Staff Notes: A North Korean Refugee Mother's Heart

The following post was written by Crossing Borders volunteer staff: Ever since the birth of our first biological child Lila, my “mother’s heart” has been unusually sensitive to the difficult situations faced by mothers who have had to give up their children. Our second child Chloe was adopted from South Korea at the age of 14 months. She is now almost four years old and we cannot imagine our family without her. But at the same time I know that somewhere in Korea there is a mother who is wondering where her daughter is, how she looks, what she’s thinking and whether she’s safe and happy in her new life.  When I look at Lila, I can’t imagine how it must feel to give up the child you have carried in your womb for nine months and given birth to, and not know what is going to happen to her. And yet I know because of their life circumstances, whether it is poverty, abuse, or lack of family support, many mothers know that they are making a choice for their children to have a better life than they believed they could provide.

Thinking about the North Korean refugee mothers we assist through Crossing Borders, I often wonder if they have contemplated the same thoughts and worries. Though their lives may be vastly different than those of unwed teenagers or single mothers in South Korea, their stories are also the stories of heartbreak, of loss, and of families torn apart by factors beyond their control. What could possibly have gone through refugee mothers' minds as they made the perilous decision to cross the Tumen River, often leaving behind their youngest children in the hope of finding work or food in China, and hoping that they would soon be able to return? How must their hearts have sunk as they saw those hopes unravel when they were captured by sex traffickers and sold like property to men whose language they did not understand, trading one life of starvation and oppression in North Korea for one of fear and despair in China? And how did they feel when they bore new children and began cobbling together another life, only to be forced to run away for their safety and their children’s safety when they could no longer endure the abuse of their new “husbands”?

Though as varied and complicated as each individual experience may be, as a mother my guess is that one thing remains in common for them. These North Korean refugee mothers haven’t forgotten. They haven’t forgotten the daughter or the son they left behind. Although consciously they may no longer think of them daily, in their mother’s heart I am sure there is an emptiness that remains. And even if they are so numb that they cannot remember, I know that God remembers each orphan and abandoned child left in North Korea or China, and He loves them and cares for them as His own.

As some of the North Korean orphans in our Second Wave shelters recently studied during their devotions, the Word of God says,

Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me” (Psalm 27:10).

Below, in their own words, are some of the responses expressed by the children after studying this Scripture:

My parents gave me a life. But God who created me is my true parent. My parents have forsaken me.  But Jehovah God receives me eternally. I will truly pray to Him and praise Him. I want to be His joy.

My parents forsake me but God did not forsake me.  He sent me to Pastor to raise a faithful person. I give thanks to God. I will praise Him and go to heaven.

Please help us as we continue to pray over not only our orphans, but the North Korean refugee mothers who are not with them.