The majority of children placed for adoption from South Korea are from single mothers. Think back to the taboo of unwed childbirth back in the 1950s in the USA. There's that type of stigma (though I think it's much worse) that still exists in Korea today.
This is a complex topic to understand. It's so culturally ingrained in the society that it's really difficult for a woman to buck the system.
Eat Your Kimchi posted this great video about the topic. One stat they had that blew my mind. According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare in 2007, out of 100 pregnancies by a single woman, 96 of them will have an abortion (though it is illegal there), and only 4 will give birth.
Of those four, three children will be placed for adoption due to social discrimination and financial difficulties.
One in 100 single mothers actually are able to keep their children! So heartbreaking.
Single mothers are ostracized, keep their status secret or they can be fired from their jobs, are alienated from friends and family, and there is no source of public funding available to help them. Children of a single mother are also treated sub-standardly.
There are some uncomfortable stats and information in the video about adoption. I can't deny these make me squirm a lot. I have to acknowledge that adoption agencies do have a part to play in the messed up culture of unwed motherhood in Korea. Of course don't condone a practice of coercion by adoption agencies in getting these women to place their children, but the alternatives (abortion, for one) is heartbreaking too. More on that in another deep, philosophical post.
Anyhow, be sure to watch the video for more insights on single motherhood in Korea. And also check out this excellent post about KUMFA and their programs to support single mothers.
And if you are interested in donating too, here's the links:
- To donate to KUMFA or Heater, a home for unwed mothers/children (international): Paypal email@example.com
- To donate to Ae Ran Won, a program that helps provide counseling, job training and financial assistance to unwed mothers/children: http://www.aeranwon.com/help-us.php
For more about single mothers, read our previous post "Forever family and single mom's day in Korea".