After the 1-2 sucker punch of viewing the news documentary, Baby Exporting Nation: The Two Faces of Intercountry Adoption and finishing Ann Fessler’s book, The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered their Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade, I am just sad to the pit of my stomach.

The US from post WWII until the mid-70s and contemporary Korea today have  many striking parallels.

The question I am left with is this: Society, social workers and families believed the unethical practices they were endorsing in The Girls Who Went Away were in the best interests of the children.

What, in hindsight, will we think about our current practices thirty years from now?

Author: JaeRan

Assistant professor at UW Tacoma, writer, and researcher.

5 thoughts

  1. Isn’t “Baby Exporting Nation: The Two Faces of Intercountry Adoption” amazing? I cried so much during that documentary–during the other parts, my eyes were glazed open b/c I was in shock.
    I love what one KAD said–it is the conclusion of my senior paper:
    “People ask me, “Would you have liked to have grown up in Norway or in an orphanage in Korea?” And I said, “That’s only two options.” I had more options. The third option was to grow up with my family in Korea. And that’s what I would choose…”
    For real…sigh…

  2. “What, in hindsight, will we think about our current practices thirty years from now?”
    No doubt we are making plenty of mistakes, but all we can do is continue to try to learn from the past as we seek the best outcome for each individual child given the constraints of the realities of the present. Of course at the same time, we have to try to change those same constraints of the present to try to keep children with their birth families first or if that isn’t an option, with their birth culture second.
    Nothin’ like keepin’ busy, huh?
    white AP of a daughter from China and your fellow MSW,

  3. Hi, Jae Ran…
    Another loosely-related thought that involves domestic adoption in Korea – finally it is being promoted and the problems with IA are being recognized, and I hope Korea is successful in reducing or even eliminating the practice of IA. But at the same time, I can’t help but really, really hope that they see the awful injustices that have supported the domestic adotpion industry in the US, and vow to do something different than what we have done. It would be great if they could skip that step and go straight to investing their resources in keeping biological families together…but I suppose any given society will only accept one small change at a time. (?)

  4. “This is precisely what persuaded me not to adopt from Korea”
    I don’t think that was the intent of this post or my comment about the documentary–to prove the inadequacy of the Korean adoption programs.
    To reduce this post to a matter of international adoption programs in a hierarchy of “who’s better than who” is missing the point. Sigh…

Share your thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s