Tales of Wonderlost

I'm a Korean-American adoptee living in Seoul, just finished my MA in Anthropology (yes, i took all of my classes in Korean TT). In my spare time, I volunteer at two great organizations: Korean Unwed Mothers' Families Association (KUMFA) and the Women's Global Solidarity Action Network (WGSAN) - a group that works on various issues, including with the survivors of military sexual slavery during WWII ("Comfort Women"). I also love cooking and baking and going to the noraebang ^^ To make a monthly donation to the Korean Unwed Mothers' Families Association, please click below!!
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Posts tagged "adoption"

"젖먹이를 버리는 비정한 엄마를 비난하기 이전에 아이를 버리는 ‘주범’은 과연 누구인지 따져봐야 한다. before we start judging cold-hearted mothers for abandoning their infants, we must ask who really is the ‘main culprit’ in child abandonment.

우선 시야를 넓혀서 보면 아동 유기는 줄어드는 추세다. 보건복지부 통계에 따르면 버려지는 아이인 기아(棄兒)는 1990년엔 1844명, 2000년엔 1270명이었다가 2010년엔 191명으로 줄었다. 그 뒤 다시 증가하여 지난해엔 285명이 버려졌지만 이는 아이를 안전하게 버릴 수 있는 곳으로 알려진 베이비박스의 영향이 크다. first of all, from a wider lens, the rate of child abandonment has decreased. according to statistics from the ministry of health and welfare, the number of abandoned children in 1990 was 1,844. in 2000, the number was 1,270 and in 2010, it went down to 191. after 2010, it increased with 285 babies being abandoned last year (2013), but the widespread information of a “safe place to abandon your baby,” the babybox, has had a large effect on this increase.

아이를 버리는 대신 직접 키우기를 선택하는 미혼모도 늘어나는 추세다. 2000년엔 아이 양육을 포기하고 입양, 시설 등으로 보낸 미혼모가 4000명이 넘었지만 지난해에는 1500명이었다. instead of abandoning their children, there has also been an increase in the number of unwed mothers who are choosing to raise their children. in 2000, the number of unwed moms who chose adoption or sent their children to welfare facilities was 4,000 but last year the number was 1,500.

그럼에도 불구하고 여전히 아이들은 버려진다. 입양 대상 아이들의 90% 가까이가 미혼모의 자녀다. 이 미혼모들은 어떤 맥락에 놓여 있길래 아이를 버리는 선택을 하는 걸까?” nonetheless, children are being abandoned. and nearly 90% of the children being put up for adoption are the children of unwed moms. we must look at what circumstances these mothers are facing that they are ‘choosing’ to abandon their children.”

Adoption History Archive -call for object donations

Correspondence can be sent to: kad.archive@gmail.com

Thanks to early efforts stewarded by fellow adoptee and researcher Tobias Hübinette, overseas adopted Koreans are being acknowledged at the Korean migration museum as a significant part of both contemporary Korean society and the modern history of Korea. The archive currently contains memorabilia pertaining to: a global Korean adoption community of associations (magazines, photos, stickers, badges, posters, event fliers), and academic and cultural works created by adopted Koreans (theses, papers, books, art works).

We are now looking to expand the collection of primary authentic and physical artifacts:

1) Pertaining to the personal experience of adoption (pre-placement, travel and adoption documents, placement, post-placement, search, reunion). These items can vary depending on type of adoption (private, military-facilitated, NGO-facilitated, agency etc) and can include: images and photographs related to the time before adoption, travel and adoption documents, telegrams or newspaper articles of arrival, letters from birth family members, clothes, memoirs, copies of songsheets, tapings of search & reunion tv shows, and so on.

2) Pertaining to transnational institutional history and social practices of adoption. These items may vary depending on placement country and can include photographs of baby orphanages, foster care paperwork, adoption agency gifts, escort memorabilia, flight logs and manifests, citizenship ceremony souvenirs, and so on.

Best regards and please spread this Call for Donations to the Korean migration museum!

P.S. If you are visiting S.Korea in the future, and are interested in carrying these objects for potential donation with you or perhaps sending them in via mail, please fill out the attachment in this email (shannon: if you need the attachment, please let me know and i will send it to you)

Asker imnopicasso Asks:
Just curious about your opinion, on this: Your post about having the reporters who cover interviews with you quote your verbatim, including language mistakes, resonated with me, because I struggle sometimes when I record conversations between Busan and I that happen in English. If I don't remember his exact wording, I record it in native English, but when, for example, he's sitting right in front of me saying something right then, I include his mistakes. But I worry that it may come (cont.)
peaceshannon peaceshannon Said:


across as though I’m somehow mocking him. I was just wondering where you personally feel the line is with that, and how to balance showing respect for the way a person speaks in a second language.

i think you are referring to this post, right?

i think the fact that you’re worried that you may come off across as mocking him illustrates both your care for busan and your care for literary accuracy, which i can appreciate.  

my simple answer is: everyone has their own line and i think it’s best to consult each person and ask them what theirs is when you are recording their speech in a second language.

for me, wanting reporters to quote me verbatim is both practical and political. practical because i think reporters feel like they have more of a license to put words in my mouth while they are “fixing my grammar” and political because my korean, with all its awkwardness and mistakes is meaningful to me. it conveys something to the listener about my identity as an adoptee, something that i want people to be forced to feel and not be able to gloss over. for busan, his grammar mistakes in english may not be political for him, so in his opinion he may feel it is unnecessary to record it verbatim. though i would venture to say it may turn political for him if he ever immigrated to the states? but this is all just conjecture on my part - he may never feel that it has anything to do with his identity, which is why i would recommend asking him his thoughts on it personally ^^ 

today is hangeul day in korea, the day when korean people celebrate the invention of the korean alphabet - an alphabet that was created as a means to bring more widespread literacy to the korean people, whereas literacy had previously been a privilege of those educated in chinese characters.

as an adoptee who is now bilingual, the korean language has a special meaning to me. this day reminds me of this post i am reblogging now. reclaiming the korean language has had a large part in my journey to reclaim my korean identity and negotiate my place in the korean diaspora as a korean adoptee. but ultimately it is only one of many entry points in which adoptees can begin their own journey toward making peace with their korean identities (or lack thereof, if that is how they identify).

for that reason, adoptees’ relationship with the korean language and hangeul is diverse and complex. for adoptees who have felt the pain of the loss of a mother tongue, for adoptees who feel the sting of dismissal when people ask why you don’t speak korean well, for adoptees who feel embarrassment or resentment when korean people - even sometimes your own korean families - chide you about studying korean because you are korean, for adoptees who have felt the victories of even the simplest communications in your reclaimed korean, for adoptees who have felt the liberation of deciding that their koreanness is not dictated by their korean language ability, cheers to you all on hangeul day!

i wrote the cover story for this month’s gazillion voices (actually excerpts from my MA thesis about korean adoptee and unwed mother solidarity).

and my sis ladyfaceshai provided the photo essay that accompanies the cover story!

i will be speaking on a panel this saturday with Jane Jeong Trenka, Jim Lee, and other adoption-related researchers in pyeongtaek. if you’re interested, the info is below:

Saturday Sept. 27th, 3:15-5:45pm, Pyeongtaek University, The 2nd Pierson Building (International Conference Hall, 7th floor)

"Korean Adoptees and the American Dream in Crisis" 

Moderator : Eun Kyung Min (Seoul National University)

Presenters : Jane Jeong Trenka (Seoul National University): “A Dream Deferred: Civil Rights of Korean International Adoptees Adopted by U.S. Citizens”

Kimberly McKee (Grand Valley State University, USA): “The Contingency of the American Dream: Korean Adoptees as Exceptional Migrants”

Shannon Heit (Hanyang University): “Debunking the Myth of the ‘American Dream’ in Korean International Adoption”

James Kyung-Jin Lee (UC, Irvine, USA): “What the Body Tells: Narrative, Illness, and the Return of the Korean in Adoptee Stories”

Discussant : Jeehyun Lim (Denison University, USA)

"Even so, Morrison concedes that more unwed mothers are choosing to keep their children. "This is one good part of the SAL," he says. "However, I am not convinced that the unwed mothers are necessarily the best parents."

this is steve morrison of mpak (mission to promote adoption in korea), by the way. disgusting. but on the other hand, at least he outright articulates his discrimination against unwed moms. it’s almost better than those who, under the mantra of feminism no less, wax on and on about their “earnest desire” to “protect” unwed moms by making it seem natural that she should give up her child for adoption and giving her the easiest way possible to do it. no, that is steeped in prejudice only serving to reaffirm to moms in a desperate moment that theres a reason that society discriminates against them and again under the mantra of feminism providing ways to separate women from their children as fact and effectively as possible. fuck this discrimination cloaked in faux feminism. my feminism says women have the right to raise their children regardless of their marital status. my feminism says mothers don’t need to give up their children to meet the standards of society but that society needs to change to accept all kinds of mothers. my feminism says money or marital status does not give you greater right to raise another woman’s child.

Korea Adoption Services is hiring for a full-time PR position and they’re even giving preference to adoptees! Does that mean they’ve finally started to understand that adoptee perspectives are important when it comes to adoption. Trying to be optimistic, for more info, click the link!

this illustrates a lot of what’s fucked up with the state of adoption today. poor (brown) people don’t have the right to parent their own children. but middle class (white) people have the right to fundraise to take and raise their children. and adoption agencies are laughing all the way to the bank.

looking for a couple of adoptees who are NOT from the US who would be willing to share their adoption experience and talk about the differences in adoption experiences/attitudes in europe, australia, canada, etc. you will be speaking on a panel for training for koroot volunteers so that they are better equipped to understand and work with adoptees. 

date: sept. 19th (fri) 6-8pm
location: koroot (near gyeongbokgung station - line 3)
misc: small honorarium will be given to panelists

please let me know if you’re interested!

i’m not going to call them social welfare services anymore, they’re a business pure and simple - thinking about profits before children. 


Along with Holt, all three adoption agencies (Korean Social Welfare Services [SWS}, Eastern Social Welfare Society) have been found to have violated the Special Adoption Law which requires agencies to give priority to finding domestic adoptive families before pursuing international adoption as an option. The Ministry of Welfare stated that they have taken administrative measures such as issuing warnings to address these violations. 

According to the “Adoption agency Inspection report” received by New Politics Alliance for Democracy Party representative Nam Yoon In-soon on August 31st, it was found that SWS had violated the prioritizing of domestic adoption a total of 108 times and Eastern was guilty of 1 violation since the Special Adoption Law went into effect in August 2012. 

According to the Special Adoption Law, adoption agencies can pursue international adoption only after they have first tried to find domestic adoptove parents for children for at least 150 days. This provision was made after taking into consideration the identity issues that international adoptees face. 

This inspection was carried out by the Ministry as a follow-up measure, after three year-old adoptee named Hyunsu died this February after being beaten by his adoptive father. The special inspection run first on Holt, who was the adoption agency in Hyunsu’s case, found Holt to have violated the Special Adoption Law’s domestic adoption prioritization in 17 cases (14.8%). 

Aside from this, SWS was found to have violated the mandatory 7-day consideration period (41 cases) and the background check (94 cases) provisions as well. Eastern was found to have violated the 7-day consideration period (10 cases) and background check (82 cases) provisions, as well as domestic post adoption services (5 cases) provision. 

In order to ensure that the birth parents have sufficient time to consider their options before deciding to relinquish for adoption, the Special Adoption Law’s consideration period provision mandates that the adoption process cannot begin until after one week from the date of the child’s birth. There are also provisions for background checks for prospective adoptive parents - inspections must be carried out at least twice after parents have applied for adoption, Including random inspections, and background checks should be carried out of their family, workplace, and neighbors. 

According to someone related to SWS, “There was a lot of confusion when the Special Adoption Law was first implemented since the Ministry of Health and Welfare did not provide proper guidelines. We are currently making efforts to abide by all of the SAL provisions.” 

Representative Nam Yoon In-soon said, “Since the Ministry did not carry out an inspection after the implementation of the SAL to check whether the agencies were abiding by the provisions as they should have, they bear a large responsibility for this problem. The provisions to prioritize domestic adoption and give an ample consideration period for birth families must be ensured.”