Categories
International

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories
International

Korean Adoptees Find Each Other

Adoptees from the small Ilmagwon Orphanage in Gunsan, South Korea, are connecting after almost forty years!

My two adopted daughters, Gina and Treasure, and I returned to Korea for the first time in 2012. I was in Korea from 1972 to 1974, living several months in the orphanage. We met the same woman, Mrs. Park, who ran the orphanage while we lived there. The one who cared for hundreds of babies and children is now 91 years old but she remembered us. This godly caretaker had prayed for her babies and their adopted families.

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I sat in the orphanage office and looked at a photo album with baby pictures. Each abandoned baby had been assigned a page and a number. I saw baby pictures of my girls on numbers 134 and 141. As I flipped through the pages, I saw babies/toddlers I remembered and I cried. I had spent many hours sitting on the floor holding those babies and hugging those toddlers. What had become of all those bundles I wanted to take home with me and couldn’t?

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I wrote several blogs about the Korean trip and posted old pictures of the orphanage. My daughter, Treasure, even blogged about it.

Most Korean adoptees are from Seoul, so only a few were adopted in the 1970’s from Ilmagwon Orphanage in Gunsan. Men and women from the U.S. Kunsan Air Base “Wolfpack” still visit consistently and help the children. I’m so proud of them. It is not a babies home any more but I think about 70 children live in the orphanage now.

It was amazing, a dream of a lifetime to return to Korea, but the most amazing thing has happened since we returned. Angela from California, another adoptee, who lived in the orphanage at the same time as my daughters, contacted us. She had found us through my blog. She was number 140. She was in the orphanage at the same time as my daughters! She was one of those babies I held! My heart about flipped with joy when I met her for a few minutes in the airport when coming back.

Then another girl wrote, Nikki from Alabama, saying she was also from the same orphanage at the same time. Then Michelle, then Mindy, then another and another.

Eleven of the Korean Adoptees from the 1970’s have found us! They live across the U.S.—from Oklahoma, California, Alabama, Kansas, Texas, New Jersey, and Arkansas! If we had visited Korea ten years ago, this internet connection might never have occurred. Only God can do something like this!

Forty years after I left Korea with two precious little ones, we plan to have an Ilmagwon Sisters reunion – some time in 2014. Mrs. Park will be thrilled to find out these children of hers are connecting and I’ll be glad to give them all a big hug!

You are loved,
Kathryn

Categories
International

Korea: Meeting Former Students!

http://spurgeons.wordpress.com/2012/06/08/korea-visit-with-former-students/

Categories
International

Korea: Time to Leave on Trip

We leave for Korea today, and while packing, I found that my favorite black pants needed hemming. Ducked taped it and then remembered Mrs. McDonald, my high school home-ec teacher who never approved of my methods. So I found a needle and thread, but only found brown, so I sewed the hem and it looked worse than the duck tape, so I went back to the duck tape. Fellow classmates please don’t sigh.

My new wood floor looks great. I know it’s a crazy thing to do just before our trip, but the trim still needs re-done and the walls painted where I used the wrong color. I made 4 trips to the store to try to match the paint. No luck. Guess Bill will have something to do while I’m gone. 🙂

Anyway, I’m almost packed and looking forward to seeing many former students, lovely young men and women who visited our home in Edmond for Bible studies, a meal, or simply a chat. Please pray for our time with them. Here’s part of our schedule. We’ll spend 3 to 4 days in three different cities.

In Seoul, we’ll meet Seung Heon Daniel, who will take us to the hotel. We’ll see Jung Hwa, (our shopping tour guide) her son Minsu, HD, HongKun with his children Ruth and Joseph, JongChae, SungEun, Song Hee, and Victoria. We’ll see lots of sights because it is Buddha’s birthday.

Then we’ll travel to Daejeon and have lunch with Solji before going on to Gunsan to visit the orphanage.

Lastly, we’ll go to Pusan and visit Yeong Eun, Jiin, JongHoon, BoMi, SoonMi. Also, Jessica Lough, who is teaching English there, will come sometime that weekend. What a wonderful time we will have.

If any other friends are in Korea, please contact me. We don’t want to miss seeing you!

We can still get texts and facebook (hold the phone calls because they cost $2.59 a minute).Gotta go finish rolling up shirts. We’re meeting at my daughter’s house tonight to drive to Dallas and then at 5 am, we fly to San Fran before leaving the good old USA. See you in a few weeks!

Categories
International

Korea: Old Pictures of Ilmagwon Orphanage

While planning our trip to Korea, I found some old pictures of the orphanage – some 38 years ago no less, where my two Korean daughters were from  – and I lived for a short while. It was also called Il Maek Won.

It has moved locations and now has older children also. Notice the girls wore red sweats and the boys, brown.

When I walked in the front door, I took off my shoes and stepped up onto the wooden floor and kids surrounded me. Small rooms opened from the hallway, starting with the youngest babies in the first room. 

I almost didn’t include the orphan pictures – they make me cry. The faces still affect me 38 years later, they are so precious. But I must include at least a few pictures of kids. They are precious.

I know Ilmagwon Orphanage will be very different after this many years, but I will always remember and pray for the children I could not adopt – and I’m anxious to be in Korea again.