Korean Foster Babies, 1978

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I was so fortunate to have had the opportunity to visit and help out at the Hae Yuk Won orphanage as all kids need love and attention and it is valuable for adults to give love and affection to kids (a true win win situation). While we greatly enjoyed our visits to the orphanage, Barbara's roommate from college was having difficulty getting pregnant. We decided to offer to help connect them and another family from Barbara's church in Needham, MA with orphans who needed homes. The Hae Yuk Won orphanage did not have very young children (babies), so Mr. Park set up a visit to another orphanage. I was able to hold Sarah when she was so tiny, only a couple of days old. Here I am with Kelly, Barbara, Sarah, and one of the workers at the orphanage. My recollection is that Sarah's birth name was Park Koom Rahn (Park is the family name, of course, and is pronounced more like Bach, but not quite). . =0=
We were surprised how lengthy the process was in both the U.S. and Korea to allow adoption. We were foster parents for the girls for five months (there are some pictures in the series about our trip to Korea. However, it was time for us to return and the paperwork was not done. For the last four months they stayed with friends of Barbara's before their adoption was completed. Here is picture of Darlene, Kelly, Barbara, Sarah, and Mr. Park as they left the orphanage. Darlene's husband, Larry, worked as a civilian in the 'switch' that I could never visit. Darlene, Kelly, Barbara, Sarah, and Mr. Park. =0=
Kelly and Sarah. =0= Sarah. =0=
Above are Kelly and Sarah. Next to that is Sarah and here is Kelly. We didn't have a lot of furniture (I was only allocated five hundred pounds to ship to Korea as it was a one year 'hardship' assignment, meaning they didn't ship my family or all my stuff. However, as we didn't have kids, Barbara went to Korea on her own (so to speak, we made the travel arrangements). They were then nice enough to give me an assignment in Daegu (nicer than Pyong Teck where I might have gone) and let us stay off base (instead of me staying in the Bachelor Officer's Quarter or BOQ). Kelly. =0=
Yun Hee changing Sarah. =0= Barbara and Kelly. =0=
That was back in 1978 when Korea was quite prosperous, but still pretty primitive and rapidly developing. Electricity was not reliable and washing machines were scarce. So one of the girls from Hae Yuk Won orphanage, Yun Hee, came after school and helped Barbara, washing the diapers and doing what she could. We wanted to pay her something, but Mrs. Son of the orphanange would have nothing of it. It was her gift to us. We instead made contributions to her 'college fund' (or more realistically, dowery)1. Yun Hee is shown above changing Sarah's diapers in her school uniform and also at the front door with Barbara and Kelly. Here is Sarah after her bath. Kelly at bath time. =0=
Here is a picture of Kelly at bath time. Yohs were the Korean equivalent of a convertible couch and we had two, one was taken over by the babies much of the time as you can see below. Kelly at bath time. =0=
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1 Gift giving was a very big part of Korean society, so much so that what we would call bribery and corruption would seem perfectly normal social intereactions to them. Barbara and I were surprisingly uncomfortable with gift giving (both giving and receiving). I now wonder if that was another result of the revolutionary idea of the 'nuclear family' apparently developed recently in the U.S.. We were the first generation of that radical experiment; I personally think the 'nuclear family' was an awful, terrible, horrible, very bad idea, but it is hard to say just what all the effects of it are. On further consideration, perhaps true gift giving and receiving, which is without expectations but just a pure expression of good will, is quite difficult under all circumstances and products of the nuclear family just see the challenges most readily while other cultures more easily confuse gift giving with barter.

This page was last updated on November 8, 2007.