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Sun, October 17, 2021 | 09:18
What does Korean law say about adoptees' right to information disclosure
While there's been much discussion on the challenges of guaranteeing adopted people's “right to origins,” there's been little talk about the specifics of Korea's current legislation on the matter.
Intercountry adoption is about human rights, not charity
I'm often asked by Western diplomats, “I know Korea had a problem with that issue in the past but is it still relevant these days?” Korean civil society and human rights groups have demonstrated a similar depth of understanding, “Wasn't that the legacy of the military dictatorship? With democratization, hasn't that already changed?” Rather than addressing the fundamental flaw...
Intercountry adoptions 1985-92: A numbers game for Korea's national image
Over a seven-year span (1985-92), the number of transnational adoptions from Korea fell by 1,000 annually, dropping to a level not seen since 1970. Despite the absence of any meaningful reforms in child welfare or legislation, this decline represented a dramatic shift that satisfied many, including Western policymakers, who assumed that the root problems of transnational adop...
The unrestrained expansion of 'child exports' during 1980s authoritarian period
Shortly after the assassination of Park Chung-hee in 1979, Chun Doo-hwan led a successful military coup that would see Korea's authoritarian leadership period continue until 1992. The tumultuous political change that has come to define this period also influenced the politics of intercountry adoption. Throughout Chun's rule, the number of children sent for adoption experience...
The search for origins is also a search for dignity
What began as a three-month vacation in 2004 eventually evolved into a permanent move. Instead of a birth family search, I came to Korea to see and experience a country that I could feel but never remember.
The failure of adoption system
In 2018, an adoptee recounted to me a meeting with a group of Korean government officials. They had met to discuss measures to support deported adoptees' resettlement in Korea. When they sat at the table, the adoptee noticed that on the official's agenda, deported adoptees were referred to as “people who failed their adoptions and returned to their birth country.” Upon seeing...
The systematization of 'child exports' for economic and political aims
If, as the dominant narrative claims, transnational adoption is about rescuing war orphans, then the surge in inter-country adoption in the 1960s unravels such assertions. So let us drop the pretext of war orphans as an impetus. What about “economic” or “social” orphans? Then we must ask how poor is poor enough to warrant casting children from their own country on a massive s...
Political decisions behind Korea's adoption curve
History is the sum of the choices that we, as a nation, have made thus far. This graph shows the number of children who were born in this country but left shortly after birth (more than 90 percent were under the age of one) to become the sons and daughters of families in Western countries. Each dot on the graph represents human beings cast out of the protection of this nation.
Rewriting the adoption narrative
Born in 1967 to a Korean mother and an American soldier father, I was one of the first generation of inter-country adoptees. Indeed, inter-country adoption began because of mixed-race children like me. We were considered as a blight upon the blood-line, unworthy of being Korean.
I've been searching since I was lost
“What are you searching for?” We are all searching for that “one more” that will bring us happiness, that will make us complete. Maybe yours is secular success, savings, finding your life partner or something possibly simpler like the perfect accessory. As a child, I can remember expressing my desire to find my “real” family, as I cuttingly phrased it back then. This desire h...
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