It was very important to note how South Koreans are reacting to the murders of Korean adoptees Ethan, Seth, Mira and Eleanor Sueppel because it really has become an international issue. But a few things should be clarified about my article in the April 1 paper, “Sueppel deaths add to Korean adoption debate.” Everything I wrote was factual (of course!), but a Marion woman called me today to chew my ear on the inaccuracy of the story’s second headline, which I didn’t write. She was also not pleased that I had to leave some facts out of the story due to space restrictions.
This woman and her husband adopted some children from South Korea a few decades ago, so she is familiar with the issues surrounding adoption that the country has struggled with since the mid-1950s, when international adoptions first started. The exportation of their children is a very sensitive issue for the people, she said, one of which they are not proud, adding “Boy, if this article makes it over to Korea they’re going to be hopping mad.”
With that second headline on the story, that could be true. It says, “Despite tragedy, Korean official says push is on for more adoptions,” but that isn’t accurate. Susan Soon-Keum Cox is NOT a Korean official — she is the vice president of public policy and external affairs for Holt International Children’s Services, based in Oregon (in fact, she was adopted from Korea as a baby by an American family). And there is a push for more adoptions to be done domestically in South Korea, but NOT internationally as the headline would lead you to believe.
I can’t do much about the headline, however, since it was written by an editor after I turned my story in. I will, however, go into more detail about the “missing facts.”
I knew from speaking to Ms. Cox that last year marked the first year domestic adoptions in South Korea outpaced international adoptions. Early this morning, I received a reply to my e-mail to Kim Stoker, representative of Adoptee Solidarity Korea, a South Korean group working to unite all Korean adoptees and push for more domestic adoption. Her response sheds some more light on the situation.
“Certainly we are upset about the latest news to affect our community. To my knowledge, at the moment here in Korea there are currently efforts to unite our adoptee community in speaking out about this incident (the Sueppel murders) and others that highlight the need to cease international adoption out of Korea. Also, it might be of interest to you to know that the current, newly appointed Minister of Health, Welfare and Family Affairs, Kim Soung-yee, has gone on-record to state that he is against international adoption.”