An Adoptee's Perspective in Korean Adoption
By Stephen C. Morrison (Choi Suk Choon, USA)
It gives me a great pleasure and honor to speak before you in this joyous occasion to celebrate and promote adoption in Korea with all of you. Specifically I would like to thank the Korea Social Welfare Society's President Kim Myung Woo, Director Ms. Kang Young Nim and the staff members at SWS for inviting me to this place of honor. I would also like to thank the Korean Government's involvement in this occasion as well.
My Korean name is Choi Suk Choon. I grew up in the Holt Children's Center at Il-San, Korea and was adopted by a wonderful family when I was fourteen years old. I am now a grown man with a family of my own. My adoptive parents, Mr. & Mrs. John Morrison, loved me very much. Despite the fact that they had three of their own biological children (two daughters and one son), they adopted two children from Korea. Under their care and love, I was raised with Christian values and learned what it means to have a family. By observing them, I learned what parental love was all about. Especially, my father was a role model for me to follow into my manhood. He taught me what it means to be a gentleman. He also taught me what it means to be a good father and a husband. I shall never forget the time when my father told me, "Steve, I have made some very good and important decisions in my life. The best decision was to believe in God. The second best decision was to marry your mother. And the third best decision was to have you in our family."
During the past four years, I have given many testimonies at various Korean churches regarding my adoption experience, and shared the love I have received from my parents and from God. Through such speaking events I have tried to be an instrument to give God the glory, and to open up the Korean hearts for homeless children by promoting adoption in the Korean community. I have tried to be a voice on behalf of homeless children. My conviction is that the time has come for Koreans to open up their hearts to adopt homeless Korean children. In order for them to do this, their hearts and attitudes towards the orphans need to change. I have spoken to remove the social stigma attached to orphans and adoptees. As a Christian, I have especially tried to reach out to the Korean Christians to look at such children with the compassion that Christ felt for them. In Mark 9:37, Jesus said, "Whoever welcomes the least of these children in my name welcomes me." My desire is that the Korean government will take the leadership role in promoting adoption of Korean children into Korean homes. I really believe the day will come when Korean families will adopt all the Korean orphans. This is my passion. This is my vision.
Founded Mission to Promote Adoption in Korea (MPAK)
In view of this, I have established an organization called "Mission to Promote Adoption in Korea (MPAK), with a web site address at: www.mpak.com. MPAK was found to promote adoption in Korea by:
1) Advocating the needs of homeless children in Korea.
2) Removing the negative social stigma attached to homeless children and adoptees.
3) Enabling Koreans to overcome fear in adoption.
4) Encouraging Koreans to adopt openly and not secretly.
In my opinion, Koreans practicing secret adoption for fear of what others might say to them and to their children is the biggest barrier in promoting adoption in Korea. Unless Koreans have positive attitudes toward adoption and adopt them as openly as in the western world, there will continue to be children without homes in Korea. I believe the time has come for Koreans to open up their hearts and homes to homeless children.
My Answers to Criticism in Foreign Adoption
Many Koreans have demanded to discontinue the foreign adoption, stating that it is a national shame. Myself and thousands of adoptees who have found homes will testify that we are grateful that Korea let us go. We are grateful that we were given second chances. We are grateful that we no longer are homeless and have families of our own. For the Korean Government to continue to allow the foreign adoption, it is showing the "national courage of care" rather than "national shame". The real national shame is when children are kept in orphanages and their opportunity to have families is blocked.
My Request to Koreans
In order for adoption to become acceptable, Korean hearts and attitudes toward the orphans and adoptees must change. Koreans need to treat orphans like fellow human beings rather than treat them like objects. People must stop using unkind expressions such as "a thing picked up from under a bridge". Also, I do not appreciate when Koreans speak of us adoptees as exported items. We are people too. We have feelings and sense of human dignity and pride. We must learn to respect the rights of children who did not choose to become orphans nor was it their fault to be homeless.
As for adoptees, I would like to say to all the Koreans that we do not need your pity and sympathy. We have families of our own. We are healthy, we are well educated, we have jobs, and we are contributing members to our society. It is those remaining homeless children in Korea that need your pity and sympathy. It is those children that need your love and care, and your homes. Please do not feel sorry or embarrassed that Korea could not take care of us by sending us abroad. Instead, we are truly grateful for your actions because many of us have found homes and experienced the love that shaped our lives in profound ways.
My Request to the Korean Government
In my effort to promote Korean adoption during the past four years, I have met many Korean families who were willing to adopt homeless children from Korea. However many Korean families were turned away because they didn't meet the age requirement. I have noticed that approximately 30 percent of the Koreans who wanted to adopt were beyond the age limit of 44, and could not qualify to adopt children. Also, I have noticed that approximately 35 percent of the Koreans wanted older children who are five years old and over. But they couldn't adopt since Korea sends abroad infants only.
I would like to ask the Korean government to reconsider the age restriction, and also to reconsider the age of children who are being sent abroad. I would like to ask the Korean government to extend a special privilege to Koreans living in America and in Korea so that there will be more Koreans who will qualify to adopt and make available to them older children as well.
Propose Month of Adoption in Korea
I once had a dream where I read a big banner hanging from a tall building in Seoul that said, "November is The Month of Adoption." In America we celebrate the month of November as the Month of Adoption. I would like to propose to the Korean Government to institute "The Month of Adoption" in Korea as well. It doesn't have to be in November. It doesn't have to last a month. "The Day of Adoption" is appropriate as well. Perhaps the month of May is appropriate with family related days consisting of "Children's Day" and "Mother's Day". If Korea designates a day or a month to celebrate and promote adoption, I will wholeheartedly support its effort establish such day.
I wish to express to you how proud and grateful I am to have a Korean heritage. I am proud of the fact that my root points to the nation that has 5000 years of rich culture and heritage. I can speak the Korean language fluently now. I can read well and write with some difficulty. I am especially proud of the Korean Government's policies toward the homeless children in Korea. I am very grateful that the Korean Government has allowed thousands of homeless children to have homes of their own in the United States and elsewhere in the world.
When Mr. Harry Holt and his wife Bertha sold their farm and lumber business in Oregon in 1956 and began the legacy to find homes for the needy children in Korea, their vision was that "Every Child Deserves a Home of His Own." I am very grateful that Korea shared the same vision throughout all these years. We can have the same vision in Korea today. We must because children depend on us. Praying that more and more Koreans will reach out and adopt homeless children in the future... I thank you again for this privilege to speak to you. Thank you.
My Family (L to R): Steve, Helen(2), Jody, Margaret (Mother), John(Father), Kay (2 mos. not shown)
18 May 2009 10:59 PM