Yesterday we had our jet propulsion packs on. The morning started with a great meeting with Professor David Smolin. Professor Smolin is an expert on ethical adoptions. He has been in S. Korea teaching a short course and will speak at the IKAA research forum today (Tuesday, 8/2). We had a lively exchange about the situation for unwed moms in S. Korea, how that relates to adoption practices, the Hague Convention and other related topics. As the large majority of babies adopted from S. Korea abroad are the children of unwed moms, we discussed the stories we have been told about women being pressured to relinquish their children in facilities run by adoption agencies and the heartbreaking stories of moms who had to fight to get their babies returned when they changed their minds just days after relinquishment.
Later in the day we spent time at the Duri Home unwed mothers facility. They also have a group home for moms and their babies. Women can enter the group home with children under 24 months and can stay for up to 3 years. This provides crucial help during an important transition period. However, there is only room for 8 moms and their babies in the group home. There are a number of such group homes around the country, but not enough for all the moms. Many moms live with friends and family when they can’t afford a place of their own. Precarious living situations add stress to moms' lives and thus to their babies early years as well.
After visiting the group home we returned to Duri Home for a great home-cooked meal with the moms in residence. Duri Home is a program of the Salvation Army in S. Korea. They plan to open a resale store soon, similar to ones in the US, with support from KUMSN and the Korea Foundation for Women. The store will sell used and donated new clothes and have a coffee shop. It will provide a place for a number of the moms to get work experience as well as a place to sell their craft and art work. We were able to hear from the mothers who will be in charge of the various new ventures. They are extremely committed to making the store a success. This is an exciting and much needed program. Duri home expects that with the help of some start up funds, the store can become self-sustaining within one year.
After twelve hours of stimulating conversation and encouraging site visits, it was time to go home and get some rest. Today we are off to the IKAA (International Korean Adoptees Associations) research conference.