Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Impact on the EP Process by the New Adoption Laws

I made some calls to Korea the other day to sort out what is going on with the plans by the Korean Government as they get ready to implement the new adoption laws by August 2012, and what this means to the current EP process.  
I made this inquiry based on many comments and questions I have received from my readers.  It was obvious based on all the questions that the biggest concern was on the uncertainties surrounding the implementation of the new adoption laws and what it means to all the waiting families with EPs being submitted and whether there will be another delay like last year or the first three months of this year.
An agency I called informed me that there is definitely a preparation from the Family Court, where they have sent several lawyers to the agencies to familiarize themselves with the processes involved in adoption, and asking lots of questions.  It is a learning process for the Family Court to learn all about the complexities, regulations, and processes involving not only the intercountry adoption but also the domestic adoption as well.  They will now take a big part of the adoption equation.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) will continue to work with the agencies, which will continue to submit the EP applications to the MOHW.  The MOHW will review the EP applications and if they don’t find any objection they will approve the EPs, and these will be sent up to the Family Court for the final approval process. 
Because the Family Court is in the ‘learning process’, MOHW has decided to lighten the loads for the Family Court by accepting three times the normal volume of EPs, and these are in the process of being cleared.  It is hoped that these EPs will be approved by the end of July before the new laws take effect on August.  Once the laws take effect starting in August, all the subsequent EP applications submitted by the agencies to MOHW will go through the usual filtering process to get cleared, and then these will be submitted to the Family Court for the final approval.   
It is estimated that the time for the Family Court to approve the final adoption will take a month or so.  So what does this mean?  It may mean that the adoption process may be delayed by an additional month due to this one extra step, or that the agencies and MOHW may work out more efficient ways to cut down the waiting time, and nobody knows for sure what this will be, but if I had to guess the biggest portion would come from not referring a child so early.
There is another matter under the new laws that the Family Court needs to decide. That is whether to require all future intercountry adopting parents to travel to Korea and show up at the Family Court in Korea to stand before a judge for the final approval before taking their adopted children home.  Another agency I talked with will now require the parents to travel.  Their main reason is that this will provide opportunities for the parents to learn more about the Korean culture, people and customs to better equip them to raise their Korean-born children.  This makes sense and is a good idea, but another agency I talked with is against this as they believe this will cost additional burden on parents to take their time off to go to Korea, and may not be able to do this. I think the best way is to make this a voluntary travel rather than a requirement.
So the conclusion is, as of this writing, is that in looking at the whole matter of adoption transition in Korea, one gets a big picture as to where Korea is headed, but the details of who does what, how to do it, and when to do it, and what information is passed from where to whom, all are still being worked out, and this transition in Korea is still a work in progress.  I will continue to update when new information surfaces.
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51 comments:

  1. Dear Steve
    Does this mean there will be an EP submission in August?
    Thank you so much for the infos!

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    1. Because the new Family Court needs to come up to speed with their new roles, there will be very little submission of EPs if any for August, and hopefully they will pick up the speed and take more EPs later in the year, but I am afraid that by then the quota for this year will be filled.

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    2. Hi Steve,

      Does that mean that if our EP wasn't submitted by the end of July chances are that it won't be this year anymore?

      Cheers,
      Tom

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  2. Thank you for this. So it sounds like the EPs that were just submitted will likely be cleared out from the MOHW in the next few weeks? We were submitted on June 4th and were hoping to be approved in the next week or two? It sounds like we may bypass being part of the new law?

    Also, thank you for posting about ways that we can help MPAK...you have done so much for us and we would love to support MPAK.

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    1. Thank you very much for the support. Thank you.

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  3. Thank you so much for all this info. Any word on how this will affect those of us waiting who are of Korean heritage?

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    1. Judy, I think it is widely known that Eastern does not follow the mandate given by MOHW to give priority to Korean-heritage families. But Holt and SWS are complying with the mandate.

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    2. Steve, this is the first we have heard that Eastern does not comply with the heritage mandate. Is it possible this has changed as we have heard of families waiting on Eastern who received their referrals "faster" than non-heritage families?

      And if confirmed, any idea why Eastern does not comply with this mandate?

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    3. Steve, another quick question for you on this. I'm not personally of Korean heritage, but could Eastern's decision not to comply ultimately have negative consequences for all families in their program? Could the government sanction Eastern for failing to comply--e.g., withhold EPs, or heaven forbid even shut the program down altogether? From what I understand, there are very few Korean families that adopt, so I wonder how large the overall impact would be if they followed the law, as opposed to not. Do you think they will be able to continue ignoring the mandate once the new law goes into effect in August?

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    4. No, there is no worry that government will sanction Eastern. Eastern is a very fine agency and I continue to work with them. It is just that they have different view as they want to be fair for all applicants. But from the Korean government perspective, placing children with the people of same race and culture is the priority. In this case, Eastern is right, and the government is also right. That's what makes this a difficult and complex issue.

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  4. Thank you so much for keeping us informed! I check my blog roll everyday hoping for a blog from you! Question... We got our referral Sept. 8th. What does this mean for us do you think? I had heard through a friend who is on a lot of Korean adoption message boards that there weren't many referrals given in July, August and September... Any input? Thanks so much Steve!1-56+

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    1. Erin, a referral is when you are matched with a child, and an EP (Exit Permit) is pretty much at the end of the adoption process when a child is allowed to leave the country to be with his family. If you were referred on Sep 8th 2011, and if you haven't heard anything regarding your EP application being submitted, most likely your final approval for adoption will come from the Family Court rather than MOHW.

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  5. Sorry about those numbers at the end of my comment. Haha. I have a three year old sitting here with me... :)

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  6. Steve, Do you know how these laws will impact referrals? Whether it will take longer? And I suppose the quota being reduced each year will still be in effect.

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    1. The referrals will most likely stay as they are. This is still an integral part of the process that should be left with the agencies. Only the important decisions and final decisions would be made by the agencies, MOHW, and Family Court.

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  7. Steve, do you know if this will change the way we apply for i600 or if it will be like china/russia where we have to do a dossier? Will the Family Court approving be just a formality or can they deny the adoption at the time of the "hearing" when you appear there?

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    1. I don't think there will be change in i600 process, and I don't think the Family Court approval just a formality. I believe they have the power to deny as well. But I don't think they will have you travel all the way to Korea just to tell you so. The parents should be notified with the rationale before the travel. But I am confident that the Family Court will most likely concur with the assessments made by the agencies and MOHW, unless there were some facts that the agencies and MOHW missed, but that's highly unlikely.

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    2. Steve, it seems there is some confusion on the various blogs and boards about if families have to appear before the family court, when it would be. Would it be at the time the papers are submitted, or at the time of the final approval hearing/custody? Could this mean that families must either travel twice, or stay in country for a month waiting for the family court decision? Did the agencies you spoke with give any guidance on this?

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    3. I believe it will be at the final approval. I don't believe you need to go there twice, and it is too early for even for agencies to know as things are continuing to progress. We will just have to wait and see.

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  8. Steve, thanks always for the information. What about finalization? I think there was mention that families would finalize in Korea at the time of pickup with the new law, rather than the current process of finalizing in the US 6 months later. Is this true?

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    1. I think the finalization in Korea and the finalization in the US are two separate things. I really don't have the right answer on this.

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  9. Steve today Dillon had 3 EPs submitted. I have to admit I was disappointed after having 5, 5, 7 and 15 sized batches to drop to the lowest at 3. Why do you feel the ministry is pulling back now as opposed to pushing through as many as possible before the law? Do you believe that was their last batch or that there will be more before August? We are heartbroken as another huge batch probably would have brought our daughter home.

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    1. I don't know on this one. Just 3 EP submission does not mean that it will be the last. I am pretty sure they will be asked to submit more. Keep you hopes up.

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  10. Hi Steve,
    Thanks for all you do! I'm so frustrated w/ the system. Do they even have a plan when it comes to EPs? Why can't they just tell us the number of EPs that will be issued this year, by month, by agency? They must know how many kids are in waiting (if they don't know - I'm sure they can find out). They hold the key to letting these kids be with their forever families - we are all at their mercy. Isn't this their job? To get these kids home? I understand what they are doing - trying to promote domestic adoption. I actually agree with that. However, the fact is, there are PEOPLE, human beings with emotions - waiting and waiting to bring their child home. Who have done everything by the book. Some of gotten loans, held second and third jobs and some who have dug into their life savings - all in the name of family. And a child who is in a home being "well-taken care of", but still - not with their forever family. How can the Korean government be so cruel to keep these kids from their families? Please, tell the MOHW this! They will not change the Korean culture on their view on adoption ANYTIME soon. This is going to take YEARS - if at all! Make their #1 priority the kids. Get these kids home to their families ASAP! Lessen the burden of everyone involved and get these kids home! Everyone who is involved in Korean adoptions is exhausted! Stop the madness and do the right thing. Get these kids home! Their lives have already had hardship with being given up for adoption, don't make it worse. Get these kids home, immediately. Please.

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  11. Hi Steve
    I'm hearing about a batch 5 since July 4. I heard there was another batch today. Can you shed some light on this? Looks like they pushed through everyone with a 2011 referral.

    Thanks

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    1. What agency are you with? Just curious. We are with Dillon but havent been notifiex of another submission since the 4th.

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    2. Agencies with Holt Korea were submitted on the 12th. Batch 5 for Holt.

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  12. Dillon is only through August 2011 referrals. Our 5th batch was July 4th.

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  13. Just had to share this blog post by a woman named Wendy and her thoughts about the EP quota/Korea adoption. I thought it was very well written. I've never met her, but everything she wrote sounded like it was from me.

    http://www.heartontheline.com/2011/05/my-adoption-rant.html

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  14. Has anyone else heard of EP submissions in August? So far, I know of two families who were submitted on Friday. Both are with Holt.

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  15. No EP submissions in August for Dillon so far. Their last batch was on July 24th and was approved on August 3rd. We are hoping to have another batch submitted SOON! Thanks for sharing what is going on with Holt, it's always interesting to keep up with other agencies.

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  16. I read on a form that SWS has met there quota of EPs for the year already. Can anyone confirm? Wondering if other agencys are also in the same boat. I know a lot of EPs were issued this year, to try and play catch up for last year. I hope they won't be creatig another back log.

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  17. Has Holt also met.their quota? I know Dillon hasnt yet but are close.

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  18. We are with Holt and we've been told there will be more EPs issued this year - not sure how many though.

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  19. It's interesting to hear that SWS has met their quota. I just wonder if S.Korea will try to meet their quota for all agencies before the law goes into effect. Sounds like neither Dillon or Holt have met theirs yet.

    Sidenote: Dillon's EPs are through October 2011 referrals and was told the quota would put them through December 2011 referrals this year, so they are not far away from meeting it if SK will do another batch or two before the law.

    I am anxious to hear more news. Seems like we aren't hearing much lately.

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  20. The new law is already in effect. So EPs going forward will be under the new law. I read on a forum that as part of the new law, we will need to provide copies of our diplomas from our highest level of education. If this is in fact true, I'm worried because I don't know where mine or my spouse's diplomas are! Will not having a copy of our diplomas make us not eligible to adopt our child?

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  21. Who told you that the law had gone into effect? According to our agency it has not been implemented yet and might be postponed.

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  22. Our agency told us it was in effect and that EPs going forward will be under the new law. I hope your agency is correct. All this additional paperwork is going to be a pain.

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  23. Well our agency may just not have notified us yet. Thanks for the information! When were you told this?

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  24. Found out yesterday.

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  25. Thanks for sharing! I hope we hear something from our agency soon. Do you mind sharing if you are with Holt or SWS?

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  26. Our agency uses Holt in Korea.

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  27. Any word on EP movement Steve?

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  28. Dear Steve. Thank you so much for this very usefull information. I have two questions on which I hope you have some information.
    1; Does the new law also have a requirement of 3 years mariage at the time of referral?
    2; Do you know what the sentence in S10 SS1 about religion mean..: "Must have freedom of religion, .."
    Helene

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    1. The new law does not change the marriage requirements. Also the freedom of religion simply means that parents must respect the religion that a child is from also the religion that he/she might choose later.

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  29. Steve has the law gone into effect?

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  30. As of August 5th, the new adoption law has gone effective. I'm currently adopting two children from a Korean orphanage and just a few weeks ago submitted the required documents to the Korea Family Court for my adoption.

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