The 2nd Single Moms’ Day Conference:
Abandoning Discrimination, Adopting Mothers’ and Children’s Rights
TRACK (Truth and Reconciliation for the Adoption Community of Korea)
KUMFA (Korean Unwed Mothers and Family Association, Web site “Miss Mamma Mia”)
Korean Single Parents Association
Date: Friday, May 11, 2012. 10 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Venue: The National Assembly (Parliament) 국회위원회관
Seoul, South Korea
Single Moms’ Day is an event created last year by TRACK to challenge “Adoption Day,” designated as an annual holiday seven years ago by the Korean government. Just as Native Americans have redesignated Thanksgiving Day as “Native American Day,” we hope to use the holiday to change awareness about the relationship between adoption and single moms in Korea. While the government budgets $100,000 for each Adoption Day, we grassroots organizations are working with a budget 20 times smaller than the government’s. But last year, during the 1st Single Moms’ Day, we showed through the huge media interest in our project that our idea is 20 times better than the government’s! That’s because our idea is 20 times better: family preservation first! Support single moms!
By supporting Single Moms’ Day, you help to create a society in which unwed mothers may raise their own children instead of sending them for adoption, and their kids are welcome members of society! Here you can see the kids with their loving single moms. Can you imagine them being raised by anyone else?
This year, we’re asking for your help to meet our fundraising goal of $5,000 for Single Moms’ Day. Although we try to get as many donations as possible, we cannot avoid certain costs, such as those for printing, postage, and so forth. Every little bit helps! Our deadline for fundraising for this event is May 9. If you would still like to donate after that, your donation will be used for TRACK’s year-round lobbying efforts for adult adoptee rights to birthfamily information, as well as other initiatives in support of family preservation. Please donate by clicking here.
This year, our theme is “Hanging the Geumjul.” What’s a geumjul? A geumjul is a decorative rope traditionally hung outside Korean homes to proudly announce the birth of a new baby. In the past, single moms have had to hide the births of their children. The goal of our geumjul ceremony is to proudly announce the births of single moms’ children to Korean society. We are promoting the public’s acceptance of single moms’ rights to raise their own children as an alternative to adoption. Holding our event in the National Assembly shows that we are working within the existing structure and bringing our cause to the mainstream.
We have an all-star line-up of leaders from Korean society who will participate in Single Moms’ Day. All of these wonderful people are working to change Korean society into a welcoming place for single-parent families. Our special guests include chairs and representatives from:
- The National Assembly Women’s and Family Committee
- The Korean Women Entrepreneurs Association
- Korean Women United
- Women’s Foundation
- Korean Womenlink
- The Ministry of Gender Equality
- Korean Women’s Development Institute
- The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child Committee
In addition, EU Political Analyst John Sagar will speak about international standards for women’s and children’s rights within UN frameworks, including the Committee to Eliminate Discrimination Against Women and the Convention the Rights of the Child.
Most importantly, we are bringing the voices of people affected by adoption to the Korean public. A feminist scholar will hold a “talk show” with single moms, a mother who lost her child to adoption, and overseas adoptees.
We’ll end the conference with a Declaration of Single Moms’ Rights and Solidarity Statement by the Korean Unwed Mothers and Families Association.
Why should I support a conference? Isn’t it better to give direct support to mothers, such as baby formula and diapers?
While it is indeed very important and kind to contribute directly for the cost of living expenses for single moms and their children, this kind of support is on the microlevel. Our organizations do encourage this kind of support and also engage in gathering those resources. However, Single Moms’ Day is also a key part of our strategy because it is aimed at the macrolevel: it aims to change the whole system by addressing the Korean public. In addition, this once-a-year event is an important part of the lobbying that we do for policy change at the government level during the rest of the year. Single Moms’ Day rallies societal and cultural support for single moms so the days of foreigners having to support them at the microlevel will soon be over, because Koreans already have enough financial resources to care for single moms and their kids by themselves.
How are single moms and adoption connected?
A member of KUMFA speaks about the challenges of being a single mom in Korea.
Over nearly 60 years, Korea has sent officially 164,894 children have been adopted internationally from South Koreauntil 2010, but perhaps tens of thousands of adoptions byU.S. military personnel, etc. have been undocumented. In 2010, 1,013 children were sent overseas for adoption.
Officially, there have been 94,281 recorded domestic adoptions since 1939. There were 1,462 officially recorded domestic adoptions in 2010. However, the actual number of domestic adoptions is always higher than the official number. It was estimated that 3,014 adopted children were domestically adopted in “secret” adoptions in 2007, a year in which there were 1,388 officially recorded domestic adoptions, a difference of 117 percent.
About 120,000 of all officially recorded international adoptees have been children of unwed mothers, and since the 1990s, the rate has been at about 90% of international adoptees each year. The rate is 85% of recorded domestic adoptions, and it is presumed that the thousands of infants who are “secretly” adopted domestically all come from unwed mothers.
The Government’s priorities for support are the reverse of what they should be under international human rights guidelines. The Government’s rate of support per month, per child, is as follows:
- Family group home facility: 1,070,000 won
- Child welfare facility (orphanage): 1,050,000 won
- Foster care: 250,000 won
- Domestic adoptive parents: 100,000 won
- Single parents, including unwed and divorced parents: 50,000 won (US$44)
*While in Western countries, we tend to group divorced mothers, widows, and unwed mothers together under the term “single moms,” unmarried mothers in Koreaare grouped in a different category, called “mihonmo.” The direct translation of this word is “unwed mother,” and the unwed mothers themselves use this term to identify themselves. Unwed mothers are particularly discriminated against in Korea, more than divorced moms or widows. By declaring “Single Moms’ Day,” we are saying that raising a child alone is difficult for everyone, and that mihonmo should also be respected and included as single moms who deserve society’s support.
Thank you for supporting our initiative!