What do you think of when you hear the words, “drop box?” In 2012, South Korea tightened adoption requirements and adoption agencies could no longer accept undocumented babies, meaning that the parents could no longer hide their identities. The impact of this was a dramatic increase in the number of babies abandoned, most of the time in a public location such as a market.
But there are people trying to make a difference. There is a house in Seoul that is now a shelter run by a church. Anyone is allowed to leave a newborn in a “climate controlled” enclosure in the wall without identifying themselves. Last year, there were over 200 children left. The hope of the church running the shelter, presently allowed to operate by the government, is that babies are not abandoned in a place where no one might find them and they would die.
One of the babies left at the shelter was a baby covered in dust as the father was going to bury him. “When the father started shoveling earth over it, the mother couldn’t bear it anymore and rescued the baby,” stated Pastor Lee Jong-Rak.
The shelter will take care of the children and then move them to orphanages. But a stigma still remains. Korean culture really values preserving family bloodlines. The women who keep and parent their child are usually poor and face struggles finding work or future husbands because of the child.
Personally, I like the idea of having this shelter and “drop box.” It seems like a similar idea to the safe houses where someone can drop off a newborn and no questions asked, such as fire stations, in the United States. I think eliminating them would not stop people from abandoning newborns; I think it will only change the avenue in which they do so, which could be more dangerous for the infant. What should be most important, in any situation, is the safety of the child.
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