December 15, 2005 22:05
Celebrity couple Cha In-pyo and Shin Ae-ra recently adopted a baby daughter. They say their seven-year-old biological son and their adopted daughter are equally precious to them. Naming their adopted daughter Ye-eun or the blessing of Jesus, the couple said, "Adoption is not something to be hidden but just another means by which God gives us children."
Their choice sets an important example. Both parents are celebrities, and they already have a natural son. While it is by no means less commendable when ordinary couples adopt children, adoptions by highly visible people can have the extra effect of shifting our society's entrenched views on the matter.
With its 50-year history of overseas adoption, Korea has been branded with the stigma of an "orphans exporter." According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, 156,000 Korean children were adopted abroad from 1958 until this June, but only 67,000 children were adopted at home. Even in the 2000s, the ratio between Korean children adopted overseas and at home stood at about 2,500 and 1,500 or 6:4. No other country with a per-capita national income of over US$10,000 sends children abroad for adoption.
The main reason is a tradition stressing the blood line and a concomitant perception that there is no reward in bringing up other people's children. Cha In-pyo and Shin Ae-ra will broaden the horizon of families who think this way and encourage them to adopt children.
That the two stars made the adoption public is also remarkable in view of the fact that 70 percent of the couples who adopt children here do so in secret. It is not uncommon for adopting mothers to check into maternity clinics to disguise adopted babies as their own, and to enter them directly into their family registers without going through the adoption process.
Cha and Shin are setting an excellent example by saying they will tell their daughter she is adopted but at the same time offer her consistent reassurance that she is precious to them. Cha In-pyo and Shin Ae-ra consider themselves blessed to have been given their new daughter through adoption. We hope many more Ye-euns and their new parents will share this happiness.
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