It’s time for change. Get involved. Pray. Hope. Heal.
Six Korean adoptees filed an appeal with the Anti-corruption and Civil Rights Commission last year to request a probe into irregularities in their adoption documents and possible illegal procedures at local adoption agencies.
Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about records and information access for adoptees, particularly after hearing my friend Jane’s story about the contradictory and sloppy state of her adoption records.
When they started this quest, the adoptees, hailing from three different countries, said their adoption records contained contradictory information. In one case, an adoptee only identified by her initials, SIA, said her adoptive parents in Denmark were informed by an adoption agency in 1977 that it did not have the records of her birth parents. But when SIA came to Korea in 1998 and asked for information about them, the agency did in fact have information about her birth mother. SIA also found that the adoption was done without her mother’s consent. In another case, an adoptee only identified as PYJ said her adoption agency created a new identity for her when she was sent to Norway for adoption in 1975. Their initial attempt to delve into the issue hit a brick wall when the civil rights commission dismissed the appeal, citing a lack of proper administrative procedures in Korea at the time of their adoption.
This is NOT okay. This is people’s lives, their personal information, yet this information is misplaced, manipulated, destroyed. And now, with the adoption law being revised, isn’t it ethical and responsible to include adoptees’ input in the revision of a law that defined their lives?
“The government wants to push domestic adoption, but all the children already have mothers,” said Jane Jeong Trenka, the president of the Truth and Reconciliation for the Adoption Community of Korea and one of the adoptees who filed the appeal at the commission. “The children can stay with their mothers. Single mothers should be given resources to raise their own children. It is still a matter of social prejudice in Korea.”
Reverend Kim Do-hyun, who is the director of KoRoot, which provides accommodation for Korean adoptees returning to the country, echoed those thoughts.
“Behind the Special Law is an idea that adoption needs to be encouraged,” Kim said. “But adoption is not something that we should promote. Rather than pushing adoption, we should reinforce the original family to prevent further separation between mothers and their children.”
So much has been swept under the rug – gender issues, class issues, the money aspect, white privilege and even the misplaced good intentions of Christian institutions and people. So much of the world thinks that adoption is a great act of love. What we often forget, or are not told, is that adoption is the formation of a family that can only happen because another family has been torn apart. We need transparency. We need advocacy. We need real change.
“Adoption is a big lie. Its success depends on everyone believing in that lie. They [my adoptive parents] wanted to believe in that lie but I could not do that.” Asked why she is devoting herself to creating the law, she said, “For my mother. My mother died but if I don’t try to change things, my suffering has no meaning.”
Read the rest of the article here.
Learn more about TRACK (Truth and Reconciliation for the Adoption Community of Korea).