Korean Mothers in the New York Times

I'm falling down on the blogging job again - forgive me please! As it turns out, having both kids at school does NOT mean that life instantly becomes a day at the beach. Actually, the one who got a day at the beach is The Girl, who was told us with great glee last Sunday how she a couple of friends took at $.25 bus to the beach for an afternoon the day before. She should have told me about how hard she was working on chemistry before she told me about the beach, because I would have been a lot more likely to sympathize then.

Projects are coming out of the woodwork, not to mention the fact that The Boy came home for a long weekend last weekend and kept us hopping with fixing clothes, shopping, and cooking lessons. We made bulgogi, which he wanted to demonstrate to a bunch of friends. The only problem is that he's not sure if he can get the right kind of meat where he is, so we have to work on that. Maybe this will give Third Dad and I good reason to go down more often: We can call our visits bulgogi runs.

I suppose being really busy is better than being bored stupid and crying all the time because the kids are gone, but I'm a little surprised that I don't have more time to do stuff like write now that they're off. It also makes me realize how much wasn't getting done around here when I was writing a lot more. No wonder the place is a wreck.

Anyhow, my real reason for posting today:

Be sure to read this article in the New York Times about the ongoing struggle of single Korean mothers to stand up to Korean societal stigma. Two of my favorite people are quotes: Jane Jeong Trenka of TRACK: Truth and Reconciliation for the Adoption Community of Korea, and Rick Boas of KUMSN: Korean Unwed Mothers Support Network.

The Korean government's illogical approach to increasing the birthrate in Korea, a subject of great national interest at the moment, is summed up clearly here:
For years, the South Korean government has worked to reduce overseas adoptions, which peaked at 8,837 in 1985. To increase adoptions at home, it provides subsidies and extra health care benefits for families that adopt, and it designated May 11 as Adoption Day.

It also spends billions of dollars a year to try to reverse the declining birthrate, subsidizing fertility treatments for married couples, for example.

“But we don’t see a campaign for unmarried mothers to raise our own children,” said Lee Mee-kyong, a 33-year-old unwed mother. “Once you become an unwed mom, you’re branded as immoral and a failure. People treat you as if you had committed a crime. You fall to the bottom rung of society.”
What is done to women the world over who commit this "crime" of bearing children while unmarried unites each and every one of us. It doesn't matter if we share the experience or not, or if we are connected to adoption in any way, or what our personal opinions are about the morality of having children outside of marriage. What matters it that once a woman is pregnant, she deserves the exact same emotional and material support that a married woman would receive. This is a woman's issue, and I hope all women will unite behind it.


I totally agree! I actually bookmarked this article this morning and was thinking of linking to it on my blog. It would better serve SO many people if Korea could start to overcome this stigma. I suspect that the 2.5 year old I am preparing to bring home would not have spent 18 months lingering on a waiting child list if his mother had received the support she needed.

And you are right--it is a women's issue that we should all get behind, adoptive parents or not.
Terra said…
Yes, once a woman is pregnant, she deserves equal emotional and material support that a married woman would receive.

And this article also reminded me of the panel we both sat on in Seoul, with the Korean adoptive mothers, who spoke of how change is on the horizon in terms of Korean families adopting in Korea, but that for the most part they are still not accepted. Alas, when Mothers do not receive emotional and material support, children pay dearly.

As an aside, Margie thank you for your generous comment on the topic of Motherhood on River, Blood, And Corn.
KimKim said…
It just breaks my heart, how sad is this? I do feel hope because people are speaking out against this and talking for change.
KimKim said…
I have to ask why would anyone adopt from Korea once they know about this? Correct me if I am wrong but it seems like people are taking advantage of the discrimination against single mothers. Agencies that facilitate these adoptions are making money. How can it be seen as ok to do this?

I am curious how one would feel ok in themselves to do this?
Jane Jeong Trenka said…
I have to ask why would anyone adopt from Korea once they know about this? Correct me if I am wrong but it seems like people are taking advantage of the discrimination against single mothers.

KimKim, I agree with you 100%. I hope that adoptive parents of Korean children who now know what is going on in South Korea will outreach to prospective adoptive parents and let them know that if they adopt a child from Korea, they are supporting this kind of terrible discrimination that is just as bad as racism, and that they are enabling Korea to continue to do this as long as they create the overseas market for adoption. If Korea was forced to fix its own problems instead of exporting them, perhaps there would be more support for single mothers. I'm sure other countries that now have high intl adoption rates will be have similar contradictions in a few years. BTW one of the moms told me that the article left out one fact, which is that the mothers cannot get that 50,000 per month if they work. How's that for a Catch-22? (not like 50,000 goes a long way, anyway)

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