Single motherhood in Korea, KUMFA holiday gift drive

Mission complete! We just filled Korean Unwed Mothers Families’ Association last requested donation for a single mother and her five-year-old daughter in Korea. I can't tell you how happy that makes me! This program advocates for the rights of unwed pregnant women and unwed mothers in Korea. It was started by single mothers themselves!

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:

For more about single mothers, read our previous post "Forever family and single mom's day in Korea".


Sources for Korean Christmas Ornaments

Our 2014 family ornament from HERE.
Christmas is right around the corner! I'm trying not to panic! I'm using too many exclamations!

We aren't big-fuss holiday folks. Maybe that's because it's been just the two of us for most of our 20+ Christmas celebrations together. But I LOVE decorating the tree. We have boxes of ornaments, most of which were given to us as children. We ooh and ahh as the memories come back. Those ornaments are like tiny time capsules. The special ones from Iran given to The Man by his Aunt Shirley. The salt dough gingerbread man from my childhood who has survived for 40 years. The yellowed and frayed angel that my sister and I used to fight over every year.

We hang those ornaments on our aluminum tree, and somehow, all the Christmas love of the past is magically brought to the present. It's one of my favorite traditions.

Since the boys came home, we've been giving them ornaments each year too. We have some really fantastic ones that represent their Korean heritage, as well as a reminder of things they are interested at this specific age. Throughout the year we keep our eyes open for things that can be used as ornaments, writing the boys names and dates on them.

This year's special ornament was ordered from Etsy seller Geraldandkellyhong. It's a beautiful porcelain design in a light green glaze. It reads "family" and commemorates Little Brother's homecoming this year.

Another adoptive mama (Hi Yvonne!) was recently searching out sources for Korean-themed ornaments. They are hard to come by! So I thought I'd do a round-up of all the different adoption/Korean Christmas ornaments that I've been able to dig up.

We haven't ordered from most of these retailers, so I cannot speak about quality. But if you try them out or have favorite retailers of your own, please comment!

I LOVE these tag ornaments from EthiopiaDad. They are made from laser-cut wood and priced reasonably. He's taking pre-orders so if you like them, you should hop to it! There are also Korea-specific ornaments, but I really love this one. There's ornaments for plenty of other countries too such as China, Africa, and Guatemala.  http://www.ethiopiadad.com/collections/405960-korea-ornaments

Bronner's Christmas Wonderland in Michigan carries this blown glass South Korean flag.

Etsy has a great selection of hand-crafted decorations. Try a variety of searches such as 'hangul' or 'korea christmas', 'korean ornament', etc. I LOVE these porcelain ornaments made by seller geraldandkellyhong. This one says 'family'. https://www.etsy.com/listing/170789641/korean-family-ceramic-ornament?ref=related-0

There's a waiting list for this adorable nativity scene made from Etsy seller mysakuraprincess.
I'm guessing you won't have it for this holiday but maybe get your order in for next year? There are other selections such as the three wise men. https://www.etsy.com/listing/167812432/korean-nativity-set-hand-painted-6?utm_source=OpenGraph&utm_medium=ConnectedShop&utm_campaign=Share

Seller rusticcraftdesign has these wooden ornaments which say 'I love you' on the front and can be personalized with a name or date on the back. https://www.etsy.com/listing/120351718/korean-i-love-you-with-heart-rustic-wood?ref=sr_gallery_20&ga_search_query=korea+ornament&ga_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery

This little polyresin ornament features a girl in Hanbok. There is also a version with angel wings. http://www.afk.com/catalog/Detail.tpl?command=search&db=afkstore.db&eqSKUdata=ORN302W&cart=1415745177192566

This ornament features a girl in Hanbok, made out of resin. Sold at Mandy's Moon.

These miniature Korean drums aren't necessarily Christmas tree ornaments, but they would look great on our tree! http://www.aliexpress.com/item/Korea-Drum-crafts-macrobian-drum-4-h-p01622/919551590.html

Adoptiongiftsonline.com has a few ornaments tucked into their selection. You have to dig through and they look like they are printed on ceramic by Zazzle. http://adoptiongiftsonline.com/korea-adoption-gifts/

Zazzle has a huge selection as well and they are fully customizable. They are printed metal but look to be a bit more ornate, depending on the design. http://www.zazzle.com.au/korean+ornaments

CafePress has a huge selection. They are flat aluminum ornaments with a printed design. http://www.cafepress.com/+korea+ornaments

Don't forget to check Amazon and Ebay! I found this hand-painted Korean fan dancer on Amazon! 
Korean Fan Dancer Hand-painted Glass Ball Ornament

And, one last thought. You can trim your tree with home-made ornaments! Here's a few ideas:

Knotting is a very popular artform in Korea. Here are instructions for a good luck knot. http://doitandhow.com/2013/06/21/good-luck-knot/

Or you could have the kids make a Sam Taeguk fan. This would also be pretty cute made out of salt dough clay! http://www.incultureparent.com/2011/04/korean-craft-make-a-traditional-sam-taeguk-fan/

These beautiful paper lotus lamps are typically used to celebrate Buddha's Birthday, but they would look fantastic on a tree! The center of the flower has a paper cup to hold the traditional candle, but you could cut a small hole and push a tree light through there for the same effect. http://www.incultureparent.com/2012/05/lotus-lanterns-for-wesak-buddha-day/


National Adoption Awareness month: it's complicated

Here we are, about smack in the middle of National Adoption Awareness month. If you are not in the adoption world, you might not be aware that it's also a time when there can be heated debates between different parties involved in adoption who use this time to air opposing perspectives.

Before we were an adoptive family, I could not have dreamed there could be so many opinions on adoption. You either get adoption, or you don't, right?

But as with any issue, there are a myriad of opinions about this subject. Adoption is....complicated. You have your "adoption is child abuse" folks. Countered by "adoption is the biggest miracle there is" people. There are those who have infertility issues who often had not previously considered adoption for their family. They are often at odds with preferential adopters who intentionally chose adoption.

There are those that hate agencies and consider it a form of child trafficking. And others who uphold the works of agencies. Some absolutely decry interracial adoption, denouncing the practice that removes children from their birth country and culture. And others who feel that having a home is the most important factor, and if a home is not available in their country, why not another?

And let's not forget the foster care (U.S.A.) vs. international adoption debate.

All that, and we haven't even yet talked about adoption's specific players---first family, adoptee and adoptive family.

Complicated, right? There is no one truth about adoption. Everyone's experience with it is uniquely their own, though it may mirror other's experiences at times.

That's why it's so critical for anyone touched by adoption to hear a wide variety of viewpoints. Specifically, adoptive parents can gain great insight by listening to adoptees and their first family's experiences.

Those opinions may not be comfortable for us. It would be much easier to just read things that affirm our personal beliefs about adoption. But it's vital for adoptive parents to understand that this adoption journey belongs to more than just us. Adoption is something we chose. For the adoptee, adoption is something that happened to them without their control. I don't believe they are victims, but they definitely bear the brunt of dealing with the choices that other people made for them.

While adoption brought the joy of children to our lives, it also is born of a tragic heart-shattering loss of our children's first families. Adoptees process and accept that loss on a spectrum. And there is no right or wrong on that spectrum. All viewpoints are valid and important. Check out #flipthescript to get more viewpoints from adoptees who are taking a stand on National Adoption Awareness month, and making sure their voices are heard.

Another important viewpoint is that of the first families. Regardless of the circumstances that led to our children's adoption, they ARE their first families. That connection will always live inside them and can we know our children fully if we do not know their first family? So, the stories and experiences of first families that we can read and explore can go a great way in helping us to help our children.

OK. Soap box rant over.

Here's some of my favorite reads so far this month: