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Overseas Adoptees and Un-Adopted Orphans Share the Same Pain

Overseas Adoptees and Un-Adopted Orphans Share the Same Pain

Posted August. 20, 2005 03:04,   


At 3:00 p.m. on August 19 in the sky lounge of the New Millennium Hall of Konkuk University, all eyes of the some 50 adoptee-strong audience were fixed on two Korean men having a dialogue on “whether to have a family as an adoptee or to choose the motherland without a family.”

The dialogue was part of the event titled, “Between adoption and child facilities: Two men’s life stories,” which is one of the workshops of the sixth conference organized by the Global Overseas Adoptees’ Link (GOAL).

Kim Hong-il (40) was accepted by an orphanage as an eight-year-old and stayed there until he graduated from high school. Park Hyun-min (Cody Winter, 37) had been raised in an orphanage and was adopted by a family in the U.S. at age 11.

How did the two men’s paths of life differ after diverging into adoption and remaining in an orphanage?

Kim said, “I would have been living a far better life, had I been adopted rather than accepted by an orphanage.”

With his parents’ divorce, his two older sisters became maids, and his two younger siblings were adopted in the U.S.

Kim still has nightmares about the harsh days in the orphanage, He recalled, “There was no single day that I was not hit by old-timers, and I made do with some sweet potatoes instead of proper meals,” adding, “In those moments, I always envied my siblings who were adopted.”

In response, Park said, “You will have a family with adoption, but you are always stressed from the racial discrimination that you experience in growing up in a foreign country.”

Park, who was adopted in Seattle, always had to explain his background as a junior-high student. Too often, he was looked down on because he was a Korean.

He made a promise with his brother who was also adopted by U.S. parents that they must come back to Korea. In 1988, when he first visited Korea, he renewed the determination.

He came to Korea, attracted by the atmosphere of his motherland, and was naturalized in 2001.

In closing, Kim said, “Although adoptees also have scars in their hearts, I would like you to know the value of a warm family.” Park said, “Happy children are those who don’t have to explain why they should live in a country.”

Kim Dae-won, the secretary general of GOAL, said, “In many cases, adoptees are not satisfied with their lives because of a vague thought that it would have been better if they had grown up in Korea,” adding, “We organized this session to help them appreciate their own situations and understand one another’s.”

The two-day conference from August 19 to 20 included various events to provide information to adoptees.

On August 20, workshops are scheduled to be held under the themes of: “love and marriage of Koreans”; “having a job in Korea other than English teacher”; and “a successful reunion with your biological family.”