Monday, April 9, 2012

Please contact to the KUMSN website.

We would like to thank all of you who have shown your interest in and support for the Korean Unwed Mothers Support Network, and to tell you about a new leap that the organization is planning to take.

In March 2007, Dr. Richard Boas founded KUMSN under the slogan, “All the mothers of the world have the right to raise their own children.” Since then, KUMSN has supported a variety of projects to improve perceptions of Korean unwed mothers.

Now, in 2012, we are starting the process of becoming a Korean NGO.

KUMSN plans to be recreated as a Korean non-profit organization so that we can improve societal biases about unwed mothers and protect their rights and interests, as well as further invigorate our various support projects, which include our scholarship and public relations efforts towards the self empowerment and independence of unwed mothers.

Because of this, we will not be updating our English blog for a while. However, you can see all previous content by going to the English site. We will work hard to return to normal operation as quickly as possible. For news about us, please visit the website.

Thank you.

All of us at the Korean Unwed Mothers Support Network.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Media coverage of unwed moms dramatically increasing

Yoo, Ji Young, staff member of KUMSN helps those of us who don’t speak Korean, keep track of the Korean news. A few days ago she sent us an email letting us know that there were over 50 news articles, radio or TV shows regarding unwed moms in May. AMAZING! The attention was generated in part by Single Mothers Day, observed on the same day as the government sponsored Adoption Day. As a sign of the times, there was more media coverage of the moms event, than the adoption event. You can see some of the articles on the KUMSN web site, for instance and . More articles can be found on our site at

Further coverage was stimulated by a forum hosted by the Institute for Gender and Law, at Ewha Women’s University addressing the legal protection of unwed moms. Papers were presented by international experts from the USA and Australia, as well as by Kwon, Hee Jung, Executive Director of KUMSN and other Korea experts. A press release regarding the forum can be found on our website at While none of the papers are available yet (check back in July or August, we should have links to them after the Institute publishes the proceedings of the forum), the forum itself generated more press.

Another big boost to media coverage was the Seoul Hanbumo Support Center campaign to find a new word to "name" unwed moms. Associated with the campaign there were 6 articles in the Seoul newspaper, over 1800 people participated in a related online forum and 1484 potential names submitted. Check out our upcoming July newsletter for more information and find out which name was selected!

It is wonderful to see how much attention is now being paid to the issues facing unwed moms. However, before we celebrate too quickly, it seems important to note that while attention may be the forerunner of change, it isn’t guaranteed. Unwed moms continue to face the same pressures for the most part – job discrimination, housing discrimination, pressure from family and friends to have an abortion or relinquish their child for adoption, insufficient government support, and the absence of responsibility by the baby’s father. So, while it is exciting to read all this coverage, and it is clear that a tipping point has been reached in terms of openly discussing the situation for unwed moms and their children, there is still a long way to go to shrink the hurdles they face. We know there are a number of proposed bills in the National Assembly to address the concerns of unwed moms and hear that the government may also consider changes in policies to better support the moms. We also know that a few private businesses and organizations have increased their involvement with unwed moms. KUMSN applauds all this activity. We look forward to the day when there just isn’t much to cover in the media, because the lives of unwed moms are like the lives of all moms, with the every day challenges mothers face, but nothing extra.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Some thoughts from Evelyn Robinson

Evelyn is a relatively new friend of KUMSN and she has shared some thoughts with us, as a mother who lost her son to adoption in Scotland in 1970. She later moved to Australia and has been active in supporting moms who have lost children to adoption and advocating for better policies in there. She shared some thoughts with us. Read on.....

I first became involved with adoption in 1970, when I gave birth to my first son. I was told by many people that I should allow him to be adopted, because it would provide the best possible future for him - and isn’t that what every parent wants for their child?

Attitudes to single parenthood have changed enormously in countries like Britain and Australia since my son was born, which is one reason why those who want children are now looking to obtain them from further afield, in countries like Korea. Mothers in other countries are now being pressured the way I and many other unmarried mothers were, to allow their children to be adopted, because it will, supposedly, provide them with the best outcomes.

I was reunited with my son in 1991 and by that time I had become involved with other mothers who had also been separated from their children by adoption. I found enormous relief in finally being able to spend time with women who really understood what I had been through, because they had been through the same sort of experience. I am delighted to learn that groups now exist in Korea, to support mothers who have lost children to adoption.

My early experiences of support groups for mothers were extremely positive. These experiences led me to explore the ways in which mothers whose children had been adopted could be assisted and could assist themselves. Over the last twenty years, I have helped literally thousands of mothers around the world.

However, as time has passed, I have, unfortunately, witnessed a negative side to some of these groups. It has saddened me enormously to watch some of them self-destruct, as they lost focus and fell into the hands of people who were sometimes power-hungry, ruthless and/or dishonest.
To those members of mothers’ groups in Korea now, I should like to warn you to care for each other and for your groups and try to ensure that your groups remain healthy.

My primary focus has always been on assisting those who have experienced adoption separation to understand their experience, to acknowledge their loss and to manage their grief. I should also like to suggest that you encourage anyone who has been separated from a family member by adoption to take responsibility for their own well-being, just in case there ever comes a time when a group is no longer available to meet their needs.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


May the New Year bring you health and happiness, and may it bring better lives for the moms and their children. They are as deserving as any of us to have fulfilling lives.

Happy 2011!

Richard Boas, MD, President and Founder

Monday, December 20, 2010

Evelyn Robinson

From Rick Boas:

Hee Jung and I have had the pleasure of "meeting" Evelyn Robinson via email.

Born and raised in Scotland, she gave up her son for adoption in 1970. She moved to Australia in 1982, and reunited with her son when he was 21 years old. Evelyn has been involved with post-adoption support services in Australia as a social worker and educator since 1989, and currently provides training for professionals through the government-funded Post Adoption Support Service (PASS). She has written and published four books about adoption. Her most recent, Adoption Separation - Then and now, will be available in early 2011.

In Evelyn’s first book, Adoption and Loss - The Hidden Grief, she proposed that the grief associated with adoption loss is disenfranchised. This approach is now widely accepted in the adoption community.

Evelyn frequently trains and lectures on adoption separation around the globe, and has presented with her son. She has never charged a fee for these engagements. More information about Evelyn and her work is available from

Evelyn kindly forwarded the full text of the apology to birthmothers and their children by the Parliament of Western Australia (in October), and accompanying articles--all of which are riveting--via the Australian Journal of Adoption:

What really moved me was the following, beautifully written--and not requested by me! Thank you Evelyn!:

I was contacted recently by the Korean Unwed Mothers Support Network. Please visit their web site at I hope that you'll read the inspiring story of how the network was founded by an adoptive father.

Expectant mothers in Korea who are unmarried and not supported by their families or the fathers of their children are being pressured into agreeing for their children to be adopted. Their situation is very similar to the situation in countries like Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Ireland, Canada and the US in the middle to late twentieth century. This is causing heartbreaking and unnecessary family separations.

More than 200,000 Korean children have already been adopted out to other countries in the last forty years or so and some have also been lost to domestic adoption in that period. This means that there are several hundred thousand mothers in Korea who are mourning the loss of their children, as well as fathers, grandparents, siblings and other family members.

Groups such as KUMSN are trying to change the social and financial climate to allow unmarried mothers to raise their children.

Anything we can do to help them would be much appreciated. They are not asking for financial support, but it would be great for them to know that people around the world are concerned about this situation.

If you feel inclined, you can follow them on Facebook, you can contribute to their newsletter or you can contact them via their web site and offer messages of encouragement and support.

Also, in my opinion, every country which accepts children from Korea for adoption is supporting these painful and unnecessary family breakdowns and so you may want to make your feelings known to politicians and policy-makers in your own country and ask them to consider the plight of unmarried mothers in Korea and refuse to support the removal of their children.

I am sure that change will come in Korea and anything that we can do to make that happen sooner rather than later will mean that we are contributing to the establishment of social justice for families in Korea.

Many thanks for considering this.

Please feel free to distribute this information.


Friday, November 12, 2010

KWDI Study on Moms Published

As a "respectful outsider," I see my role as one of raising the visibility of the issue of unwed Korean pregnant women, mothers and their children, supporting efforts by Koreans (including academics, the media, government, service providers, and the moms themselves) to make better lives for them, and catalyzing change.

It is has been particularly satisfying to work with our friends at Korean Womens Development Institute, whose studies on the issue are already having an impact. KWDI just released their eagerly-awaited and much-needed study How to Improve Government Welfare Services for Low-Income Unwed Mothers in Korea, by Drs. Lee Mijeong and Kim Hyeyoung and their colleagues. Though the situation of unwed Korean moms is getting increased attention, and moms are receiving some increased support, prejudice and discrimination against them are still commonplace. Moms--especially the older moms--are not receiving the support they need.

The study discusses the moms' situation, needs, difficulties they experience, what support is available (and what the moms report they receive), and makes policy recommendations. Here are some significant (and timely) points:

1. Moms age 24 and under receive the most benefits, yet over 77% of unwed moms are 25 and older. Support needs to be based on the child's age, not the mother's.
2. Many moms don't know what benefits are available. Moms report that local welfare office employees are underinformed re: benefits, and are rude to them.
3. Though there are laws which grant maternity leave and prohibit discrimination at work, these are not enforced.
4. Unwed fathers need to be held responsible for their children; mothers need to be able to bring action without fear of reprisal.
5. Childcare allowance is insufficient.
6. A comprehensive database and statistics on unwed moms are needed.

KUMSN is proud to have underwritten this study, and we hope that this scholarly study from a highly respected Korean research institute will help change attitudes, catalyze change, and bring about policies that will benefit the moms and their children, so that they become true equals in Korean society.

Richard Boas, MD
Founder and President, KUMSN

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Dr. Boas' reflections on the August 2010 trip

What made this trip, my 9th, particularly rewarding, is that the issue of unwed moms and their children has become quite visible, and very much on the "radar screen." Forums such as the ones in Jeju and Gyeonggido--with active participation at both by unwed moms themselves--and government officials in attendance, were a wonderful demonstration of the active interest in the moms' situation, and ways of addressing it. I was so glad to hear the matter discussed at the recent IKAA Conference, which also included a joint presentation between an unwed mom and adoptee about their joint business venture--so that adoptees themselves are now more aware, and in a position themselves to address the issue.

The moms themselves are increasingly coming forward. I long ago lost count of the number of media interviews they have granted. May their numbers, voices and impact increase, in the cause of a socially just and truly democratic Korea. A recent "first," which we were so pleased to be an audience to, was a joint meeting between the newly-formed unwed moms' organization, Miss Mammamia, and Hanbumo Association. They have much common ground.

Not only is the matter of assistance for unwed moms very much an issue, the type of assistance is being increasingly discussed. Our belief--and that of the moms--is that these single-parent families are best supported in the community. Not only is this more cost-effective, it keeps moms and their children in the community, where they belong, and helps to decrease the stigma against them.

A group that I want to see become more involved is the Korean philanthropic community--corporations, foundations and individuals. Existing NGO's working for the moms, as well as a new one, formed by the moms themselves, need assistance. I am so heartened by the great interest shown by Korea Foundation for Women. This need is real, Korea itself is responsible for--and capable of--addressing the issue.

It was a pleasure and privilege to meet and speak with Professor David Smolin, a US legal scholar, now very much aware of problems of Korean adoption and Korean unwed moms. I welcome his continued interest in and help.

Since I began my work on behalf of Korean unwed moms, I have been saddened by the belief among Koreans that the mother alone is blamed for her pregnancy, and saddled with the responsibility for child-rearing and financial support of herself and her child. So many have been pressured--by families and by fathers-to-be--to get an abortion (96% among pregnancies of unwed women in Korea) or to give up her child to adoption, lest the reputation of the father or either family be ruined. This is unfair, unjust and discriminatory. Unwed fathers' responsibility is becoming increasingly discussed in Korea, and taken seriously, an important step. Koreans we spoke with "got it" when I quoted a US academic article which states that when men are held responsible for the children they father, birthrates go down.

We are delighted to assist Salvation Army/Duri Home in setting up a new Thrift Store/Coffee Shop in Seoul. Not only do we hope this will become a viable business (as existing stores are), but provide employment and valuable business experience for unwed moms. It was exciting to hear from the moms who will be working there. I look forward to my white chocolate mocha at the new store.

A big "thank you" to KUMSN staff for everything you do on behalf of social justice and progress for the moms and their children. I remain confident that Korea will solve this issue, and am proud we are playing a part.