Adopting the Children
From the very beginning of the
war the service men and women fell in love with the lost, homeless,
hungry, ill and traumatized children and, in many cases, tried to adopt
them and take them home with them to America. Here are stories of "informal
adoption" and attempts at "formal adoption". Our stories are for the
period up until the end of 1954.
It has been reported in official reports that by
mid-1954 somewhere between 200 and, at most, 1000 children of the more
than 50,000 in "official" orphanages, were "mixed blood".
This means that 98 or 99 percent of all children in orphanages or still
on the streets were children of two Korean parents. Consequently most
of these early adoptions were children of two Korean parents.
• Mascots. Service
men in military units throughout Korea were picking up lost children
along the roadsides and giving them shelter. When possible these children
would then be placed in an orphanage or the unit would give a “mamasan”
some money to take care of the child. Many of them stayed with the unit,
though, and became a “mascot”, a type of informal adoption.
The Air Force, especially, frowned on this practice and ordered the
units to place their mascots in orphanages. On the other hand many young
children grew up in these military units with the servicemen serving
as surrogate parents for the child. Often such children could no longer
speak Korean, only English, and later would be a misfit in their own
||Mascot - Photos and
Adoption through 1954. The
bond between many GIs and their “mascots” or “houseboys”
became so strong that they sought to formally adopt the child. In the
beginning this necessitated an act of congress for the child to be admitted
to the US but many servicemen persevered and were able to bring the
child home to the United States. Often, since the serviceman was a bachelor,
his mother and father would do the legal adoption with the understanding
that the child would live with the serviceman when he returned home.
Very few of these early adoptions were of “mixed blood”
children as less than 2% of all orphans by the end of the war were children
of Korean women and UN forces.
||Adoption through 1954 photos
Adoption after 1954.
Adoption after 1954 is beyond the parameters of this research on the
relations of the GIs and the children of Korea during the war years.
Yet, at the same time, the research undertaken for this project turned
up a lot of material on later adoption practices. We felt it was important
to include that material here as an addendum so those interested in
adoptions during that period of time can have access to this information.
||Adoption after 1954 photos