This is the response from MOHW last night. I was surprised at how quickly they responded to me this time. However, MOHW was very careful not to reveal the date when they might start issuing the EPs, but their response should help all of you to understand what is going on, at least to a certain extent. The recommendations have been made and they are waiting for an approval from the higher up.
"...Currently, we have submitted our recommendations for the direction of issuing EPs and determination process and other issues for this year. I wish to express my regrets in the delays in the EP process due to the impending impacts by the new adoption laws that will go into effect this year.
For all the concerned and waiting parents, it is our hope that in the future something could be worked out between the agencies to shorten the waiting periods between the time of referral and the time of granting EPs.
Also starting this August, all adoptions will be handled through the Adoption Court, and there will be greater scrutiny in determining the qualification of adoptive parents. (See Steve’s Note 1 below)
There is also an issue of adoptive parents’ responsibility in the US on obtaining the US Citizenships for their adopted children, and please explain to the parents how important this procedure is. (See Steve’s Note 2 below)
Even the US State Department got involved with the issue of long wait period and the issue of some adoptees not getting the US citizenships. We are keenly aware of these problems and it is our hope to resolve them as soon as possible.
I thank you for your interest in adoption and your continued assistance to us."
Steve’s Note 1: This does not apply to parents of intercountry adoption since there is already a thorough screening process in place through the adoption agencies in the US. What MOHW means here by ‘greater scrutiny’ is that there are thousands (between 3000 – 5000) of ‘unofficial’ adoptions taking place within Korea with no home studies nor proper adoption process. Often a verbal agreement is all that is needed to adopt, and this practice has resulted in very high number of adoption disruptions in Korea (i.e. 700 disruptions in a given year). However, the domestic adoptions that have gone through the proper adoption process through Holt, Eastern, SWS and other smaller agencies, the disruption rate is less than 1%. MOHW is now going to require all adoptive parents go through proper screening process to adopt children.
Steve’s Note 2: Some adoptive parents either forget or ignore to apply for the US citizenship for their children. There are some adult adoptees that have grown up in the US, only to find out later that they are not US citizens. Some adult adoptees have run into the laws, and once these adoptees were reported to the immigration authority, they were deported to Korea. MOHW is trying to stop this happening in the future. Unfortunately, there are some adoptees living in Korea that were deported have joined anti-adoption organization and have spoken against intercountry adoption. Parent, please do your thing.