Korea Continues to Deny Overseas Adoptees Access

From The Korea Times (2009 July 17):

By Jennifer Kwon Dobbs and Jane Jeong Trenka

The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Family opened a central adoption information service center Wednesday to provide post-adoption services to adoptees searching for their birth families. However, there’s one significant problem that the ministry has ignored: adoptee access.

This center is meant to fulfill the requirement of a “central authority” by the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. Click on the central authority’s new Web site (www.kcare.or.kr) featuring images of adoptees for whom their birth families are searching and you’ll find it is completely in the Korean language. Can an overseas adoptee whose first language is either English or French read or use this?

Read the rest of the article here

Read and consider signing a petition urging the Korean government to include adoptees in their policy changes, etc. The text of the petition:

Dear Director Park Sook-ja:

We — the undersigned Korean domestic and overseas adoptees, adoptive parents, birth parents, unwed and single mothers, and allied supporters — strongly urge you to include overseas and domestic adoptees and their birth families (henceforth “invested parties”) as equal partners in the creation, development, discussion, and administration of South Korea’s adoption law revisions.

In the 56 years of overseas South Korean adoption, the South Korean government has talked about these invested parties, attempting to represent their best interests. However, the South Korean government has yet to work *with* them on the very processes that irrevocably affect their lives.

The birth families of Korean adoptees are Korean nationals. Adoptees began their lives as Korean nationals. Only South Korea’s international adoption law made overseas adoptees foreigners. Though overseas adoptees lack South Korean citizenship, they have the moral authority and right to participate in the governmental procedures that continue to create them.

By not including these invested parties, the Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Family’s hearings on adoption law ignores their lives and those of their relatives (an estimated 1,000,000 Korean nationals) who continue to be silenced by the world’s longest-running adoption program. Since the 1950s, South Korea has sent away the greatest number of children for international adoption in the world. An international adoption today costs $17,000. How much money international adoption has brought into South Korea since its establishment is currently unknown.

By including these invested parties, South Korea’s adoption law revisions will democratically reflect over 1,160,000 combined years of adoptee and adoptee relatives’ lived experience (1 year for each life).

As the world’s largest and oldest international adoption program, South Korea can set a new ethical standard for the true and just representation of its most vulnerable members of society, whose lives are irrevocably affected by South Korea’s adoption laws. We urge the South Korean government not to miss this opportunity.

Who may sign petition: adoptees, adoptive parents, birth parents, unwed and single mothers, and allied individuals and organizations.

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