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adoption

India has ordered its state governments to inspect child care facilities run by the Missionaries of Charity — the Roman Catholic order founded by Mother Teresa — after arrests of a nun and a worker accused of baby trafficking.

Earlier this month, Indian authorities shut down a shelter home for pregnant, unmarried women run by the order in Ranchi, a city in the eastern state of Jharkhand, after discovering that four infants had been sold, including a 6-month-old boy who changed hands for 50,000 rupees ($730).

The author (left) with his sister. They were adopted from South Korea by white parents.
KUOW PHOTO/Brian Freeland

I've always known I was adopted because I have white parents. 

In school, people talked about what traits they got from each of their parents: their eyes from their mom, their hair from their dad, their personality a mix of both. I envied them.


I don't know anyone who looks like me.

I used to stare at family photos and search my parents' faces for any hint of resemblance to mine.

But there is none. I'm adopted, and my white American parents with their German-English-Scottish-Irish ancestry do not have my almond-shaped brown eyes, high cheekbones, dark brown silky hair or typical flat, round Filipino nose.

A Young Irish Mom's Painful Decision

Aug 6, 2017
Sian Cullen and her daughter Aine. Cullen was a teenager in Dublin, Ireland when Aine was born. They now live in Seattle.
Courtesy Sian Cullen

I was 16 and going to school; I lived in Dublin and was infatuated with this older fellow who was a jack-the-lad kind of fella.

We met and had a relationship and it was brief. And I got pregnant.

Adoptee Rights Campaign

Kim Malcolm talks with Jenny Kim about why so many international adoptees in the U.S. don't have citizenship. Jenny Kim is vice chair of the Korean American Coalition and an organizer with the Adoptee Rights Campaign. She's an advocate for Adam Crapser, a 41-year-old Washington man who was adopted from South Korea as a toddler. He's now  facing deportation over criminal charges.

courtesy Lori Walls

When Adam Crapser was three years old, an Oregon couple adopted him from South Korea. His life in America has been bleak at times. But Crapser, 41, probably never imagined his difficulties would lead to deportation back to the country he left as a toddler.

Yet, to his surprise, he’s not a U.S. citizen. It turns out his adoptive parents never filled out the forms.


Adam Crapser was brought to the United States when he was 3, to start a new life — new parents, new culture, new country.

But his adoptive parents didn't complete his citizenship papers. Then they abandoned him to the foster care system.

And now, as a 41-year-old father of four, he's being deported. Despite his appeals for help, he has been ordered to be sent back to South Korea, a country The Associated Press describes as "completely alien to him."

His predicament is the result of parental failings, a criminal past and acts of Congress.

Courtesy of Maya Konz

When I was younger I was open about being adopted.

During show-and-tell in preschool, I shared moon cakes with my classmates to celebrate Chinese New Year. My parents were with me to explain to everyone that I was born in China and adopted at 10 months old.


The Missionaries of Charity founded by Mother Teresa says it has shut down its adoption services in India over religious objections to the country's new adoption rules. The Catholic sisters known for their blue and white habits and vow of free service to the poor say they have asked the government to de-register 13 orphanages.

The Grief I Chose: Placing My Baby For Adoption

Oct 8, 2015
Baby Benjamin before he was placed in his adoptive mother's arms.
Courtesy of Beth Roberts

Ten years ago, Nathan and I placed our firstborn son for adoption. 

I was barely 23 when I got pregnant with Benjamin. I had just graduated from Northwest University, a Christian college on the Eastside, and was preparing to spend two years in Jakarta, Indonesia, as an associate missionary. I got my acceptance letter to the program the same week I took a pregnancy test. 

Meri Putnam, age 11. She was adopted from Ethiopia at age 5.
Courtesy of the Ryan-Putnam family

It was a long trip and many things were different. But I enjoyed it. I was young so I wasn’t that close to many people. But it was hard to let go of my grandma, who took care of me when my mom wasn’t there.   

Then I met my adoptive parents.  

I knew they were going to be my parents the second I saw them, the way they smiled at me. They were crying but trying to act calm.

Lisa Pauley was a volunteer at an Adventist hospital in Hong Kong. Joyce Wertz Harrington, a fellow nurse, photographed their 30-hour journey.
Courtesy of Joyce Wertz Harrington

Jeannie Yandel talked with historian Jeremi Suri about Operation Babylift, the U.S. government's program to airlift as many South Vietnamese babies -- orphans in addition to other babies -- out of South Vietnam as possible before the North Vietnamese troops arrived. 

In the 1960s in California, the state wanted children to be adopted into two-parent homes. But officials were having trouble placing hundreds of children, especially older boys.

Bill Jones, a gay man living in San Francisco, had always wanted to be a father. He decided to apply.

"They were looking for somebody with family in the area and I had family in the area," Jones told his friend Stu Maddux, on a recent visit to StoryCorps. "They were looking for somebody that had some contact with children. I had been a schoolteacher for six years."

In the Gwanak-gu neighborhood of Seoul, there is a box.

Attached to the side of a building, the box resembles a book drop at a public library, only larger, and when nights are cold, the interior is heated. The Korean lettering on its front represents a phoneticized rendering of the English words "baby box." It was installed by Pastor Lee Jon-rak to accept abandoned infants. When its door opens, an alarm sounds, alerting staff to the presence of a new orphan.

Courtesy of Lynne Hogan

Earlier this month KUOW introduced you to Lynne Hogan, 48, one of hundreds of Washington adoptees seeking information about their birth parents. A new law that took effect July 1 gave adoptees access to their birth records through the Washington State Department of Health.

Courtesy of Lynne Hogan

Lynne Hogan has always wondered where she came from. She’s one of 540 adoptees who’ve requested a copy of their birth certificate under a new state law.

Adoptions are usually private affairs, sealed forever in court documents and known only to the families involved. But recently, one decision by Idaho's Department of Health and Welfare exploded into the public sphere.

Knowing your medical history and where your parents are from are things you might take for granted – unless you are adopted.

Washington's state Department of Health is expecting a rush when an adoption law change takes effect on July 1.

'Wish You Happy Forever' With Jenny Bowen

May 1, 2014
Jenny Bowen's book "Wish You Happy Forever."

In 1996 Jenny Bowen was in Los Angeles living a comfortable and, she said, not very meaningful existence.

Reading the New York Times one Saturday morning, she and her husband were disturbed by a photo of a little girl in a Chinese orphanage. Bowen’s determination to do something about what she’d seen would change her life, and ultimately the lives of orphans across China.

Bowen founded the organization Half the Sky to better the lives of orphan children living in China’s welfare institutions. Half the Sky operates programs for orphans from birth to adulthood.

All offer loving care, stimulation, education, all the kinds of things a child who lives in a family may have. The Chinese government has invited Half the Sky to train every child welfare worker in the country.

Jenny Bowen spoke at Town Hall Seattle on April 1. She is also the author of a book, "Wish You Happy Forever."

Marcie Sillman talks to Slate contributor Kathryn Joyce about her investigative piece on Hana Williams, an adopted child from Ethiopia who died after suffering child abuse by her adopted parents, Larry and Carri Williams. One question still remains in the case: how she and her brother were subjected to so much abuse without any intervention.

Marcie Sillman talks with Rep. Mary Helen Roberts about  her plans to change Washington's adoption laws to better protect children from abuse. Her last bill died in committee, but she has plans to continue her efforts in the 2014 legislative session.