Wednesday, February 27, 2013

An Appeal To All - What Will Happen With Your Responses

When I posted the last blog, I had no idea that this would catch such a fire by storm and become viral (over 6,000 hits in one day!).  Thanks for the tremendous responses.  It just confirmed to me what is important to you all.  All you want is your children home.  The children that need families, and the families that want to love and care for them. Period.

Please do not make any hasty decisions on your adoption process and give up because of this let down by Korea.  Your children deserves your patience, and I am sure they share in your disappointments.  It is not the end.  It is still a work in progress.  And I am fully aware that this does not ease your great pain.

However, I appeal to all of you.  Do not give up on your children.  They have waited for you just as long as you have waited for them.  Let no mountain of adversity nor raging storms of events discourage you.

I also appeal to all of you to be calm.  Do not contact your politicians, nor call the agencies nor contact the Korean Embassies or other authorities to complain as these actions may backfire and make the situation worse.  What do they know about all the issues regarding the Special Adoption Laws and its impact?  They are far removed from what is going on with you.  They would have to go out of their ways to just learn about all the issues, and they may rub the folks at the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the powers that be at the Family Court in a wrong way and make it counter-productive. Also, please do not blame any adoption agencies.  They share in your frustrations.

It is enough that you have vent your frustrations through this blog, and many of you have sent me emails as well.  Your responses will not be ignored.  We at MPAK are reading every single one of your comments and responses, and capturing in a database as I write this.  Thanks to Denise Adams and Junhyung Lee (MPAK-Orange County Directors) for taking the leadership role in compiling all the comment feedbacks, and summarize the comments by category and the number of people with similar issues - i.e. financial reasons, family issues, unable to take the time without losing jobs, health reasons, being in military services, and many more. 

Thanks to many of you that have offered excellent ideas to argue. Many have expressed how this law is not fair to implement in midstream of the adoption processes as the parents were not informed of such things at the beginning when they signed up to adopt. Many have also expressed the insecurity of being in Korea and waiting - not knowing whether the birthmothers would change their minds or not, and traveling to Korea with such uncertainties at such high expenses with enormouse stresses on them and to the rest of the family members...this just isn't right by any standard.

I plan to review the summaries that my MPAK team will put together and have a review with a few members before sending it to Korea.  To whom I will send is sort of proprietary and I won't mention the names or organizations.  But the ultimate destination is the members of the Family Court.  It will be clear to the lawyers and the judges of the Family Court what the waiting families abroad are thinking about and where their hearts are in this matter.  They will clearly hear your voices.

I promise to do everything in my power and ability, and do my utmost to speak for all of you, and hope that reasons will prevail, and that favorable outcomes will be achieved for all the waiting children that need to come home, and the waiting families that ache for them.  I can't promise a miracle, only that I will try my best. So please pray for me.

Steve Morrison

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Korea Update - The Issue on the Travel Requirements

I made a couple of calls to Korea last night to find out what the status is regarding the adoption process for those waiting families that are adopting children from Korea.  I am sorry to say that the news is not good for now.  I am somewhat reluctant in sharing this, but you have to know what is going on and be prepared for it.

It has to do with the travel requirements, which will strain and burden many adoptive families, especially those with children in their care already.  The travel is necessary for the parents to go over to pick up their children and finalize adoption in Korea before the judges of the Family Court.  They (the agencies) are predicting that adoptive parents can expect to wait 3 – 4 weeks in Korea while adoption is being finalized.  Today I spoke with a friend of mine who was adopting from Puerto Rico, and he was told that he and his wife had to be in Puerto Rico for six weeks.  So this wait is not unique to Korea apparently.
The great bulk of this waiting is due to the reconsideration period requirement of 14 days.  During this time the parents are expected to be in Korea, at least that is the latest policy, but the agencies will be meeting with the judges and lawyers to discuss the impact that this regulation would have upon the visiting parents in terms of their time and expenses, not to mention the impacts upon the other children in the families.
Once the adoptive parents stand before a judge to interview through a process of questions and answers, and if the judge finds the parents acceptable based on all the paper works submitted and reviewed, then the judge declares adoption to go forward and the 14-day waiting period begins.  This waiting period is designed to give chance to birthmothers to take back their children should they change their minds.
Birthmothers will not be present during the time when the adoptive parents stand before the judge.  However, a separate inquiry will be made by the court beforehand to confirm birthmothers’ intention of giving up their children.  Even if a birthmother confirms her intention to give up the baby, the judge will issue the 14-day waiting period when the prospective adoptive parents stand before a judge.  After the 14-day reconsideration period is over, then the judge finalizes adoption and grants the parents to take the child home. 
As of now, there are still some adoptions that have not been finalized based on 2012 quota.  In other words, the 2012 quota has not been met and it is close to March 2013.  There are about half dozen cases where EP has been granted and these cases are still being processed by the Family Court.  There are another half dozen cases that are still waiting to receive the EP approvals, and another half dozen that are waiting to be submitted to start the EP approval process.  These cases are all from the 2012 quota and they cover all three agencies.  I don’t have the breakdown on the number of cases belonging to a particular agency.
So the intercountry adoption picture gets uglier due to the Special Adoption Law, which seems to focus on giving the birthmothers as much chance as possible for them to raise their own children.  Nobody can deny the well-intentioned purpose of the law, but the reality just does not support it.  What concerns me is that some of these birthmothers may decide on a moment to raise their children, but once the reality and hardship strikes them on their everyday lives, they may give up their babies later.  There have been many in the past where the birthmothers gave up their children as they realized that raising children requires a lot of commitment and sacrifice that they were not prepared for. 
It is entirely possible that during the 14-day waiting period some birthmothers may decide to take back their babies (just got an email today from a woman where this has just recently happened to her).  Some may last longer than 14 days, but some will give up before the 14-day period is over.  In this case the patience of the waiting parents may be rewarded. 
But for now, I wish to turn to you folks who are reading this blog.  I wish to compile a list of reasons why the 3-4 weeks wait in Korea may be too hard on you.  I wish to submit a compiled list to the Family Court and see if something can be done to shorten the wait.  The judges and lawyers in the court need to hear your voice. 
Some of the hardships I have already mentioned.  You may ask, “Can just one of the parents travel while the other takes care of the family?” or “Is there a way to shorten the waiting period if a birthmother is very sure of her decision?” or “I have a limited vacation days and this travel requirement is too difficult.”  You may submit your comments along this line, and I am looking for some reasons that will really project the hearts and mind of all the waiting parents who are caught in this mess, and hopefully the powers that be in Korea will listen, and reach a favorable compromise that will work for all.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Increase in the Baby Abandonment - Is Media to Blame?

Despite the significant increase in the number of children being abandoned, the anti-adoption organizations and the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) and its child organization the Korea Adoption Services (KAS), which should be advocating for the rights of children, have joined together to criticize the Baby Box’s existence and to explain away the rise in the number of abandonment was really contributed by the news media (and no other reason), and have voiced against the revision of the Special Adoption Law.  This is very disappointing to say the least.   

However, I have to admit that the news media has contributed to the number of abandonments at the Baby Box.  But there is a significant difference in the rationale advocated by the anti-adoption organizations / MOHW/KAS and that of mine. Their motive for blaming the media is that this is the only way they can explain the rise in the number of abandonment to defend the Special Adoption Law, while I know the real reason for the increase in the abandonment is due to the Special Adoption Law that forces birthmothers to register their babies against their will.   Also, there was a significant number of abandonment at the Baby Box already in existence right after the law came into being in August 2012.  And the news media flocked to cover this, not the reverse.
A birthmother who recently abandoned a baby at the Baby Box left a note that said, “I was turned away from an adoption agency, and thought about going through a black market type of adoption.  But for the safety of the baby I chose to come to the Baby Box.  So we can learn two things from this birthmother’s note.  The first is the awareness increase by the birthmothers that they have a safe place to abandon their babies.  However, the second thing we can learn from the note is that many birthmothers have tried to give up their children at adoption agencies, but have been turned away (without a birth registry the agencies cannot accept the babies for adoption).  Some have even considered some sort of black market type of adoption.  When they had nowhere to go they turned to the Baby Box.
To simply say that the number of children being abandoned at the Baby Box is the result of media coverage, and that this media has helped to plant the idea to the other birthmothers, only give the impression that the group consisting of anti-adoption organizations and the Korean Government are trying to wash over the serious flaws in the law.  They should not make further mistakes by trying to deny that there is flaw in the law.  The Korean government needs to acknowledge that the law is imperfect and try to revise the law to correct it.
In that spirit the press conference held on February 19, 2013 with the Rep. Baik Jai Hyun at the National Congress with the ‘Committee for the Revision of the Special Adoption Law’ is such an important step and a good start. The committee consists of Pastor Lee, Jong Nak of the Baby Box, Mrs. Han Youn Hee of MPAK, a celebrity named Mr. Chu Young Hoon, and a few others as well.  This is also supported by all the adoptive families, and over 500 churches and many organizations in Korea.
A celebrity Mr. Chu Young Hoon speaks at a press conference at the National Congress building, flanked by other members of the Committee for the Revision of the Special Adoption Law, led by Rep. Baik Jai Hyun (left of Mr. Chu)

If everyone could put themselves in the voiceless children’s perspective, they should do all they can to stop anything that endangers the lives of children before we begin to argue about all the issues regarding them.
I hope that MPAK will continue to do everything it can and come to the defense of all the voiceless children, as we have always been.