More Korean Kids Ending Up in Foster Care

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LOS ANGELES—There is a silent and often unspoken tragedy growing in the Korean-American community involving broken families and the children they leave behind.

According to the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) in Los Angeles, the number of Korean children in foster homes has risen steadily in recent years, an effect of the increasing number of divorced or single parents choosing to give up their kids for adoption.

What’s worse, for many of these “deserted youth,” foster homes have become their final destination, as few in the Korean community are willing to adopt.

Kim is a 20-something Korean mother who left her child with DCFS a week after giving birth. An international student, Kim, who asked that her last name be withheld, says her family back in Korea never learned of the pregnancy. “I had no choice. I don’t have the capacity to raise the child and could not bring myself to tell my parents.”

Despite three days of counseling with social workers from DCFS, Kim made the decision to give her baby up “for the sake of my education.”

In a similar case, Ms. Park, a young mother, left her one-year-old daughter with DCFS following a bitter divorce from her husband of three years. Although she was given custody of the child, the
30-year-old divorcee said her daughter would prevent her from ever being able to remarry and start a new family.

Efforts by DCFS to reunite the daughter with her father were unsuccessful, officials said, as he had returned to Korea and remarried soon after the divorce, showing no interest in taking responsibility for the child.

DCFS says the number of such abandoned children has spiked in recent years, attributing the rise to increased instances of unwed mothers and broken families within the Korean community. They add that while the number of such cases is still relatively small compared to the larger population, among Asian communities the situation has grown particularly acute.

Chung Ja Kim, a social worker with DCFS, says it is becoming more common for her to come across young Korean mothers looking to give their kids up for adoption. “Last year I worked on 10 cases involving single Korean mothers who were unwilling to raise their children, three of whom were newborn infants,” she noted.

Kim added that most women were either international students from Korea or Korean Americans in their early 20s, and that a majority of them were driven to give their children up for adoption out of concern over their own futures. “I recently came across one mother who gave her first child up for adoption several years ago. She had recently gotten pregnant again and was looking to leave her second child with DCFS.”

For some parents, alternatives to adoption include abandoning their children with a friend or with a day care center. According to DCFS, many of these children are traumatized by the experience.

Experts say the issue of adoption remains an awkward one within the Korean community, where the emphasis on blood ties remains strong. Soon Ja Lee is a practicing psychiatrist in the Los Angeles area. She says that compared to other ethnic groups, “Koreans tend to lay a great deal of stress on blood relations.”

Kim with DCFS says that in recent years there has not been a single Korean family that has approached the organization seeking to adopt. She adds that many Koreans harbor preconceived notions about the nature of abandoned children.

And while there is a consensus among adoption experts that abandoned children do better when adopted by parents from the same ethnic group, statistics show that on average the number of adoptions among Korean-American families remains miniscule at best. DCFS adds that there is not one Korean family registered on their list of eligible foster care homes.

“The Korean community has to step forward,” says Kim. “It is essential that they take more interest in the welfare of these children.”
 

Comments

 
Anonymous

Posted Mar 10 2011

Why is foster care the final destination? Are only Asian families allowed to adopt Asian heritage children?

Anonymous

Posted Mar 10 2011

I don't understand why the article states "her daughter would prevent her from ever being able to remarry and start a new family." Is their culture that different from ours?

Dana Levine

Posted Mar 10 2011

This makes me so sad. A mother myself I could never and I mean never give my child up for sake of not being able to further my education or remarry.
That just makes me fucking sick...arrg

Anonymous

Posted Mar 11 2011

A mother myself and also a Korean adoptee...have you never heard of Holt or international adoption? There are many cultural things involved which have been influencing women to give up their children for more than half a century now.

Anonymous

Posted Mar 11 2011

While I respect the perspecitve of the writer and the significance of the issue, I am troubled by the implication that there are no permanency options other than adoption by a Korean family for these children. Given that many adoptive parents seek younger children and many seek to adopt overseas, I would think that adoptive families could readily be recruited, either in Los Angeles or elsewhere in California or the U.S. for these children. In addition, the language the writer uses implies that all of these birth mothers who have chosen adoption through placement with a child welfare system are irresponsible or only self-interested. While that may be the case in some circumstances, many mothers place (not "give up") their children out of concern that they cannot give them the care that they need. My heart goes out to these children. Perhaps this article will lead to better collaboration between public and private child placing agencies in order to find adoptive families and to education and family planning options that are more readily available in the Korean-American community.

JSI

Posted Mar 12 2011

Thanks for taking the time to highlight children in foster care. It is such an important topic. I have a few concerns.

The article states “for many of these ‘deserted youth,’ foster homes have become their final destination, as few in the Korean community are willing to adopt.” This is either incorrect or something illegal is occurring. The Multi-Ethnic Placement Act forbids delaying the adoption of any child based on race, color, or national origin of the adoptive parents.

Also the author writes “most women... were driven to give their children up for adoption out of concern over their own futures” as well as “Despite three days of counseling with social workers from DCFS, Kim made the decision to give her baby up ‘for the sake of my education.’” The birthmom is being painted as selfish when really she may just be in a lose/lose situation. Is it possible that Kim was worried about her future and the future for her child at the same time? What would happen to her and her child if she returned to Korea.? What would her family do? What support systems are available to her and her child in her home country? Perhaps Kim was doing what she thought best for everyone.

Finally the article concludes“there is a consensus among adoption experts that abandoned children do better when adopted by parents from the same ethnic group,” although it may seem intuitive that children do better when adopted within the same ethnic group where is the proof? Here is a statement from the Center for Adoption policy “The fact is that the entire body of good social science still provides no evidence that children suffer in any way by being placed in a transracial rather than a same-race home and it provides lots of evidence that children suffer by being delayed in finding permanent homes .”

I hope no child is getting stuck in our foster care system because someone erroneously thinks they must be placed with a family of the same race/ethnicity.

JSI

Posted Mar 12 2011

Thanks for taking the time to highlight children in foster care. It is such an important topic. I have a few concerns.

The article states “for many of these ‘deserted youth,’ foster homes have become their final destination, as few in the Korean community are willing to adopt.” This is either incorrect or something illegal is occurring. The Multi-Ethnic Placement Act forbids delaying the adoption of any child based on race, color, or national origin of the adoptive parents.

Also the author writes “most women... were driven to give their children up for adoption out of concern over their own futures” as well as “Despite three days of counseling with social workers from DCFS, Kim made the decision to give her baby up ‘for the sake of my education.’” The birthmom is being painted as selfish when really she may just be in a lose/lose situation. Is it possible that Kim was worried about her future and the future for her child at the same time? What would happen to her and her child if she returned to Korea.? What would her family do? What support systems are available to her and her child in her home country? Perhaps Kim was doing what she thought best for everyone.

Finally the article concludes “there is a consensus among adoption experts that abandoned children do better when adopted by parents from the same ethnic group,” although it may seem intuitive that children do better when adopted within the same ethnic group where is the proof? Here is a statement from the Center for Adoption policy “The fact is that the entire body of good social science still provides no evidence that children suffer in any way by being placed in a transracial rather than a same-race home and it provides lots of evidence that children suffer by being delayed in finding permanent homes .”

I hope no child is getting stuck in our foster care system because someone erroneously thinks they must be placed with a family of the same race/ethnicity.

JSI

Posted Mar 12 2011

Thanks for taking the time to highlight children in foster care. It is such an important topic. I have a few concerns.

The article states “for many of these ‘deserted youth,’ foster homes have become their final destination, as few in the Korean community are willing to adopt.” This is either incorrect or something illegal is occurring. The Multi-Ethnic Placement Act forbids delaying the adoption of any child based on race, color, or national origin of the adoptive parents.

Also the author writes “most women... were driven to give their children up for adoption out of concern over their own futures” as well as “Despite three days of counseling with social workers from DCFS, Kim made the decision to give her baby up ‘for the sake of my education.’” The birthmom is being painted as selfish when really she may just be in a lose/lose situation. Is it possible that Kim was worried about her future and the future for her child at the same time? What would happen to her and her child if she returned to Korea.? What would her family do? What support systems are available to her and her child in her home country? Perhaps Kim was doing what she thought best for everyone.

Finally the article concludes“there is a consensus among adoption experts that abandoned children do better when adopted by parents from the same ethnic group,” although it may seem intuitive that children do better when adopted within the same ethnic group where is the proof? Here is a statement from the Center for Adoption policy “The fact is that the entire body of good social science still provides no evidence that children suffer in any way by being placed in a transracial rather than a same-race home and it provides lots of evidence that children suffer by being delayed in finding permanent homes .”

I hope no child is getting stuck in our foster care system because someone erroneously thinks they must be placed with a family of the same race/ethnicity.

Anonymous

Posted Mar 14 2011

mm.m.m

Anonymous

Posted Mar 15 2011

We adopted Korean twin girls in 1986. They are awesome ! They grew in our heart not in our womb.

Anonymous

Posted Mar 17 2011

for the mother that want to remarry,were on earth did she get the idea that keeping her child will hinder her from remarrying i thing that some of this mother really did counceling

Anonymous

Posted Mar 18 2011

I am the adoptive mother of a Korean-born child. I know many families of Korean heritage in the United States that have adopted children from Korea. I don't understand why it would be hard to place these children with adoptive families (of Korean, Caucasian, African-American or whatever other heritage).

Anonymous

Posted Mar 19 2011

Yes, Asian culture IS that different from ours. Having lived in Korea for 7 years I have seen this happen first hand. This article also does not mention that in Korea this is considered "typical" or expected practice where the parents NEVER lose parental rights and the children cannot be adopted unless the parents are found and specifically give up their parental rights towards adoption-hence many children sit in "foster care" (orphanages!!) in Korea and grow up never seeing or hearing from their parents or other family members again, they are also given a "slim to none" chance of attending college and in a country where a 4 year degree is required to work at Starbucks or McDonalds, this leaves those raised in "baby homes" with little chance at jobs that will support them or their families.

armenurs

Posted Mar 19 2011

To answer a few questions- YES, Asian culture IS that different from typical US culture. Having spent 7 years in Korea where single parenting is frowned upon, where children are still taught to respect their elders (and that means even one day older), where respect for the Family Name (Family Registry) is of high importance, education is MANDATORY, etc.
One thing the article did not explain is that in Korea children are often (and it is even expected) placed into "foster care" (orphanages by our standards!) and the parents never lose parental rights and the children CAN NOT be adopted unless the parents are found and specifically asked to relinquish parental rights for the purpose of adoption-and often this is not done as the adoption and "loss" of the child is placed on the Family Registry and considered a black mark against the family name (this is less so now than even 5 years ago but still VERY strong ).
Please also remember that not only Korean, but Asian culture in general demands a "pure bloodline" and adoption is frowned upon-Koreans are finally beginning to adopt their own, but they hide it for fear of being looked down up-often the adoptive parents lie as to where the child came from (my sister's child, my brother died and it was his child, etc) or they move to a Province further away where no-one will know they suddenly have a child they did not have yesterday.
This article breaks my heart and yet I understand the hows and whys...
Having adopted from S. Korea and in raising our youngest daughter to maintain her Korean Culture and heritage this article definitely breaks my heart as there are those of us who qualify to adopt and maintain a strong connection with the Korean community in the US and even in Korea (we go back to visit every 2 years and maintain weekly phone calls, etc) so there ARE other options for these children.

Anonymous

Posted Mar 19 2011

“The Korean community has to step forward,” says Kim. “It is essential that they take more interest in the welfare of these children.” What a ridiculous point of view, started by the Black Social Workers org. in Oakland and now apparently spreading to other communities. Why do the adoptive parents have to be Korean? Those children need parents; if the Korean social worker is getting in the way of anyone of any race adopting those kids she should be taken off this case. “Koreans tend to lay a great deal of stress on blood relations.” Yes they do. Is this Korean social worker perpetuating that point of view, and getting in the way of those children being adopted?

Anonymous

Posted Mar 19 2011

“The Korean community has to step forward,” says Kim. “It is essential that they take more interest in the welfare of these children.” What a ridiculous point of view, started by the Black Social Workers org. in Oakland and now apparently spreading to other communities. Why do the adoptive parents have to be Korean? Those children need parents; if the Korean social worker is getting in the way of anyone of any race adopting those kids she should be taken off this case. “Koreans tend to lay a great deal of stress on blood relations.” Yes they do. Is this Korean social worker perpetuating that point of view, and getting in the way of those children being adopted?

Anonymous

Posted Mar 19 2011

“The Korean community has to step forward,” says Kim. “It is essential that they take more interest in the welfare of these children.” What a ridiculous point of view, started by the Black Social Workers org. in Oakland and now apparently spreading to other communities. Why do the adoptive parents have to be Korean? Those children need parents; if the Korean social worker is getting in the way of anyone of any race adopting those kids she should be taken off this case. “Koreans tend to lay a great deal of stress on blood relations.” Yes they do. Is this Korean social worker perpetuating that point of view, and getting in the way of those children being adopted?

Anonymous

Posted Mar 20 2011

We are Caucasian and have adopted a Korean son and a Chinese daughter. Why must only Korean Americans step up for these children? Loving parents are loving parents regardless of race. Race should not be an issue in adoption!

Anonymous

Posted Mar 23 2011

I am Korean American and my husband is Japanese. We would love to adopt a Korean child. Who should we contact?

Anonymous

Posted Mar 23 2011

I am Korean American and my husband is Japanese. We would love to adopt a Korean child. Who should we contact?

Anonymous

Posted Mar 26 2011

From Confucius tradition, Koreans must protect their bloodties. If a woman wants to marry, then it is important for the husband to have children of his own blood, not another man's blood. Koreans have a long line of adoption history and due to blood ties, Korean domestic adoptions were low for a long period of time. There is a strong rate of adoption between Korea and the US, Europe, and Australia.

Anonymous

Posted Mar 30 2011

It seems that there is a need to address a more upstream issue, which is prevention of unwanted pregnancy. I respect the fact that many of these women choose to have the baby and place them up for adoption rather than to abort. At least the child has a chance at life. However, if the pregancy was avoided in the first place, there would be less children who have to suffer from abandonment, grow up in foster homes and deal with the consequences of their parent's irresponsibility. From my experience as a Korean American growing up in the Christian community, any conversation regarding sex (e.g. safe sex, birth control, even going to the ob/gyn before marriage, etc) are taboo. This culture of repression, avoidance, judgment, and denial needs to change; otherwise, abandoned children is not going to be the only negative consequence. With the children that are abandoned as a consequence of divorce and neither parent willing to step up and take responsiblity; hopefully the extended family will come together to support raising the child.


Anonymous

Posted Mar 30 2011

It seems that there is a need to address a more upstream issue, which is prevention of unwanted pregnancy. I respect the fact that many of these women choose to have the baby and place them up for adoption rather than to abort. At least the child has a chance at life. However, if the pregancy was avoided in the first place, there would be less children who have to suffer from abandonment, grow up in foster homes and deal with the consequences of their parent's irresponsibility. From my experience as a Korean American growing up in the Christian community, any conversation regarding sex (e.g. safe sex, birth control, even going to the ob/gyn before marriage, etc) are taboo. This culture of repression, avoidance, judgment, and denial needs to change; otherwise, abandoned children is not going to be the only negative consequence. With the children that are abandoned as a consequence of divorce and neither parent willing to step up and take responsiblity; hopefully the extended family will come together to support raising the child.

Anonymous

Posted Mar 30 2011

Those who have commented already and are confused by this article, I don't think you understand the point it was making. There is nothing legal preventing a non-Korean to adopt these kids, and I'm sure they're in line in case there are people who want to adopt. This article obviously is a "call to arms" for an apathetic Korean-American community that is unaware that there are kids waiting to be adopted/fostered here in the States and are seeking to adopt overseas.

Anonymous

Posted Mar 30 2011

I wish DCFS write to Korean newspaper and educate people in many ways possible.

Anonymous

Posted Mar 30 2011

I'm really confused. I justed called the Department of Children and Family Services of Los Angeles to see if I could become a foster parent to one of these abandoned Korean children. They told me this article misquoted them and that they do not have an abundance of Korean children needing foster care or adoption. I asked her if there were any right now that needed a foster home and she said no. Can the writer of this article please clarify the facts for me???

Anonymous

Posted Mar 30 2011

I'm really confused. I justed called the Department of Children and Family Services of Los Angeles to see if I could become a foster parent to one of these abandoned Korean children. They told me this article misquoted them and that they do not have an abundance of Korean children needing foster care or adoption. I asked her if there were any right now that needed a foster home and she said no. Can the writer of this article please clarify the facts for me???

Anonymous

Posted Mar 31 2011

can someone please explain why there is a photo of N. Korean children in this article?

Anonymous

Posted Mar 31 2011

can someone please explain why there is a photo of N. Korean children in this article?

Anonymous

Posted Mar 31 2011

The photo in this article is that of children in North Korea taken by a AP photographer. Why was it used in this article?

Anonymous

Posted Apr 1 2011

Why the North Korean children photo though? Could you please post more appropriate photo that is actually related to the report? It is extremely misleading.

Anonymous

Posted Apr 1 2011

the photo on this article does not belong to here. it is misleading. i'm shocked that NAM knowingly publishs photo that makes misleading statements. the content is as accurate as it can be, but the photo simply is not true. it is very offensive.

Anonymous

Posted Apr 2 2011

Thanks for removing the wrong photo.

Anonymous

Posted May 27 2011

I am the product of abandonement of my Korean mother in which I've created a blog about - www.myseoulfood.com I had no idea that this was still going on.

Anonymous

Posted May 27 2011

I am the product of abandonement of my Korean mother in which I've created a blog about - www.myseoulfood.com I'm saddened to know that this still exist. I had no idea that this was still going on.

Anonymous

Posted Aug 12 2011

Give the children to Holt

Anonymous

Posted Aug 16 2011

Very sad for the children who are being abandoned by their selfish parents. The parents of these kids need to grow up. They weren't ready to leave home yet. I hope these kids get good parent who will be there for them. The Asian culture should change their pure blood only. There are a lot of good children out there that need homes. I know not all these cases are selfish parents but the woman who was concerned her kid would ruin her chance to get married is selfish. A lot of women have kids and still get married. We need to help these kids and not just Korean kids but all cultures.

Anonymous

Posted Aug 16 2011

Tragic and Sad

George L

Posted Nov 2 2011

Why does the author of this article turn the story so that it ends up blaming the general culture as opposed to the individual? Sigh. Exasperating.

George L

Posted Nov 2 2011

Where are the fathers? How come this article points the finger at the general culture? How about blaming the parents instead of making this into a cultural fault?

Anonymous

Posted Mar 14 2012

i am white my husband is korean. i have 4 children and now one on the way. and only the one on the way is his. the other children are from a previous marriage. and my husband and i have even still discussed adopting one child in a couple of years. this makes it so we would consider adoption so much more. we were thinking of adopting from china... but why when there are children in the korean community that need loving homes

Anonymous

Posted Mar 25 2012

Asian familie are not the only people allowed to adopt asian heritage children. My parents are both American and they adopted me from South Korea. Don't be so quick to lash out on the mothers decisions; we don't know their life. For the childs sake, foster care and a new family would be more beneficial for both the mother and the child. I would rather want to be in a family that is able to provide and care for me then in one where I am holding people back. And "Her daughter would prevent her from ever being able to remarry and start a new family" I don't think EVER is quite the right word. Their culture isn't different, it's just harder to find someone who wants to marry someone who already has children.

Anonymous

Posted Jun 27 2012

The one girl is such a slut. Didn't even learn the lesson of ruining one life, but had to become pregnant again to ruin another. Bitch needs to know when to use a condom or keep her addiction to dicks down.

Anonymous

Posted Jul 14 2012

Thank you for your article. It has been an answer to prayer! God is amazing. My husband and I have two adopted children from China and Taiwan. We both feel an Asian child would best fit our family. We cannot afford another international adoption. Knowing that our chances were slim to none of being matched with an Asian child in the foster system, we were still considering to pursue.

Anonymous

Posted Jul 20 2012

Very misleading article. Please do ur research before u place these kind of misleading informations to public.

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