When children are taken away from their country

Should children be removed from their culture, adopted, and taken to another country, thereby losing their heritage?ry=480[3] (3) I recently encountered this question and wanted to add my tidbit, because, certainly, there are plus and minuses.

I lived in an orphanage in South Korea when I was twenty-one and adopted two baby girls. In the 1970’s I brought them back to Oklahoma, USA, where they grew up.

My daughters lost the ability to speak (or write) their native language; even if they learned it, they would have an accent. They never heard the stories that cultures pass down to the next generation; and they lost their history, their biological families, and a proud devotion to their country. They lost the taste for their native food – although it was acquired, it won’t be eaten on a daily basis. They lost so much. So, the question is: should we uproot children and take them away from their bloodlines?

Let’s look at the other side. What did the children gain?

Mixed race children were not accepted in Korea, so some children would be outcasts. Ten girls were abandoned to every boy, leaving many abandoned girls. Many of the abandoned boys were handicapped in some way. Adoption was not accepted in Korean culture. Admittedly, the culture should be changed, but at that time, South Korea was unable to take care of all the children being abandoned. Simply put, the orphanages were full. And the same can be true of babies in other cultures at different times throughout their history. Nations go through difficult days when they can’t care for their own. Should we ignore that?

So, should a child be left to grow up in an orphanage, or placed with a family who will treat them as their own? You know my opinion. I adopted the babies, rather than leave them to lie on the floor and cry without parents around them. For me, it was not a choice I considered. Babies in need touched my maternal instinct and I responded without considering what they were losing. I only knew that they needed love. Would it have been right to close my heart, neglect the innocent ones, and walk away from sorrow and suffering when I could do something? Would Christ like that response? My only regret is that I could not adopt more babies at the time, because I tried.

I agree that every effort should be made to tell adopted children their story, introduce them to their native culture, help them learn the language if possible (for us it was not), and teach them to be secure with the beautiful way God made them. But if the question is whether to bring a child home to love him, or let him languish in an orphanage, then I have no alternative but to love them.








Korea adoptees find each other

Korean culture came to my house in a big way – through my adopted daughters. My daughters are from Ilmagwon orphanage in Gunsan, Korea, which is far from Seoul. They were babies when I adopted them and I lived at the small orphanage for a few months. My daughters and I traveled back to Korea in 2012 for the first time in about 40 years. It was an amazing trip.

Now the most exciting news– after my daughters and I traveled to Korea I blogged about it and several adoptees from Ilmagwon contacted me through my blog. Sixteen Ilmagwon adoptees from the 1970’s and 80’s have connected. Sixteen! That is such sweet news after not being in contact for years. Every time we find another lost sister, my heart is blessed. The girls live all over the U.S., from Florida to New York to California.
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I feel like the godparent of these precious ones, some of whom lived in the orphanage the same time I did. A few girls got together in June 2014 for the first time. Rick Matthews, a GI who lived there and adopted a Korean baby too, came with his wife from Kansas.

We turned my house into a mini-Korean gajeong. We lowered the dining room table so we could sit on the floor. We tried on gorgeous hanbok dresses, watched an excellent tae kwon do performance (one of my Korean grandsons is a black belt) and catered in the most delicious Korea bulgogi and kimchi we could find. Then to top it off, we made homemade bimbops!

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All in all, it was a success and a whole lot of fun. I hope more of the Ilmagwon girls get to come next time!


Mrs. Park: A Saint Who Loves Children

I think her birthday is May 19, 1922. That makes her Korean age 92 this year.  Korean age accounts for the time a baby is in the mother’s womb. She came from a well to do family, I seem to recall, but they lost their money/fortune.

Park Kung-Hee worked for the Salvation Army (SA) and was a vice-chair of women’s side at the time.  She gave speeches and visited Los Angeles as a Korean ambassador for a sports event, also visiting San Franciso about that time. She met her husband, whose family were farmers, at the SA because he also worked there.

In 1965, she and her husband were asked by SA to start an orphanage in Kunsan, Korea, which they did.  When the Salvation Army wanted to move them to another position/work, they felt God’s calling them to continue to work for the orphanage, so they retired in order to stay there.  It was a difficult time in Korea, with many babies being abandoned.

The two babies I adopted.
After Mrs. Park retired from SA, she used some of her financial assets and all of her retirement funds to buy more land for the orphanage as well as more goats.  The facility was too small for the number of babies at the time.

I visited the Ilmagwon Orphanage ( or Il Maek Won)  for the first time in 1972 where about 100 babies, children under 5 years old, lived. I met Mrs. Park and her family who lived above the orphanage. I arrogantly thought she was old back then, but I was barely twenty, so that can be excused. Her sweet spirit was evident even then, when I took home two of her babies as my own. She has kept records of each child who has lived with them.

Mrs. Park is a godly, Christian woman, and I am sure no one can count the number of people she has touched through 92 years.

After almost 40 years, I went back to the Korean orphanage and visited her in June of 2012. Her gentle spirit welcomed my grown daughters and I. Treasure, one of my Korean daughters, said, “Mom, I think I would have known about God even if I had stayed in Korea.” I agree, because Mrs. Park would have made sure of that, just like she did the other orphans.

When I told Mrs. Park that my husband had left me soon after adopting the two babies, she said, “It must have been hard for you to raise daughters by yourself.” Such graciousness from a woman who literally raised hundreds of children herself!

Meeting Mrs. Park was the highlight of my trip to Korea. God reminds me that He has placed saints in strategic places all around the world to glorify Him and to do His work.

You can see details of our trip on my daughter’s website:


Sung Eun: Teaching North Koreans

See Sung Eun’s story here.


Korea: Meeting Former Students!