I’ve written about KUMFA before, but I get a decent amount of inquiries about exactly what KUMFA does and how one can get involved:
Korean Unwed Mothers Families’ Association
advocates for the rights of unwed pregnant women, unwed mothers and their children in Korea. KUMFA’s goal is to enable Korean women to have sufficient resources and support to keep their babies if they choose, and thrive in Korean society.
KUMFA (Korean Unwed Mothers’ Families Association, formerly Miss Mama Mia) is an organization that was starting by and for unwed mothers themselves. It started as a Naver cafe
and then expanded to an offline monthly meeting where moms can participate in educational lectures, exchange information, etc. In addition, KUMFA holds camps for each major holiday in Korea, in order to provide family environments for moms and children during holiday seasons. KUMFA also provides educational, advocacy, and counseling support programs for unwed mothers. (For more info about KUMFA, covered by the NY Times
KUMFA also runs the Hyung Project (형프로젝트) in order to create one-on-one relationships between volunteers and their partner children. Volunteers become mentors to their partner and it also gives the moms time for themselves when their children meet with their big bro/big sis partner.
KUMFA has also worked with TRACK, ASK, and KoRoot (adoptee advocacy groups) to help pass the revisions to the Special Adoption Law in 2011, which will help bring Korea up to standards of the Hague Convention on the Rights of the Child. The link between international adoption and unwed mothers in Korea is clear - currently, 90% of the over 1,000 babies that are sent from Korea each year now are those of unwed mothers - a tragic indication of the difficulties that unwed mothers in Korea face. (For more info on the Special Adoption Law, covered by the Korea Herald
). KUMFA continues its advocacy for unwed mothers through various public campaigns, such as Singe Moms’ Day
, in collaboration with TRACK and KoRoot.
Finally, in the beginning of 2011, KUMFA opened HEATER (희망을 찾는 터 - 희터 for short), a facility that provides care for mothers who keep their children. Each year the facility houses and feeds up to 24 mothers and their children. Two mothers and their children stay at HEATER for two months at a time. It is a unique place in that, unlike other facilities in Korea, HEATER accepts mothers who are older and/or have children. Some of the children need medical attention (For more info on Heater, covered by the Korea Herald
). Heater is currently raising money
in order to move into a larger space, free of mold. How can you support KUMFA or Heater?
To donate to KUMFA (in Korea): 국민은행 547801-04-053780 (Kookmin Bank) 한국미혼모가족협회
To donate to Heater (in Korea): 국민은행 778801 04 345159 (Kookmin Bank) 한국미혼모가족협회 (희망을 찾는 터)
To donate to KUMFA or Heater (international): Paypal email@example.com Here’s also a few facts regarding support for unwed mothers in Korea:
Out of 100 pregnancies of unwed women in Korea, 96 will have an abortion (illegal but rampant) and 4 will give birth. Out of those 4, three will eventually be forced to give up their child due to economic difficulties and social discrimination which makes it nearly impossible for unwed mothers to support their children in Korean society. It’s not far-fetched to assume that the 4 women who gave birth to their children, choosing to face social stigma and family rejection, likely wanted to raise their own child.
About 120,000 of all officially recorded international adoptees have been children of unwed mothers, and since the 1990s, the rate has been at about 90% of international adoptees each year. The rate is 85% of recorded domestic adoptions, and it is presumed that the thousands of infants who are “secretly” adopted domestically all come from unwed mothers.
The Government’s priorities for support are the reverse of what they should be under international human rights guidelines. The Government’s rate of support per month, per child, is as follows:
- Family group home facility: 1,070,000 won
- Child welfare facility (orphanage): 1,050,000 won
- Foster care: 250,000 won
- Domestic adoptive parents: 100,000 won (edit: this is now 150,000 won)
- Single parents, including unwed and divorced parents: 50,000 won (US$44) (edit: this is now 70,000 won)
How can you volunteer with KUMFA?
KUMFA has monthly meetings on the second Sunday of every month and we’re always looking for volunteers to help take care of the kids while their moms are receiving educational training or listening to seminars. The time is from 1-6 and the location is at the Single Parent Family Support Center near Daerim Station (line 2 or 7). Long-term commitment or Korean language skills are not required.
For people who want to volunteer long-term, we have a Big Brothers/Big Sisters program where you would be partnered with one child as a mentor (Korean language is helpful but not mandatory).
In addition, on Korean holidays and various times throughout the year, the moms and kids go on overnight trips and we need volunteers to help watch children for those trips.
Finally, we are trying to create two new programs: English classes for moms and kids and an “Activities Club” for the kids. For the English classes, we need to find teachers who can teach either moms’ or children’s english classes. For the “Activities Club”, we need volunteers who can take kids to the park, skating, swimming, to the jjimjilbang, etc.
If you are interested volunteering, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or 010.4534.1553 (Shannon - English and Korean).