All Mothers Have the Right to Raise Their Own Children
                        - Richard Boas, MD, Founder and President o...
UNWED MOTHERS IN KOREA

Unwed Mothers in Korea are Shunned by Society and Discouraged from Raising Their
Own Children

“…W...
Miss Mamma Mia, a Group of Unwed Moms, Formed to Advocate
for Their Rights
A group of unwed mothers, calling themselves Mi...
A Vast Proportion of Unwed Mothers in Korea Relinquish their Children for Adoption.

       •	 68.3% of unwed mothers give...
Services and Support for Unwed Moms: 12 Billion Won Allocated
to Help in 2010
Today, there are signs that the Korean gover...
Here’s How Support Benefitted One Unwed Mom

Unwed mothers who receive support say that even the smallest amount can make ...
Korean Laws Support Adoption
According to an article written by Jane Jeong Trenka, “Rethinking Birth Parent Consent to
Ado...
The Rights & Support for Unwed Mothers and their Children in
Other Countries
In Germany and Sweden, as well as many other ...
This is a Human Rights Issue


The rights of unwed mothers are not an adoption issue, they are a matter of basic human rig...
The Korean Unwed Mothers Support Network


The              Korean Unwed Mothers Support Network advocates for the rights ...
A b o u t D r. R i c h a r d B o a s , Fo u n d e r, K o r e a n U n w e d M o t h e r s S u p p o r t
Network


Dr.      ...
KOREAN UNWED MOTHERS SUPPORT NETWORK PRIORITES:
      •	 Supporting unwed mothers to advocate for themselves
      •	 Educ...
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5
×

Kumsnus

984 views
935 views

Published on

All Mothers Have the Right to Raise Their Own Children

0 Comments
1 Like
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Views
Total views
984
On SlideShare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
1
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
5
Comments
0
Likes
1
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Kumsnus

  1. 1. All Mothers Have the Right to Raise Their Own Children - Richard Boas, MD, Founder and President of KUMSN Korean Unwed Morthers Support Network 한국미혼모지원네트워크
  2. 2. UNWED MOTHERS IN KOREA Unwed Mothers in Korea are Shunned by Society and Discouraged from Raising Their Own Children “…We don’t see a campaign for unmarried mothers to raise our own children,” said Lee Mee- kyong, a 33-year-old unwed mother. “Once you become an unwed mom, you’re branded as immoral and a failure. People treat you as if you had committed a crime. You fall to the bottom rung of society.” “Group Resists Korean Stigma for Unwed Mothers,” The New York Times, October 7, 2009 Despite the fact that unwed mothers in Korea view themselves as social outcasts, more unwed mothers are choosing to raise their own children and civic groups and the Korean government are stepping up to offer support and to change public policy. More Unwed Moms are Raising Their Kids; More Say They Want To Raise Them • The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Family Affairs states there are over 140,000 unwed mothers in Korea every year. • In 2007, 19.2 percent of all unwed and single mothers in Korea were raising their children, representing a substantial increase in the last ten years. In 2009, there were 2,464 unwed mothers living with children aged two and below and 15,783 mothers with children 18 an d below, according to Korean Women’s Development Institute. Despite societal pressures on unwed mothers to relinquish their babies, an increasing number of unwed mothers in Korea say they want to raise their children. In 1984, 5.8 percent of unwed moms said they wanted to keep their babies. By 2007, that number had risen to 32 percent, according to Korean Women’s Development Institute. Many more might keep their children if there was more financial support and less societal stigma. 12
  3. 3. Miss Mamma Mia, a Group of Unwed Moms, Formed to Advocate for Their Rights A group of unwed mothers, calling themselves Miss Mamma Mia, has been meeting monthly since March 2009. The group recently joined with single mothers and researchers to form the Korean Unwed Mother Family Association. The organization, which will soon be registered with the Ministry of Gender Equality, is working to change opinions about unwed mothers and spearhead efforts to support legislation regarding the responsibilities of biological fathers and rights of unwed moms. Why this movement now? More Babies in Korea are Born Out of Wedlock • The number of children born out of wedlock has been rising steadily since 1989, from 5,161 to 7,774 recorded in 2007, according to Korean National Statistical Office, 2008 report, Vital Statistics. • Today the number of children born out of wedlock in Korea is estimated to be 6,000 to 10,000 children per year. These babies represent 1.6 percent of all births, according to the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Family Affairs (2008). Korean Annual Birthrate Among the Lowest in the World, only 1.19 in 2009 Vast Proportion of Unwed Women in Korea End their Pregnancy in Abortion • Government studies have estimated that in Korea, where abortion is illegal (except in limited circumstances), there are approximately 350,000 abortion cases per year. • 42% of abortions are provided to unwed pregnant women, according to research on abortion, carried out in 2005 by the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs. • The New York Times reported that, according to the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Family Affairs, nearly 96% of unwed pregnant women in Korea choose abortion. 13
  4. 4. A Vast Proportion of Unwed Mothers in Korea Relinquish their Children for Adoption. • 68.3% of unwed mothers give up their children for adoption, because of shame, fear, and lack of support, according to Korean Women’s Development Institute (2008). • Only one percent of single mothers in the United States relinquish their children, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, US. • In 2008 nearly 90% of the 1,250 Korean children adopted abroad were born to unmarried women. In case of domestic adoption, 81% of the 1,306 who were adopted were born out of wedlock, according to the Ministry for of Health, Welfare and Family Affairs (2009). • More babies have been adopted internationally from Korea than any country in the world. Since 1958, when South Korea started keeping track of adoptions, 230,635 children have been adopted. About 30 percent of these children were adopted by South Koreans. The rest were adopted abroad (2008, MHWFA). Two-thirds of all foreign adoptees ended up in the United States. The percent of children born to unwed mothers who were adopted has doubled since the 1970s. The percentages from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s- early 2000s are 42%, 73.6%, and 84.7% respectively. South Korea has set a goal to eliminate foreign adoptions altogether by 2012, according to the New York Times, October, 2008. Foreign adoption is often perceived as shameful to Koreans. • Finances play a role too; 34.4% of unwed mothers who gave up their children cited “lack of financial means” as a reason. Another 29.8% noted they made the decision “for the future of their children.” Only 7.4 % said they gave up their children ‘for the future of themselves.’ • Well-educated Unwed Moms More Likely to Keep their Babies. Education and age are often key factors in whether or not unwed mothers choose to raise or relinquish their children, found a recent study published by the Korean Women’s Development Institute. Mothers who choose to relinquish their children are relatively younger and not as well educated. 14
  5. 5. Services and Support for Unwed Moms: 12 Billion Won Allocated to Help in 2010 Today, there are signs that the Korean government is recognizing the issues facing unwed mothers and providing new levels of support. • Previously, unwed and single moms faced extreme poverty, but The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Family has recently passed a new budget to the Ministry of Finance and Planning, with 12 billion won allocated to support unwed mothers. Last year’s budget for unwed mothers was 1.6 billion won. • Only unwed moms between the ages of 18-24 and living below poverty line will receive the monies for childcare, medical expenses and housing. However all possible supports are provided to adoptive families, regardless of their income. • The monies are insufficient to support the unwed mom and her children. According to Sisa-In Weekly (January 21, 2010) “As for a standard of support, there have been no differences between now and twenty years ago, even though the number of the child-rearing unwed mothers has increased. Based on the Single Parent Family Welfare Act, the support from the government is limited to the low-income families. In fact, the unwed moms desperately need supports such as child caring.” • And, while unwed mothers may be guaranteed support, there are many unwed mothers whose income is below the poverty line who do not receive support. In theory, young mothers under 18 are supposed to be supported by their parents and covered by their parents’ health insurance, even if their parents will have nothing to do with them. It appears as if government welfare workers have a lot of discretion and may choose not to enroll unwed moms for certain benefits. Adding to the problem, both national and local budgets are insufficient in many cases to cover the needs of all qualified individuals and families, so funds may not be available even when unwed mothers qualify for benefits. 15
  6. 6. Here’s How Support Benefitted One Unwed Mom Unwed mothers who receive support say that even the smallest amount can make a great deal of difference. One mother’s account as told to a representative at the Korean Foster Care Association, March 2009 and published in the Association’s booklet: “Korean Child Rearing Unwed Mothers’ Stories” “Thanks to The Millennium Project, I was able to receive diapers, formula and wet tissues for the baby, so I haven’t had to worry about that, but I still think that to raise a baby alone in our country is still extremely hard. I am always exhausted, because I alone have to be the baby’s mother, father, and friend, but when I’m sick or tired, I have no one to talk to about it. My current expenses, not including my child’s medical bills, total 660,150 won. Although I try to spend as little as possible, after the fixed monthly bills are paid, it is hard to even afford a piece of fruit. I wish that I could receive just a bit of aid in living expenses. If I can receive some stipend, only then can I finish my education. I would like to get a college degree and study more, but since I have to work and take care of my child, I will probably have to wait until my child is independent.” 16
  7. 7. Korean Laws Support Adoption According to an article written by Jane Jeong Trenka, “Rethinking Birth Parent Consent to Adoption,” Korean Adoption laws are written to support adoption. These are currently being revised by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Family. The Special Act on Adoption was enacted in 1976 when the country was poor and international adoption was regarded as the best way for children, has had its name changed to “Special Act Relating to Adoption Promotion and Procedure Law.” The law provides simple procedures and qualifications to promote adoptions. The article goes on to note: One major point that both the government and activists agree upon is the need to lengthen the deliberation period during which it is illegal for a mother to relinquish her child for adoption – currently, mothers may relinquish a child while still in the womb. However, the opinions of activists and the ministry differ greatly on the amount of time that mothers are required to deliberate before making a life-altering decision for herself, her baby and future generations. While the bill drafted by adoptees and unwed mothers demands 30 days after birth for deliberation, the ministry proposes 72 hours after birth for domestic adoption, followed by a court procedure. For international adoption, no court procedure is necessary. Activists disagree with the ministry, for two reasons: First, 72 hours would continue to give the legal base for preferring domestic adoption over family preservation. Second, there is nothing in the bill that changes the way overseas adoptions are conducted. This means that overseas adoptions are again being preferred over domestic adoption, which is itself being preferred over family preservation. This hierarchy is exactly the opposite of recommendations by international laws on child welfare, which state that family preservation must come first, followed by domestic adoption, and finally international adoption as a last resort.” Conventionally, adoption agencies ask unwed mothers to sign a document giving up parental rights in the process of adoption. However, Korean law states that the parental right can not be given up without transferring that right to an adoptive family. So, if a baby has not yet been adopted, the unwed mother still holds the parental right. Despite the law, most unwed mothers believe that they relinquish their rights to their children simply by signing an agreement to give up those rights. 17
  8. 8. The Rights & Support for Unwed Mothers and their Children in Other Countries In Germany and Sweden, as well as many other developed European countries and Australia, relinquishing children for domestic adoption is rare because there are adequate legal and economic protections for single-parent families. • The majority of developed nations have policies in place to support unwed mothers and their rights to raise their children. ▸In Sweden unwed mothers are eligible to receive a childcare allowance, housing subsidy, and paid childcare leave at the birth of a child through 15 months at 90% of her salary. ▸In Denmark, unwed mothers are protected under all of that country’s welfare laws. And the the law requires that an unmarried father is responsible for supporting his children. ▸Germany provides a child-care allowance for unwed mothers up to 24 months after childbirth. ▸In Great Britain and the United States, programs are in place to prevent teen pregnancy and to support teens should they become pregnant. ▸The United States offer public assistance to unmarried mothers whose family has been designated as a mother and child family. ▸In Canada, unwed mothers receive social aid from the government and in Australia, services in the social welfare system are provided regardless of marital status. 18
  9. 9. This is a Human Rights Issue The rights of unwed mothers are not an adoption issue, they are a matter of basic human rights. Keeping children with their original families is a valued goal in all cultures. The development of adequate resources to assist people who choose to raise their own children is critical to assuring that expectant parents are not coerced into making adoption decisions due to a lack of support, including a lack of financial resources. As Korea sorts out its fiscal responsibility towards unwed mothers, the country is bound by international doctrine to provide support for women and children. • As a member of the United Nations, Korea has ratified the Convention of the Rights of the Child and the Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Both international treaties contain significant clauses outlining a nation’s responsibilities towards women and children. ▸The CRC is the most widely ratified international human rights treaty. Children have rights as individuals, and, importantly, these include the right to be raised in their families and their culture. ▸The CRC further states that “In order to protect a child’s right to be raised in the context of her family, State Parties to the CRC must render appropriate assistance to parents and legal guardians in the performance of their child rearing responsibilities,” and must “take appropriate measures to assist parents and others responsible for the child to implement this right and shall in case of need provide material assistance and support programs, particularly with regard to nutrition, clothing and housing.” ▸The Convention of the Rights of the Child asserts the rights of the family to raise children. • Korea has also signed the CEDAW. Despite that, there remains significant social and economic discrimination against women in families, education and the workplace that set the context for unwed moms. Even married women struggle with many issues related to child rearing, education and employment. 19
  10. 10. The Korean Unwed Mothers Support Network The Korean Unwed Mothers Support Network advocates for the rights of unwed pregnant women, unwed mothers and their children in Korea. The Network’s goal is to enable Korean women to have sufficient resources and support to keep their babies, if they choose, and thrive in Korean society, rather than feel compelled to give up their children for adoption or risk a life of poverty. Founded by Dr. Richard Boas, an American father who adopted a Korean daughter over twenty years ago, the Network’s primary focus is on raising awareness in Korea and, amongst Korean groups in the US, to effect positive change. The Network works to educate, inform and promote discussion of the difficulties facing unwed mothers and their children in Korea in order to elevate their economic, political and social potential in society. After only two years, KUMSN is making a difference in Korea. We’ve provided moderate grants for scholarly research and direct support for some women and children (including setting up a community-based center for them, which provides counseling and crisis intervention), as well as agencies advocating on their behalf. In addition to the workshops and forums that we have sponsored, we have met with Korean academics, policymakers, legislators, unwed moms and the organizations serving them, and the media- who are now actively discussing the issue- and we have been well-received. We have already seen positive changes, and the prospect for more change is real. But, according to the Korean government, there are over 140,000 of these women. Our work is only the beginning. Right now, our program is unique to Korea, but we know there are women and children worldwide who could benefit from similar work. Our program can serve as a model for them and their respective countries. Helping unwed Korean moms keep and raise their children- a basic human right- is part of a larger issue, which the world sorely needs to address if it is to truly move forward. 20
  11. 11. A b o u t D r. R i c h a r d B o a s , Fo u n d e r, K o r e a n U n w e d M o t h e r s S u p p o r t Network Dr. Richard Boas, 60, an American ophthalmologist, and his wife adopted a baby girl from Korea over twenty years ago. After practicing medicine for many years, Dr. Boas gave up his practice in 2001 to turn his attention full-time to philanthropy. In October 2006, Dr. Boas visited Korea and met with unmarried, pregnant women, who intended to give up their babies, and visited infant orphans who had been relinquished by their mothers. He discovered that the majority of these women did not want to give up their children for adoption; rather they felt compelled to relinquish them due to economic and societal pressures. Dr. Boas realized that his daughter’s mother was likely one of those women. This insight prompted him to found the Korean Unwed Mothers Support Network (KUMSN). Today, Dr. Boas is on a mission to not only help Korean women and their children by supporting organizations set up to conduct research, but to effect a sea change in attitudes, support and empowerment for unwed mothers and their children in Korean society itself. He frequently travels to Korea to focus on having respectful discussions about these issues with the political, policy-making, academic, adoption and not-for-profit communities. Dr. Boas continues his campaign in the United States, where he frequently networks within the adoption community. 21
  12. 12. KOREAN UNWED MOTHERS SUPPORT NETWORK PRIORITES: • Supporting unwed mothers to advocate for themselves • Education, job training, counseling and resources that will help unwed mothers make the best decisions- both for themselves and their babies. • Scholarly research on the demographics, needs, and experiences of Korean unwed women and their children is a necessary prerequisite to advocate for change and a sound basis for government programs. • Public awareness and public education about the situation and needs of unwed mothers. • Efforts to ensure equal treatment to all Koreans, no matter their family status, in school and the workplace. • Improved sex education in Korean schools so that all young Koreans are able to make thoughtful choices about pregnancy. “We have not chosen to be a social minority, but to raise our children. If we have to fight to raise them, we will be happy to. We do this because our children are not a burden, but our strength.” (Miss Mamma Mia, a group of Korean unwed mothers) 22

×