate here, many Korean children are still finding their home abroad, a report found Sunday.

Of the total 2,439 children adopted in 2009, 1,125 were sent abroad, slightly down from 1,250 in 2008, the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs said.

Adoptions have declined here along with the country’s falling birth rate.

Over the past 10 years, the number of domestic adoptions has decreased from 1,726 in 1999 to 1,314 in 2009, while that of international adoptions has almost halved from 2,409 in 1999.

However, the ratio of international adoption still remains high despite the government’s efforts to encourage domestic adoption.
(Perhaps not surprisingly, this agency tweeted an article about Ethiopia revoking the license of another adoption agency with the comment, "Why can't we all just get along?" Yeah, that's the appropriate response to allegations of corruption.)

THIS is what we mean when we talk about an entitlement mentality -- this belief that ANYTHING that allows us to adopt children is good, and anything that stops us from adopting children is a bad thing.

The fact that South Korea, one of the most economically prosperous countries in the world, in fact, the 4th largest economy in the world, cannot take care of its own children is a tragedy.  We're not talking here about a war-torn, economically impoverished, "third world" country, with millions of orphans languishing in orphanages.  We're talking about an idustrialized nation, a high-tech nation where 98% of the population is literate, 86% of the population is urban, where less than 0.1% has HIV/AIDS.  Does this look like the picture we have of a country that "needs" international adoption?

So why is it "good news" that South Korea is placing more children internationally than domestically? The Hague Convention, last time I checked, still expresses the international norm, accepted by all signatory countries, including the U.S. and South Korea, that domestic adoption is preferred and international adoption is a last resort.
Far from good news, this article highlights a tragedy for South Korea.  Little to crow about here, unless you feel you're entitled to all the world's children.


Anonymous said...

Wow, that article is depressing. 32.1 percent of Koreans surveyed said that "they are not sure whether they can love and raise the adopted child like their biological one"; 29.5 percent cited the nation’s family system based on blood ties as a reason not to adopt. Progress is painfully slow.

travelmom and more said...

The information about Korea makes me think about our rate of international adoption. Does anyone know how many children are adopted from the US every year and sent abroad? Not to mention the 500,000 children who are in foster care. What are European countries and places like Japan doing that differ from the US and S. Korea to prevent unwanted pregnancies and take care of children?

Anonymous said...

Seriously this

"Why can't we all just get along?"

was a comment by an adoption agency about the obvious corruption happening in Ethiopia?

Apparently that answers my question about why 'ethical' agencies haven't spoken up about the abuses...

There is no hope for change - you are right Malinda - it boils down to feeling entitled and makes me want to cry.

thewonderfulhappens said...

as the mother of a boy adopted from South Korea, I do not find this to be good news. The fact is that the problem in Korea has to do with a huge stigma on unwed mothers and adoption in general. Even the domestic adoptions that do take place there occur under a shroud of secrecy, which is a tragedy in itself. I would love to see Korea close their program and know that those children are able to stay in their own country, but attitudes in Korea are going to have to come a long way before that will happen. It is very sad.

MarthaO said...

What's being missed in the comments is the fact that Korea is trying to close the program. However the population of institutionalized children in Korea is not decreasing. There is simply a moratorium on the number of children that may be placed in adoptive homes overseas. Perhaps the agency was celebrating that children will continue to be placed in families instead of growing up unloved. Maybe ALL agencies are not evil. "Let's just close down the program" doesn't solve the issue.

Sharon said...

In response to Travelmoms comment:

The latest State Dept report gives statistics for US children placed abroad for adoption -- less than 100 in 2010.

We should not assume that European countries are "better" at caring for children than the US or any other country. On my blog, which you can access by clicking on my name, I have several entries about child welfare issues in Bulgaria, Portugal, France and Turkey (not exactly Europe, but straddling Europe and Islamic worlds) and more. A huge issue in Europe is the plight of the Roma (gypsy) people who are oppressed. Their children are disproportionately represented in Europe's orphanages not because int'l adoption is creating a "demand," but because of poverty and policies of discrimination and oppression. Also, countries everywhere don't like to reveal how many kids they have institutionalized, so with little accountability and oversight on the world stage, children suffer. In my opinion, international adoption programs bring more scrutiny to bear on how children are treated, which is a good thing, and for children truly in need of a new family, international adoption provides another avenue of placement.

Anonymous said...


I am sure there are children in orphanages in South Korea -

South Korea is fully capable of determining if they wish to be a sending country which it appears they wish to phase out. I believe if they are to be successful they need to provide a better social support system for single mothers and work hard to change attitudes about single mothers so they can function in society instead of being shamed AND dispel some of the concerns about adopting for those mothers who truly do not wish to parent.

Mei Ling said...

"The fact is that the problem in Korea has to do with a huge stigma on unwed mothers and adoption in general."

You have not realized that there are hundreds of adult adoptees in Korea working to change this mindset, have you?

MarthaO said...

Mei Ling: Yes! Hundreds in South Korea and hundreds more in the US working to change the mindset. The Adopted Ones: South Korea does not wish to send kids overseas for adoption. That is openly stated and IN THE PROCESS of happening. In the meantime, children must have permanency. They can't wait. It's a many sided issue where we are all working together to overcome the obstacles. It's pretty open and common thinking now that children should stay within their birth countries if at all possible. For those where it is not possible, ethical solutions are sought. Which means governments, paperwork, orphanages, agencies, advocacy workers, and families working together. It isn't simply and it's just offensive to me how people want to shout "Your Fault! Your Fault!" instead of realizing that there are people actually trying to solve these issues ethically. Frustrating.

malinda said...

Martha, where do you see in my relatively mild criticism of one agency an assertion that all agencies are evil? And critique -- including saying to an agency trafficking children in Ethiopia -- "your fault, your fault!" is one way to make sure we have those ethical adoptions you speak of.

The adoption community in highly invested in the idea that agencies are good, run by good people, and therefore always doing good. Criticism of any agencies tends to bring the "how dare you" response.

Why is that?