Break down adoption culture barrier
By Lee Min-jeong
Korea is often called the "nation of orphan exports."
Currently, the overseas adoption rate of Korea is the highest in the
world, according to the Prime Minister's Office. Nearly 1,000 Korean
orphans are sent to foreign countries annually, according to the
Ministry of Health and Welfare.
That means Korea continues to be a significant source of international
Too many Korean orphans have to live in other countries. Many of the
children are sent to Switzerland or America, where adoptive parents
accept the Asian race of their sons or daughters easily.
But many Koreans adopted overseas suffer from identity issues and
racial discrimination. Many of them come back to Korea to find their
biological parents; the children want to live with their "real"
parents and dwell in the country in which they were born.
Many Korean couples close their mind to domestic adoption because they
haven't accepted adoption culture yet. Most Koreans only want to raise
their biological children who have real blood relationships. Due to
this custom, the rate of domestic adoption is extremely low in Korea.
That's why so many Korean orphans are sent to foreign countries. This
excessively high rate of overseas adoption in Korea is bad for our
country's international image.
There are many advantages of increasing domestic adoption here in
Korea. Currently, the Korean government is troubled with a low birth
rate and a shortage in the labor force. So domestic adoption could
help to reduce the loss of Korea's greatest resource -- its people, its
We need a mental switchover to encourage domestic adoption. First, we
have to campaign by showing good examples of Korean orphans who were
adopted by Korean parents.
Second, we have to educate the next generation about the importance of
adoption and change our definition of the word "family." Yes, family
constitutes blood relationships, but it also constitutes chosen
relationships. If we educate Koreans now, the next generation will be
more open-minded to adoption culture.
Third, there are plenty of sterile married couples in Korea these
days. About 15 percent of married couples suffer from infertility
here, according to Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs. As
an alternative, childless Korean couples should consider adopting
The preference would be that Korean orphans are adopted by Koreans
domestically. If that's impossible to find Korean adoptive parents,
then it would be ideal to find good parents abroad who can provide a
In 2007, the Korean government established the Law of Overseas
Adoption Quota, according to Newsis Co. That was a system for reducing
the number of overseas adoption annually. But it didn't work for the
increasing numbers of domestic adoptions.
We have to take it a step further. The Korean government has to take
responsibility to solve this issue. The government should expand
support for adoption facilities and orphanages. The growth of adoption
facilities will require more adoption support systems and networks. In
addition, the Korean government should economically support parents
who adopt Korean orphans. Some parents who want to adopt Korean
orphans hesitate because of economic problems like educational
expenses and fostering expenses. If the Korean government helped
interested adoptive parents economically, they could decide to adopt
Korea is becoming an advanced nation like other super powers and
advanced nations don't discard their children. We must keep our
children home where they belong. Children are absolutely our greatest
resources and the hope for future generations of Korea.
The writer is a student at Hansung University in Seoul. She can be
reached at mjlove0315@...