First of all, my heart goes out to Hyunsu, a boy who died by his adoptive father in Maryland. This incident certainly will put some damper on already delicate issues related to the intercountry adoption. Already, there have been some demonstrations by the members of TRACK in front of Holt's office in Seoul, demanding more stringent home studies, and the news is widely being circulated through the social media.
No amount of answers or explanations can make up for the loss of the little boy. Hyunsu's death is yet another reminder that no matter how careful an agency is with their homestudies, it is impossible to weed out a bad parent. And it takes just one bad apple to ruin the reputations of thousands of good parents that have made adoption successful. This is certainly an isolated incident, and certainly in no way a representative of thousands of good adoptive parents that have adopted children from Korea. There are just as equally the biological parents that abuse or murder their own children in the world. We hear of their stories frequently. Is anyone demonstrating against these atrocities?
On the other hand, the year was starting fairly well until this incident happened. However, unlike this time last year, when everything seems to be up in the air, the EP process is moving along without much hickups. The current director of MOHW is gaining some credit for quickly restoring the slow EP process. He is seen as adoption friendly, but known for sticking with the rules and very inflexible.
Also, there seems to be a slow down at the Family Court for two reasons. First, there is a new chief justice at the Family Court, and he himself is an adoptive father, and this is seen as a good news. He took the helm at February 1 this year. Secondly, the court will be out of session for about two weeks due to internal affairs organization and paperworks from February 24 - March 5. There is no concern that the other judges are impacted, but the new chief judge is already well aware of the adoption process and the matters related to the special adoption law.
The quota for this year 2014 has not been set yet, but should be decided soon. It is obvious that the last year's quota could not be met. I plan to get more detailed data on this later. But I am hopeful that this year's quota will be met. If I had to guess, it would be 10% below the last year's quota of 743, which would put at 669. But this is just my guess, don't quote me on this.
Korea is still using the 2/3 rule, where the intercountry adoption will be approved based on the 2/3 the number of domestic adoptions that have been submitted to the family court. In other words, if there were 300 cases of domestic adoption submitted to the family court, the MOHW will ask the agencies to submit 200 EP cases for intercountry adoptions.
The maturity of the Special Adoption Law's effects will be seen at the end of 2014. Or most likely will be seen earlier. The year 2013 was a learning experience by all - the agenices, MOHW, the family court, the waiting adoptive families, the unwed mothers, and the little children. So the number of adoption in 2013 was drastically down with only 495 EPs granted. But the year 2014 will be the year of the full effect of the law with no delays in procedures or the processes anticipated.
Since the law will continue to impact the abandonement of children by the unwed mothers not wanting to register their babies, the number of babies being abandoned at the Baby Box will remain close to what it was last year.
And after that incident at Maryland, there will be additional discussions taking place at the government level as well as by the Family Court justices on how to avoid another tragic incident. And how this will impact the current adoption process is not known at this time.