Monday, February 23, 2015

Final EP Approvals for 2014

I have just learned that the final EPs (Emigration Permit) approved by the Ministry for the year 2014 is 395, the number of children that are allowed to leave Korea to overseas. 


This number was based on the strict guideline set by the Ministry, which applies the 2/3 rule.  This rule is used to determine the number of intercountry adoption permitted based on the number of domestic placements taken by the three agencies (Holt, SWS, and Eastern).  This means that the domestic adoption in Korea (just by the three agencies) is just under 600 for the year 2014.


One note of caution is that not all 395 children have left Korea, as there are many that are still under the court proceedings at the Family Court for the finalization of adoptions.  The Ministry uses the number of EPs approved in a particular year to measure the number of intercountry adoption that took place in that year.


In the year 2013, the EPs approved for intercountry adoption was at 236 children.  Since the final EP for the year 2014 is 395, one may mistakenly assume that Korea is increasing its intercountry adoption.  On the contrary, Korea's goal is to continue to decrease the number of intercountry adoption that takes place. 


The reason for such low number in the year 2013 was that it was the first full-year where the special adoption law was implemented, and under the new law, all three entities involved in adoption - the adoption agencies, the Ministry, and the Family Court had some learning curve on how to implement the new requirements of the law into their daily business rhythm, thus far fewer children were adopted during the process.  Also the Hyunsu O'Callahan's death at the hand of his adoptive father delayed the process as well.


But it is true that the special adoption law has created havoc in the lives of children as much fewer children are being placed into homes.  What used to be over 1400 per year adoption before the new law (just domestic only) is now less than half of what it used to be, and this is a sad reality.


The proponents of the law would like you to think that because of significant increase in unwed mother keeping their babies has resulted in a dramatic decrease in the number of adoptions, but the reality is that very few are keeping their children, and far too many other children are put into the institutions. 


They also like to point out that the law screens out undesirable parents that may be involved in drugs or alcohol, or other social or psychological ills, but in reality there have been very few who have been denied adoption because of these problems. 


Perhaps the biggest reason for the decline is due to the removal of secrecy in adoption through the special adoption law.  For cultural reasons, a significant number of Koreans still want to keep their adoptions secret and the new law removed this possibility. 


The special adoption law removed the rights of unwed mothers from giving up their children anonymously that has caused so many abandonments in Korea.  In order for them to give their children up for adoption, they are required to register their children into family registries first before being able to give up for adoption. 


The issue is not the registration.  The issue is making this a requirement in order to place a child for adoption.  No unwed mother wants to register her baby she does want to keep.  Giving up children anonymously is practiced in many OECD countries.  Especially in the US, the Baby Safe Haven Law, practiced in all 50 states allows unwed mothers to give up their babies anonymously.  Why can't Korea do the same?


Korea needs to change its policy before it can expect to see the reduction in the number of children being abandoned in places like the Baby Box.



5 comments:

  1. I completely agree with you. The children are the ones who suffer in the end and I pray eyes can be opened to see what an impact this new law places on their future, especially the ones who never get adopted. My heart hurts every time I hear of another adoptive family passing over Korea because of the extensive wait time and requirement to travel twice. These children need mothers & fathers, just as much as any country, and to see them lose that opportunity is heart breaking.
    My husband and I are able to withstand all the requirements because we know it is where God has called us to adopt, but I know that this isn't always the case. Many look to places where the wait time is less and I do not blame them as it is very hard to wait 19 - 22 months from referral date and hard to comprehend traveling twice when other countries only require a one-time visit.
    We will continue to pray for change within the country and provision over these precious lives who deserve a home to call their own.

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  3. What do you anticipate happening in the 2015 EP process? Do you believe we will see slow approval times?

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  4. Dear Steve. As an early December EP submission we're still awaiting for approval (13 weeks/3 months) Do you have any idea what might cause the delay in approving these? Thanks!!!!

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  5. Hi Steve. I heard 6 Holt families (from the 1/27/15 court submission) received court dates for 4/24/15. Any news on whether or not additional families were assigned the 4/24 date or whether this suggests additional dates will be given out soon? Any news on when the new judge will start taking cases (as 4/24 date is with Jegal)? Lastly, since the new system is supposedly not supposed to slow things down and judges are supposedly focusing more on adoption cases hereafter, does that mean both judges will be hearing adoption cases two days a week rather than the previous 1 (as with four judges each hearing cases one day a week that meant in the previous setup, cases were heard four day a week and I'm curious if that will continue or if things will actually slow down significantly). Anything you can provide is useful. It seems very little news is being shared with agencies about the changeover with the two judges, its impact on timing, when the new judge will ever start seeing cases, and so on. Thanks so much for all you do!

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