Archive | November 2012

A New Hope?

Could this be what we’ve been waiting for? If this article from The Korea Times is anything to go by, there just might be a glimmer on the horizon. Here’s what it says:

Korea to join adoption convention

By Kim Bo-eun. Published on November 16, 2012.

Click here to go to the original article at The Korea Times.

The government plans to join the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption to better protect the human rights of overseas adoptees.

“We are in the process of making domestic laws accord with the standards of the convention,” said Lee Kyung-eun, director for child welfare policy at the Ministry of Health and Welfare said Friday.

The ministry announced a set of measures to increase support for Korean overseas adoptees. They include aiding them in finding their parents, providing them the necessary services when they visit their home country and expanding opportunities to have contact with Korean culture.

“If the parent or family is unable to provide a home, the child should be sent to certified domestic institutions. International adoption should be the last resort,” she added.

“Support for single moms also needs to be expanded, as most cases of adoption arise due to the lack of it,” Lee said.

She added that the government needs to create a division in charge of adoption policies so that it can certify and oversee adoption institutions.

Korea is yet to become a signatory to the International Convention Protecting the Rights of Overseas Adoptees which went into effect in 1995 worldwide. It has been ratified by 91 countries so far.

The reason Korea had not yet been able to join the convention is because its laws did not meet the required standards.

But, the government has made efforts to lay the groundwork for the joining. A special act on adoption was enacted on Aug. 5. The act only allows adoption after court approval.

The ministry plans to create a taskforce with other ministries by the end of this year to prepare for the joining of the convention.

According to ministry data, some 240,000 children were given up for adoption from 1958 to 2011. Among them, 165,000 were adopted overseas while 76,000 were adopted domestically.

The number of overseas adoptees has been decreasing since it reached its peak in 1985. The domestic adoption rate began to surpass overseas adoption for the first time in 2007 because of stronger regulations against the latter.

Kim Do-hyun, director at KoRoot, a nonprofit organization for Korean overseas adoptees, said that although Korea has shown great progress, it still has far to go.

“The government needs to change the current reporting system in which parents voluntarily register their child within 14 days of birth, to one where births are immediately registered by government officials,” said Kim.

“Such a system provides babies legal rights and a safeguard from laundering, trafficking or abduction,” he said.

He added that the government needs to provide single moms as much financial support as they are providing orphanages, to help them afford to keep the babies.

Click here to go to the original article at The Korea Times.

An Angry Adoptee

“Why in the world aren’t you happy, grateful and content with your life,” people ask. “You must count your blessings. Think of all that you have, and do not look back. Anyway, things pass, your adoption story is old stuff. Why even bother thinking about it? Go on, get over it. It’s only a small crumb of your life. It’s the here and now that counts. Look forward. Don’t just stand there, do something with your life. You have so many possibilities here, a new country that is giving you every chance to become something.”

Yes, the possibilities are many, but this girl lacks the energy to do anything. Inside my heart I know I have used all of my strength on just staying alive through the years. I got scarred for life when I was a little girl. I have done all that I can possibly do, to help myself, to understand why my adoptive parents behaved the way they did. I have spoken to friends and also my old elementary school teacher about my parents and what happened during my childhood. I have written down bits of my life, both here in my blog, and on paper. I’ve fought to see therapists and am still fighting to get the right kind of help. But that which I need isn’t available in this country. There simply hasn’t been any focus on the issues surrounding adoption, and the problems that many adoptees come to face as they grow up. I hope now that I can get help abroad some day.

In this “great place” which I never asked to be brought to, I am an outsider. Both here and in my country of birth I’m considered to be at the bottom rung of the social ladder. In Korea I’m looked down on it’s because I am adopted. In Norway it’s because the issues I struggle with have kept me from getting a proper education and a sufficiently high-income job.

I have played my life the best that I could with  the cards that I was dealt. Now I see how unfair life is. I’ve struggled all of my life to live and be the way I thought the world wanted me to be, and it was never good enough. I had to take care of myself since I was a very little girl, because my adoptive parents certainly wouldn’t. Every day was a living hell, all year around. I was either neglected, or faced frequent beatings or scolding whenever they were disappointed in me or thought I might have done something wrong, which was most of the time. All this abuse did something to me that has stayed with me to my adult age.

I remember the quarrels, the yelling and the beating, being called ugly names, and the cold, hard looks from their eyes. Always hearing how much of a burden I was to them. It makes me sick just to think about it, and it hurts like hell. I was only a substitute, something they wanted to complete their façade: A little baby girl, which they thought was what they needed to get over their child that died shortly after it was born.

Later, when I was a teenager, I remember my adoptive father’s sleazy looks at me, and all those remarks that a father should never utter to his daughter. I remember how I never had proper warm clothes, and walked to school freezing in winter, how dirty and old my clothes were, and that they were often much too small for me.

I remember that I was often very hungry, that whenever I had been scolded or beaten I had to go to bed without any supper. I saw other kids get things or signs of affection from their parents, like hugs or perhaps a chocolate. All I ever got was “Go away! Come back in time for dinner, or else! You know what happens if you don’t.”

And I knew too well what would happen if I didn’t. Beaten with hands or a belt, or a slap on my cheek. And then I had to endure all the names for each stroke. “Ugly girl!”, “Bad girl!”, “Imbecile!”, “Idiot!”, “Whore!”, “Loser!”, “Damn black sheep!”, “Why don’t you ever learn?”, “Retard!”, “You are such a burden to us, you cost us a damn fortune, and you still do, and this is how you thank us?”.

I guess in their hearts it must have been very tempting to beat the hell out of me. Why didn’t they just end my life? I could never become what they wanted: Their happy, successful daughter, one that would worship them, and be forever grateful.

When I was twelve, my adoptive mother had the “serious talk” with me, the one that all mothers have with their daughters when they getting close to puberty. Or rather, she did her version of it: She opened the door to my room, and threw a packet of menstrual pads at me, gave me a sour look and said “You’ll need these soon.” And that was that. Then came the day that I got my first period. I was disgusted by the new way my adoptive father looked at me, a new and different kind of interest. I was embarrassed, and wished that he had never known. His new repertoire involved comments on how I was getting into shape, growing curves, and he even said to me, “Well, now we’ve got us a little whore in the house.”

What can possibly make up for all the times I had to run and hide, frightened out of my wits and with my heart trying to pound its way out of my chest? What do you think could ease away the memories of an abusive childhood? I still dream about my adoptive father touching me, in ways a father never should. I’ve had my share of life, and I’ll never be able to forget it. I was taught that I was useless and hopeless, and every time I try to get up, I hear their voices telling me that, over and over. It’s in my head, sure, but it feels like getting beaten down with a fist. That is what I got from the people who were responsible for giving me a proper upbringing.

That alone would have been bad enough. On top of it all there’s my adoption issues, and knowing that I once had a Dad in Korea who really loved me, but I was taken away from him. I’m glad that he never saw what I went through: It would have broken his already troubled heart.

“Adoption,” they say, “saved you from a life in poverty in Korea, and brought you to a country where you can have everything you need.”

That may be so, but it also saved me from a loving father. And the everything that I got, well, you’ve already read what that was.

How can I not be grateful for that? Why bother thinking about what I don’t have?

“You were chosen!”

Indeed. I am struggling with PTSD and severe depression today because I was lucky enough to be chosen, to be given this unique opportunity. To be a special little girl, who could live with this fine, solid, caring, Christian family. I was chosen to be their house slave, their scapegoat and punching ball. My needs, like food, clothes and toys, were taken care of in the sense that they came last, long after they’d had their booze and cigarettes, meaning they were last priority.  I never got a cuddly brown teddy bear when I was little: I had to wait until I was old enough and buy my own.

I hate how the adoption agencies promote adoption as something beautiful, and how much money they make on tearing innocent children away from their natural families. My childhood sucked: It was a hell that no one can even imagine unless they have walked in my shoes. I will never be grateful, and I can never forget. Others may think that I prefer to live like this, to stay angry, but at least that means I’m still alive: I’m not numb, paralysed into passive submission.

Don’t condemn a person for being different, for not fitting inside the box that forms the boundaries of what is “acceptable” in society. There are always reasons for it.