Jusarang Community Church aka “Baby Box Church”
Total donations: $10,664 | Partnership: Since 2019
In many countries outside the US, being a single mother is still a stigma, as is giving birth to a child with challenges. Infants are abandoned or neglected.
In Seoul South Korea, Pastor Lee Jong Rak learned this when his own son was born challenged. The Pastor did not abandon his son, in fact he took care of him so well that a neighbor asked for his help in caring for his disabled granddaughter. With Pastor Lee’s careful attention the girl thrived and was soon able to use a wheelchair for hospital visits.
It was soon after that the Pastor started finding babies abandoned in front of his church, Love of God’s Community Church. To protect them from the cold and the animals on the street he installed a drop box in the wall, where infants could safely be placed. The temperature-controlled chamber built into the wall functions as a baby box, enabling unwanted newborns to be taken in without parents having to identify themselves. Watch the video here
In 2010, its first year of operations, just four babies were placed in the box. At the time, South Korean women who wanted to give up unwanted babies were obliged to give adoption agencies their written consent, but often gave false details or no records, and operators looked the other way.
But two years later the country adopted a law banning adoption agencies accepting undocumented babies, in line with the Hague Convention, which aims to give adoptive children the right to trace their birth parents. It also required all adoptions to be court-approved.
In 2013, 224 babies were abandoned at the centre by parents desperate to hide their identities. Almost all who do so are poor single women. More unmarried mothers are keeping their children in South Korea, but face social ostracism and struggle to find husbands willing to accept such a past. Even employment checks often go into family background, and would show that a woman had a child and given it up.
Since 2007, over 1550 babies have been abandoned and rescued by the Pastor and his volunteers. New arrivals – almost 200 last year, an average of nearly four a week – are deposited covered in blood, wrapped in material, sometimes with the umbilical cord still attached.
Pastor Lee adopted 9 disabled children and is also providing care of 9 more disabled children. He could not adopt all of them because the court did not approve the additional adoptions.
Funding from Grand Circle Foundation has helped clean the facility, built a roof top storage shed for winter clothes, diapers, formula and other goods and also built a much needed roof top recreation area.
If you would like to support the work of Pastor Lee, you can donate here.