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.