Saturday, October 25, 2008

Dr. Boas' letter to NYTimes in response

October 18, 2008


Korea and Adoptions

To the Editor:

Re “Korea Aims to End the Stigma of Adoption and Stop ‘Exporting’ Babies” (news article, Oct. 9):

That South Korea is working to encourage adoption within its own country is laudable. But even if South Koreans become more accepting of adoptive families, that will not address the underlying issue: the societal prejudice against unwed mothers and their children.

Too many South Korean women give up their babies because they feel social and economic pressure to do so. Unwed mothers are often shunned by society — even by their own families — and get little support from the government. Seventy percent of unmarried South Korean women give up their children for adoption.

South Korea is a wealthy democracy. Women there should have a choice whether or not to keep their babies, just as they do in other advanced nations. They need support; when they receive that support, Korean society will ultimately benefit.

If a woman chooses not to keep and raise her baby, domestic adoption should be readily available. That South Koreans have started to openly discuss the issue is a positive step, but it is only the beginning.

Richard S. Boas
Wilton, Conn., Oct. 13, 2008

The writer, an adoptive father of a daughter born to an unwed South Korean mother, is the founder of the Korean Unwed Mothers Support Network.


New York Times article on adoption in Korea

From the New York Times

October 9, 2008

Korea Aims to End Stigma of Adoption and Stop ‘Exporting’ Babies

SEOUL, South Korea — Daunted by the stigma surrounding adoption here, Cho Joong-bae and Kim In-soon delayed expanding their family for years. When they finally did six years ago, Mr. Cho chose to tell his elderly parents that the child was the result of an affair, rather than admit she was adopted.

“My parents later died believing that I’d had an affair,” said Mr. Cho, 48, a civil engineer who has since adopted a second daughter.

Now, with South Korea becoming more accepting of adoptive families, Mr. Cho and Ms. Kim feel they can be more open, with relatives and nonrelatives alike. Ms. Kim, 49, attributed the change partly to the growth of other nontraditional families, like those headed by single parents or including foreign spouses.

“We feel attitudes have changed,” she said.

Just how much, though, is the critical question as the South Korean government is pushing aggressively to increase adoptions by South Koreans and decrease what officials consider the shameful act of sending babies overseas for adoption. Since the 1950s, tens of thousands of South Korean children have been adopted by foreigners, mostly Americans, because of South Koreans’ traditional emphasis on family bloodlines and reluctance to adopt.

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