Friday, December 21, 2012

The Chosen Son - A True Christmas Story of Steve Morrison

This is a true Christmas story of my family in December 2004 that actually happened, and you have to read it to the end to understand the signifcance of the story. This story will tell you a little about who I am, and why I do what I do through MPAK.
It was first written in Korean, then translated into English. I heard that many people shared this story on other blogs, and some pastors have used it as illustration on their sermons. I am very privileged that so many have been blessed with this story.
The Chosen Son A True Christmas Story
(선택받은 아들
진정한 크리스마스 스토리) - 한국어 번역은 맨 아래에 있습니다.
I will never forget the special Sunday of December 26, 2004.
My family was visiting my parents for the Christmas Holiday, and I had the opportunity to worship with my parents at their Village Seven Presbyterian Church in Colorado Springs. As members of the church, both of them had served at the church for many years.
It was the day after Christmas, and the church was filled to the capacity crowd. We dropped our kids at the childrens ministry, and my wife and I sat together with my parents to worship together. The church was predominantly white and there were around 1000 people, and it has been a while since we worshipped together. But ironically, the sermon on that day by the Pastor Wheat was on adoption.
Anyone who has attended some church services would have most likely heard about how God has adopted us through Jesus and given us the privilege to call Him the Father. The pastor spoke about the three important lessons on adoption. The first was that there is a transformation of our special status. That is, through adoption, an adopted child is entitled equally with the other children in the family the rights and privileges that the family bestows. Jesus Christ came to this world to give us that right. 
At the mentioning of the words special status, I thought about my parents sitting next to me. It occurred when they adopted me, I too underwent a transformation into a special statusfrom a lowly orphan to a son of great parents. This realization made me to be more appreciative of my parents while my heart was filled with gratitude.

Secondly, through adoption we have special relationships with the God the Father. The pastor claimed that adoption was God
s idea. Through adoption He has given us the right to call him Father. The pastor used an example where many adoptees become curious about their backgrounds and later ask the question Why? to the parents. Why did my birthmother abandon me? As many adoptees ask this question, they are often shaken by self identify as to who they are, and in some cases they fall into depression.
But the pastor stated that he has met many adoptive parents whose children asked such questions, and these parents have taught him some valuable lessons. The lessons came from what the parents said to the adopted children. They would say, Do you feel you have been abandoned? We dont fully understand how you came to be in this world, but one thing that is very clear to us is that we wanted you in the first place, and we chose you. Because of that you are more precious to us than anything in the world.
The pastor then stated that likewise, God has chosen us while we were yet sinners, and because He has adopted us, we now have special relationship with Him.
As I reflected on the statement, We chose you, I again thought about my parents sitting next to me. I thought about the hopeless days of living in an orphanage long ago. I also remember the time when my picture was featured on Holts newsletter at the end of my 13th year. 

In that issue of the newsletter there were pictures of many other children needing homes, and most importantly they were all younger than me. My father looked at all the pictures of the children and his eyes caught mine, and upon seeing my picture, I dont know what inspired him, but he said to my mother, Here is the boy. Here is my son. That day, far away across the Pacific Ocean in America, a man chose me as his son.

As I listened to the sermon I looked at my father. He was now 81, and he could hardly walk even with a cane as he was very weak. I wondered as he was listening to these words what thoughts were running through his mind? And what would my mother be thinking of? I became curious.
Likewise, they were probably wondering the same about their son Steve.
I was chosen and adopted, and through adoption I had a special relationship with them. I was able to experience their sincere and deep love for me. Because of this I was someone very special. My wife and I adopted Joseph from Korea in 2000. Someday my boy Joseph may ask the same question, Why? When that day comes I hope to answer him with confidence the words filled with strength and love.
The third lesson on adoption was that it renews ones life. When God adopts a person, He does not try to fix the person up. He doesnt take apart the wrong things one by one and fix them back. Instead, He renews the person. When I heard this, I realized for the first time that there has never been a time when my parents tried to take my bad habits or behaviors and put efforts to fix them. 

Of course it doesnt mean that they never scolded me for my mistakes, but all I know is that they never gave up on loving me, and their kindness and love made a new person out of me. They accepted my weaknesses and allowed me to experience a new love, a new family, a new faith, a new hope, and a new dream.

It was evident the pastor
s sermon moved my mother immensely. After the service my mother got out of her seat and hugged me, and she buried her face in my chest and started to sob. I understood what she was going through. Mother held me for some time and finally lifted her face up to me. Her eyes were red and filled with tears streaming down as she said, I am so thankful that you are our son. And then she buried her face again and cried.
My heart was indescribably moved, and all I could do was to caress her shoulder. I said, No mother, it is I who is even more thankful. My wife was watching this whole episode and she took out my video camera and starting taking shots while tears streaming down her face. I was thinking, How could she even think about shooting this scene at a time like this? My wifes tears were the tears of love. My father also came over and we hugged each other. In a trembling voice, he said, We truly are grateful that you are our son, Steve.
After the service, my mother and I, along with my kids Joseph and Helen went over to the pastor Wheat to thank him for the message. Later when our family was talking in the hallway, the pastor passed us by. While he was exchanging the greetings with my parents, I directed his attention to my father sitting on a chair, and said, Pastor, this is the Dad who chose me a long ago. Pastor Wheat exclaimed, Thats Wonderful!, and after exchanging a few more words he went on his way.

In looking back on that Sunday, I couldn
t help thinking about many things. Was our visit that day a coincidence? Or was it Gods will to bless me with this experience? Or how I was reluctant to drive from LA to Colorado for the Christmas, but my wife, who was at the time eight months pregnant with the fourth child, insisted that we visit my parents for the Christmas.

There are many possible explanations, but I believe our trip to Colorado Springs that winter was divinely guided. It was Gods affirmation of how my parents chose me as their son, as well as Gods way of showing me His story on adoption. The Christmas of 2004 will always live in my memory.
Korean version
선택받은 아들 진정한 크리스마스 스토리
스티브 모리슨
지난 200612 26일 주일날은 나에게 특별한 날로 남아있을것이다.

어머니 아버지와 함께 이곳 콜로라도 스프링스에 있는 Village Seven (빌레지 세븐) 이라고 하는 큰 교회에서 예배를 드렸다. 어머니 아버지는 이 교회에서 오랫동안 교인으로서 헌신하며 섬기고 계셨다.

크리스마스 다음날이라 교회는 거의 가득찬 상태였고, 아이들은 초등부실에 맷기고 나와 아내는 어머니, 아버지와 함께 앉아 예배를 드렸다.
백인들이 대다수인 이 교회는 약 1000명의 사람들이 앉아 있었고, 나는 부모님과 함게 같이 예배를 드린적이 무척 오래되는듯 한데 유난히 그날 휘트 (Wheat) 라는 목사님의 설교가 입양에 관한 설교였다.

갈라디아서 4:4-7 말씀을 비롯해서 준비하신 설교말씀인데 "입양에 대한 3가지 교훈" 을 말씀하시는데 참으로 많은 은혜를 받았다. 하나님은 예수님을 우리에게 보내주심으로 우리를 양자 삼아 "아버지" 라고 부를 수 있는 권리를 주셨다는 사실은 교회에 다니는 누구나도 잘 알고 있는 사실이다.

입양에 대한 3가지 교훈에 대한 메세지를 대충 나누고자 하면, 첫째로 입양을 통해서 우리에게 특별한 신분의 변화를 주었다고 말씀하셨다. 입양을 통해서 입양아가 그 가족에 다른 친자들과 동등하게 모든 권한을 똑같이 누릴 수 있다는것이다. 예수 그리스도께서 세상에 오신것은 우리에게 그 권한을 주기 위해서였다.
  입양을 통해서 특별한 신분의 변화를 준다는 말씀을 듣고 나는 옆에 앉아 계시는 아버지 어머니를 생각하게 되었다.  그들이 나를 입양함으로서 나에게도 특별한 신분의 변화가 있었다는 사실
...고아라는 존재 밖에 없었던 아이가 훌륭하신 부모님의 아들이 되었다는 사실을 생각해보니 부모님에대한 사랑이 더 높아지며 감사하는 마음이 더 많이 느끼게 되었다.

두번째로는 입양을 통해서 아버지 하나님과 특별한 관계 (relationship) 를 갖게되는것이다.
  입양은 하나님의 아이디어라고 목사님은 말씀하셨다. 입양을 통해서 "아버지" 라고 부를 수 있는 권리를 주셨다.  여러 설교 내용중에 한가지 예를 들면서 말씀하시는데, 많은 입양인들이 자기들의 입양에 대해 궁굼해 하며 많은 경우에는 "" 라는 질문을 양부모들에게 물어본다고 하셨다.  "왜 나의 친모는 나를 버렸나요?" 하는 질문을 하면서 입양인들이 정체성에 흔들리며, 심한 경우에는 우울중에 빠지는 입양인들도 많다고 하셨다.  그러나 목사님은 그러한 입양인들을 키우는 많은 입양부모들을 만나 보셨다고 했다
. 입양 부모들을 만날때마다 정말로 훌륭한 교훈을 배우게 되었는데, 그것은 양부모들이 그러한 입양인들을 보고 하는 말이었다고 하셨다.

"네가 버림 받았다고 생각하니?
  네가 어떻게 이 세상에 태어나게 된것은 우리가 알 수 없지만, 한가지 사실은 우리는 너를 처음부터 원했고, 또한 우리는 너를 선택했다.  그렇기 때문에 너는 우리에게 이세상 누구보다 더 귀한 아이다
." 라는 마음을 입양자녀들에게 표하는것을 보셨다고 했다. 그같이, 하나님께서도 우리가 죄인이었음을 불구하고 우리를 선택하셨다고 말씀하시며, 하나님께서 우리 인간들을 입양하셨기에 우리는 이제 하나님과 특별한 관계를 갖고 있다고 말씀을 하셨다.

"우리는 너를 선택했다" 라는 말씀을 듣자마자 나는 옆에 앉아 계시는 부모님을 다시 생각하게 되었다. 고아원에서 자라며 회망이 별로 보이지 않던 시절을 생각하게 되었다. 그리고 내가 13세말 되었을때에 홀트 잡지에 나의 사진이 실려나온것을 보게 된 기억이 난다.
  그 잡지에는 다른 많은 아이들의 사진들도 실려 있었고, 또한 그 아이들 모두가 나보다 나이가 더 어린 아이들이었다. 나의 아버지는 여러 아이들의 사진을 보시고, 또한 나의 사진을 보시게 되었다.  그 사진을 보신 아버지는 어떠한 이유로 용기가 생겼는지, 어머니에게, "바로 이 아이가 우리 아들이요." 라고 말씀하셨다고 한다.  그날 나는 머나먼 태평양을 넘어 미국에 계시는 한 아버지로부터 선택을 받게 되었다.  

설교 말씀을 들으며 아버지의 얼굴을 보았다.
  이제 81세 연세로 많이 연약해 지셨고, 지팡이로 간신히 조금씩 힘들게 걸으시는 아버지...지금 이 말씀을 들으시면서 어떠한 생각을 하고 계실까?  그리고 어머니는 무슨 생각을 하고 계실까? 나는 궁굼했다. 그들도 아들 스티브가 어떠한 생각을 하고 있을까? 라고 질문을 가지셨을 것이다.

선택을 받아서 입양이 되었고, 입양을 통해서 나는 아버지와 어머니와 특별한 관계를 가지고 있으며, 나는 그들의 진실된 사랑을 뼈속 깊히 느끼고 있었다.
  그렇기 때문에 나는 그들에게 특별한 아들이라는것을 느낀다.  우리가 입양한 조셉도 언젠가
"" 라는 질문을 하게되면 자신있게 조셉에게 사랑과 힘이 되는 말을 할것이다.

세번째 교훈은 입양은 한 생명을 새롭게 (Renewed) 만든다고 하셨다. 한 사람이 하나님으로부터 입양이 되면 하나님께서는 그 사람을 고치려고 하지 않으신다고 하셨다.
  잘못된것들을 하나 하나씩 뜻어 고치려 하지 않고 그 사람을 새롭게 만드신다고 하셨다

이 말씀을 듣고 나는 부모님을 다시 생각하게 되었는데, 정말로 부모님은 나의 못된 버릇이나 행동을 뜯어 고치려고 노력 조차도 하지 않은것을 기억한다.  그렇다고 부모님께서 내가 저질은 실수를 지적하지 않거나 말을 하지 않은것은 아니지만, 그들은 끈임없는 사랑으로 나를 새롭게 만들어 주신것을 알 수 있다.  나의 약한점을 그대로 받아 주셨으며 새로운 사랑, 새로운 가정 분위기, 새로운 신앙, 새로운 희망, 그리고 새로운 꿈을 가질 수 있게 만들어 주셨다.

이 설교 말씀을 들으신 어머니는 너무나 감동을 받으신 모양이었다.
예배가 끝난 후 자리에서 일어나니 어머니께서 내게 다가와 나를 꼭 껴안으시면서 얼굴을 내 가슴에 뭍힌체 울움을 터트리셨다.
  나는 어머니의 마음을 충분히 이해할 수 있었다.  어머니는 나를 오랫동안 껴안아 주시면서 끝내 얼굴을 드시고 나를 처다 보셨다. 어머니의 눈은 빨갛게되어 눈물에 젖어 있었고, 말씀하시기를, "나는 네가 우리 아들이 된것에 너무나 감사하고 있다." 라고 말씀하시며 또 내 가슴에 기대며 울움을 터트리셨다.

나의 마음은 표현할 수 없이 매우 감동을 받은체 어머니를 어깨를 쓰다듬어 주며 어머니에게, "아니요, 오히려 제가 더 감사해요." 라고 겨우 말했다. 이 장면을 지켜보던 아내는 눈물을 흘리며 가지고 있던 비디오로 그 장면을 찍었다.
  나는 아내가 눈물을 흘리며 어떻게 이러한 장면을 비디오로 찍을 생각 까지 했을까 한것에 놀랬다.  나의 아내의 눈물은 정말로 아름답고 사랑이 가득찬 눈물인것을 볼 수 있었다.  그다음 나는 아버지를 꼭 껴안아 주며 정말로 감사하다고 말했다. 아버지도  약간의 흔들리는 목소리로
"정말로 네가 우리와 함께 있어서 고맙다." 라고 말씀 하셨다.

예배 후 어머니와 조셉, 그리고 헬렌과 함께 휘트 목사님을 찾아가 인사를 드렸다.
  나중에 우리 가족은 교회 복도에 나와서 아버지와 함께 이야기 하고 있는데, 휘트 목사님께서 지나가게 되었다.  그는 부모님께 반갑게 인사를 하시는데, 나는 앉아계신 아버지를 지적하며 목사님께 고백했다.  "바로 저의 아버지가 저를 선택하셨습니다." 라고 말을 하니, 목사님께서 상당히 기뻐하시면서 하시는 말씀이, "That
s Wonderful!" 하시며 몇마디 더 나눈 후 에 해어졌다.

주일날의 경험이 우연이었을까? 아니면 이러한 경험을 주시려고 하나님께서 임신 8개월이나 된 나의 아내가 장거리 여행을 삼가해야 하는 처지에 이번 크리스마스때 꼭 콜로라도로 가자고 주장 했는지. 아무튼  이번 크리스마스는 우리 모두에게 특별한 추억을 주게된 기회이다.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Visit to Baby Box

During my past visit to Korea, I had a chance to visit with the Pastor Lee, Jong Nak of the Jusarang Church that operates the "Baby Box", where a birthmother may secretly drop off her unwanted baby without being questioned, or be seen.  The unwanted babies are usually dropped off at night.

I have heard of the Baby Box concept being practiced in other countries many years ago, but the one operated by the Pastor Lee is the first of its kind in Korea, and it has drawn many criticism, but much greater number of praises and supports have been given to the Baby Box as many know that this has saved the lives of many babies.

But my real interest in the Baby Box and the Pastor Lee came after I was contacted by a young film making student from USC.  Brian Ivie heard of the Pastor Lee and the Baby Box, and an idea formed in his head that he wanted to do a documentary film on the Baby Box.  So he took a dozen friends and their equipment to Korea about this time last year and visited with the Pastor Lee and the Baby Box. 

After he came back from Korea, Brian sat me down to film my interviews with him where I provided the rationale why such concept like the Baby Box is a necessity, especially in light of the passage of the new adoption law in Korea. I understand that by now the documentary is finished, and Brian was planning to take the film to the Sundance Film Festival.  Best wishes to Brian and his friends on this meaningful project.

Mrs. Han, the MPAK-Korea president took me to the facility, and the first thing I noticed was that the Jusarang Church that houses the Baby Box was not easy to find.  So I wondered how the birth mothers would know where to find the facility despite much publicity in recent days.  The Jusarang Church was located in a heavily populated residential area on a downhill slope of a hill, and the church looked more like a typical house than a church building.

The banner reads The Jusarang Church.  The Baby Box is located up the ten steps on the left, mounted on the wall, just below the windows.
Mrs. Han of the MPAK-Korea President listens to the story of the Baby Box from its founder, the Pastor Lee, Jong Nak of the Jusarang Church
A child who is a special need sleeps in a room.  This girl came to the facility through the Baby Box.
A housemother looks after the young ones living at the Jusarang Church. The place is a home to 19 children, where most of them are special needs.
The Pastor Lee demonstrates to me how the Baby Box works.  A birthmother may open this door, and leave a baby inside the box.  Once the door closes, the bell rings inside the church to indicate that a baby has been left inside the box, thus the term Baby Box.
The Pastor Lee, Jong Nak smoothes out the blanket inside the Baby Box.
The Pastor Lee stands next to the closed Baby Box.  The orange colored words read, "For a birthmother that could not raise her special needs baby or unwedded birth, please pull the handle below and leave your baby inside."  The blue words just above the handle reads, "Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me." Psalm 27:10
This is the Baby Box door opened from inside.  The Blue writing inside the door states, "Please write down the date of birth." In the early dawn of the day when we visited, we were told that another baby came through this door. 
On one occasion at night, the Baby Box bell rang, and the pastor went outside to see if he could find anyone.  In the dark corner stood a young woman as she was sobbing.  The pastor approached her and invited her into the facility.  There the pastor counseled the woman and praised her for seeing the baby to the full birth rather than aborting the baby.  The pastor then told her to come back if she ever wanted the baby back.  But he never heard from her again.
But then there was a young couple that gave up their baby through the Baby Box and came back later and took back the baby. 
When asked how the Baby Box got started, he shared a story that one frosty morning a baby was left on his door step with a thin blanket wrapped.  The pastor tried his best to revive the baby back, but it was too late. 
He also heard of a couple that did not know what to do with their unwanted baby, and went up the hill and strangulated the baby and buried in the hill.
The pastor looked for a way that birthmothers might abandon their babies safely.  The Baby Box was born out of neccessity to save lives.
The pastor had a special heart for the children in his care.  He took me into a room where his biological son lay.  He was over 20 years old, and he was severerly deformed in his face and his legs were split wide open side ways.  Even though they were covered by a blanket, you could tell that he was an extreme case.  The pastor confessed, "It is because of my son that I have a heart to do what I do."
I looked at the boy and wondered how difficult it must have been for him to suffer like this since his birth.  I felt a deep sense of pity and pain as I looked at him.  There was no word that I could utter.  There was no comforting words that could come out of me.  I laid my hand upon the boy's head and looked at him, and I bowed down my head and gave a short prayer.  The pastor prayed with me.
Before getting up to leave the place I thought about taking a picture of the boy, but decided not to out of respect. As weak as he was, and as feeble as he lay deformed, there was the power of the One that binds all of us together - the boy, the pastor, and the visitors.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The EP Situation - My Korea Trip Report

I just came back from Korea after ten days visit.  The main purpose of the visit was to participate in the MPAK Board of Directors meeting, attend the general assembly meeting for MPAK, and the 12th MPAK National Conference to Promote Domestic Adoption in Korea.  I will feature this on another blog with pictures. 
But for now, the most important thing for the readers is the current happenings with the EP situation with the remaining 10% of the children that need to be cleared to meet this year’s quota. 
According to the two independent sources that I talked with, the situation is not good as there is a possibility that these children may not be cleared to leave by the end of the year.  There is a remote chance that a few children may be cleared for EP and given approval by the Family Court, but they are not hopeful that all the 10% remaining children will be able to leave by the end of the year.  Even if all of them were given EP clearances, it will still take at least a couple of months for the Family Court to approve them.  I am so sorry to relay this information to all the waiting families, and I hope I am wrong.
So far, since August 5th when the new adoption law was passed, there have not been new EPs issued by the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) for intercountry adoption yet.  There have been some EPs that were cleared after August 5th, but these were for those cases that were submitted under the old law.  In addition, there have been some travel clearances given to some families – even well into November, but their EPs were cleared under the old law.  While in Korea, I met the Dolan family that came out to pick their son up to go home, and they were cleared under the old law.
As for the domestic adoption, just a handful has been approved by the Family Court under the new law.  I heard that the Family Court in Daegu has processed the domestic cases a lot quicker than the lawyers in Seoul.  So I am thinking that, depending who is handling the paper works, the process could be faster or slower.
There are primarily two reasons why the delays are happening.  First, the Family Court, where all the final adoption approval is handled, are being run by the lawyers that are not familiar with adoption.  They are examining lots of paper works in great detail.  They have sometimes contacted birthmothers to verify whether they have truly relinquished their children or not, thus adding to the delay.  In reality, the lawyers do not need to do this as the agencies have already cleared the relinquishment issues with birthmothers.  So I asked whether the court is planning to contact every single one of the birthmothers, and was told that not all of them will be contacted, but make the determination to contact them based on the information given to them. 
The second reason for the delays is with the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW), where they have not cleared new EPs for intercountry adoption since August.  The sources have indicated that because MOHW needs to submit the cases to the Family Court for the final approval, they are making a great effort to complete the documentation before submitting to the court for approval.  There is a talk that MOHW will hire some people well versed in English to understand certain aspects of the documents.  Also there has been some push back by the Family Court to MOHW with some incomplete documentation related to some domestic cases, and the MOHW considers this an embarrassment and is trying to be thorough before submitting the paper works to the Family Court. 
So the waiting game continues…and so sorry that I couldn’t bring you better news.  But the sources I have talked with said that once they (both the MOHW and the Court) figure out all the uncertainties associated with the application of the new law, they will establish a rhythm of process, which will speed up the approval process.  I hope this will come soon, for the sake of all the waiting children and their families.

Monday, October 15, 2012

More Babies Being Abandoned due to the New Laws

I saw this news as soon as I blogged about witnessing the Space Shuttle Endeavor, and just had to follow up with another blog as this is such an important bit of news.  I have stated in the past that the new adoption laws in Korea will certainly drive more birthmothers to choose to abandon their babies as the new law requires the birthmothers to register the newborns under birthmothers' family registry, so the record can be kept for the babies as they may get adopted later.

The new law is starting to backfire as more and more children are being abandoned or discarded in many instances.  Here is the story of a pastor, the Pastor Lee, Jong Nak of the Joosarang Church, who has set up a “Baby Box”, where birthmothers can drop off their newborns without questions.  More and more babies are being abandoned at this Baby Box.

Please visit an article by Reuters on this story at:

Also, view the video of the Pastor Lee and his work as his facility has rescued many babies.  I will be traveling to Korea early November and plan to visit the Pastor Lee, an angel who really represents the best of the Christian spirit.

Space Shuttle Endeavor's Travel

This is a break from my usual topic on adoption.
I took a time off of my busy schedule and took my kids and my father-in-law to witness the historic travel of the Space Shuttle Endeavor on Saturday, October 13th.  Benjamin had a church related event and could not go. We were lined up on the Crenshaw Blvd, and there were thousands of people for many miles lined up to see the Shuttle, and we didn't want to miss it. 

The Endeavor encountered many barriers, such as trees that needed to be trimmed or cut (even despite all the planning and calculations), or remove the power lines or get them out of the way, or  even change the tires.  All these barriers caused 17 hours delay in getting the Endeavor from the LAX to the California Science Center.

Kids were aware of such spectacle of the Shuttle's travel through the media, and when I recommended to them that we should go and see it, they were marginally excited.  But once I took them to the Crenshaw Blvd and when they saw the thousands of people, they knew they were in a place of big excitement.  After seeing the Shuttle pass by them very slowly, they all were very excited and happy to be a part of this historic moment.

Got nervous watching this.  The Shuttle made it under this power line just barely.

My kids Jane, Helen, Kay, and Joseph, and my father-in-law, who was most excited of all.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Korea Update - on EP under New Adoption Laws

Thanks to all of you for patiently waiting for my updated report from Korea regarding the EP situation and the effect of the new adoption laws in the intercountry adoption process. 

Many of you have emailed me or responded to the previous blogs with questions on wanting to know what the latest development is.  I'm sorry that I got delayed in answering your requests.  For the month of September, there were MPAK and my work related travels every single week.  For instance, for the past two weeks I was in Denver for my work-related travels.

So here is the update.
Based on my interviews with two different sources in Korea, I found out that the intercountry adoption process is going very slow, but for a legitimate reason (of course there is really never a right and legitimate reason to delay a process of uniting a child with parents). 

As I have mentioned on my previous blog where I said that this year Korea has already expedited 90% of the quota level (number of children allowed to leave Korea in a year) before August, at which time the new adoption laws kicked in.  I also mentioned that this was done to expedite all the children that need to go home, and the remaining 10% cases (from Aug – Dec, or 5 remaining months) would be processed under the new adoption laws to serve as a learn-as-you-go type of processes for the agencies, the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW), and the Family Court that will be the final place of approving authority.

Unfortunately the learn-as-you-go process for the remaining 10% has been going very slowly, and this has not only affected intercountry adoption but also the domestic adoption process as well. To date, there have not been any new EPs issued for intercountry adoption, and in the case of domestic adoption, there have only been one approval by the Family Court to date.  So whether inter country or domestic, the process is going very slowly for the remaining cases.  For those of you waiting overseas, rest assured that the delays in your cases are temporary as Korea tries to find a right process not only for intercountry, but domestic adoption as well.

One of the reasons for the delay is that all the agencies, MOHW, and the Family Court need to have the new processes and all the appropriate paper works that are understood and accepted by all parties.  So working on the new processes and creating new forms of documentation is taking a lot of time.  Undoubtly there are many reviews, rejections, reworks and revisions that are being made, but this is a natural pain in the new process that cannot be avoided.  

Another reason for the delay is that MOHW is undergoing their annual audit conducted by the government, and this has stalled all the work related to adoption.  I am told that this should be over by next week.  Also, I am also told that additional EP requests have been made to MOHW under the new laws, and once these are approved, the agencies would hand the cases over to the Family Court for the final approvals. 

I don’t know how long it would take for the Family Court to approve the intercountry cases, but I was told that in the one domestic adoption case just approved, the Family Court took one month to process it.  I predict that it will be a bit longer for intercountry adoption.  But I also believe that once they go through a number of these, I think it will set the rhythm for the remaining processes and should become quicker as they get ready to process the new quotas waiting in the year 2013.

I plan to visit Korea in three weeks to attend MPAK’s national conference to promote domestic adoption, and while there I will try to make another updates to the blog to inform the latest happenings.  Please stay tuned, and thanks for your patience.

Steve Morrison

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

911 Remembered - A Visit to the Ground Zero

Who can forget the September 11, 2001?
The day that is forever etched in our memory. 

I know exactly where I was and what I was doing when I first heard the terrible news on that day.  I was on my way to work, stuck in a traffic on 105 Freeway going west, just passing the 710 Freeway underneath when I first heard the news on the radio. 

Before the Summer was over, I took my family to an 11-day vacation to visit Philadelphia, Washington DC, Gettysburg, Niagra Falls, Boston, and New York.  I called it "Discover America Heritage Trip" to teach my five kids the birth place of the US, hoping that visiting all the historic places would give them better perspective as they learn about the US history in their schools.

So one place we stopped by (only three weeks ago) was the 911 Memorial Site in the heart of New York City.  Of all the places to visit, this place drew our hearts like a magnet.  Partly to actually see the Ground Zero that we have heard so much about over the years, but more importantly to pay respect and remember nearly 3000 lives lost, and to honor the fallen NYFD firefighter heroes. 

There were people taking pictures, children running around, constructions going and some puting hands on the inscribed names of those perished to reflect, and to try to make some sense out of what happened.  Amidst the heavy city traffic and noises of the building constructions taking place all around, the 911 Memorial Site was very quite and somber and peaceful.  In that stillness and quietness, the memorial seemed to cry out for peace, and it was clearly louder than the noisy clutters of the city and the voices of people that surrounded it. 

911 - May We Never Forget.

Benjamin (in black) reflecting on the 911 Memorial

Reflecting Pool with the names of people perished inscribed around the perimeter.

My kids (not the woman with the bag) observe the reflecting pool, my wife on the right with a red backpack.

One of the new World Trade Center going up.

The ground at the 911 Memorial Site

Crumbled aluminum sheet from the building.

Yes, May We Never Forget - A Memorial to NYFD

343 NYFD Firefighers that have perished in their services - You are our Heroes!

My wife Jody and I at the 911 Memorial visit on August 24, 2012.