Birth Country: South Korea
Decade of adoption: 1980s
I did not set out to adopt. For several years I used my professional skills to act as a resource to folks placing international waiting kids for adoption. I traveled to Seoul with staff of Children's Home Society of Minnesota to meet many children and the dedicated staff who cared for them. One little boy had Osteogenesis Imperfecta (brittle bone disease, a disorder that I had just published several research papers on). I assured the social workers that this darling one-year-old would do very well in an adoptive family. I did not realize that the conversation swirling around me in Korean was a decision to remove Chung Koo Hak from his excellent foster home because there was no placement forthcoming and there was no more funding for foster care.
When I asked about the little boy on my return and learned that he was gone, I asked for the opportunity to adopt him myself. CHSM staff were really clear that the Koreans would never accept placement with a single woman but they permitted me to pay for and submit a home study.
My son came home within six months. He is now in college with all the ups and downs that brings for every family. He won a trip around the world in 6th grade and we visited Seoul and some of the people who had cared for him along the way. We also visited the institution he likely would have been sent to. The most amazing feeling was to understand that the facilities for children with Korea are so non-existent that the institution for the handicapped is not wheel-chair accessible.
I caution you to tread lightly on the oft-explored theme of unhappy adopted kids ripped from their birth countries and raised in foreign lands. Many of these children come from countries without the resources to meet their physical needs. Yes, it would we wonderful if the Korean culture and economy changed enough to offer him the medical care, educational accommodations, rehabilitation, and accessibility he needs. It wouldn't have happened fast enough for him. It is a good thing you are telling individual stories because that's what international adoption is, individuals.
I showed my son that CHSM was seeking mentors for young adopted children. He said, "I wouldn't be very good at that because I would say, 'I am not an adopted Korean person with a disability. I am just a person.'"