Forever Family and Single Mom's Day in Korea

May 10, 2011

It was so surreal. There we were, halfway across the world, corralling holding this very wiggly 10-month-old boy, juggling bottles and gifts, and trying to listen to the final instructions from his foster parents and their parting wishes for his life.

We were all sobbing. Tears of joy. Tears of sadness.

This was the moment we became parents. The moment we had spent the past 1 1/2 years waiting for.

The workers rushed us to the elevator because surely, they knew that we would soon be overwhelmed with emotion.

I held our stoic boy in my arms. He was the only one not crying.

We got in the elevator. One last look at our social workers braced on each side of our foster mother as she wept.

The doors closed.

Hello and goodbye, in one moment.


May 10, 2013

This year, we celebrate the second anniversary of our Forever Family! Our celebration is an evolving tradition: Little Man wakes. We have breakfast together as he opens a single gift that we purchased for him when we were in Korea. (We purchased the gifts with the intention that he'll open one each Family Day through his 18th birthday. Loved the idea (Thanks, Amy!) but boy, was it a lot of shopping!)

We talk about what is was like, that first day of our family. How we went back to the hotel and had no idea what to do next. How Little Man and The Man were both exhausted although it was early in the morning, so they fell asleep on the bed together. How I was too excited to sleep, and instead, stood over Little Man, watching his every breath.

This morning, we will take a photo together. And then we will part ways for the day. We will end our day with a special dinner.

It's a day that we cherish. But it's a bit ironic that as we celebrate our adoptive family, in Korea today they are celebrating the 3rd Annual Single Mom's Day. This day acknowledges the societal prejudices that exist against women in South Korea, which are the reason most children are placed for adoption.

From Ae Ran Won site: Two birds represent mothers who have
sent their babies away, and now work to overcome their immense pain.
In time, they develop the life skills needed to help them fly toward
the futures of their own choosing.

Single Mom's Day will be held May 10-11 this year. The aim is to raise support and awareness for single mothers. It was actually started as a pushback and challenge to the South Korean government's other May 11 holiday---Adoption Day, a day to promote adoption within the country.

Being a single mother is a shameful endeavor in South Korea, much like it was nearly 50 years ago in the States. It can be nearly impossible to raise a child solo in South Korea. They cannot find jobs. Their families shun them. They cannot find a place to live. Child support is unenforced. And then there is the social discrimination the mother and child endure.

So with few options for financial or emotional support, many of these women see that they have only two options: adoption or abortion. Some data states that 92% of adoptees from South Korea are born to single mothers.

Single Mom's Day is a way to garner support for these women. To help be self sufficient and to deal with the stigma that is attached to unwed mothers. To help keep families together.

What I find fascinating is that much of this forward movement in mother's rights is being led by adoptees, many of whom were adopted abroad and have now returned to South Korea. They are advocating for young women who are making choices, under the same conditions as the adoptee's birth mothers.

But had not the adoptees been adopted abroad, would they have the passion, understanding and opinions about a mother's rights that are needed to change the status quo in Korea?

Not sure...something to think about. It's fascinating that while some people use tragedies, life changing events, or conditions as a reason to play the part of a victim in their lives, these same events/situations can empower others. It's their call to arms.

I applaud the adoptees for utilizing the experiences they have had to affect change in the world. And I hope that single mothers in South Korea are able to have more than just two options available to them someday.

In our lives, Little Man's mother made a choice, and whether she would have kept him if conditions were different there, we can't know. But we acknowledge that she did have a huge decision to make and our family was born, literally, from that decision.

In her honor, and in honor of other single mothers in Korea, we are adding a new tradition to our Family Day: we are donating each year to a charity or cause that supports unwed mothers in South Korea.

From Ae Ran Won site: A mother and her baby
complete their preparation for self-support and
good parenting. Together theyare ready to journey
towards a better tomorrow.

This year, we are donating to Ae Ran Won. It's a maternity home, but also has a facility where women can live and raise their children. They also support those who may have placed children for adoption but need further support. I learned of this charity through two very well known books I Wish for You a Beautiful Life: Letters from the Korean Birth Mothers of Ae Ran Won to Their Children
and Dreaming a World: Korean Birth Mothers Tell Their Stories.

Tonight, we will celebrate together as a family, keeping in our hearts the very special mother who birthed our amazing son and who made this day a possibility.

Please check out the links below to learn more about single motherhood in Korea.


Donate to Ae Ran Won: Help Us

A great audio story about Single Mothers Day: PRI's The World

Shame and Single Motherhood in South Korea: World Moms Blog

First person stories about single motherhood in South Korea: Omona They Didn't

Korean Unwed Mothers Support Network: http://www.kumsn.org/

Single Moms' Day in Korea: KoreaMaria


1 comment:

  1. happy family day! two years already!!

    and thanks for all that info!


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