Volunteering at Eastern Seoul Welfare Society Orphanage
On Thursday I accompanied a new friend to Eastern Seoul Welfare Society near Hongik University to volunteer at the orphanage they run there. The woman I attended with has been volunteering at orphanages throughout Korea for over eight years. She also collects supplies and distributes them at the orphanages. This particular orphanage has been in place for many years.
For years South Korea has been known as a “baby selling country” because foreigners from around the world wanting a child come to Korea to adopt from what is viewed as a “stable, efficient and corruption-free” adoption country. From 1999 to 2011 U.S. families adopted 18,605 Korean babies. Wanting adoption to become more localized, in 2012 new laws were put into place. Korean officials wished to make a greater in-country foster care and adoption program, making international adoptions a last priority. The new law only allows foreigners to adopt children if the Korean government fails to put children in foster care after two years. There are many beliefs and customs in Korea that make it uncommon for Korean people to adopt. When they do chose to adopt it is important for the baby to look like the parents. If skin color, hair or facial features are different then Koreans will often choose not adopt. They also generally prefer a daughter because it is customary in Korea for the oldest daughter in the family to care for their parents.
With this new law, orphanages are becoming more crowded and babies are staying much longer. Within the past eight years my co-volunteer has seen the orphanage change from simply just newborn babies to crawling, moving and grooving toddlers.
With budget cuts there are less workers to attend to growing children. During my three hours at the orphanage I spent my time holding, playing with, feeding, rocking to sleep and changing diapers of various children. I could not imagine how patient and hard working the employees at the orphanage are to do their job! They are in great need of volunteers to help care for and stimulate these growing babies.
I am very thankful to have the opportunity to spend time with these precious babies! I am excited to continue to volunteer! If you are interested in volunteer opportunities or donating baby clothes, toys and supplies please e-mail me!