Sunday, December 30, 2012

Santa for a Day-Sungjiwon Orphanage Party

Reading and translating the Christmas story

Our friend's baby got crowds of attention from both the girls and the boys
The younger age groups had a short dance performance for us

He was SO excited for Santa to come!

Every so often the foreign church that we attend goes and spends time at one of the local orphanages, Sungjiwon. I have always cherished the times that we are able to spend with these kids. Even though we don't speak the same language, there's always such an excitement that surrounds these visits and our last visit was certainly no exception. Every year the church throws a Christmas Party for the orphanage complete with Christmas carols, reading (and translating) the Christmas story, games, presents, and of course a little visit from Ol' Saint Nick (played this year by hubs).

It can be such a bittersweet experience going and seeing these kids that I have grown to become so attached to. I love how their faces light up as we come in, ready for endless rounds of duck duck goose and the ever so popular game of 'tie a balloon around your ankle and try to pop your friend's balloons'. We need another name for that one. But I can't even begin to describe how it breaks my heart to walk in and see new faces, new children without a family and home to go back to. A part of me is also disappointed to see the same children there time after time. As attached as I have become to some, I would want nothing more than to realize a child is missing because a loving family has welcomed them in. Don't get me wrong, from what we've seen, they're well taken care of. Fed, clothed and attend school and church each week. But nothing could be better than having a family to call your own.

Many times on this blog I am not very informative when it comes to certain aspects of the Korean culture. I think all expats can agree with me that there are some things about the different country that we live in's culture that we simply do not understand or fully agree with. Sometimes living in Korea, I feel that it's so westernized that it's not hard being away from home. Then there are others that I realize just how far I am from home and the culture that I am accustomed to.  I, for the most part, try to avoid talking in too much detail about some of the cultural differences because I would hate to come across hateful or judgmental when that is not my aim or my true feelings. One of these differences is the adoption process. I come from a country that inviting a child into your home that is not your own is both celebrated and praised. But the sad reality here is that many of these children will be in the orphanage until graduation day. I'm certainly no expert in this field and am simply going off of what we have been told by Korean friends and the owners of the orphanage. But from what we've been told, Korean culture does not think highly of adoption. Family blood lines are very important and they take great pride in being a pure Korean. For this reason, if adoption does come into the picture, families are more likely to adopt babies instead of older children because they can be more easily passed as their own children. These children in the pictures above have been given up for the standard reasons that we see in the states in addition to divorce and the child's disabilities. When I tried to describe to my co-workers how much I want to adopt in the future they were both confused and intrigued. I received questions as to why I would want to do that and if it was common in the states. My heart goes out to these children but I am thankful that there are great owners and caretakers at the orphanage who make sure they are well taken care of, and also for the camaraderie that's so apparent amongst the different age groups.