Saturday, June 18, 2011

Korean Efforts to Change a Way of Thinking

The government statistics on the number of adoptions from 1958 show 240,000 adoptions. Of that number, 31 percent were in -country adoptions,
and the rest outside the country. The editorial in the Peace weekly expresses the sadness of much of the country on this imbalance and the efforts to change it.

At present only 25 percent of those who are waiting to be adopted have found parents. The other 75 percent are waiting in many different institutions. The Peace Weekly on its 23rd anniversary has made efforts to change the thinking on this issue by using its radio affiliate and TV station, as well as its newspaper. The "Be a Mother and Father" movement, and the discussions and forums to change the thinking of Catholics on how we handle adoptions are ongoing efforts.

The forums have stressed that it is only natural to have children adopted within the country by Koreans. In order to do this, changes have to be made in our laws, and how society views the current adoption structures.

The obstacles in the way of in-country adoptions are not a few. The importance of the patriarchal blood line has deep roots in society. The prejudice against babies born out of wedlock and the welfare system that does not help unwed mothers enough to keep their babies are factors, as is the very lucrative aspects of the out of country adoption process. The financial burden on the family that wants to adopt is also a stumbling block.

A happy change in the past few years is that the number of in-country adoptions exceeds the foreign adoptions. Government encouragement has been an important element in this change. The editorial states that without a change in thinking we will not be able to hope for bigger changes. We are told that by adopting, one receives much more than is given. But this will take much reflection to appreciate.

The same issue of the paper had a very uplifting story of a family that is doing something about the situation. They had one son and now have 8 children they have adopted; 4 of them are handicapped. When they have asked about adopting the disabled they are often looked at strangely, but they have succeeded in having all become family. They admit that it takes time to win the love of the children, but with time, dialogue and love the response in love does come.

It will be examples of this type that will break down much of the prejudice, and help to prepare the younger parents to open their homes to these children who need the love of parents to grow emotionally.The government, also realizing where the problem lies, will be taking steps to facilitate in-country adoptions. The reputation that Korea is an exporter of children is not something they want associated with Korea in the future.

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