History repeating itself

I had something fun to write about today in honor of the Lunar New Year!  But I learned of a new campaign to promote and support international adoptions in Korea and I have to pass it along and share.

Voice of Love

The organization is Hope for Orphans and the Executive Director is Paul Pennington, an adoptive father.   The other organization is the Onnuri Ministry in Seoul.

History repeating itself.  Even the words they use in this video are ancient.  I am in disbelief and outraged about this campaign.  I felt like I was listening to a promotional video for adoption from the 1950s.  Their desire to “bring back the voices, the better voices of adoption…” is so naive and smells of a fundamental disregard for just how challenging it is for the over 250,000 (not 160,000) of us “voices.”

I think their approach is interesting.  The threat of the dreaded QUOTA is real, but speaks to the continued refusal of the Korean people and their government to get to the root cause of the need for such adoption programs to continue.  Pastor Byun also attributed the decline of adoptions to the “negative voices” (code for adoptees) as a root cause. I actually would not wholeheartedly disagree with this, but to think that this is a bad thing all together is audacious.  For my last objection, the hyperbole that not having international adoption programs in Korea will limit children from finding families.  I struggle with this one as I know that most of the 300 orphanages in Korea are filled with children who will never find a permanent home with their birthfamilies or an adoptive family.  They are neither adoptable nor sought by the very parents this video would like to pander to.

I have stepped gingerly around the debate on whether Korean should or should not continue international adoption.  I frankly don’t have the answer.  I am stuck right in the middle.  But what is happening doesn’t make any kind of sense to me.  The decisions that have been made feel reactionary and badly thought out helping neither the children who do need permanent homes nor the women who desparately want to parent their children.  If campaigns like Voice for Love think they are doing a good thing, they are actually giving a gift to the adoptees who are in the trenches trying to stop overseas adoptions from Korea.  I think it will further divide our already polar community…leaving more children in orphanages, more unwed women unable to care for their children and more of us who are already in this crazy in-between world feel invisible.

3 thoughts on “History repeating itself

  1. I’m conflicted about whether or not adoption from Korea should continue. And I’m incredibly frustrated at messages like the one in this campaign, or others on the opposite pole. The reality is so much more complex, yet everyone seems to want to simplify it to fit their purpose.

    I was frustrated to see the word “orphan” pop up in this video. It doesn’t apply in the majority of Korean adoptions, and it misleads people into this emotional place in which they become unable to make reasoned decisions.

    Also frustrating: Eddie Byun is in Korea, and could use his pulpit to speak out against the Korean attitudes that discriminate against unmarried mothers, make it difficult or impossible for them to work, and ostracize them from their communities. Instead – more of the same. Sad.

  2. Thanks Margie for your post. Great points indeed. I hope they hear it. Randy, I agree that there are problems in inter-racial adoptions, but the idea that race it the only issue is too simple for me. I think it is time for Korea to take responsibility for their children, all of them, but not by shutting them into more institutions and not by just perpetuating adoptions overseas and definitely not by looking at the very societal norms continuing to place us on either side of the argument. Enough already.

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