Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Family Court Update

It was surprising news to hear that some families have been summoned by the Family Court after the court cancelled the summons earlier. It so happened that a judge, who was not part of the first group of three judges that cancelled the summons, decided to have the parents come and stand before him. This has caught everyone by surprise.

The agencies are waiting to hear what the other three judges will do. Surely they can't go against their initial decision to forego the summons (about a dozen cases) as it would not look good on them. For now, nobody knows whether the judges will summon or forego the future cases. There has been no official announcement concerning which way they would go. One of the adoption experts I talked with stated that for now it is more like case by case.

The travel requirement of 3 - 4 weeks is apparently less stressful for European families as they get longer time off on their leaves, but more difficult for the families in the US. The expert I spoke with stated that the parents may have to go twice if a long stay is difficult in Korea. The scenario would be that a couple would be in Korea and get an adoption approval from a judge. This can be done within one week. Then the 14-day grace period begins. During this time one of the couple or both may leave Korea and then return after two weeks to pick up their child after the grace period is over. Or that one may stay during this period while the other goes back to the States to tend to their business.

It appears that both the husband and the wife must be present at the first meeting with a judge. But only one needs to be present to pick up the child. So for a family with a very limited time, one can return to his/her home after a week in Korea while the other remains in Korea during the grace period. Once this waiting is over he/she can pick up the child and go home, pending the birthmother decided not to take the child back.

The first case of intercountry adoption under this new system has already been accomplished by a couple from Sweden. They got the nod from a judge, and they waited two weeks. The birthmother still did not want the child, so the couple took the child home. The whole process took 19 days (from the time they arrived in Korea to the time they left). However, I understand that this couple was prepared ahead by the agency due to their special circumstance, and wound up going to the Family Court right after they arrived.

But for most people, it will not be this quick as it will take about a week to process the paper works and stand before a judge. So if things go smoothly under this scenario, the parents can expect to be in Korea a little over 21 days. Remember, only one of the couple needs to stay in Korea after the first week, unless there is need for both to return for a while.

Under this adoption, the child will be issued an IR-3 visa, where the child will get the US citizenship automatically on the day of his entry into the US. This is the advantage of adoption through the Family Court. If not, the child will be issued an IR-4 visa if no court appearance was involved. In this case the parents become the legal guardian of the child until the child gets officially adopted domestically in the US. For most families this is done around 6 months after the arrival of the child. When his adoption is finalized in the US, the child will get a citizenship.

Again, I stress to you that nothing has been decided yet in terms of the court summons, and I think it may be case by case.  It remains to be seen as the court is trying to find its way in the complex maze of adoption, and this new experiment with the new law has been very painful for all, especially the waiting children and all the waiting parents that are eager to embrace them and shed the tears of joy.  May that day come for all of you soon.

To reduce conflicts among the readers, and to respect one another's comments while disagreeing, and to avoid personal attacks in the future amongst the readers, I have turned off the postings under 'Anonymous'. You may register to leave comments.

35 comments:

  1. Thanks, Steve, for the update. Many agencies have been reporting similar information, so this wasn't a shock.

    I'm happy to see that the courts are closer to deciding on the formal process going forward. The IR3 visa is obviously the best option for children, so I welcome the change for the son I am waiting to bring home.

    I appreciate the courts allowing the families to decide on one long trip versus two trips. For our family, two trips will work out best as our school age children can return to Korea to visit with their foster families and enjoy Korea and then return home without missing a month of school while my husband and I take the second trip alone. In fact, I'm rather looking forward to getting to spend more time exploring Korea again.

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  2. Any news on the 2013 quota? Are any of the May families from 2012 referrals? When will things start moving quicker?

    Thanks again for providing us news whether good, bad or no news. It all helps.

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  3. Thank you Steve -

    Have I misunderstood the information earlier, that we first have to travel to Korea AFTER the 14 days waiting period??

    Steve, do you know about us who have fly-fobia and have a medical reason from our doctor? Can we still get our child eskorted? It don`t seam like this, when you write that at least one of the parents have to bee there? What are we going to do? I am so sorry and affraid. We have all the time been told that they will make exceptions?

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    1. As far as I know, all the agencies have stopped escorting as a general rule because it is not considered best for the child to have additional transitions and it is important for the parents to experience Korea. This policy seemed to be in place independent of the court process. I'd talk to your agency first about an exception, but I think they have been very rare in the past year. I know the Korean agency we work with does not allow escorting now for any reason, and has not for over a year. Not trying to start an argument about escorting, just trying to clear up misinformation that this new court step will cause problems with escorting families, because there shouldn't really be any families planning to escort anymore.

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    2. If you are the person that emailed me regarding this, please look at my response from an agency. I'm sure there is a way for the court to issue IR-4 and have someone from an agency to escort your child.

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  4. So now we are back in a circumstance were a family could be summoned to court and then discover in the 14 day wait that the birthmother has changed her mind? Is there a way they can contact the birthmother to re-confirm relinquishment BEFORE the adoptive parents spend thousands of dollars and weeks of leave time to appear in court? I support giving the birthmother the opportunity to parent, but providing that in the most humane way to all parties involved.

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    1. The 14 day is a general period for all cases in Korea in which both parties can change their minds. I for one will be happy to know that my son was relinquished and everything was done to see if she was able/willing to parent (given the current cultural and political environment).

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  5. Thanks for the update Steve. What about the second trip? We are told that the primary on the I600 application must be in Korea for the Visa process for the pick up. In many (if not all), it's the adoptive father. It is so in our case, so that means both my husband and I will have to travel to Korea both times. Originally, our plan was for me (the secondary on the application) to travel to pick up our child. Have you heard anything on this?

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    1. It is the primary petitioner on you I600.

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  6. Wonderful news! I see movement here!
    Whatever it takes I will do it to see my son.

    2 trips to Korea....No problem I love Korea and the Lord will provide the funds.

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    1. I agree...I see movement and that is wonderful! We will make happen whatever travel requirements are needed as God will provide!

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  7. Thank you so much!:) You are a blessing to the Adoption community!:)

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  8. In my heart I will do what it takes to make this work. In reality I know my husband will not be able to be off work for 3-4 weeks. I do understand the judges are doing what they see best for the children and understand for that reason. Hoping and praying there is a way we can make this work. My heart is prepared for this child I have not even seen yet and will feel broken if we can not figure it out.

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  9. I am actually excited about traveling for 3 weeks. It will give us a chance to finally see more of Korea and even visit our children's birthplaces.
    I hope they set this new process in place ASAP and begin moving forward with processing cases, so these children can finally join a permanent family.

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    1. I think there needs to be some clarification. I don't think it's three weeks. It's more like 4-5 weeks if you plan on staying in Korea.

      The first week, you are prepping for the court appearance, etc.
      Then, you have the two week wait (which I thought they were doing BEFORE the court date)
      So in any case, after all the court stuff, you have at least 3 weeks for the Visa process. So it could even be 4 weeks.

      If it were a solid three weeks in Korea from getting there to leaving with your child, then I think that's better than either a two trip or an unknown 4-5 week trip to Korea.

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  10. Thank you again, Steve, as always. I truly appreciate all your updates. Your information is consistent to information we've heard from one agency in the US, although my agency has not updated us with this information, yet. I have no problem traveling to Seoul for as long as I need to be there. We're lucky in that my husband and I can work remotely. I also know that this trip will be an amazing opportunity for our daughter to learn about her birth country, even though she may miss a few weeks of school. Our child is absolutely worth the wait.

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  11. I'm so glad to see some movement! Whatever the process they put in place, I hope they can establish it quickly so that children can be with their forever famlies as soon as possible. Certainly traveling for 3+ weeks will offer some logistical challenges, but we'll make it work to ensure our child comes home as soon as possible and that all children in Korea are relinquished and adopted in an ethical and legal manner. I just hope this is a sign of positive movement and am hopeful that once the initial families get through court, all of the other children will be able to be with their forever families in a timely manner.

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  12. Thank you God for movement! And thank you, Steve, for this informative and detailed update. What a blessing you are to us waiting parents. We are so happy to see that decisions are being made, and whatever they are, we will find a way! Our little boy is worth it! Although not what we'd imagined or planned for, I think three weeks in Korea will be the opportunity of a lifetime. What a great way to learn more about the culture than to be immersed in it for weeks! Can't wait to see things pick up speed!

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  13. It does sound like we are back to the point of having to travel to Korea to possibly be told while we are there that the birthmom has changed her mind---after spending thousands to get there---there has got to be a better way.

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    1. I don't mean to sound so facetious, but try moving there, then you wouldn't have to spend thousands to get there for a short trip.

      And birthmom should have the FULL right to change her mind about whether to allow an adoption of HER child to progress. I'm sure this is NOT an easy decision for her and repercussions of her decision will likely affect her (and her child) for possibly her whole life. She should be given AS MUCH TIME AS she needs for this decision. And if she chooses to keep her child, then that decision should ALWAYS be respected. In fact, that is the ideal - that a mother wants to keep her child and the laws allow it. That is how most of the world behaves, children stay with their mothers.

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    2. Don't be purposely pig-headed, T. No one has a problem with birth moms deciding to parent, that is a decision to be celebrated. The problem is with a system that could possibly bring you thousands of miles away (while of course, costing thousands) only to turn you away childless. It would be better for pretty much everyone to have the system be set up where the birth moms are given the final option to parent their children BEFORE summoning the child's adoptive parents to the country.

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  14. Ok. I understand that some people want to post positive comments on the site so the anti-adoption people aren't attacking us/MPAK. But, lets not mistake this for being honest.

    The judge requiring the families to go to Korea to make either a two trip or one very long trip is ridiculous! But you know what - as far as I know, all of the families are now scrambling to figure out a way. Why? because they love their child and want all this craziness to finally end.

    Our case has been submitted to court and we are waiting for our instructions. If our judge requires us to appear - what choice to do have. I just hope the judges know what they are doing to the adoptive families.

    We were planning a trip to Disney once our child comes home (using up my maternity time). If we have to make two trips to Korea, then Disney will not be happening anytime soon. Neither will the swimming and soccer classes we planned on enrolling him into. Our child has some speech delay, so the speech therapy will also have to wait until we pay off our debt for the to Korea.

    Our situation is we will have to take our young child to Korea with us, as we don't have anyone to take care of her while we are in Korea. My husband saved his 14 days of vacation to be on paternity leave, but now it looks like he'll have to use the vacation days for the trip to Korea and then apply for unpaid leave for paternity. Furthering the financial burden.

    Will we still move forward to bring our child? Absolutely! I'll move mountains if I need to. I'm just saying...I just hope the judges really consider the burden they've sprung on us at the last hour. It's one thing if we had a year to plan for such a trip.

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  15. I have a very hard time, becaurce we choice Korea, becaurce of our fly fobia. I feel so sad that they dont think about us who not are able to fly. What about our son, what is happend to him when we dont are able to get him? It is the horrible day in my life :-) We get into adoptions on one conditions and now there are different rules. I only think that our son mayby never get a family. I wich we have it like all others here, who just looking forward to travel - and it is our worste nightmare :-(

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  16. First of all, nothing has been confirmed and everyone needs to stop knee jerk reacting till final details come in.

    For the family that can't fly, what did you expect? The agency you work with should have told you that you'd be flying. Both parents should be going to Korea to explore and visit their birthcountry. I'm sorry you've got a phobia, but you need help to deal with it.

    Why would you be going to Disney if you are close or near to going into debt?

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    1. First of all, things HAVE been confirmed. There are seven families who are going to court at the end of May and ARE either staying in Korea or going home, only to go back 3-4 weeks later.

      Who said we were close or near going into debt? It's called financial planning so we AREN'T in debt. Going to Disney with our points and discounts would cost about $2000. Going to Korea twice for three of us (4 coming back on the last leg) during peak travel times will cost us about $12,000 in just airfare alone. If we didn't have to spend that money going to Korea twice, Disney is doable.

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  17. My condolences about Disney. Really, Disney is a lot of fun!! Really??

    No, seriously, I appreciate your honesty. It's important to be truthful, honest, and reflective about the situation. So, what is your choice? Your hands are tied? You ALWAYS, ALWAYS have the option to stop inviting this "ridiculousness" into your and your family's life.

    And if I were the judge deciding on the fate of a child and his/her family, my decision-making tree would not include the "burdens" of prospective adoptive parents. Come on, you're an adult, of your own volition. You're deciding to take on this "burden". Is this the example you want to give your young daughter about this adoption? That she wasn't able to go to Disney, that she was forced to come to her brother's country while you complain about being forced to spend money and time and where judges (in your opinion) shouldn't put the child's welfare FIRST. Is this the role you want this boy to have in your family? That he and his country are the source of your future financial struggles, lack of vacation trips? If you, your husband, or your daughter have to miss out on something, this boy from Korea is to blame? He will be living and spending his future with all of you, isolated from everything previously familiar. He has no choice whether to grow up with you, in your country, learn your language. I'm sure he wouldn't sign up to spend the rest of his life as YOUR and your family's SCAPEGOAT, hearing about how awful his country is, how you were forced to spend time there. He is NOT responsible for the choices and burdens you choose to take on.

    And no, I'm not anti-adoption. I'm pro children's welfare. As should the judge, and as should you be. You should be ashamed of yourself for wanting the judge to give priority to you and your life conveniences over that of this little boy. You're not the judge's responsibility. You're a cognitively fit adult (I assume), capable of making your own choices. People getting pregnant prioritize more than 30 weeks while waiting for their child to be born. If a couple months is too long, then reconsider your choices. If it's so inconvenient to visit your son's country, then why are you adopting from so far away and with such a financial stretch?

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  18. I will do whatever it takes to bring my son home. My husband has a total of 8 vacation days this year. Either he takes two trips, leaving myself and our 3 year old son alone in Korea for 2 weeks, or he takes that time unpaid, which will severely hurt our finances (and he would have to return to work immediately instead of being able to be home and bond with our new child). But we will do what we have to. I am self-employed and cannot close my business for a month. My family has offered to use up all their vacation time to cover my business. I hate asking them to do that, but they are anxious to have our son home too. Somehow we will make it work.

    My question is why are we now asked to make this longer trip again? Is it because Korea wants the children to come home on IR-3 visa? I completely agree that IR-3 visa is ideal. I'm not well-versed in the visa requirements so let me ask a question. Would it be possible to get IR-3 visa if things went in this order: family submitted to court, court makes initial ruling, begin 14 day reconsideration period during which time APs would receive travel call, APs arrive and meet child, APs attend court for final ruling, and begin visa process? That way the APs have met child and finalized in Korean court which should satisfy IR-3 visa requirements. This would make a 4-5 week trip become a 2 or 2.5 week trip instead.

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  19. Why would any sane person go to Disney with a toddler that just got home? Save your money. If your kid needs speech therapy and other things, a Disney trip sounds asinine. Complaining about your financial burden paints the other AP's on this board in a bad light. Be smart about your posts. I wonder if you are just a troll and not really and AP? I'm pretty sure the one who is afraid of flying is. good grief. Get a counselor.

    And this is one judge talking about families, nothing has been set with any other families or other judges, so NO, it is not confirmed. We have heard nothing but rumors and speculation at this point.

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  20. Sorry Steve if you answered this in your blog and I just misunderstood.

    Are you saying that even appearing before a judge is a case-by-case situation? So, if the judge does not summon you (PAP) to the court, that the family would not have to stay the 3-4 weeks?

    If so, perhaps there is still hope that we could get the trip done in 1-2 weeks (if we are not summoned to court), come back to the USA, and then finalize the adoption after the 6 months with the IR-4?

    Hopefully this would be the case for some adoptions in the future.

    Thank you Steve for your hard work. I guess that in light of these recent developments that MPAK may have to go back a few steps and approach the Korean courts explaining the hardships that an extended stay would cause for many PAPs.

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    1. Yes. So far we have to see it as case-by-case as there has been no mandate by the court yet. If there is no summon, then IR-4 will be issued, and the travel time will be cut short.

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    2. Katieandtiggs,
      To you and the "many PAPs" who have difficulty in coming to Korea for a few weeks, why are you choosing to adopt a child from Korea? This is an honest question.

      This is perhaps the scariest trip and time in this child's life, and many of you are worried about spending a few weeks in a country so far away for such a long time, and if the judge can try to accommodate YOUR anxieties, by making this process easier for YOU? While also possibly putting undue hardship on this child's future. If you're from the US, you may or may not know that too many adoptees were never naturalized, because their parents "forgot". As a consequence, they have been denied the same rights and protections of their family members - federal benefits, voting rghts, loans, scholarships. Some couldn't go to college, have been deported, sadly, some have been killed after deportation. People have worked tirelessly to help adoptive parents not "forget" this crucial step for the sake of these adoptees, resulting in the streamlined IR3 visa.

      So, you may have to stay a few more weeks because of the IR3 requirement? At least your child will be protected from getting deported 20 years from now, from petitioning to strangers and politicians, begging to be able to stay in their own country with their families, where they speak the language. After exhausting all their energy and resources, the US government still deports them. This is not fun, no Disneyland - this is devastating, again, 20-30 years later. And this is real. Here are some examples of these petitions/stories.

      http://lightofdaystories.wordpress.com/2013/04/22/citizenship-isnt-automatic-for-internationally-adopted-children-to-the-us-really/

      http://signon.org/sign/citizenship-for-all-adoptees/?source=search

      http://www.change.org/petitions/citizenship-for-all-us-intercountry-adoptees

      http://www.change.org/petitions/stop-the-deportation-on-russell-green-and-other-adoptee-immigrants

      http://www.change.org/petitions/tell-ice-not-to-deport-woman-adopted-from-korea-as-baby

      http://www.change.org/petitions/the-united-states-government-ins-stop-deportation-proceedings-for-kaiti-yasmine-posadas-tidwell

      http://citizenshipforalladoptees.tumblr.com/post/48711395713/janines-story

      Don't let your child suffer the same fate in adulthood. Get them citizenship. And while you're at it, please help get retroactive citizenship for adult adoptees where their adoptive parents and/or the system of adoption failed them. It has been a tremendous burden for many of us to try to restore adoptees' rights because their adoptive parents and agencies, who knowingly chose adoption, still shunned that responsibility.

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    3. Thank you Steve for your reply. This does help to clarify.

      We all know this is a fluid process, so best of luck to the families who are getting their court date in May! We PAPs are cheering for them as we await our travel calls.

      If you are one of the families in May and read this blog, perhaps some could share their experiences. There are a lot of blogs about China and Russian court dates (99% that are wonderful with no glitches, prior to the Russian ban on adoptions).

      Korea still will have growing pains, but a few more successful adoptions being granted may help kickstart the process. The "pioneers" for the new process will be a wealth of information.

      May is quickly approaching and I, for one, am so happy that more children will be in their forever homes soon!

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  21. A social worker piping in here.... Disney is not a good way to introduce a child to a new culture, language, and family, especially for special needs children. I hope this AP's agency is aware of this plan and can provide further information on attachment and trauma that even young children experience with international adoption. These are visceral changes, not just psychological. For example, there have been Asian children who were adopted and promptly fed hamburgers and dairy because the adoptive parents felt like it was the American thing to do. Some children became violently sick, in public, since they were not used to the textures and/or were lactose intolerant. Given that there are so many unknowns on a child's reaction to a new family and world, it's best to make these adjustments at home, surrounded by loved ones and not tourists.

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  22. How can we rally to get IR3 Visa set. Seems that it might not be the case even with the two short trip or the one long trip option in the new process. Who can promote this to the courts? This is in the best interests of all the children if possible.

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