NY Times article on Korean adoptees returning to Korea

Maggie Jones is the adoptive mother to one child born in Guatemala and another born in the US to mixed-race parents. She writes often and well on adoption issues. In this article in the NY Times, Why a Generation of Adoptees is Returning to Korea, Jones reports on the wave of adults born in Korea and adopted to the US and other countries, who have moved back to Korea.

I think it will be interesting to see how our Guatemalan-born children continue to respond to adoption issues as they grow older. Many of us maintain contact with birth families, visit Guatemala, live in diverse areas, and count among our friends many adoptive families. Yet with all this, our children still must endure profound loss–that of their (birth) mothers. Will there be an exodus to Guatemala by our children? If my children wanted to move to Guatemala, I would encourage them. (That is, if I haven’t moved there first.) In the years we’ve been in contact, some members of our kids’ birth families have migrated to the US. Will the reverse also be true?

Here’s the link to the Times article. If for some reason it doesn’t work, Google “Maggie Jones Korean adoptees return to Korea New York Times” and you will find it.


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2 Responses to “NY Times article on Korean adoptees returning to Korea”

  1. Heather Mayes Gleason says:

    Hi! By way of background, I am the mother of a daughter born in China, and work at a US-based non-profit adoption agency. Below is my response to Maggie Jones’ article. I think it is easy enough to point out flaws in international adoption programs, but ignoring the unethical practices that are happening right here at home. I’d love to hear your feedback. Thanks!

    Ms. Jones’ article “Why A Generation of Adoptees is Returning to South Korea,” touches on many of the complexities that exist within international adoption. Unfortunately, her description of adopting from Guatemala around 2005 – an experience that made her feel “queasy” at the time – could be used to describe too many of the domestic adoption experiences happening right here in the U.S. today through new for-profit adoption facilitators. But unlike an unethical international program that could be “shut down” by the U.S. government, domestic adoption programs in the U.S. are not overseen by a governing body, and for-profit U.S.-based agencies have found a space to operate in that amounts to little more than child trafficking.

    Along with the sharp decline of international adoptions, the number of U.S.-born children placed for adoption has been decreasing for nearly 30 years. However, many would-be-parents maintain a strong desire to adopt a child and opportunistic and for-profit adoption providers are cropping up around the country to exploit this dynamic. The 2013 report issued by the Donaldson Adoption Institute, Untangling the Web, states “Anybody can hang up a shingle on the Internet, you just need to know how to build a website…many of the online adoption facilitators have no legal license and no state oversight. Yet like a Wal-Mart crowding out mom-and-pops, many have huge advertising budgets that place them at the top of an online search. And their ads make promises no traditional adoption agency can.”

    Vulnerable pregnant women and teens are lured by these adoption providers with promises of gifts and spa-like lodging, usually far from the support of family and friends. These adoption providers will operate in “adoption-friendly” states that devalue birth father’s rights and force the birth mother to make final decisions regarding relinquishment within 24 hours after giving birth. A woman who gives birth in Maryland, for example, has 30 days after delivering her baby to decide to parent herself or place the child for adoption. The same woman who delivers in Utah has 24 hours to make that same, life-altering decision. This all sounds hauntingly like the “coercion of birth mothers” Ms. Jones notes about Guatemala in 2005.

    Adoption is a beautiful way to build a family, and as Ms.Jones says, “open adoption is psychologically more healthful for adoptees and birthparents.” The desire to start a family is a strong, primal urge. And there are many children who would benefit from the love of an adoptive family. However, societally we need to be aware of the unsavory businesses that treat pregnant women as a commodity, deceive prospective adoptive families, and, too often ignore the children’s best interests – treating children as a good for sale.

  2. Jessica says:

    Hi Heather: Like you, I’m concerned about adoption practices everywhere–including here in the US. Especially because those US practices sometimes are overlooked or ignored in the loud, emotional debates surrounding inter-country adoption.

    Knowing what went on in Guatemala (and elsewhere), it’s frightening to read the Donaldson Institute quote about some domestic facilitators hanging up a shingle with “no legal license and no state oversight.”

    When deception and lack of oversight occur, everybody suffers.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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