Monday, May 11, 2009

A look at the lives of unwed Korean mothers

I had the pleasure, with Kimberly Hee Stock, a Korean adoptee from Delaware (who was with us at the KWDI Forum in March), of presenting A Look Today At the Lives of Unwed Korean Mothers: Where We Are and Where We Need to Go, at the IKAA Conference in New York, on April 17. Kimberly and I spoke based on our respective experiences, and our talks complemented one another well—hers from the perspective of an adoptee, and mine from that of an adoptive parent.

Kimberly came to appreciate the moms’ situation when she sat across the table from an unwed pregnant woman, holding hands with her, and my appreciation came from visiting a group of unwed women who had already agreed to relinquish their children to adoption.

Our individual presentations were followed by a brief conversation between us, after which a video was shown of two Korean moms—one who relinquished her child, the other who is raising her child—whom Rick interviewed last year. Audience questions were thoughtful—and challenging. One questioner wondered if presenting these women as victims does them a disservice—the sad answer is that Korean society effectively forces them into the position of relinquishing their children, or bringing them up under very difficult circumstances.

We weren’t sure how the audience would respond—after all, the situation of unwed Korean mothers is not something that adoptees generally think about. Gratifyingly, the presentation, made to an audience of some 30 people, made up mostly of adoptees, was received well.