Some years ago, during a seminar about overseas adoption from Korea, I stated that the practice is “child abuse rather than child welfare.” Some of the social workers who were working for overseas adoption agencies looked very shocked when they heard my presentation.Go read the whole thing and let us know what you think. He's certainly addressing one of the biggest conundrums of international adoption. It's like that damned starfish story -- adopting one makes a huge difference in the life of that one. But what about the negative societal consequences that come from adopting the one? The dangers of creating a money-driven adoption economy that leads to corruption, coercing poverty-stricken parents with few other options to relinquishing children, and "out-sourcing" adoption to countries with child protection and legal systems completely inadequate to handle it responsibly, just to name a few. . . .
After the seminar, some of them came to me and made strong complaints and protested. They argued, “Why do you insult and disgrace us, while we try to find sweet homes for abandoned children through overseas adoption?”
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From a micro-perspective, overseas adoption can be seen as child welfare. In view of this, certainly I am very grateful to the adoptive parents in Western countries, who have looked after the abandoned Korean children with “philanthropic love.” I also am deeply appreciative of the various social workers in adoption agencies, police stations, maternity clinics and orphanages, to name but a few, who have tried to provide a sweet home for abandoned children. However, from a macro-perspective, the overseas adoption program of Korea has been deeply related to the international social system.
First, overseas adoption is a kind of child abuse by the state. Second, the overseas adoption policy of the government was likely a part of its economic development strategy, which means the overseas adoptees have been used as part of a project to create wealth and prosperity for the rest of the South Koreans.
Overseas adoption is the forced expulsion of children from the society where they are supposed to live. In this sense, overseas adoption is a social violence against children. As humans, we exist as part of a gigantic ecosystem. The existence of the biological parents of adoptees can never be annihilated nor denied. Accordingly, while adoptees are growing up, they should be given information about their biological parents and be able to interact with them. By doing so, adoptees can form their identity with less conflict.
Overseas adoption is a forced separation of children from their natural ecosystems, as well as a way of forcing them into compulsory unity with settings different from and unnatural to their genetic and original social systems. Through this forced separation and compulsory unity, not only the adoptees, but also their biological parents, adoptive parents and their family members suffer trauma.
The overseas adoption of Korean children can be seen as child abuse since it has been interrelated with the economic development strategy of the government. How can we call the overseas adoption program of Korea “child welfare” when we create wealth and prosperity by forcefully expelling them?
Overseas Adoption: Micro v. Macro Views
At the Korea Times, Pastor Kim Do-hyun, director of KoRoot, a support organization for Korean adoptees, looks at international adoption from South Korea from a macro view: