I encourage everyone to watch this film, Baby Exporting Nation: The Two Faces of Inter-Country Adoption, produced by KBS’s program, In-Depth 60 Minutes. This report is just under an hour long, and is in Korean with English subtitles. It first aired in May of 2005.
I first heard of this Korean investigative report several months ago, but I’ve been putting off watching it. I knew it would be heartbreaking, and it is. Although I knew the "facts" presented here, including the amount of money that exchanges hands and why international adoption is preferred over domestic adoption, to see it visually cuts deep in a way that reading numbers on a piece of paper does not. One of the mythologies people have about Korea is that it is such an established and "pure" adoption program. It seems that many people believe that the Korean adoption program is above corruption and impunity. However, as you will see in this news special, there are several unethical practices about the Korean adoption program that come to light.
The other thing I kept thinking about when viewing this clip, is that it seems so much like what I imagine the Baby Scoop era of the U.S. to have been like in the 1930s through the 1970s. These unethical practices seem so dated, but the stories in this news clip happened less than two years ago and likely continues today.
Finally, what strikes me as very important here, is that this is the Korean people who are critiquing the adoption practices – not just "angry adoptees" from the U.S. I think viewers will also get a glimpse into the complexity and ethical issues around adoption in general – and that there is so much more at stake here than just "alternative ways to build families" or "saving orphans." It makes me wonder whether my own Korean mother felt like these women in the film . . . and whether my adoption was ethically arranged or if, like so many Korean adoptees I know, were part of unethical or corrupt adoption practices.
This is the first critical documentary to come out of Korea about inter-country adoption. Aired May 2005 in Korea. English subtitles
A 20-year-old unwed mother asked the In-Depth 60 minutes team to help her find her baby. According to her, the baby was taken by an adoption agency without her consent, as soon as she gave birth at an Ob&Gyn Clinic. The transaction of money in the background was traced between the clinic and the adoption agency related to this. Why is money involved to secure babies for adoption?
2300 children are adopted abroad among a total of 3800 adoptions annually. Human rights organizations criticize the government’s encouragement of exporting babies. Especially, overseas adoptions have a lot of problems due to the lack of a proper system to provide post adoption services. This is a shameful portrait of Korea, the world’s 10th biggest economy and a member of OECD. In-depth 60 Minutes is investigating the truth of rumours regarding overseas adoption through shocking stories of unwed mothers who were robbed of their name of "mother" and through the voices of adoptees who are returning to Korea