Korean adoptive families celebrate Lunar New Year

Focus on culture

That display of reverence -- a melding of traditional Korean culture and a focus on the children's love for their adoptive parents -- is fitting given the mission of the CNY AFKN, Woodruff said.

"It's a way of celebrating Korean culture," she said, "and that's our main objective -- to let our kids see their own culture."

The CNY AFKN was founded in 1984. Then called The CNY Friends of Love the Children, the organization recently changed its name to better reflect the population it serves.

"The old name didn't reflect what we were about," Woodruff said. "We thought it should so that we could attract new families."

While most of the families involved in the organization have adopted children from Korea, it's open to anyone. Woodruff said CNY AFKN has helped numerous families navigate the adoption process.

"It's very much like a natural birth -- there are a lot of adjustments to be made physically and emotionally," Woodruff said of adoption. "And as they get older, they have a lot of different questions. It's nice to be able to have other parents that have been there and that can answer your questions."

Woodruff joined the group several years ago with her own questions -- she and her husband have two children from South Korea, a son, Alex, 8, and daughter, Celia, 5. The Woodruffs kept the children's Korean names as their middle names.

"We looked at a lot of different programs -- both international and domestic -- and we felt the most comfortable with South Korea's program," Woodruff said. "Before we adopted, I joined two support groups. It really helped to talk to other parents and get a better idea of what we were looking at."

Students spend time

In addition to support for parents, CNY AFKN offers plenty of programs for kids, including social networking, a 9-and-up youth group and mentoring with Syracuse University students. The mentoring program, Woodruff said, is especially valuable.

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