A Korean Adoptee On The Baby Box

by Kasey Buecheler

Living in the InKAS (International Korean Adoptee Service) guesthouse, I have met and made many adoptee friends who come from all around the world (Australia, Denmark, France, Belgium, and Sweden, just to name a few!).  As a result, I have developed a stronger interest in the adoptee community that exists in Korea.

Meeting all kinds of adoptees during my stay so far in Korea has opened my eyes to new issues that I never recognized before.  Growing up, I had many adoptee friends, but we were all from similar families, with similar financial upbringings.  I didn’t have a broad perspective on the subject of adoption, but I did learn to embrace it.  However, coming to Korea and hearing different opinions has really changed the whole way that I see adoption.  In some aspects, I can say it has made me a bit more cynical, but I am glad to have been made aware of certain topics.

One specific topic that has gone viral within the past few weeks is the issue of the baby box in Korea.  Although it has been in use for a while now, recently it has gained media attention due to a documentary called “The Drop Box.”  In this documentary, Pastor Lee is commended for his humanitarian effort with his baby box, which is a box he created as a means of “collecting abandoned babies” that are unwanted by their mothers.   Many believe that this box is saving the lives of children who would have otherwise been abandoned on the street to die.  When I first heard of this story, I was also moved by Pastor Lee’s actions and began to read more on the subject.

The more I read, the more I began to realize the problems that arise with the usage of this baby box.  While some may perceive it as a way of saving babies, it also encourages an unethical method of giving up babies.   Instead of going through the proper steps in putting a child up for legal adoption through an adoption agency, it enables single mothers to abandon their children, leaving them with no birth registration. I can understand the importance of having this information, as many of my adoptee friends have sought this information in order to do birth family searches and know more about their past.  I have met adoptees whose information was incorrect/missing and seen how devastated they are when they come to this dead-end.  On top of this, there is also no way to know for sure who put the child in the box to begin with (which, in itself, has some scary implications).

While I am certainly no expert on the subject, I have read enough to know where I stand on this issue and encourage others to learn more about it and form their own opinions as well.

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Comments

  1. I think there are no easy solutions to this issue.
    In the US the states have laws called Safe Haven Law. Usually the law says that a newborn (or one recently born) can be dropped off at a specific safe place (like a hospital) and the mother can give it up and walk away. Sometimes this also means the mother doesn’t have to give any information about herself.
    The law came during the 1990’s after a sharp increase in infants dying from being left in places like garbage dumpsters or even worse..murdered at birth by mothers who felt they had no other option.
    But of course there is also the problem for the child that it leaves them with no identifying way to find out about their biology, their starting identity in life. As an adoptive mother I can appreciate the importance this has to an adoptee. But I think the alternative of having babies die for lack of a safe haven is a worse fate.
    You make an interesting case though! Nice blog!

    • Kimi76, thanks so much for weighing in here. I hope Kasey has time to read and comment on your comment. I remember when that American law was instituted and it seemed like such a relief at the time for exactly the reasons you mention. But now that I see the ends so many adoptees will go to to get their birth information, it’s troubling to think of anonymous relinquishment from that standpoint. On the other hand, as the DNA databanks fill up with more and individual DNA, true anonymity may become a thing of the past.
      Thank you re the blog :).

    • The main argument for this baby box seems to be that it is rescuing babies that would otherwise be abandoned on the street to die.

      http://peaceshannon.tumblr.com/post/73266982904/increase-of-kids-in-the-babybox-same-number-as-always

      This is an informative read about how the number of abandoned children correlates to the baby box and whether it really is saving lives, as it claims.

  2. This is one of those areas that I wish I had more time to delve into. I have read that Safe Haven laws aren’t the solution that they seemed to be. I also believe that adoptees have a right to know who their birth parents are. And it’s always troubled me that anyone could put a baby in one of those boxes.
    Thank you, Kasey, for sharing your opinion.

    • Thanks for this, Robyn! I would love to know more about how the Safe Haven laws aren’t the solution they appear to be. I posted today about this subject, asking for opinions, too. It’s such a controversial subject, and I can see both sides from a superficial perspective, but don’t really know about it in enough depth.

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