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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