Nearly 200,000 South Koreans (mostly children) were adopted by international families since the Korean War ended in 1953. The story of Adam Crapser, who is also known by the Korean name Shin Song Hyuk, portrayed how although he was nearly American, he was forcefully deported back to Korea which he barely knew the language of. This story sparked the start of Korean reforms to the adoption policies as national debates opened up to issues surrounding overseas adoption. However, some outcomes do have some happy “endings”. Eun Jee Alfonso, 16 year old Korean-Australian girl, and her adoptive parents Angie and Sam Alfonso, share their stories:
|[Eun Jee Alfonso(Left), Won Hee Alfonso(Middle), Jiewan Hong(Right)]
[Eun Jee Alfonso and her little sister present Jiewan Hong with a gift from Australia,
photo taken by Mijung Lee (Jiewan Hong’s parent)]
|[Eun Jee Alfonso (left), Won Hee Alfonso (middle), Angie Alfonso (right)]
[The joyful Australian family enjoyed their time in Korea as they visited peaceful parks
to spend some family time, photo taken by Mijung Lee (Jiewan Hong’s parent)]
|[“Happy and Lovely Life”]
[Adoption & Love]
Eun Jee Alfonso, adopted only when she was four months old, decided to share the stories of her journey. She went through tremendous sadness and depression as she discovered the truths. However, she was able to steady herself and commit to look for her biological parents. She visited Korea recently to meet her biological parents. She had sent numerous letters. However, there was no response. Her efforts failed. Later, Eun Jee accepted that her adoptive parents, Angie and Sam, were her true and loving parents. They truly loved each other. Eun Jee stated, “My parents who I have grown up within Australia have a close relationship with me and we discuss any of these matters if required”. She expressed trust for her parents. It’s clear that she could rely on them if she was struggling. When most might’ve thought it would’ve been difficult for her to take in the truth about her adoption, Eun Jee accepted it coolly, stating that she was not ashamed of having a Korean nationality. We consider people who are adopted as “less privileged”. That’s not true. Eun Jee has a dream of becoming a veterinarian, and she is enjoying her school life with her friends just like anyone else. Eun Jee has never hated her biological parents for what they’ve done but simply thanks her adoptive parents for giving her an opportunity. She even has a few words for other Korean adoptees. “Embrace your identity, accept who you are, and expose others to it”. She gives hope to other adoptees who are stressed and heartbroken.
Angie Alfonso, the adoptive mother, gave her thoughts on the trip. Her love for her adopted children was evident. The first thing that stood out was she decided to pursue a degree in Korean studies so that she could help Eun Jee, her adopted child, understand more about her birthplace. Receiving a degree on a foreign culture is tough. However, Angie made sure her daughter fully understood her background. Angie responded, “I felt that it was my duty to be knowledgeable about the country of my children’s heritage… It was important to me that we paid respect to the children’s birth country”. She made sure that her children felt open about sharing anything that seemed to upset them by “always having them aware that they can say anything about how they feel about adoptions”. Angie has always had a strong belief that all adoptive parents needed to stay open towards discussions about their children’s past. Her persistence and care for her adopted children are truly inspiring as it sends a message to the world: Adoption does NOT mean inferiority at all.
Asia Pacific International School
Jiewan Hong email@example.com
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