Question from a Reader — Help Sought for Pregnant Rape Victim

(Source: unknown)

For obvious reasons, the reader that submitted this email would like to remain anonymous. Unfortunately I’m unable to think of any organizations that can help myself (especially after the baffling responses from the ones the couple has tried), so he would greatly appreciate any help or information readers can give:

xxxxxMy wife (Korean) was recently raped and became pregnant. We had been trying to get pregnant for a few months, so due to the timing of the attack, she assumed it would be impossible for it to be the attacker’s baby and decided to keep it a secret until recently when she finally told me about what happened. It turns out that she was misguided and it is actually very possible, though not probable, that the rapist impregnated her.

Every avenue we have explored for getting support has been a non-starter. We have gone through the police, rape hotlines, and the Seoul Global Center. Everyone seems to have never heard of a situation like ours, does not have the answers to our questions, and is unwilling to help us find the answers to our questions (mostly they just seem like they’re uncomfortable and try to get us off the phone as soon as possible). We briefly thought we might qualify for free counseling services for my wife, but we were later told that she is not eligible because she didn’t make a report. The police won’t take a report because she cannot identify her attacker.

We are unable to undergo any genetic testing (via amniocentesis or CVS) to determine if the baby is mine. We have been told there was a recent change in Korean law because of Dr. Hwang Woo-Suk that made it illegal to perform any tests on fetuses in the womb. This sounds ridiculous considering the ease with which one is able to procure an abortion. This is critical information for us, as I am a Caucasian-American and the child is likely to face questions its whole life about why it looks totally Korean (depending on if we decide to continue with the pregnancy), not to mention the strange looks from family and friends. We will all have a lifetime of reliving this horrible experience. I’m also thinking about possible issues that might come up with trying to get the child American citizenship, and my wife her permanent residency.

We are currently looking at going overseas to undergo the testing that needs to be done, but the information on that seems sketchy as well. I’m hoping that you might be able to put us in contact with an organization (preferably non-governmental) that would be informative, non-judgmental and understanding. Suffice it to say, this has been an incredibly difficult time for us. All we want is to know what the actual odds are that the child is mine, and perhaps some assistance in finding the best overseas options for genetic testing. So far it has been a dead end, although I know it is possible.

It seems like this may be a tall order, but I greatly appreciate any information you might be able to send my way.

38 thoughts on “Question from a Reader — Help Sought for Pregnant Rape Victim

  1. Oh gosh, what a terrible ordeal they must be going through. Although it is a rather unusual case, still highlights the incompetent nature of Korean authorities regarding rape and reproductive rights.

    I am sorry that I’m totally ignorant about such hotlines or organizations and cannot provide any contact information, but just make a tiny suggestion. Perhaps they could try contacting the feminist webzine Ilda? (http://www.ildaro.com/) I’m aware they’re not a hotline nor health service, but they do have a lot of contacts with various non-government organizations related to women’s issues. At the very least they could get the story out (if the couple are willing, that is) and somebody who read it might suggest a more helpful solution.

    I’m sorry that I couldn’t provide more assistance.

  2. The first thing to consider is that paternity testing cannot really be performed until the second trimester, even should they go abroad to have testing. If they’re thinking of getting an abortion should the fetus be the result of the rape, this may make it more difficult or expensive to obtain.
    US citizenship law is pretty specific that it must be a blood relationship for the child to be a natural born US citizen. If they don’t have any proof to the contrary, there is usually a presumption in US law that the husband is the father. However, he’s able to sponsor both his wife and the child for immigration, regardless of paternity. My suggestion is that he talk to somebody at the US consulate, who should be able to explain to him the legal details of his situation. They may also have suggestions and resources for them.
    As for people reaching their own conclusions based on the kids looks . . . genes can express themselves in a wide variety of ways. Just as kids born to parents of the same ethnicity can look a heck of a lot more like one parent than the other (or like neither), so too can children of multi-ethnic heritage. They don’t need to explain their kid’s genetic background to every busybody out there (although they may want to start thinking of how to someday explain it to the child.)

  3. Have you tried your embassy? They might have some info. also, I am not convinced that the testing of babies in the womb is illegal in Korea. I think you need to go to more then one hospital. Considering how any abnormality of a child is not accepted of babies in Korea you would think that all kinds of testing would be done. what about speaking with a DR in Gangnam who is used to seeing waygooks? I know a friend who used one for a ‘illegal’ sensitive issue with no problems.

    you also need to go back to the police and file a report, a high percentage of women can not identify their rapist! that excuse is absurd!

    if you are still looking at the overseas route, check Bangkok or India. India has one of the best IVF centres in the world. They also do lots of DNA testing for parents. I would also consider your native country if it is a western one. This would be easy to get and could be covered if you are from a country with socialized medicine.

    • We’ve talked to several hospitals and people in general seem clueless about why we would possibly want to do this. One Dr. was shocked that my wife had even told me about it (that dr. wasn’t aware that I’m a foreigner).

      As for the police report, I agree with you, but it is off the table. My wife is adamant that she doesn’t want to deal with them and their attitudes again, and I don’t want to push her into anything she’s not comfortable with.

      Bangkok seems to be a no-go based on the hospitals I talked to today. Singapore is looking the most likely, but the doctor I’m in touch with there is out of the country and won’t be back until next month. I need to do some more research on Singapore as a possibility.

  4. If you are thinking about abortion, I think it would be very easy to obtain in seoul and is usually under 400,000 from what I have read on other blogs. Just remember that if this is your route that you decide to take the sooner the better.
    also, another option would be adoption if you found out the child was a product of rape.

    • Yeah, we’ve found people to perform abortions without even really trying. Having heard the heartbeat, though, we are highly reluctant to do this unless we know it is not ours.

  5. Oh my. I really feel for this couple and all that they are going through. Point of clarification….they’ve been told that amnio is impossible in Korea? It wasn’t up until a few months ago when I was at that stage of my pregnancy. My dr at the time was very eager to perform amnio if there was any doubt about my quad test results. I also know of a woman who just a month or two ago was considering amnio in Busan on advice from her dr. If the couple is Seoul, I’m quite sure that Dr. Sung in Hanamdong is still doing amnios http://drsungsclinic.net/ I’m also going to forward this to a friend whose husband is a cop to see if there are any other avenues they can persue.

    • It is Dr. Sung in hannamdong that told us it is illegal. she did not specifically say its the amnio that is illegal, but just that its impossible. She said they usrd to be able to collect the necessary samples in korea and mail the to canada for testing but that loophole just got closed. Same story from the big hospitals in thailand I called today. I will say that Dr. Sung was otherwise very helpful and didnt try to rush us out the door at least. We will go back to her in the future. My wife actually felt a lot better after talking to her even though we didnt hear what we wanted to hear.

      • I’m sorry that route didn’t work out for you anon. I hope that you are able to find a good solution for your situation either here or abroad. Best wishes to you and your wife.

    • I was really touched by reading this story, even if I do not live in Korea and I am not korean. I am just a person who is interested by asian sociology and culture. But I would like to share a story, I think it could interest you. But first I would like to apologize because my words may hurt you. (Plus, english is not my native language)

      So here the things :
      In my family, there is a person who got pregnant after being raped, she was married and she decided to do not go for an abortion. Her husband knew it and he agreed. They decided to keep the baby. Later the baby was born, the mother became depressed, she said that every time she looked at the baby she saw her rapist. Things did not improve, her husband became cold and distant, they decided to divorce. Now this baby grown with his grand mother. Everyone in our family knew about their secret and all of them have pity for the child. I am so sad to see him alone, abandonned, bullied at school. He did not deserve this. He did nothing. Sometimes I think his mother made a wrong choice. Sometimes I wish she should have done an abortion. I know this is awful thoughts. Everytime I see him I can avoid tears. I can not help you about judicial, medical or administrative proceedings, but I wanted to share this story.
      Again I am sincerely sorry if I hurt you.

  6. I’m so sorry that this has happened to you and your wife. I don’t have much info that would be useful, but it would appear that it is possible to get amnio done in Taiwan.

    See here: http://forumosa.com/taiwan/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=106508

    I couldn’t find any up to date info on Japan, but this article from 2007 has specific hospital and doctor recommendations that might be worth checking:

    http://www.alientimes.org/Main/PregnancyAndGivingBirthInJapan

    You may also want to look at this company: http://www.ptclabs.com/korea/contact.html
    and http://www.ptclabsjapan.com/html/faq.htm

    It seems like they’re an American paternity test lab company that has Korean and Japanese branches? And they’re approved by the Better Business Bureau, so I think it’s legit. Maybe the Korean branch can direct you to a hospital willing to take the samples?

    http://www.bbb.org/stlouis/business-reviews/dna-testing/paternity-testing-corporation-in-columbia-mo-110203821

    I understand your heads and hearts must be swirling with all kinds of worries, hypotheticals, and pain. I think it’s totally understandable to not want to keep the child if it’s a product of rape, but I do sincerely hope you’ll put it up for adoption rather than abort it. Especially considering any abortion would very likely be a late term one which means a greater health risk to your wife, a more difficult and expensive procedure and possibly more pain for both her and the baby. But who am I to advise? Only you and your wife can judge your situation. I really just hope for the best for you both.

    If you do decide to keep it please don’t worry about it not looking “mixed”. I have one couple I’m friends with where the wife is Chinese and the husband is white-American. Their first two babies looked 100% Chinese and the 3rd one came out blonde! You just never know how the genes will mix, so even if the baby is yours it may look totally Korean.

    I hope you can find a solution and peace soon. I’ll be praying for you!

    • Thank you for posting about PTC Labs. They seem like most direct way of getting it done (if we can travel to Japan).

      The next thing we need to figure out is going to be the costs of the procedures we need in Japan vs. Singapore.

  7. Did you try Dr. Chung at Mediflower in Apgujeong? If the loophole is closed then I guess it’s closed, but I know he’s a doctor who treats patients very humanely and there are rave reviews of him. I would assume that he’ll do what he can to help you.

    Also, regarding going back to the US with your wife and child at some point, if the child was determined to not be yours wouldn’t it be possible for you to legally adopt the child (since you are, after all, married to your wife)? Does anyone know anything about this?

    If the child was determined to not be yours in the second trimester, you might consider putting up for adoption too, either here in Korea or in the US if that was an option.

    Not easy choices to have to make, and I hope you find some answers soon. I also hope your wife gets the support she needs throughout all this- it’s hard enough to deal with the ups and downs of early pregnancy on its own sometimes, nevermind healing from an attack. Best wishes for you both.

  8. If possible, perhaps, try to do the testing elsewhere apart from Korea? Also, I strongly recommend that both of you attend counseling services together.

    I’m sorry I cannot offer anymore help apart from this. i’m just a random reader and having read this, I feel utterly helpless. I can only wish that good things will come to both of you. May you and your wife be blessed.

  9. here is a link for counselors in Seoul. Some are foreign and some are Korean.

    http://www.harpo.ca/counsel.html

    With what I know about Korea, I am sure they will be flexible on working out a price that you can afford or trying to get it covered under the health insurance.

    good luck. I have been thinking about your family nonstop since I read this article and it just makes me all so sad. I hope everything works out and you find out you are the biological father.

    • The problem is the lack of privacy in Korea, as well as the social stigma. We have friends that have had horrible experiences with therapists contacting their parents (keeping in mind, their patients were grown adults) and informing them they were undergoing therapy.

      That being said, I am still gently encouraging my wife to give it a shot. I hope she will, but I’m trying not to push her too much to do anything she’s not comfortable with.

    • Anonymous,

      Here is a counselor i know who is in Korea. She is a foreigner but married to a Korean. Her email is laratosh@yahoo.com . I asked her if she counsels rape victims and she does. She does her counseling in English and I am quite positive that your wife’s right to privacy over the difficult situation would be honored and not shared with her parents, etc.

  10. That really sucks. Personally, I would just go with the abortion while the fetus is still not a life just to be on the safe side. You can always try again.

  11. Anonymous.  First, I am sorry to hear of your situation.  I spoke with my sister who is a veteran midwife.  She provided the following advice:  1) does your wife keep track of her menstruation cycle?  If, so she should be able to determine when she was ovulating (15 or so days after her period).  She should compare this to the date of the rape.  2) have you had your sperm tested to determine its health?  You said you’d been trying–testing your sperm could provide possible answers as to virility. 3) my sister, in more than 20 years of midwifery has not been witness to a paternity test while the child is in the womb.  Yes, for gender and disease.  Mainly, such tests are done after birth when blood is drawn.  She will further consult her colleagues in the next few days and I’ll post any findings.  4) you mentioned a heartbeat; how far along is your wife?  If you are considering abortion as the doctor obviously told you, time is a big factor. 5) my sister stressed the importance of getting professional counseling for you and especially your traumatized wife.  She added that she once dealt with a rape victim who had the baby and happily raised it.  Yet, she warned, there are many factors affecting your case.  

    I hope something here helps you in your time of uncertainty and suffering.  I wish you strength as you proceed.

    • Thank you John. Without getting too much in detail, yes, my wife tracks her cycle, and the rape didn’t happen during the most fertile window, but it is still very possible.

      Furthermore, considering that the odds of conception from rape are three times higher than from sex (15% versus 5%… can’t remember where I read that. It was a hard stat to find though. It seems people don’t like to talk about it, but one of the Dr.s we have talked to confirmed it) due to the body’s physiological ‘fight or flight’ response.

      I also considered having my sperm tested. I’m still thinking on that one, but even if my sperm are not very healthy, it doesn’t mean I’m not the father…. I guess it’s worth talking to a Dr. about. Maybe I’ll call about that one tomorrow. I hate to say it, but cost is a consideration as well. And we’re looking at plane tickets and tests in a foreign country without local medical insurance, so elective test after test after test is not something we can afford.

      My wife is currently at 12 weeks. We are well aware of the timing issue for abortion.

      I believe a previous poster posted the link to http://www.ptclabs.com/ This is looking like the most promising avenue and we are talking to them. Singapore is also looking like a very likely destination and we have a couple hospitals we are looking at. We’re hoping to make appointments and buy plane tickets tomorrow.

  12. Sorry to throw a wet blanket on the discussion but I feel like Anonymous wants to have his cake and eat it too. He and his wife want to have children and have been trying to become pregnant. His wife reports that she is pregnant, but is unsure if Anonymous is the father. Given this wrench in the wheels of progress they are now trying to determine if the child is genetically the results of their collective efforts. To me, it sounds like the central issue raised is “If this child is not mine, we don’t want it.” However, given recent changes in Korea law they might not be able to determine if it is, in fact, only the result of their efforts to concieve. It sounds like they are willing to expend a great deal of time and possibly money to answer the “is it OURS” question.

    To further rain on the parade I say that they are asking for an immediate answer to a lifelong question. They say they want children and now have the opportunity to have one. But now the reality of parenthood is staring the Anonymouses in the face and they are scared. (I was.) There is the teenie-tiny posibility of getting an out and it seems like they are jumping on board that train. I think that they should look for ways to say “this is my kid.”

    So, I will offer my maxim – “from the moment of your child’s birth it IS yours.” If you stamp your name on it, it is yours. You own it and every possible responsibility that comes with it for the rest of your life. If your child grows up to be the world’s greatest anything, you can take credit for some of that success. If your child falls short of that mark, you can take credit for that too. But, in my opinion, the baby will be “Player-to-be-named-later Anonoymous” at the moment of birth. Only if Mr. & Mrs. Anonymous agree to have an abortion will the child not be theirs. (As you can tell I am not a fan of giving up a child for adoption if you have the means to raise it.)

    Although I am not a lawyer, I will try to allay the fears of whether the child can be declared a US citizen. Paragraph b.(2) on page three of the US State Department manual provided by Gomushin Girl sounds like they can be given a pass. The manual states “There are no specific items of evidence that must be presented. Blood tests are not required, but may be submitted and can help resolve cases in which other available evidence is insufficient to establish the relationship.” While the next paragraph sounds like it could work against Mr. & Mrs. Anonymous I still think they are okay. “Circumstances that might give rise to such a doubt include:
    (1) Conception or birth of a child when either of the alleged biological parents was married to another; [NOT APPLICABLE]
    (2) Naming on the birth certificate, as father and/or mother, person(s) other than the alleged biological parents; [NOT APPLICABLE until after the child is born and the birth certificate is issued] and
    (3) Evidence or indications that the child was conceived at a time when the alleged father had no physical access to the mother. [Mr. Anonymous indicates that they were not physicall spearated around the time of conception.]”
    I recommend to continue to check with the embassy and get an official ruling. I would also try to get it in writing in order to avoid the bureaucratic run-around later.

    • Not to rain on *your* parade, but don’t you think that it’s a wee tiny bit insensitive to suggest a rape victim is somehow awful for not wanting to bring to term and then raise a child potentially conceived as a result of that rape? Because while it sure might be saintly for them to say they don’t care and will love and cherish that child regardless, I don’t blame them one bit for wanting to confirm paternity and not proceed if the husband isn’t the father. I don’t blame her for not wanting to be pregnant by her rapist. I don’t blame her for not wanting to raise that child. If she wants to abort, if she wants to adopt out, those are perfectly legitimate decisions and certainly her right.
      And now for me to play “I’m not a lawyer, but . . .”: US citizenship law is very specific that in order for a child to be a natural-born citizen of the US, the child must be the genetic offspring of a US-citizen parent. There are other ways to obtain citizenship for a child of your spouse who is not your biological offspring. But while I doubt the embassy will question the child’s paternity, it would be paternity fraud and put the child’s citizenship in question should he proceed. Again, the best course of action is to consult with consular officials.

      • I never said that the Anonymouses are awful people for not wanting to raise a child that is a product of a rape. I did say that rather than trying to confirm a negative (the child is not ours) why not increase the chance of the positive (the child is ours)? Mr. & Mrs. A have been trying “for a few months” and now she is pregnant. While the rhythm method is not the most accurate system to track “most likely to concieve” days Mrs. A reports that she believes that attack occurred outside of that narrow window of opportunity. So, she does not think it is likely that the attacker is the father. While having no other reason not to Mr. A seems hesistant to test himself even though there is not a limitation on sperm testing. A positive test would increase the likelihood of the child being theirs.

        I understand that they are concerned about what traits the child may/not have because it may/not have been concieved by Mr & Mrs A. I understand that without testing they will not know who is/not the father. I also understand that the window of opportunity for the Anonymouses has only just opened (CVS between 11-13 weeks, amniocentesis 15-20 weeks). And yet this seems to be the only avenue they are pursuing. (Again, trying to confirm a negative.)

        Separately, it can only be paternity fraud if Mr. & Mrs. A get test results which show that he is not the father. Without that specific information they are not intentionally decieving the US government.

        • I’m sorry, but that’s simply not what you’re saying here:
          “To further rain on the parade I say that they are asking for an immediate answer to a lifelong question. They say they want children and now have the opportunity to have one. But now the reality of parenthood is staring the Anonymouses in the face and they are scared. (I was.) There is the teenie-tiny posibility of getting an out and it seems like they are jumping on board that train. I think that they should look for ways to say ‘this is my kid.'”

          You’re saying that they should stop being concerned about the child’s parentage and just go for it. You imply that they’re scared of having kids and are using the possibility of the conception being the result of rape to get an “out.” You then go on to say that you even disapprove of them giving the potential child up for adoption. That’s hardly sympathetic to a rape victim who, as Anonymous has said, does in fact think that there is a reasonable chance that the pregnancy is a result of the rape.

  13. I can’t believe the story about the amnio, either. I was told I might need an amnio less than 2 months ago. (I declined). If you visit a different doctor you might be able to find someone who is willing to do it.

    Then again, maybe you can only get an amnio if the blood test (Called “Integrated Test” in Korean) shows something abnormal. I was scheduled for the Integrated test at about 8 weeks pregnant (this was December 2011, or maybe it was January 2012 – I ended up declining it, too, so I don’t remember exactly). Anyway, I would try talking to a different doctor about the amnio.

  14. Not sure how to help, but i wanted to say that on a social level, there are mixed white/Korean couples who have adopted Korean children so if the child was full Korean, people who don’t know you personally may assume you have adopted the child or assume the child just looks more like the his/her mother. My husband is Korean (born and raised there) and I am white. Two of our 3 children were adopted from Korea and are full Korean. All of our kids look very similar even though they are not genetically related to each other. Mixed kids don’t always look mixed and can favor one parent over the other. I have a friend who is white and her husband is Korean but their biological daughter looks full Korean.

    If you choose to not parent the child (if it ends up the rapist is the bio father and you feel you cannot raise the child due to the unique situation you have been placed in) and decide to place the child for adoption in Korea, the birth mother (your wife) does have the option of asking the adoption agency for the child to be internationally adopted if you feel this would be a better solution than having the child adopted domestically within Korea.

    On the other hand, if you decide to parent the child (should the rapist be the bio father), I know of another American white woman who is married to a Korean man (he had a bio child with his first wife-a Korean). So, the child is full Korean. They were able to immigrate to the USA as a family with no issues as far as i know. So, i don’t think that will be an issue legally even if you are not the biological father. I don’t believe she ever legally adopted her stepson before they moved back to the USA. Not sure about within Korea, but if it was necessary, you could legally adopt this child within the USA as a step-son. BUT, I know of another case WITHIN Korea, where a Korean pastor and his wife “adopted” a nonKorean child born in Korea to migrant workers (who were from countries where the bio parents could be killed for adultery since they were already married to other people and bringing the baby back to their home country was not possible). Long story short, the Korean couple brought the baby to the family registry and registered her as their biological child although the child is not even Korean and they are raising her. So, I am guessing within Korea you may even be able to register the child as your own biological child even if the child is not. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

    I know of a counselor who is a foreigner and lives in Korea who would respect the privacy your wife deserves. i could put you in contact with her. Just not sure how to post her private information. Maybe “The Grand Narrative” could help with the exchange of information if needed in regards to the counselor.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s