Brian Ivie first heard about Pastor Lee Jong-rak from South Korea and his "baby drop box" in June of 2011. He was inspired to fly out and meet him and create "The Drop Box" film all about Pastor Lee and what he does to save babies. This video gives a look behind the scenes for the film he is creating.
Pastor Lee's story began with his own son who was born twenty-five years ago. He knew right away something was wrong and, worried about his wife's reaction, he hid his son from her. He found out he had cerebral palsy; a mammoth cyst on his head had rendered him brain-damaged and doctors originally only gave him months to live. When he realized he would love his son no matter what, he told his wife about him. 25 years later, their son Eun-man remains alive and well and lives with his parents. The love Pastor Lee had for his son has transferred to his appreciation for the lives of all children. He discovered babies were being abandoned and in an attempt to help even a few, he set up a "baby box" where people can give up their unwanted babies. Even without any formal training, he takes in and cares for the children that are even sometimes handicapped. According to an article from SBS, by December of 2011 383 children had been left for Pastor Lee to care for. The article said the children are only able to stay with him for about a week before they are sent off to orphanages. That number is huge, but the article also says that 120 parents returned and reclaimed their child.
While there is no question about whether what he is doing is kind for the babies, there has been some debate about if he is helping them or making it easier for people to abandon their children. Jane Jeong Trenka, president of the Truth and Reconciliation for the Adoption Community of Korea is one of the people speaking out against "The Drop Box." One of the biggest issues with what Pastor Lee is doing is that these children are not legally being handed over, meaning they cannot be adopted internationally and the chance of them being illegally trafficked increases. Trenka also conducted research that showed infanticide had not decreased in South Korea since he set up this box. She claims the issue is with the parents not understanding what will happen to their children after they abandon them and supports teaching people about the importance of family.
Pastor Lee has no plans to give up on what he does. He is hoping to build a $2.4 million facility outside of Seoul where he will be able to install another baby box and house and care for children. The plans are to eventually expand and invite unwed mothers to stay there after giving birth so they can be provided with counseling and encouragement to keep their children.
What Pastor Lee is doing has its advantages, but the points brought up by Trenka are still valid. What are your opinions on the best ways to handle a sensitive issue such as this one? Share your thoughts on "the baby box" in the comments below.