Korea, a racially homogenous nation, has traditionally harbored a skepticism about cross-cultural adoption, despite being the source of much adoption from the West. But in a departure from this attitude, Korean-Americans are increasingly turning to adoption for their own families. The Korea Times ran a three-part series on the phenomenon. Last week we translated the first part of the series, which introduced the phenomenon. The second part, which breaks down some of the numbers on Korean adoption, is translated below.
“I hope and wish that the Korean community in the U.S will have an open mind and adopt a child from Korea.” [a quote from the organization Misson to Promote Adoption in Korea]
Korean couples who have joined the Misson to Promote Adoption in Korea feel concerned about children who are adopted by non-Korean families.
According to The Ministry of Health and Welfare in Korea, from 1953 to 2011, approximately 164,612 Korean children were adopted by families overseas. Among them, 110,552 children were adopted by families in the United States.
In 2011, 741 children were adopted from Korea by families in the U.S. However, most of these were adopted by non-Korean families, so they experience confusion about their identities and forget their language, which is a matter for concern, organization officials said.
“In some ways, we must take responsibility for them,” said Min Kyoung Lee, 44, a representative of the Mission to Promote Adoption in Korea. “Adoptees in Korean-American families might be able to better maintain their own Korean identity.”
However, other than mainstream adoption organizations, there are few non-profit organizations that focus only on Korean adoption in the Korean immigrant community.
Voluntary associations such as MPAK, which consists of adoptees who grew up in America, help Korean adoptees to settle into Korea-American families. The good news is that a growing number of Korean-American families are adopting their children through such organizations.
According to MPAK, between the year 2000 and last year, about 200 Korean children were adopted into Korean-American families, in about 170 homes. These are the organization’s statistics, but organizers estimate that the actual number might run to 3 to 4 times higher, because adoptive families are sometimes reluctant to speak about adoption.
“Currently, MPAK is the only organization located in the Eastern states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, and is communicating with about 20 adoptive families now,” Lee said. “Hopefully more Korean families will help children build their dreams and give them love through adoption.”