Friday, November 26, 2010

Steve Morrison "In Defense of Adoption"

Over the past decade, Korean lawmakers have made significant changes to support unwed mothers who choose to raise their children and to promote domestic adoption. As a result, increasing numbers of Korean children are growing up in Korea. As a non-Korean adoptive mother, my heart agrees that this is right. By God's grace, our family has a lot to offer our adopted children. But we can't offer them first-hand immersion in their birth culture.

International precedent agrees. The 1993 Hague Convention on the Protection of Children is based on three premises:

Recognizing that the child, for the full and harmonious development of his or her personality, should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding,

Recalling that each State should take, as a matter of priority, appropriate measures to enable the child to remain in the care of his or her family of origin,

Recognizing that intercountry adoption may offer the advantage of a permanent family to a child for whom a suitable family cannot be found in his or her State of origin...

However, Korea has not signed the Hague Convention. Politically, there are competing visions on the third point: whether, for an orphan, finding a home in a family abroad is better than growing up an orphan in Korea.

The voices I find most compelling in this debate are those of people who have 'been there': adult adoptees. A number of adult Korean adoptees, speaking about their painful experiences growing up in families abroad dislocated from their birth culture, argue poignantly for keeping Korean children in Korea at all costs, including institutionalizing those who are not domestically adopted.

Steve Morrison may be alone among adult adoptees in being able to speak personally to the alternative. Morrison, homeless and alone in Korea at age five, was institutionalized at six and lived in an orphanage until he was adopted by a family in America at the age of 14. In the Fall 2010 issue of Korean Quarterly, Morrison tells his own story in the context of the current controversy in this article: "In Defense of Adoption" .

Morrison's article is powerful for me because we adopted all three of our Korean daughters through Childrens' Home Society and Family Service's Waiting International Child Program. Children like my girls wait for families abroad because they were born with special needs that are socially stigmatized in Korea. I want as many children as possible to grow up in families in Korea. Yet it is still rare that special-needs children are chosen for domestic adoption.

The truth is harsh: with the closure of Intercountry Adoption on the horizon, Korean children like mine may be growing up in institutions, not families. I want to do everything I can to help them find a family. A family in Korea first. A Korean family living abroad second. But if neither of those is possible, a family like mine.

1 comment:

Steve Morrison said...

Hello Carrie,
I was told that an Australian adoption magazine featured my essay "In Defense of Adoption", so I went searching in Google, and found you mention my article. Thank you that I can share my story with you and thank you for sharing with others. Thank you for adopting children from Korea. May your adoption journey a rich and blessed one filled with lots of joy and laughter.

Steve Morrison
Founder, MPAK