I listened to many different stories while acting as an interpreter during the reunions of families who previously gave up their children for adoption. Approximately 200,000 international adoptees from Korea are scattered throughout the world, and there are currently close to 300 international adoptees staying in Korea to learn the Korean language and culture in order to discover a sense of identity. I have had a range of experiences while providing this voluntary interpretation service.
Some time ago, I was present at a reunion of a former adoptee with their birth family. The mother could not forget her baby for a single day after she gave him up due to experiencing devastating poverty and social prejudice. In order to forget her wrongdoing and the memory of her baby, she became a shaman. A shaman is a person who communicates with the dead because of a disturbing experience they went through in life.
I visited a shaman's house to help with interpretation, and witnessed a family’s life of agony and watched their unconscious behavior while sitting all night for one week and observing them. This woman dreamt about her son for 30 years and woke up in the middle of the night almost every night. She attempted suicide several times because of a mistake she made. Finally she became a shaman to deal with and overcome the extreme distress she experienced. The birth parents and adoptee parents both experience great difficulties.
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It is not that easy to build a society that is better and more peaceful, in which everyone can live together harmoniously. When criminals are punished, this does not mean that everything has been resolved. Often, the root causes of a crime can be found in the community or even in the life of the victim himself or herself. On this basis, victims and communities also have a responsibility to take an interest in the perpetrators of crimes. The intent must be to identify the fundamental causes of crime, and by addressing these causes, create a better society and country, by seeking an alternative, namely Restorative Justice rather than punishment to truly heal scars.
I am very interested in overseas adoption and restorative justice based on tolerance, forgiveness, and repentance. First of all, I would like to research how to apply restorative justice to overseas adoption. I strongly believe that the three parties in restorative justice such as victims, criminals, and community are similar to birth families, adoptive families, and adoptees in the adoption structure. Therefore, I believe this research allows me to contribute more to family law, and hopefully one day to help others to improve the adoption structure.
Restorative Justice & IA
From the Korea Times, an opinion piece by a man who has served as a volunteer translator for Korean adoptees reuniting with birth family: