Thousands of Korean children have been adopted by U.S. citizens since the Korean War period in the 1950s. (A dramatic decline in Korean adoptions occurred in the last decade of the 20th century.) Nearly 100,000 Korean children have been adopted by U.S. citizens since 1953. More abortions and a greater use of birth control has cut back the number of out-of-wedlock births in Korea, according to Director of Development for International Adoption Services Susan Cox.
Korean orphanages have generally ensured that the children are healthy and well cared for. Officials who support adoption believe that international adoption is a much better solution than maintaining children in orphanages for years-or allowing the children to live in the streets, as some countries do.
U.S. servicemen began adopting Korean orphans after the Korean War, and later Americans within the United States began adopting Korean infants and children. (See INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION.)
In 1956, Harry and Bertha Holt founded the Oregon-based Holt International Children's Service and ultimately placed thousands of orphaned children in the United States. Holt Korea, Eastern Child Welfare Services and Korean Social Services are Korean-based agencies that place children with Korean families in Korea.
Parents of children adopted from Korea vary in their attitude about how and how much information to provide the child with about his or her birth country. Some parents have joined support groups, enabling their child to meet other Asian children. Others have encouraged their child to attend CULTURE CAMPS, where the child can learn about his cultural heritage. And other parents believe that the best course of action is to raise the child as an American, believing that America is a nation of immigrants.
Some adoption experts are concerned when they hear adoptive parents constantly refer to their child as "my adopted Korean daughter," rather than "my daughter." These experts believe this reference could seem alienating and separates the child from feeling a part of the family. Although the Korean (or other nationality) heritage should never be a source of shame or embarrassment, it need not constantly be mentioned.
The adoption of a Korean child by a white family or other non-Asian family is a TRANSRACIAL ADOPTION,. Some people believe adoptive parents should only adopt within their race, while others believe the prevailing concept should be that if a same-race family is not available to adopt a child, a loving family of another race should be considered.
Hei Sook Park Wilkinson, Ph.D., Birth is More than Once: The Inner World of Adopted Korean Children (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.: Sunrise Ventures, 1985).
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©2000 by Christine Adamec and William Pierce, Ph.D. Reprinted from The Encyclopedia of Adoption, 2nd Edition (2nd Edition) with permission of Facts On File, Inc.