Saturday, December 28, 2013

While the Government Closed Its Eyes, the Baby Box Accepted 300 Babies

This is an editorial that appeared on the Kukmin Daily on 12/27/13
In Korean: (

I translated it as shown below. The figure was obtained from another news article, and it shows the drmatic increase in the rise of the abandonment of children after the Special Adoption Law was enacted starting August 5, 2012.

The Editorial by Kukmin Daily

"While the Government Closed Its Eyes, the Baby Box Accepted 300 Babies."

Since the enactment of the Special Adoption Law on August of the last year, the number of babies being abandoned is continuing to soar.  For the past 16 months there have been only the arguments surrounding the law but no action to resolve the problems.
Since its inception of the Baby Box on December 2009 at the Jusarang Community Church located in Seoul Kwanak-gu district, there have been over 300 children abandoned.  It is chilling to think what might have happened to these babies if the Baby Box was not around.However, the government claimed that the existence of the Baby Box violates the intents of the Special Adoption Law, and pressured the church to shut down the operation.  When the church resisted the government cut off the existing financial support to the church. The Baby Box is now being supported by the offerings and the donations, as it struggles to meet its needs.  The question that I want to ask is how the government can administer its policy in this manner.
From the beginning the Special Adoption Law has been very controversial.  The law changed the adoption reporting system at the city, region, and district level to the adoption approval process through the court, and required the birth registration as a condition to process for adoptions, and the seven-days waiting period by birthmothers before they can relinquish their children for adoption.  The government thought that this law would be highly effective and result in the better records of birth parents, stop illegal adoptions, and reduce the number of abandonments of the babies.
But the results show too many unexpected fallouts.  The unwed mothers in their teens are afraid of being identified through the birth registration requirement, and the adoption process has become impractical and complex through the use of the court system. Already there is a movement to revise the law, and the Anti-Corruption & Civil Rights Commission continues to receive many complaints regarding the law. 
Fortunately the City of Seoul has announced on December 26th, that they will utilize the social service helps from the other regions starting new year to stave off the shortage of hands in taking care of the children that came through the Baby Box.  To do this the city has raised the budget to handle this from $2500 this year to $15,000 next year.  However, there is still a shortage of social workers and professional helps through weak management.  Therefore the babies under a month still may face the risk of safety if things are not handled properly.
Even if the intent of the law was good, if it results in so many negative consequences, it needs to be re-examined. The government must come up with a solution to remedy this.  Is it conscionable for us think that these children that have been brought into this world without blessings be handled so carelessly?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The First Christmas Memory

The First Christmas Memory

The two boys huddled to warm themselves before a small fire burning inside a makeshift tent-like hut. The hut was so small that a grown up man could not stand. The boys ages must have been around five and the younger one around 3 ½. The night was dark and cold with knee-deep snow outside.  The boys had barely eaten anything all day long and they were hungry. 

All day long they walked the streets looking for food and rummaged through the discarded trash, and they walked the streets in hopes of finding a coin or two to buy something to eat, but the snow made it hard for them.  So it was going to be another night of going to sleep with hunger.  Their bodies itched with lice, and they would take their clothes off and heat it on the flame without burning, and would watch the lice crawl out of the seams and the boys would kill them off one by one. In a shiver they would quickly put their clothes back on.

Then out of the darkness and into the hut came in their father, with a big smile on his face, and he was in a good mood.  The boys thought something was unusual with their father, who would usually come home drunk and often beat their mother and the boys.  A few months earlier the mother, who could not stand getting beaten every day, ran away from home.   So it was unusual for the boys to see their father come home happy that night.

He reached into his pocket and pulled out a couple of breads wrapped in a newspaper, and gave it to the boys.  Then he surprised the boys by singing “Silent Night, Holy Night”… that’s all he knew of the song.  So he repeated it again and again several more times but did not know the rest of the song beyond “Silent Night, Holy Night”.  The boys didn’t understand what the song was about and they had never heard of such song before.  However, they eagerly devoured the breads and were content that their father was in a merry mood and happy they had something to eat that day. The boys would long remember that there was something special about that night.

Each day the father left the hut in the morning, leaving it up to the boys to fend for themselves.  He left no food or drink, and each day the boys roamed the streets looking for food to eat.  A few months later the boys would learn that their father is captured by the police and is put in a jail.  The boys are without mother or father and they are on their own. 

But the boys are able to survive each day as they continue to roam the streets, and able to find something to eat.  There were some kind people who would pity the boys and give some foods. There was one particular woman who sold steamed crabs under a bridge where the boys’ hut was, and she took interest in them and would often give them free crabs.  She was kind to them, and the boys like her.

One day the woman decided to take the younger boy to her home to raise him, leaving the older one behind.  She bought new clothes and put them on the younger one and took him home.  The five years old boy is now all alone for the first time.  It was the last time he would see his brother.  He was envious of his brother who now didn’t have to roam the streets looking for food to eat or be cold.

A few days later the older boy would be found by a gentleman, and he is taken to an orphanage.  He stayed there a few months before being transferred to another orphanage to get a surgery on his crippled leg.  There he meets hundreds of other children in the orphanage.   There he meets Harry Holt and his family.  

On one cold Sunday, the orphans were all gathered up in a chapel, and there they sang the “Silent Night, Holy Night”.  As the boy followed along and learned the song, he thought he had heard the song somewhere.  Then he remembered…it was the same song that his father tried to sing a year earlier where the father didn’t know the rest of the song. The boy learned to sing the rest of the song and knew it was a special song. 

All is calm, all is bright.
Round yon Virgin Mother and child!
Holy Infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace.

Son of God, love's pure light,
Radiant beams from Thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth.

Through the years as each Christmas rolled in, whenever he sang this song the boy’s memory would always drift back to the time when he first heard the “Silent Night, Holy Night” from his father. And each year the meaning of the song became more and clearer to him in a special way, but at the same time it was filled with sadness and a feeling of compassion for his lost father, who eventually died without ever knowing the rest of the song.

With all the pain and abuse the boy suffered under his father, that night a long ago in a small hut, the terror became peace as the first Christmas spirit was first experienced by the boy.  The father who could not sing beyond “Silent Night, Holy Night” at least made a special night to remember for this boy, who would later bear the name of Morrison.

Merry Christmas.   

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Capt. Tim Paolini, US Navy - An American Soldier as an Adoptee Santa

From the Chosun Daily in Korea
In Korean (
Here is the translated version:

An American Soldier as an Adoptee Santa

“I came to give back to what I have received as a child.”

Adoptee Captain Tim Paolini

Capt Timothy Paolini of the US Navy visited the children to deliver the presents at the Holt Children’s Center at Seoul’s Mapo-gu District on December 13th.

“Wow, it’s the Santa!”
The volunteers shouted as a young man with the red toy bag appeared.
The young man was Capt Tim Paolini (29), a Korean-American who visited the children at the Holt Children’s Services in the afternoon of the 13th.  He has been serving in Korea as a captain for the US Navy since February of this year. 
Born in 1984, he was abandoned at the Suwon train station when he was just three years old, and was subsequently adopted to the US through Holt. 
Capt. Paolini visited the children at Holt to present them with toys. As a part of the Toys for Tots program, Cap. Paolini prepared since November by coordinating the toy drives among his troops, and placing the posters throughout the base to get the words out. 
The eyes of the five children that were at the care opened wide as the Capt. Paolini entered.  As soon as he opened the red toy bags, the children clamored around him eagerly.  There were teddy bears, toy excavators, cars and many other toys that came out of the bag and the children could not take their eyes off. The Capt. Paolini was afraid that there might not be a good reaction by the children, but once he saw how children reacted he was very happy and smiled big.
“I feel like I have traveled past through a time machine” stated Capt. Paolini as he looked at the children, for as he saw in them the images of himself 20 years ago.  He said, “As I look at these children being loved and cared, I think that there must have been someone who also helped me. Thinking of that makes me grateful.” Paolini said with a heart full of contentment.
The toys that he and his troops collected came through the donation boxes set up inside the Yongsan Base.  Over 2000 toys were collected through this program. Because he could not attend the official toy give away ceremony on 19th, he brought over 40 toys to share with the children.
As he looked over the children, Capt. Paolini was very grateful that he was given the chance to be adopted.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Update from Korea on Adoption Progress

I have the latest number of adoptions as of 9/30/13.  There was no data available for October or November, yet.  But as of 9/30/13, there have been approximately 490 domestic adoptions, and 140 intercountry adoptions completed. 

As of 11/30/13, the total number of domestic adoption cases submitted to the family court is around 650.  Based on this number the EPs can be submitted to the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) for intercountry adoption.  Using the 2/3 rule, this would be around 430, the number submitted to MOHW for application for the EPs.  Of course the significant portion the 430 EPs have already been approved and many have been submitted to the family court for the finalization.

The big question is, how many more EPs can MOHW accept and process while their office is slated to move to the Sejong City on December 13th and will last at least a week or so.  I asked my source whether this means all the adoption process by MOHW is essentially over for the year.  I was told that it isn't over, as MOHW stated that they will still try to process as many as they can before the year is over.

The new director at MOHW (whom I have met in Korea) is being praised for taking the issue of the EP approval seriously and being much more agressive and prompt with the process, but he sticks to the rule and does not bend easily I am told.  But he is much more effective in getting the number of EPs approved. 

My source tells me that the domestic adoption application to the family court will exceed 700 this year, thus allowing a room for 465 or so intercountry EPs accepted by MOHW. However, one must be aware that it takes time for MOHW to clear all the EPs, and many of them won't be approved until early 2014.  But the thinking is that all the EPs accepted by MOHW in 2013 will count as the total number of intercountry adoptions from Korea this year.

I am hopeful that the application for domestic adoption will reach 750, thus giving 500 EPs for intercountry adoption this year.  While 500 is way short of the initial quota of 743 set for the year 2013, the speed has picked up quite a bit lately under the new director, and for the judges the process has now become more of a routine process for them.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Tragic Decision by the City of Seoul on Baby Box

Below is the statement that came from Ms. Young Ran Jeong of the Jusarang Community Church, which houses the Baby Box. I ask for your prayers that God will reach out to the hearts of the government officials to protect the lives of the innocent babies. I love many things about Korea, but certainly this is not one of them.


Here is Ms. Young Ran Jeong's message:

This morning we received a call from the person in charge of the Baby Box at the Kwanak-Ku office.  I was told that the city of Seoul and the Seoul Metropolitan Children’s Welfare Center (서울시아동복지센터) and the Seoul City Children’s Hospital (서울시립어린이병원) had a discussion and they have decided they will no longer accept the babies abandoned through the Baby Box.

They have concluded that other than in emergency situations, they cannot accept additional babies as there is no spaces available in the institutions in the Seoul areas.  They told the Jusarang Church (where the Baby Box is) that it would be up to them to take care of the abandoned babies from now on.  The city was scheduled to come on Thursday to pick up the children, but they will not do that now.  They also stated that the best solution is for them to move to another area region other than Seoul.  The other regions have enough rooms to accommodate the children, so it would be good for the Baby Box to move there. 
I asked whether it would be possible for the city of Seoul to contact the regional areas and arrange to have the children be transported to those regions.  But their excuse was that this would not be possible without changing the administrative related laws.
I also asked the city employee to help the Jusarang to host a children’s center, but was told that if the condition was ideal for Jusarang this would be no problem (stipulation that Jusarang does not qualify under the current facility regulation as they are not legally approved to take care of children as the facility is too small).    
They were clearly aware of our limitations, and I could not believe the city was telling me these things. The room at our facility for the newborn babies barely can hold seven babies…and what are we suppose to do for all the children that continue to come to our care…and we can’t even help with the birth registration matters.
I think the bottom line message from Seoul is that they want us to close the Baby Box.  Because there have been lots of pressures in the past to close the Baby Box, now the government is using this devious scheme to shut us down.   Why can’t they understand that closing the Baby Box is not the solution?
Outside the weather is very cold, and how can they think in this way when just a few days ago there was another news article where a baby was discovered abandoned somewhere and the baby was in a critical condition!!!!
We are at a loss as to what to do as they didn’t even give us how much time we have, but they just dropped the news on us.   We can only pray.
I ask for your prayers that this sticky situation will be resolved soon.
Young Ran Jeong's message in original
오늘 이른 아침 관악구청 베이비박스 담당직원으로부터 전화한통을 받았습니다. 서울시와 서울시아동복지센터와 서울시립어린이병원과 이야기를 나누었는데 더이상 베이비박스에 들어온 아기들을 받을 수 없다는 것입니다. 정말로 긴급히 병원에 가서 꼭 치료를 받아야 하는 아기를 제외하고는 더이상 받아 줄 시설이 서울에는 없다는 것입니다. 이제부터는 주사랑공동체에서 알아서 하라고 하더군요. 낼 목요일이 정기적으로 아기를 데리러 오는 날인데 낼부터 아기를 데리러 올 수 없답니다. 가장 좋은 방법은 빨리 지방으로 이사를 가는 것이랍니다. 지방 시설에는 자리가 많이 나기때문에 그쪽으로 베이비박스가 가면 괜찮다는 것입니다. 

 그렇다면 현재 베이비박스에 보호되는 아기들을 서울시와 연계해서 지방으로 보내면 되지 않겠느냐고 했더니 행정절...차상 법을 다시 바꿔야 해서 안된다는 것입니다. 그럼 우리가 일시보호소를 운영할 수 있게 해 달라고 하니 조건만 갖추어준다면 얼마든지 할 수 있다는 겁니다. 주사랑공동체 열악한 환경을 뻔히 알면서 어떻게 이런 말이 나올 수 있는지...신생아실로 쓰고 있는 믿음방은 신생아가 7명만 누워있어도 어른들 자리가 없는데 앞으로 베이비박스에 보호되는 아기들을 어떻게 해야 할지...그렇다고 출생신고를 할 수 있게 해 주는 것도 아닌데 말이죠..

 결국은 베이비박스 문 닫으라는 소리나 다름없는 거죠. 베이비박스 폐쇄압박이 직접적으로 먹히지 않으니 이렇게 우회적으로 돌려 이야기는 하는 정부의 형태가 참으로 어이가 없고 기가막힐 따름입니다. 이제는 베이비박스 문을 닫는다고 해서 해결될 일이 아니라는 것을 왜 모를까요?
날씨는 점점 추워지고 있고 며칠전에도 바깥에서 버려져 아기의 생명이 위험해진 기사를 봤을텐데도 이런 생각이라니!!!! 언제까지 기한이 정해진 것도 아니고 어떻게 해야 할지 참 막막합니다. 현재로써는 기도할 뿐입니다.

 이 문제가 원만히 잘 해결 될 수 있기를 간절히 기도해 주세요.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Family Court Adds One More Judge

I tried to sleep, but the sleep wouldn't come. So I decided to get up and update my blog.  I have been back to the States for three days and still going through a tough time in adjusting to the Pacific Time zone.  I had a very fruitful 10 days trip to Korea. 

The family court in Korea has added one more judge, bringing the total number of judges to five.  However, this new judge is dedicated solely for the purpose of adoption hearings.  Apparently, the four judges that have been summoning the parents so far were not always dedicated to the adoption cases as they ruled on other family related matters at the court. 

I asked my source whether this addition of a dedicated judge to the adoption cases would mean quicker court proceedings, but they weren't sure.  They weren't sure whether the existing four judges will continue to be involved with the adoption processes at their usual paces, but augmented by the addition of the fifth judge, or that the four judges will have a reduced roles in the adoption hearings due to the addition of this dedicated judge. No one has the clear answer.

However, the new judge has already summoned some families, thus giving clear evidence that the court has five judges that are handling the adoption cases now. 

I have also heard that the EP process has picked up some speed under the new director, who I happened to meet at the MPAK conference.  I had a brief exchange with him, but it was more on the issues of the special adoption law. 

This year’s quota was set at 743, and the number of EPs submitted to the Ministry of Health and Welfare is now around 50% of the quota (currently around 375) as of mid-November.  It is expected that by the end of the year, we can expect the EP approvals to be closer to 425, which is still a way short of the quota level.

If the year 2013 can be considered a year of experimenting and a new learning process for all (the agencies, the Ministry and the family court judges), coming short of the quota is understandable.  But I am hoping that when they set the new quota for the year 2014, I expect them to meet it 100%.  At least that's what I'm hoping for.  But if the past is any indication, that could be a challenge.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

MPAK National Conference to Promote Domestic Adoption

Attached is the MPAK's national conference poster.

 MPAK's annual conference in Korea typically draws 600-800 people, where adoptive families from every corners of Korea will converge to celebrate domestic adoption.

It began in 2000 with a motto "Adoption - Shouldn't We Also Do It?"
Since then it has mushroomed in Korea with MPAK adoptive family support networks springing up everywhere.  Today we have 28 groups in Korea, and six in the US.

The conference event will be on Saturday, Nov. 9th at the Geumchon City Hall at 12PM. We welcome all those who are visiting in Korea to come and celebrate with us.

There will be many grown up adoptees, and happy to report that Hollee McGinnis will be one of the speakers sharing her adoption story.  We also have a congressional representative Lee Mok Hee, and the Hon. Paull Shin that will take a part in the event.

There will be performances by the Korean Adoptee Children's Choir, a band, and a special performance by Ms. Shim Soo Bong (심수봉), who was once the most acclaimed singer in Korea.  Her music is still loved by all in Korea.

Although the event started 14 years ago, this is the 13th event, as we had to cancel one year due to an influenza (SARS?) outbreak in Korea that discouraged people from assembling together.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Baby Box Statistics

The Baby Box first opened towards the end of the year 2009 after the Rev. Lee Jong Nak saw a few babies being abandoned nearby his church.  Early 2010 he received the first baby through the Baby Box.  In 2010 he received four children, where two of them were special needs.  In 2011 he received 37 children where 11 of them were special needs.

The Special Adoption Law was enacted on August 5, 2012.  As soon as the law was enacted, there was a sharp jump in the abandonment through the Baby Box.  Before the law, the average number of children being abandoned through the Baby Box was four.  Right after the law, the average jumped four times to 16 per month.  In that year, there were 79 children abandoned, of which only eight were special needs.  More and more healthy babies were being abandoned. 43% of the birthmothers left memos describing how they could not raise them as the law made it difficult for them to relinquish their babies at the adoption agencies without first registering their babies under mothers' names.

As for this year, as of October 15, 2013, there have been 202 babies abandoned, of which 18 of them were special needs. There are people who continue to deny the relationship between the Special Adoption Law and the number of children being abandoned.  But it is clear, as the birthmothers have testified and blamed the law for making it difficult for them to relinquish them legally.

Graphic Source:  Yonhap News, 10/29/13

Monday, October 28, 2013

Here Comes MPAK-Georgia!

I am very happy to announce the formation of the new MPAK-Georgia.
MPAK-Georgia will be led by Karen Pierce Lim.  The Gathering is on Saturday, November 23, 2013 at the Bethany Presbyterian Church in Marietta, GA.  If you are in the Atlanta or other areas of Georgia, you are more than welcome.
What began as a movement to bring about positive changes to the Korean adoption culture, where domestic adoption in Korea was promoted and by the Korean-Americans, we see the needs of all adoptive families that have adopted children from Korea are common regardless of race.  Children's curiosity with their beginnings, their interest in their birthmothers and search for them, their interest in identities,  and the need to network among themselves are common denominator that unites all the adopted children and families.  So it is with this in mind that MPAK is answering the call to establish itself in Georgia to better serve the families that have adopted children from Korea.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

EP Process Status

Recently there has been some slow down in the EP approvals.  This was based on many feedbacks I have received from people wanting to know the reason for the slow down.

I checked into this, and I am told that because of the personnel changes in the ministry (almost entire department members changed), this has created some slow down, but just recently some of the backlogged EPs have been getting approvals by the new staff, and it is expected that the new staff will pick up the speed as time goes.

I am told that currently there are approximately 600 cases of domestic adoptions that have been submitted to family court to date.  So we can predict a total of 400 EPs submitted for intercountry adoption, with many of them have already been approved.  While this is a far cry from the quota level for 2013, it is a significant accomplishment despite all the difficulties faced this year.

The agencies are working hard to increase the domestic adoption numbers.  But despite the accomplishments in both domestic and intercountry, they fear that the illegal adoption(adoption without proper documentation nor the process) has seen a significant rise, and they don't know how to go about controling this.

As for the family court, there is a rumor that an additional judge may be assigned, and if this happens there will be five judges.  I recommended eight judges, but we will see how this plays out in the future.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

EP is Moving Along Better Than Expected

Despite the personnel changes at the Ministry, the new director has taken the new assignment well and she hardly has slowed down the EP approvals.  I have heard some good things about her, and hope that she will continue to give hope.  The approvals are continuing, and the family court dates are continuing to be assigned, and families are making travel arrangements.

While it is still highly doubtful the Ministry can meet the quota set for the year 2013, it appears that the Ministry is trying to do what it can despite the big roadblock ahead that will certain to slow them down when they move to Sejong City.

On another note, the National Human Rights Commission of Korea has ruled that the Baby Box in Korea does not violate human rights and the facility is legal.  Apparently a complaint was filed by an activist adoptee to the National Human Rights Commission, hoping they would rule against the Baby Box.  But to her dismay the Commission ruled against her and stated that it does not violate human rights, but instead the actions taken by the Baby Box is in upholding human rights by protecting the children.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Recent News from Korea - The Ministry to Move to Another City

I hesitated to write about this as the news is not very good, and this might discourage many waiting families.  But the news was already broken by an agency, and so I will follow up with what I have learned.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) is scheduled to move their office from Seoul to a new city called the Sejong City, which is two hours south of Seoul.  The city is named after the most respected and revered King Sejong (1397 - 1450), under whose rule saw the dynamic progress in Korea, including the introduction of the Korean Hangul for common people to communicate.

The move is expected to take place in November, and this will certainly put some delays in the processing of the EPs.  Currently they have around 300 EPs submitted, of which about half of them have been approved.  The processing of the EPs by the MOHW has been very slow recently, and the agencies have requested the ministry for quicker approval, but ministry has not responded yet.

As for the family court schedule, I am hearing that the judges are able to process quicker than they used to be, but the real slow down is not the court, but it's the ministry.  Another bad thing is that right after their move to the Sejong City, the MOHW will undergo an audit (they do this each year), and this will certainly take the workers' time away from processing the adoption papers.

Another news is that there seems to be some changes in the staff at the Ministry.  A couple of staff has been rotated out, namely the section director.  However, the team leader and the department director have not been rotated, yet. 

So I am sorry to let the readers to know that because of the moves by the ministry and the annual audit to take place, and the staff rotation and additional staff changes expected (and the new roles and responsibilities they need to learn and catch up), the approval of the remaining EPs this year is questionable.  But most likely they won't meet the quota set for 2013. 

I hope I am wrong on this. And I was very hesitant in sharing this information, but I think the agency that already broke the news did a responsible thing by letting the parents know.

Friday, September 20, 2013

My Comments in CNN's Biased Coverage on Intercountry Adoption

CNN did a biased coverage on the intercountry adoption, with a strong spin on those adoptees that have voiced against the intercountry adoptions from Korea.  To counter this bias, I wrote a comment (shown in earlier blog). There have been a few comments following it that argued against me, some to the point of going on personal attacks on me.  Reason with reason, and facts with facts.  There was no point in going beyond this when they personally attack you.  However, there were many times more people that have supported my point of view. 

Way down below the comments chain, another person asked me this question.

"The discussion about the baby box is interesting and has been going on for a while now. As you probably know, the UN has make the conclusion that baby boxes are troublesome as they can ENCOURAGE mums to abandon their children. Why do you support that?"

I responded as follows...

"It's a good question. I do not trust UN based on some of the positions they have taken. In the Europe, there are many nations with lots of baby boxes. In Germany there are 100 baby boxes, Czech has 47, Italy has 8, Poland 45, Slovakia with 26, and so on. UN is pushing to close all these boxes for the same reason you mentioned - that these boxes will encourage more abandonments.

But I think the UN is completely wrong on this. I do not think that these boxes are encouraging birthmothers that wish to raise their children to all of a sudden make them change their minds to abandon them.

Let me attempt to explain this logic by using the example of a homeless shelter. Let's suppose a homeless shelter has been set up in a neighborhood and it gets exposed heavily in the news media, and many homeless people flock to it to utilize the services provided by the shelter. Therefore, one can ask the same type of question. Does the availability of a shelter encourage more people become homeless? I think not. People were already homeless and they sought to find a way, a method to get sheltered.

Likewise, the availability of a baby box does not encourage more abandonments, but rather provides a way for birthmothers that have already abandoned their babies in their hearts, but just didn't know how to unburden them as they could not give up their babies at the agencies as the law forbids them to accept the babies without first being registered.

The US has a similar concept like the Baby Box through a program named Baby Safe Haven Law, which is adopted by all 50 states after finding many babies abandoned or left dead in trash bins or in other unsafe places by birthmothers. The program's aim is to prevent the lives lost by giving chances to birthmothers to relinquish their babies at fire stations, ERs, hospitals, social services, etc. with no questions asked."

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

US Kids Being Adopted Overseas? - You Will Be Surprised.

Did you know that there are many many children being adopted out of the US to other countries?
I didn't know this until CNN featured it on their recent series on adoption.  Apparently there are many US Kids being adopted out of the US. 
Seventy Dutch families who adopted U.S. kids gather for an annual Fathers Day picnic in June.

This article is from CNN and the link is as follows:
Here is an excerpts from the article on the number of children being adopted out of the US.
"For example, in 2010 the U.S. State Department counted only 43 U.S. kids who were adopted overseas, but the same year five countries -- Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Ireland -- reported adoptions of 205 children born in the U.S., Selman said. According to statistics by receiving countries, there were 126 U.S. children adopted overseas in 2004, steadily rising to 315 in 2009.
The State Department's system for tracking international adoptions only includes reports from certain adoption providers, such as those accredited under an international treaty known as the Hague Convention, a spokesperson said. Other adoptions involving U.S. children, like those completed through the foster care system, are not counted. "In order to address that shortcoming, we have increased our outreach efforts to encourage receiving countries and public domestic authorities to report the outgoing adoption information to us," State Department spokesperson Elizabeth Finan said by email.
Canada is the number one destination for children adopted from the U.S. -- 148 went there in 2010 -- likely owing to its proximity, experts say. But the Netherlands has consistently ranked second each year; about 250 U.S. children were adopted by Dutch families from 2004 to 2010."

Monday, September 16, 2013

The CNN Coverage on Intercountry Adoption

Recently, the CNN has featured an article on adoptees trying to bring about closure of intercountry adoption.  I was interviewed for this, and the author Wilfred Chan was a very nice guy with an open ear, but I was informed that he left CNN in the middle of the story.  So along the way the CNN finished the story, with strong tilt to adoptees that advocate closure of intercountry adoption.  I found this unfortunate.  I noticed that CNN has ignored some of my critical comments from the article, which I have decided to post under the comment section in the article.

At the end of the article, I left a comment, which is enclosed here for your infomation.

"It is a real tragedy when the law that was supposed to protect the children's welfare has turned against them. The law has resulted in the abandonment of over 200 children since it's enactment in Aug 2012. 43% of birthmothers left notes blaming the special adoption law for causing them to abandon their babies. Even now there are stories of birthmothers abandoning their children and in some cases murdering them to get out of their burdens. The issue of birthmothers and adoption need to go hand-in-hand. They must work together, as the lives of children are at stake. Adoptees advocating the closure of intercountry adoption and even speaking agianst domestic adoption is not helping with the situation. One cannot kill the other to make the other survive. One cannot kill adoption to make birthmothers cause come alive. Adoption does not cause separation of children from their birth parents. Rather, it is in response to already separated children that birthmothers decided to give up. One should focus on raising the issues of birthmothers by speaking to bring about changes in the society that has such a strong stigma against unwed mothers. Adoptees should campaign to bring about more acceptable culture where unwed mothers can raise their children. This is where their focus should be, not by speaking against adoption. The most unfortunate thing with the current adoption law is that if a child is not adopted, the record remains with birthmothers, and the birthmothers do not want to risk this. That's reason for the huge number of abandonments in Korea. Are we really doing what is best for the homeless children?"

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

EPs are Slow but Moving

As of July 31, 2013, there have been approximately 460 domestic adoption cases submitted to the court for the year 2013.  Using the 2/3 rule, that works out to be 306 intercountry adoption EPs that should be submitted or approved. 

But the actual EPs submitted is fewer than 306.  I think it looks more like around 300 EPs submitted.  Not breaking down the actual EPs submitted by each agency, and not wanting to disclose too much details, I think the EP movement is very slow, but it has caught up significantly in recent months. 

While I am pessimistic that MOHW will reach the 2013 quota level this year, I am confident that if the agencies are aggressive in their domestic adoption campaign, then the number of EPs will continue to climb, and may even come close to the quota level.

However, the agencies are in challenging position as the domestic adoption itself has slowed down significantly compared to the year before.  There just aren't enough girls for domestic adoption, as domestic adoption in Korea has preferred girls over boys by 7 to 3 in the past as it is now.

Due to the complexities of the Special Adoption Law, I am told that there are many cases of illicit adoptions happening in Korea, where adoptive parents work directly with clinics or birthmothers to obtain children, thus bypassing the agencies and the due process of adoption practices.  In this manner, the children are not registered with birthmother but are registered under the adopting parents name, as they pretend the babies were born from them.

The Special Adoption Law has resulted in hundreds of children being abandoned, and has caused havoc in decreasing even the domestic adoption while increasing illicit adoptions. This law clearly has proven that it is not in the best interest of children, and should be revised.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

From Referral to EP to Finalization Timeline - An Adoptive Parent's Experience

Chris Marci, who just recently brought her daughter home from Korea, shares an experience on what the timeline is like from EP to the finalization of adoption at the family court. Thanks to Chris for sharing this.  Others are welcome to share their timeline experience. Here is the writing by Chris.

Like many others here, I’ve been reading and hoping to glean some information as to how long the wait will be. We just brought our little girl home so in keeping with the information on the court, I’d like to put our timeline out there.

We were matched with our daughter at 6 months of age in December 2011. We had our EP submitted in December 2012. We were one of the very last groups for 2012. In March our EP had been processed. We were given a court date of in mid June. We bought our tickets through Travelocity via Singapore air and it cost about $2800. We stayed at a business travelers hotel in Myongdong for a 5 day visit. We saw our daughter twice at Eastern during that time.

The court date was very relaxed and the judge was very personable. He asked us very easy questions. Why do you want to adopt from Korea? How will you provide care since you both work. What did you think when you learned of the delay in the adoption process? After answering all their questions through a translator, he issued provisional approval. We left the following day back home.

14 business days later we got word everything was done and we could come get our daughter. We waited about another 2 weeks to travel for work. We booked our tickets through a travel agent this time because we needed a one way child ticket who sat with us. That couldn’t be done through Travelocity. The cost was approx. $3600 for this flight. We stayed at the adoption agency this time.

The visa appointment took about 45 minutes because no one else was there. They issued an IR3 visa. We left the following day. Immigration and customs was very straightforward on both the Korean side and the US side. Basically we gave the papers they asked for, waited about 10 minutes then went on with our travels.

Our daughter, now 27 months, is home with us. She had a rough trip, but otherwise is doing just fine. Sleep is tough, but otherwise she’s doing all the normal things a precocious 2 year old should be doing and showing no signs of any problems.

Hopefully this story gives the rest of those out there some frame of reference for their own waits. I was told by the adoption agency over there that our wait will be longer than those who follow us now that the power that be have got the process established.

(Steve's note:  So far, during the 14-day waiting period, no birthmother has stepped in to take her child back. Neither domestic nor intercountry.)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Some Questions You Can Expect from the Judges

These are some of the questions you can expect to be asked during the court appearance.  It is advised that each family answer all the questions clearly and honestly. At the end of the court appearance, the judge will ask if the family has any comments for the Court.  This is when you can speak respectfully and indicate that you are completely prepared and ready to have your child be placed with your family as soon as possible.

These are some sample questions, and the judges are not going to ask you all the questions listed, but will vary from judge to judge.  Often it is more of a spontaneous questions and answers that gets a dialogue going to enable the judges to get to know you better.  So this list of questions does not cover all the questions.

·         Are you (full name of each adoptive parent)?

·         Where do you live?

·         When did you arrive in Korea?

·         When are you leaving Korea?

·         Why did you decide to adopt from Korea?

·         How many times have you met with the child?

·         How was the meeting with your child?

·         How did you react when you saw the child?

·         What did you think of the child?

·         What challenges do you think you might have with the child/due to a trans-racial adoption?

·         What training have you received in regards to cultural issues and post-adoptively searching for parents?

·         What time in his/her life do you think he/she will deal with these post-adoptive search questions?

·         How do the children already in your home feel about adopting a child from Korea?

·         Do you still want to adopt the child after seeing the child?

·         When did you start to plan this adoption?

·         Are you going to allow religious freedom for your adopted child?

·         (To siblings in Court), How do you feel about your new sibling?

·         What are your thoughts about raising a child of a different culture?

·         Are you going to raise the adopted child the same way you are raising your other children in the home?

·         What is your job? Could you give more a specific explanation about your job?

·         What is your annual income?

·         (If both of parents are working) what is your parenting plan after going back home with the child?

·         (For families with a few children) could you specify your financial plans to parent your children?

·         (If the family has a young child in care), why do you want to adopt a child even though you are already raising a child?

·         Have there been any changes since your original home study? (The answer would be that there have been no changes since the last update.)

·         What were the best part /the most interesting part in the adoption education and training?

·         (For parent/parents being on medication), what medication are you taking? Since when have you taken that medication? What is your current condition with that medication?

·         What type of visa do you want to be issued for your child? (IR3/IR4..the answer should be IR3)

·         With the final court approval, you will become the only parents to the child as the relationship between the child and the birth parents will be cut and you cannot reverse this court approval. Are you fully aware of this?

·         Do you have any questions or statement for the Court?

When the judges were recently asked to respond to the necessity for the Court appearance, they explained that even though they are fully aware that the applicants have already been assessed to be eligible as adoptive parents per the pertinent laws in their respective countries, it is very difficult for the Korean judges to determine the suitability of the adoptive parents based on documents alone.

Just recently, there was a ruling in a domestic adoption case, where a parent had an incident of a past drunken behavior that resulted in his arrest many years ago.  A judge told him to “Do your best to raise the children you already have.” And he declined to approve the adoption. 

Is there an advantage of the One Trip Option versus the Two-Trip Option? It may be cheaper and easier on your time if you take a two trip option.  Because on the second trip only one person is required to go back to pick up the child. This option makes most sense if you have other children at home to consider, and limited in time to travel.

To date, it has been observed that the final adjudication is issued by the Court in a timelier manner for families who have indicated to the Court that they are staying in Korea for the duration of the process. The Court asks for a specific return date and for families who have indicated this.
The Final Adjudication has been issued in enough time for these families to leave according to plan. Families' stays have ranged from 4 - 6 weeks.