an After abortion

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Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Adoptions slowly gain acceptance.

This story is from an English-language Korean newspaper.

In a society where adoption is still viewed as a last resort, and a somewhat shameful one at that, for people who can't have babies, Nam Ju-hui, 34, a mother of two, may be a special case. Ms. Nam's first daughter was born from her marriage to Shim Dong-hun, but her second daughter, who is now three years old, was adopted in 2002.

"They are both the same to us. As they grow up, not only are their personalities similar, but they also look alike," Ms. Nam said. She and her husband had been thinking about adoption for a long time, she said; they both attended a church after their marriage that actively opposes abortion.

"We can't just be against abortion while not looking after children that have been abandoned," Mr. Shim said. Nevertheless, before they adopted their second daughter, they had to endure a lot of opposition from their relatives. They heard their neighbors in the apartment complex talk about their "extreme case." Far from trying to conceal their plans, they made them very public. Their second daughter also knows she was adopted.

In recent years, although the number of domestic adoptions has not increased by much, more parents have decided not to conceal the fact that they have adopted children from their neighbors. That is a marked change in social mores.

Kim Hye-gyeong, an official at Eastern Social Welfare Society, said that the change has been pronounced over the past 10 years. "I would say that in the past, only 10 percent adopted openly," she said. "Now it's about 30 percent."

According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare there were 1,025 domestic adoptions in 1995; last year, there were 1,564.

The Shims are advocates of openness, of course. They said their relatives felt awkward at first, but that stage has been overcome. "Everyone loves them just the same," Ms. Nam said as her husband nodded. "And it's also better for the kids that they know very early on," she added.

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