Monday, May 7, 2012

A Day For Forgotten Moms of Korean Adoptees

From the Wall Street Journal:
May is a month of quasi-holidays in South Korea. Saturday was Children’s Day and Tuesday is Parents Day. Teachers’ Day is coming up and so is Couples’ Day.

Amid this month of days that promote Korean ideals of family life, the government in 2006 designated May 11 as Adoption Day. The idea was to raise awareness of – and promote adoption by — Korean families.

A less-talked-about element behind Adoption Day is the hope by government officials to reduce South Korea’s reliance on international couples to adopt children from Korean orphanages.

But even less talked about than that goal is the fact that most children put up for adoption are the product of relationships between men and women who don’t marry. And the shame over that is heaped most heavily on the woman carrying the baby.

That’s why, for the second year in a row, several groups that promote the rights and welfare of single moms (unwed, divorced, widowed, you name it) have banded together to declare that Adoption Day also be recognized as Single Mothers’ Day.

They hope to raise awareness that the problems that lead women to give up their babies for adoption could be solved if the government and society in general provided more support to them.

* * *

At the core of the adoption debate is that South Korean policymakers are focused on the symptoms of the issue (for instance, a still-high rate international adoptions) rather than its causes (the welfare of the families putting children up for adoption).

“The international community agrees that the best thing is for a child to be raised by his or her own family, then the second thing is domestic adoption and the third thing is international adoption,” Ms. [Jane Jeong] Trenka says. “Korea is playing around with number 2 and number 3, while we’re asking that they look at number 1.”

“If we know that, of the documented adoptions, that 92% involve single parents, then there’s a pattern here,” she added. “Since we agree that the best thing to do is be raised by mom, why don’t we do that?”
If you're interested in supporting Single Mothers' Day in Korea, click here for more information.

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