Friday, July 01, 2011

Korea Times article on Adoption bill has a certain focus...

The Korea Times also reported on international adoption today:
From July next year, foreigners will be restricted from adopting a Korean child, unless the government fails to find his or her foster family here.

Under the Special Law on Adoption and its Procedures passed the National Assembly Wednesday, the government will be responsible for reducing the number of babies and children adopted by parents abroad. [..']

“It puts the top priority on the welfare of adopted children,” said Rep. Choi Young-hee, a lawmaker of the main opposition Democratic Party who proposed the bill.

She argued that those adopted abroad are more vulnerable to identity crisis and abuses by foster parents.
If I wanted to be snarky, I could say that Choi has been busy the past few years pushing legislation to protect Korean children from foreigners (and again, and using incorrect statistics and "I read about this somewhere" to justify it), but that would be unfair, considering statements she's made like this. Still, saying that those adopted abroad are more vulnerable to identity crisis and abuses would indicate that they wouldn't face such problems in Korea (as if children dumped in an orphanage (especially if their parents are still alive) don't have questions about their identity or place in the world). Not everyone is on board, however:
Critics, however, say that more children will be sent to orphanages or temporary shelters as a result of the measure.

Government statistics show that of 8,590 abandoned babies and children in need of care last year, only 1,462 were adopted domestically while 1,013 were taken home by foreigners.
What of the other 6,115 children? Having volunteered at an orphanage, had a co-worker who worked at an orphanage (who had tons of negative stories), and having a friend who grew up in one, I'd have to say the critics are right. I worked with preschoolers and they were especially rough kids. I still remember one cutie-pie 5 year-old girl who got annoyed at a boy, grabbed his head, and slammed it into the wall. While overseas adoption isn't the best solution by any stretch of the imagination, it's likely better than being raised in an orphanage.
The new legislation was enacted as part of government’s efforts to shed its notorious reputation as an “orphan exporter” and give more rights to adoptive children.
One wonders if the nation's image has taken precedence over the rights of children here. How does ensuring more children will end up in orphanages give them more rights?

The answer to this is not to be found in that Korea Times article, in part because they didn't report most of the story found in Korean language stories, such as this Yonhap piece and this Medical Today article.

Parts of the bill include creating an 'adoption deliberation system' which will allow birth parents a week after birth to decide on adoption,a system introduced to deal with problems arising from single mothers who, in a psychologically unsteady state, chose adoption before giving birth but then changed their minds.

Also mentioned are things like a guarantee of access to adoption-related information for international adoptees, a 'family court permission system' for those who have passed through a procedure to get permission from state institutions, preventing those with sexual, drug or domestic violence records from adopting, and making effort to curtail international adoption.

Those aspects of the bills, and others mentioned, make the bill sound like it will be helpful. But what is mentioned above is all that there is to be found about curtailing international adoption in the Korean language press (via Naver search at least). Perhaps its because the KT takes an interest in international issues that other papers do not. Or perhaps the sentence "She argued that those adopted abroad are more vulnerable to identity crisis and abuses by foster parents" simply materialized out of thin air (note that it's not a quotation). It wouldn't be the first time.

The Korea Times also reported today that we can look forward to having our fingerprints scanned at immigration offices from today, a precursor to all visitors being scanned at airports. Because, hey, if the U.S. and Japan are doing it...

1 comment:

Darth Babaganoosh said...

I had a certain lesson I did on adoption back when I was on the adult hagwon circuit, talking about the issue of international adoptions, and it looks like the stats haven't changed very much in the intervening years.

Back then (~10 years ago), only 25% of "orphans"** were ever adopted out of the system, and of those adopted, foreign couples took about 60% of them (unless the child was disabled in some way, in which case foreigners adopted 99.X% of them).

The consensus in our discussions back then, by a large majority, was that if the kids were being put into permanent homes, taken out of the orphanages, and given a good life with a chance to find happiness and success, then it can only be a good thing, regardless of who the adopting couple was.

No one thought these orphanages were the way to give these kids a good life or a step up in the world.

**of course, not all of them are actual orphans, but also just kids abandoned by their parents or mother for whatever reason.