November is National Adoption Awareness Month in the United States. As an adoptive father, I am celebrating with the simple every day activity of enjoying my daughter launch herself into the world. My wife and I adopted her from Korea 20 years ago. It’s immensely satisfying for parents to see their children blossom.
Adoption is something I am thinking about this month in a different way, in light of my work as founder of the Korean Unwed Mothers Support Network. The network, based in South Korea and the US, is focused on respectfully raising issues, supporting resources and organizations that help unwed mothers in Korea so they have the ability to decide for themselves what to do about their unborn child. In Korea 70% of unmarried pregnant women give their children up for adoption. The US figure is 2%.
Too many South Korean women give up their babies because of 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.
We are focused on what is best for mother and child. In some cases, adoption is the best option. In others, it may be the only option. But today, our hope is that increasingly, Korean women can have a choice whether or not to keep their babies, just as they do in other advanced nations. They need the information and support (especially from the their families) to make a choice in the first place.
Especially during National Adoption Awareness Month, it felt important to me that these birthmothers- and their plight- are not forgotten.