exposing the dark side of adoption
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Adoption Settling Here Steadily


Adoption Settling Here Steadily

By Bae Ji-sook
Staff Reporter

Living with someone who is biologically unrelated is still a big challenge for most Korean families. Korea used to be one of the largest ``exporters'' of infants for adoption and underneath the figures, the rejection of strangers has been going on for a long time.

However, things are changing. The Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs has taken various steps to ``pull up the domestic adoption rate.'' Civil servants who adopt can get paid leave of several weeks so that the family can get to know each other, as well as child raising costs.

Famous actresses such as Song Ok-sook, Shin ae-ra and Yoon Seok-hwa, who have adopted children, have also given people some different perspectives, and domestic adoption is taking root here slowly ? reaching 1,320 in 2006, ahead of 1,188 overseas cases.

Not Easy But Rewarding

Lee Jeong-hwa, a 40-year-old housewife in Geochang, South Gyeongsang Province, is a mother of eight, five of whom are adopted. ``It sounds like a cliche, but I had them with my heart,'' she said.

She says she and her husband are clearly not rich or very ``progressive'' people. When she first adopted her son Seong-su, seven, in 2001, she thought it simple ? she wanted more children though she had three already. ``Adoption was something that was on my mind for a very long time,'' she said.

What worried her was not the heritage issue. ``I was worried whether I am capable of giving the children the right amount of love and take full responsibility for them,'' she said.

But somehow, she succeeded. Then she adopted Min-su, five, and Hyo-in, one. Her biological children Jin-su, 15, Hyeong-in, 13, and Hye-in, nine, welcomed their new siblings. ``Once, a schoolmate of Seong-su called him names saying he was adopted and his parents were not real. Jin-su went up to him and told him that Seong-su is his real brother no matter who says what. I was so proud that the kids understand the nature of love so easily,'' she said.

Lee and her husband adopted twins, three-year-old Ah-in and Da-in, last year.

``These days it is the children who tell me to adopt more. They tell me that when they grow up, they will be supporting the siblings and the family, and that there is no need for us to worry,'' she said with tears in her eyes.

Lee will be receiving an award from Health, Welfare and Family Minister Jeon Jae-hee not only for her own efforts but also for her enthusiasm promoting adoption on May 11, ``Adoption Day.''

``I understand that adoption can bring much concern to people and it isn't easy. But once you look at them and see them happy with love, I am sure you won't look back,'' she said.


2009 May 10