Hope for tomorrow?

an article from today’s Korea Herald:

Koreans adopted more babies than foreigners

For the first time, Koreans adopted more local infants than foreigners, according to government data released Wednesday.

Ministry of Health and Welfare data showed that the number of infants adopted in the country stood at 724 in the first half of this year, accounting for 59.2 percent of 1,223 adoptions.

This was a significant change for a nation that has so far been notorious for “exporting” babies.

Since 1958 when the government began compiling data on adoption, the overseas adoption demand has always remained greater than domestic demand, which was comparably sluggish at around 30 percent of total adoptions.

While more Koreans have embraced adoptions, the current dominance of local adopters is due mostly to a new government policy regarding adoption, effective Jan. 1, 2007.

The Health Ministry launched a set of comprehensive measures to promote domestic adoption. The most effective change is a restraint on overseas adoption under which overseas adopters may make adoptions only when a baby has failed to find a home here after five months. This restraint does not apply to Korean adopters.

“(The rise in domestic adoption) is temporary. Thanks to the implementation of the domestic adoption promotion measures, it’s safe to say there has been virtually no overseas adoption during the first five months of this year,” the ministry said.

According to the ministry, about 970 infants are waiting to be taken to Korean homes. This regulation of overseas adoptions has caused a 30 percent drop in the total volume of adoptions compared to the same period last year.

The government noted that it is highly likely for adoption demands from other countries to surge in the latter half of 2007 when babies born in the first half become eligible for overseas adoption.

Recent government statistics showed a gradual decline in both domestic and overseas adoption up until the end of 2006. Some 1,900 children were adopted overseas last year, while domestic adoption accounted for about 40 percent of total adoptions at 1,332.

Koreans also adopted only 12 disabled infants in sharp contrast with 713 adoptions of disabled babies made by foreigners last year.

By Ahn Hyo-lim



Learning to Listen

yesterday i was hanging out with a group of adopted koreans, and we started looking through my kamp kimchee pictures. when we came upon the picture of the two white siblings, i again referred to them as two of my most enthusiastic campers. someone added, “and it doesn’t cost them anything to be there.” i responded, “actually, i think the parents do have to pay for the second child to attend kamp too. i think they pay like $100 for the first one and then- ” and everyone cut me off:

“psychological cost!!!”

i’m obviously still learning, and this event again spoke to me as to why it’s important to be immersed, involved, and aligned with the community that you wish to study. who knows if it were a different time of day or if i hadn’t just had a conversation about the economic aspect of kamp kimchee i might have immediately thought of the psychological, not financial cost, of attending kamp as well.

even before i started filling out IRB (institutional review board to help protect human subjects against intentional or unintentional exploitation by researchers) forms for my adoption-related research, i’ve been thinking about what it means to study a real, living community of people. my research is mostly on the literature that purports to represent a group of people, but i don’t see how i can divorce the real, lived realities of adoptees with the ways they’re talked about in literature, be it for children, young adults or adults. i proactively seek out opportunities to become more immersed in adoptive communities because i want my research to be grounded in reality. i don’t say these things to show that “i have real korean adopted friends, therefore i’m qualified to study transracial adoption,” but the reality is that our friendships have profoundly affected the ways i think about my research, and made me even more passionate about what i do, especially when i hear their reactions to my work.

i’m still learning, and i know this is a process, not a destination. the good news is i think i’m on my way.

here’s where i’ve been all week: 2007 International Korean Adoptee Associations Gathering