(Translated from the original Korean by Hankyoreh News)
Hankyoreh News May 2, 2008
Three years ago, Kim Kyung Eun (27 years old, an assumed name) became pregnant unexpectedly out of marriage. Her mother was telling to Kim whether Kim could have an abortion surgery or possibly give up her baby for adoption. However, Kim claimed to her mother that “I am going to raise my child. “ After hearing Kim, Kim’s mother turned her back on her daughter with saying “then our relationship is over from now on.” Kim’s baby’s biological father also had been gave no help to Kim and her baby. Friends suggested the abortion surgery or adoption with saying “How could you raise your child by your own? “ After all, Kim gave a birth alone, and immediately all the trials that people predicted came close to her. The first trial was financial difficulty. As she couldn’t go to work with child, so she didn’t have any income and the expenses of hospital and living were running out her savings. As she didn’t have place to stay, she stayed at various friends’ houses with the baby and had to eat instant noodle almost everyday. The second trial was lack of information. Kim had to do some research to figure out how to bathe and to feed a baby as she had no clue first time. For instance, Kim once made a mistake that she fed her child with diarrhea powder milk as it was relatively cheaper that normal powder milk. Kim told that “ it is most difficult fact that I have to do everything on my own.” Added “Don’t you think it is more important fact that we, unwed mothers are also parent, not we accidentally gave a birth our children? Because of strong prejudice towards unwed moms, we abandoned by our own family, and not able to stand in our society ”
Since last year, Kim picked out a location in Ae-Ran Mother and Baby’s home, a group home for single parent families located in Hongjedong Seodaemungu, Seoul. This is a social facility for single mother and their child that supports services like residence, vocational training, and so on for one year period. Now, Kim goes to private culinary institute to achieve a chef’s certificate. But Kim showed an unsatisfied feeling by saying. “There are many unwed child-rearing mothers who wish to reside in this group home; I would need to live after 1 year period. I hope I could stay here about three years so that I can be prepared well to become a self-sufficient. “
What she wants is to have a place like the group home in order to lean on until she would get a stable job and save some money to live with her child.
This January, Lee Su Kyung (22 years old, an assumed name) have a birth at Ae-Ran-Won. Lee actually has an experience of abortion when she was 20 years old. “At that time, I took the abortion surgery for granted.” However, Lee decided to give a birth when she found out her pregnancy last year, felt constantly sorry to the baby she did aborted two years ago. Even people that she knows suggested giving up her child for adoption though, she was not willing to do it. “It imposed heavy burden to me as I am young, and there are certain things that I have to achieve. Also raising a child as single mother seems such a responsibility however, I couldn’t give up my child with all those reasons. At this time, she is preparing to live with her child together. Becoming a scalp controller (hairdresser) is Lee’s goal at this point so that she goes to private beauty institution in order to achieve hair designer’ certificate first. During daytime when Lee studies at the institution, daycare center in the facility takes care of her child. Lee set her plan to first enter the group home to live with her child, and get a job and save her income for one year period. Lee said with smile “I feel desolated as I don’t know what future would be like but I am encouraged by looking my child’s face. “
■ Chose adoption because raising child is challenging
Jeong Na Ri ( 20 years old, an assumed name) gave a birth last March. At that time, she was 19 years old. She chose to give her baby for adoption as she has no courage to raise the baby. Jeong told, “I had been also thought about bring up the baby by myself, but my future is uncertain and there is no way that my parent could support me and my child even though I let them know about all this. I concluded it is the best decision for the baby to be raised by a good adoptive parent as well as for me.” She added “My financial ability is such a problem, and I found it is very difficult to decide to deal with people’s judgments and prejudice towards to my baby who has no a daddy.” Jeong also told that she is preparing to pass the qualification examination for graduation high school now as she want to be not shameful mother when her child might find a birth mother in the future. According to Jeong, “For most of unwed mothers, either decision-raising children or giving up for adoption is not easy decision to make. Before unwed mothers make decision, they distinguish right and wrong many times, in terms of the circumstances they are at.”
2. Government only support to unwed mother with 50,000 krw as the expense of raising child. Only three mothers out of ten “I would raise my child.”
Government, nongovernmental support situation.
Richard Boas (59, physician) who live in Connecticut, USA, had adopted his daughter, Esther, in 1988. He wanted to know more about Esther’s home land, so visited S. Korea in 2006. At that time, he was able to visit an aid facility for unwed mothers, and surprised by the fact that unwed mothers who want to raise their children but chose to give their children for adoption as there are lack of social support towards unwed mothers. Boas was funding International adoption for people until that time, but he has been worried to help for Korean unwed mothers to raise their children by themselves. He established (a fund at) Give2Asia foundation (http://www.give2asia.org/) began to support to the aid facilities of unwed mothers in Korea.
Gradually choice of Korean unwed mothers is changing. Korea’s adoption case in 2001 were total 4206 cases but it decreased (to) 2652 cases in 2007. Current survey to unwed mothers also shows unwed mothers responded as “I, parent/family or birth father would raise my child” has increased from 24.8% in 2006 to 32.5% in 2007. Unwed mothers who decide to become raise their children are increasing today.
Swim (given) the current tendency, Korean government amended from the Mother-Father-Child Act to Hanbumo support law (Single family support law). According to the law, it had changed the target of recipients that from the unwed mother aid facility to unwed child-rearing mother and child aid facility, and clarifying Korean government’s support towards to child rearing. And it became legal basis of operating the group home for child-rearing unwed mother and child. This group home supports unwed mother can stay with her child for one year. Also an aid facility for unwed child-rearing father and child opened first time in Incheon in 2007.
Holt Children’s Service Inc. that has known for its support program of promoting adoption operates unwed mother group home since 2006, and would open unwed mother support center at Masan in this May. This center is entrusted by Kyongnam province. Hong Mi Kyung, director of PR department of Holt, told “We would help unwed mothers to have various choices not only adoption, but also raising their children by themselves.”
Nevertheless, substantial supports are still not enough. Government aid only 50,000 krw to single parent who raise under 8 years’ old children. For the residue, other supports of the expenses of vocational training are given only to single father and single mother who (officially) enter in aid facility. There is no statistics of single father and single mother as well. Han Sang Soon, director of Ae-Ran-Won, claimed that “unwed mothers who are out of aid facilities are easy to fall in crisis situation.” There is a call for structuring backup system for unwed mothers in community so that they also could access to the services like vocational training assistance.
Eliminating social prejudice towards single parent is another task that needs to be solved together with enlarging support system. Lee Mi Jeong, KWDI researcher, told “There is social prejudice that pregnancy out of wedlock is bad incident not an accident in Korea. Because of the prejudice in our society, unwed mother became alienated form society and family, chose abortion or adoption. Social recognition should expand that raising our children is our responsibility.”
|(English translation provided by Hankyoreh News)|