Stop the shameful emergency adoption processFrom the 1940s to the 1980s, many illegitimate children of the unmarried mothers in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada were given up for adoption to middle-class families. This part of the Western history is called the “baby scoop era” as the babies were “scooped out” from the biological parents and sent to another family like a scoop of ice cream.
During the baby scoop era, single mothers in the United States surrendered their newborns because they got little social support or economic assistance. Nearly four million mothers voluntarily sent their children for adoption.
During the same period, about 400,000 children born to single mothers were adopted by mostly white, infertile couples. A similar trend was spotted in Australia, and these adopted children are called the “White Stolen Generations.” Thousands of children born to unwed mothers in the United Kingdom were relocated to Australia, and the forcible deportation was made into a film, “Oranges and Sunshine.”
Lately, the revision of the Special Law on Adoption is being discussed. The law, which was enforced in August 2012, defines clear recording of the children and transparency of adoption process. However, some media kept on making provocative reports that the law encourages abandonment of children. They claim that the law should be revised so that the children of young parents should be registered as “children of unidentified biological parents” and be available for adoption under the authority of the adoption agency head without the grace period.
It is shameful that the emergency adoption process, which was originally created for the Korean War orphans, still exist. The “baby scoop era” is still in progress in Korea. It would be turning the history backwards if the child with parents is labeled “child of unidentified biological parents” and becomes available for prompt adoption. We need more fundamental plans to prevent abandonment. We need to prepare realistic sex education and policy assistance for struggling parents.
*Kwon Hee-jeong, Former secretary general of the Korea Unwed Mothers Support Network