Sunday, September 13, 2009

On further reflection

Highlights from our recent visit:

It has been an amazing experience to be involved in the rapidly changing view of and supports for unwed mothers and their children in Korea. In the few short months since last I visited, there is now a vibrant and thoughtful group of mothers who are educating themselves and speaking out publically, excellent research on unwed mothers and public perceptions related to them has been published, programs such as AeRanWan have expanded their services into the community, the Hanbumo Support Center has expanded services and opened new facilities, the Government has asked for information about policies to support women and children, child support has been clarified, and the public seems increasingly aware of the value of supporting women and children from all walks of life.

For me personally, it was a great gift to reconnect with the wise and thoughtful people who had come to America for the first study tour in Vermont and New York. The fact that organizations were willing to support this learning experience seemed very important. It was exciting to watch as Korean researchers connected with American researchers, as practitioners shared experiences, as policy makers learned from one another and as parents shared their joy about the support they received to raise their children with people who were hoping to make the same opportunities available in Korea.

It would be very hard to pick out highlights from our most recent visit, but here is a short list:

Learning from a wonderful group of elementary school teachers when I had a chance to give a lecture on Multicultural issues at Sookmyung University .

Being part of the amazing presentation by the mothers group, now know as the Mama Mia group. Traveling across the beautiful countryside to Busan, and engaging with the dedicated people there from so many different agencies. Meeting staff from the Korean Human Rights Association. Being inspired about the future from the Korea foundation for Woman. Visiting the me You Us Center and the Doori Home. Talking with wise, knowledgeable reporters. And continuing to learn from the researchers at KWDI and the staff at KUMSN. Two especially personal highlights were meeting Betsy-Gay Kraft and her daughter Kristen and attending the Quaker Meeting in Seoul.

Dr. Cheryl Mitchell


Roboseyo said...

Hi. I'm an English language blogger who writes about Korea. I just read your article in the New York Times, and I was really impressed.

I strongly support your movement!

You can read my link to your article at

if you have a mailing list, I'd be interested to stay updated on your group. roboseyo[at] is my address. Please be in touch!

doug said...

I just read the story as well. My heart goes out to the unwed mothers who have to struggle with all that is so wrong with Korea. I am a US-educated Korean who lives in Seoul, Korea. If there is anything an ordinary citizen like me can do to help unwed mothers, please let me know (

Sang said...

Hey, I also read the nyt article just now.
My mom's an unwed mom, she never told me the truth. I haven't found that out till 7 years ago when I was 19. I don't think she knows that I already know. But I did know there's something 'wrong' from how my teachers at school treated me and stuff. And my mom never had close friends, nor hung out with other moms ever.
I really do think that unwed moms and their children shouldn't have any disadvantages in our society or feel guilty.
I'd love to join your organisation or help out for some campaigns if I can get a chance.

AB said...

also read the NY Times article and was really moved. i just moved to seoul and was wondering if there were any volunteer opportunities...if so, i would love to participate. please also add me to a mailing list if there one.

Korean Rum Diary said...

Like Roboseyo, I'm another English language blogger in Korea and read the article this morning.

I wish you all the best.

Jess said...

Do you have a sign up for a mailing list? How can we help support this initiative?

Anonymous said...

Hi Richard,
I've followed the link from the nyt article. I am thankful for this network and want more info as well. Please post more information.

KLJ said...

Hi-I am an adult Korean adoptee living in NYC. How can I get involved with this wonderful organization?

CSC said...

Hello, I am a Korean-American living in NY and former Fulbright Korea English Teacher. Read the NYT article and was very moved. Please let me know how I can help (I'd be happy to get word out to current teachers in Korea).

Anonymous said...

I'm an adoptive Mom to a Korean born child. I agree with Jess, how can I get involved? Can you please add contact info to your blog? I'd like to support this initiative. (I live in MN.)

Sarah Birge said...

Hi, I am an English teacher in South Korea. I've worked with sex education advocacy groups in the past, and would love to get involved with your group! You can conact me at

Anonymous said...

I (an English teacher in Seoul) would also like to help! mlh02003[at]

Margie said...

How did I miss the KUMSN blog? This is excellent! Spreading the word!