Documentary Film Review: The Drop Box

Back in 2015 I saw a lot of social media buzz about a film called The Drop Box. People were sharing the trailer, and I watched it several times. It sat in my Amazon Prime wish list for about two years, but they never made it available. This month we’ve been doing the free trial of Netflix. I know what you’re thinking. Yes, we were the last household in America without Netflix. And when the free trial is over we’ll go back to being the only household without it. I just won’t pay for another streaming service, and most of what I’m missing on Prime isn’t on Netflix either. The Drop Box was an exception. Thanks to Netflix, I finally got to cross it off my list.

The Drop Box is a documentary telling the story of Korean pastor Lee Jong-rak, his family, and their unique ministry of providing a safe box where unwanted babies can be abandoned safely. South Korea has a problem with infant abandonment. The culture’s unforgiving and life-altering stance on unwed pregnancy means that unmarried women’s lives are virtually over when their pregnancies are discovered. Parents disown pregnant teens, schools kick them out, and they have no options. So it is not uncommon for these girls to hide their pregnancies (receiving no prenatal care), and abandon the babies soon after birth. Other mothers abandon babies because they are born with special needs, and the parents have no resources to care for them. In 2013 there were 203 abandoned babies found on the streets of Seoul alone.

This seems shocking, even barbaric. But it’s not just a Korean problem. Here in the United States, hundreds of babies are abandoned every year at churches, fire stations, and hospitals. Many of the abandoned infants in America are born addicted to drugs.

The Lees’ journey to becoming an infant drop site started with the birth of their son, Eun-Man. Eun-Man was born with serious physical and mental disabilities. Through their experiences raising him, Pastor and Mrs. Lee learned in a deep and personal way the value of each and every life. When, a few years later, a little girl with Down’s Syndrome was left on the doorstep of their church, they started thinking about how to save more abandoned children.

Today, they have the drop box. It’s simply a box built into the side of the church. When a mother wishes to abandon her newborn, she opens the door and places the baby into the heated box. This triggers a doorbell in the church, which is also the Lees’ home, and they rush to collect their new visitor. The police are called, and the baby is cared for and prayed for until the police arrive to place him or her in the foster system.

Sometimes the Lees end up taking in the children themselves. With their staff and volunteers, they are currently raising 15 children, all of whom have some level of physical and/or mental disability. Their work is physically and emotionally demanding, expensive, and often heartbreaking. But they keep going every day because they passionately believe in the value of each tiny life.

As I mentioned, The Drop Box is available on Netflix. You can also get information, or donate to the Lees’ work on the film’s website. There is no doubt that orphan care is close to the heart of God. James 1:27 says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” The Lees’ work is inspiring – sad and beautiful.

Have you seen The Drop Box? What did you think of it? What additional ways can we get involved in caring for the “orphans and widows” of our world?

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