Friday, October 10, 2008

NY Times on Korean adoption

Norimitsu Onishi of the New York Times writes another Korean piece, this time about the South Korean government's apparently successful efforts to get Koreans to adopt Korean children not related to themselves:
... the South Korean government is pushing aggressively to increase adoptions by South Koreans and decrease what officials consider the shameful act of sending babies overseas for adoption. Since the 1950s, tens of thousands of South Korean children have been adopted by foreigners, mostly Americans, because of South Koreans’ traditional emphasis on family bloodlines and reluctance to adopt.

But last year, for the first time, more babies here were adopted by South Koreans than foreigners, as the government announced recently with great fanfare: 1,388 local adoptions compared with 1,264 foreign ones. What is more, South Korea — which still is one of the top countries from which Americans adopt — has set a goal of eliminating foreign adoptions altogether by 2012.

“South Korea is the world’s 12th largest economy and is now almost an advanced country, so we would like to rid ourselves of the international stigma or disgrace of being a baby-exporting country,” Kim Dong-won, who oversees adoptions at the Ministry of Health, said in an interview. “It’s embarrassing.”

To bolster domestic adoptions, the government last year began offering $90 monthly allowances per child for those who adopt children up to 12 years old, as well as more generous health benefits for the children. Even greater health benefits are now given to adopted disabled children.
To get some background on the issue of Korean attitudes about overseas adoption, take a look at this Monster Island blog piece from May 2005, including the comments section. 

In light of this Onishi piece, there's one thing I should make abundantly clear again: adoption should always be about what is in the best interest of the child being adopted. Children should not be placed into potentially dangerous situations because of lax rules that are geared toward promoting domestic adoption just because of some twisted perception that "national pride" is injured by overseas adoption. 

I do feel that most of the people involved in this issue don't feel that way; rather, it is a small handful of people in positions of power who are guided by such foolish ideas, like the National Assemblyman who wants to change the official spelling of Korea to Corea. Despite the way the peanut gallery at the Marmot's Hole depicts things in Korea, such myopic people in positions of authority are—fortunately—in a tiny minority, but that doesn't mean they can't do considerable damage.  

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