There’s something I’ve been thinking about. I hope you don’t think I’m a downer–I’m usually not, but I guess this is kind of a downer topic.
I think a lot of people might think of Korea as a country that is not able to care for its orphans, which is why so many foreigners adopt from Korea, but actually, in 2007 domestic adoptions surpassed foreign adoptions in Korea. That’s a great thing! It means that every year more and more children are staying in their country and their culture.
Great news, right? What you may not realize is that for the most part, the domestic adoptions are being completed in secrecy. I don’t mean illegally. I just mean that the adoptive couples are keeping this a secret from their friends, community, and even more shocking, the child they adopt. We’re talking fake pregnancy bellies and/or moving to a new neighborhood immediately after adopting in order to pass the child off as their biological child.
This is probably confusing to most of us, so here is an excerpt about this practice (from this website–lots of interesting reading there):
Parents are afraid of the possible ridicule and discrimination their adopted children may face as they grow up in the Korean culture. Children who are openly exposed as adoptees in Korea are vulnerable to other children who are not adopted. Some children (or adults) may look at adoptees as people who are less than equal. Some Korean parents forbid their children from associating with adoptees for fear their children may be negatively influenced by the children who they consider are less than equal. Some parents will not permit their children to date or marry adoptees (or people with orphan backgrounds). Some look on adoptees with pity. If an adoptee makes an ordinary mistake or gets into a trouble, he/she is judged differently from their biological children who get into the same trouble.
Therefore, parents do not want to subject their adopted children to an environment of negative social stigma. Thus adoption in Korea take place in shrouded secrecy.
Okay, so why am I talking about all of this? You’ve heard me talk about the guilt I felt after bringing Matthew home. I really beat myself up about taking him away from Korea….the language, the culture, making him into a minority, not just in his new country, but in his own home.
At one point, I was talking about this with a friend who also has a son from Korea. I was saying that I thought it would have been better if a family from South Korea had adopted him. She responded in a way that surprised me–she said maybe not.
Because since he is here with us, he will know who he is. There will be no secrets and he will know his true story. He will have the opportunity to search for his birth family, if he so decides.
If he was adopted in Korea, he would still have his language, his culture, he would not be a minority. But would he always feel just a little bit different? Would he always have questions that no one would be willing to answer?
Clearly, it would have been best if his original family could have remained intact, and unfortunately that did not happen.
This past year has left me thinking how these two options are different and each infused with its own kind of loss.
I would be curious to hear any thoughts on what you think of this–is either one better than another or are they both just different kinds of awful?