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Friday, July 24, 2009

My heavy heart...

Tonight, I went back to the orphanage. While I was there, I met the director, a tender hearted 65 year old Korean woman, battling her 4th year of kidney cancer. When she saw me signing in in the office, she asked me to take a seat on the couch to chat with her. Her English was really good, so I took advantage of the moment and began asking her questions that had been on my mind since the last time I was there. She told me all about the kids, why they were there, and the history of the orphanage.

* Most of the children are given up for adoption because their parents weren't married.
* Many of them were abandoned in the hospital. The mom gave birth and then secretly ran away.
* Most of the biological moms are between the ages of 19 and 21.
* All of the children in the orphanage have lived there since they were babies.
* When they turn 6 years old, they move to the next orphanage that holds children between the ages of 7 and 10 (I think).
* Before the Olympics in 1988, Korea allowed foreigners to adopt Korean children because the country was very poor, and they could not take care of the babies... But after the country's financial system was rebuilt from the Olympics, they changed the law to allow for only Koreans to adopt Korean babies.
* Korean's don't think highly of adoption the way many Americans do. They can't understand why someone would take care of a child who isn't their blood. Because of this, only a few children are adopted each year in Busan.
* The moms can come back anytime to get their baby back from this orphanage. The director told me that a few moms do it each year, but always within 3 months, they bring the baby back again.
* 99.5 percent of the children in the orphanage system will remain in an orphanage until they have finished high school. At that point, they are on their own.

There is a special area of the orphanage for babies and children who are abandoned on the street. She asked me if I would like to go see them... so tonight, I spent my night there.

I walked into the room and saw 4 beautiful babies, (1) absolutely adorable one year old girl and 1 junior high aged girl. I was informed that each of the babies were found on street corners and brought in by the police, and that the junior high girl's parents had recently divorced and neither wanted her. I sat watching the junior high aged girl and was pierced by the pain in her eyes and the despair and anger on her face. Most of the children in the orphanage don't know any better, because they have grown up there, but this girl knew exactly what was happening to her and was feeling all of the emotions of abandonment. I think my heart broke for her the most.

The 1 year old girl loved me. We played around and I flipped her upside down and she would laugh and laugh and laugh. There was such joy in her soul. After only about 5 minutes of playing with her, she called me Omma (mom). My heart melted. I couldn't image why anyone would give up this precious little sweetheart!

Tonight, after hearing so many heart wrenching stories, I told the director that my heart was heavy. I don't think I've ever used that expression, because I've never truly felt a heavy heart. I've never fully allowed myself to engage in people's lives who have heartbreaking stories because of the anxiety it has caused me in the past. Although, tonight, I understood exactly what that meant to have a heavy heart, and embraced it with all I had within me... because when it comes to justice and mercy, I believe that we are stagnant until we become so angry, or in this case, heartbroken, that we have to do something about it.

I pray that each one of you who are reading this, experience what it's like to have a heavy heart because of someone else's situation, and may it push you to make a difference in the world around you!


  1. Jill, what a beautiful post. Your feelings come through so clearly. I, too, have felt that "heavy heart" and can identify with how grievous it is, and how sometimes it feels easier to just ignore it all. I think that maybe God is using this time to prepare you for something special.
    Thanks for posting.

  2. Hi Jill..I'm Caitlin Suitor..i'm also a foreign english teacher in Busan..I am friends with your husband on facebook and also friends with Mayo..anyway, I was adopted from Korea, born in Seoul, when I was 3 months old. Did the woman from the orphanage tell you about the law that after 1988 only Koreans were able to adopt Korean babies? I am curious, only because my brother was born in 1991 and was adopted from Busan..and I know many other korean adoptees who have been born after 1988. Anyway, I love reading your blogs and I too have visited that orphanage and have felt "a heavy heart". I was never in an orphanage and fortunately my birth mother set up an adoption plan for me before she delivered me, and it breaks my heart to know that those kids aren't as fortunate.

  3. Jill! What an amazing post! I never thought of visiting an orphanage before. What a beautiful way to bless the lives of those little children by sharing love with them for a few minutes. The story of the teenage girl whose parents divorced and abandoned her made me gasp. I am so grateful for your insight and encouragement to make a difference in the world! You are awesome!