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Moses Farrow leads new task force to reduce suicide rates among Korean adoptee community

A new Oregon City-based nonprofit organization specializing in Korean adoptee education has launched a mental health task force led by Moses Farrow, the son of director Woody Allen and actress Mia Farrow.

COURTESY PHOTO - Licensed family therapist Moses Farrow, the son of director Woody Allen and actor Mia Farrow, is aiding an Oregon City-based nonprofit for Korean adoptees.Moses Farrow, a mental health professional who was himself adopted, will be guiding all of the foundation's future projects related to mental health and leading a team of Korean American Adoptee (KAD) therapists.

Farrow said this is a critical time for KADs to take advantage of the advances in mental health, neuroscience and the intersection with trauma, suicide and addiction.

"Research has shown the suicide rate to be four times higher for adoptees than nonadoptees and the addiction rate is almost two times higher," Farrow said. "Looking at the suicide rate specifically among KADs, it's 54 per 100,000 annually compared to the U.S. at 13. We must prioritize our efforts to saving lives."

Derek Fisher, co-founder of the Gide Foundation, said the group couldn't imagine a better addition to the task force speficically created to address these critical concerns than Farrow, who is a licensed family therapist.

"He brings not only a wealth of experience in the mental health and KAD community, but also a deep passion and commitment to addressing this problem," Fisher said.

Farrow has been tasked with helping assess the foundation's most immediate needs and the most effective way to address them.

"The Gide Foundation is in the forefront of helping to unify KADs with our collective experience," Farrow said. "It is uniquely positioned to address policy, research and awareness building to engage the KAD community in being part of the solution."

The foundation currently is preparing to publish "A Handbook for Birth Family Reunions," a guide that shares advice of Korean adoptees who traveled to Korea to meet biological relatives to assist those who will embark on a reunion trip in the future.

Jodi Gill, co-founder of the Gide Foundation, said the organization is excited about the book's release this fall.

"We cannot rest on our laurels, and the process of establishing the next project must include collaboration with qualified mental health professionals like Moses Farrow," Gill said. "The fact that he is also a KAD is just so ideal."

When asked about the future projects that the Gide Foundation will create, Farrow said the group needs to have a strong presence in politics, the economy and health care.

"It's in these three areas we have the chance to effect change that raises the bar on our ability to access mental health services, ensure widespread access and create a stable infrastructure," Farrow said.

It is estimated that there are between 100,000 and 124,000 native-born Korean children who were adopted into U.S. homes.

"Our research has shown that the majority of KADs who previously went back to Korea to meet birth family members didn't extensively prepare for that moment," Gill said. "This new guidebook seeks to assist people in ensuring the most productive and positive experience possible."

Gill has traveled to Korea 18 times and has had the opportunity to visit the orphanage where she lived before being adopted in the United States in April 1976. Gill added that the foundation seeks to raise $10,000 that would be directly applied to the book's printing costs, artwork and free distribution in both print and e-book formats at no cost to any KAD who plans to travel back to Korea.

"We are hoping that the KAD community really sees the value of this project and can fully support it with donations, feedback and spreading the message," Fisher said. "Some of us have had amazing experiences, and some of us, like myself, have had less than positive experiences. Either way, those of us who have traveled this path have a duty to help those who make the journey after us."

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