Monday, April 29, 2013

About Min - A family is needed

I have never done this one, but an MPAK member sent me this child's information.  If you are interested in Min, please visit the link below.  I copied and pasted the texts in the link describing the child.  I hope she finds a home soon.

About Min

What a little doll! Her name is Min Kyo and she is waiting for you. Min Kyo is of Korean descent and is a precious little girl who needs a whole lot of cuddles. Min Kyo was born in July of 2012 and needs a family that will nurture her and give her an opportunity to grow and thrive. When you speak to her, she will pay attention and start to laugh. Min Kyo is able to scoot around the home on the floor and holds her head pretty well. Overall Min Kyo is a happy and calm baby who is easily soothed.

Min Kyo was born with a diagnosis of Microcephaly and Seizure disorder. She is legally blind and has possible hearing loss. She continues to struggle with her seizure disorder and the doctor has been working on getting the appropriate dosage to help control it. Min Kyo produces no tears and needs to have her eyes massages 4 times a day. Min Kyo has global developmental delays and is currently benefitting from Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Visual Therapy from Regional Center.

If you would like to provide a loving home for this little girl, please call the Department of Children and Family Services.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The First Intercountry Adoption Granted Under the New Law

This is from April 23, 2013 issue of the Yonhap News: In Korean

Translated contents:
Since the passage of the new Special Adoption Law, the first ever intercountry adoption has been completed through the Family Court in Korea. 
On April 23, 2013, the Seoul Family Court has granted a couple named ‘Hall’ from Sweden to adopt a boy that was born January 2012.
This is a first case of adoption being finalized in Korea through the family court since the change in the law.
The Social Welfare Society (SWS) applied for the couple’s adoption of the child in January 2012.  The Halls arrived in Korea on April 4th to meet with the child and was summoned to the court to be interviewed.  The Halls have adopted a child from Korea in 2007 and this is their second adoption.
According to the Special Adoption Law that was enacted in August 2012, the adoption agencies serving the foreign couples are working through the family court, accompanied with the emigration permit (EP).
There have been 66 applications of intercountry adoption to be approved by the family court on April 11, 2013.  But only one case has been processed.
However, for domestic adoption, there have been 116 applications to be processed by the family court, and 52 of them have been completed to date.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Family Court Update

It was surprising news to hear that some families have been summoned by the Family Court after the court cancelled the summons earlier. It so happened that a judge, who was not part of the first group of three judges that cancelled the summons, decided to have the parents come and stand before him. This has caught everyone by surprise.

The agencies are waiting to hear what the other three judges will do. Surely they can't go against their initial decision to forego the summons (about a dozen cases) as it would not look good on them. For now, nobody knows whether the judges will summon or forego the future cases. There has been no official announcement concerning which way they would go. One of the adoption experts I talked with stated that for now it is more like case by case.

The travel requirement of 3 - 4 weeks is apparently less stressful for European families as they get longer time off on their leaves, but more difficult for the families in the US. The expert I spoke with stated that the parents may have to go twice if a long stay is difficult in Korea. The scenario would be that a couple would be in Korea and get an adoption approval from a judge. This can be done within one week. Then the 14-day grace period begins. During this time one of the couple or both may leave Korea and then return after two weeks to pick up their child after the grace period is over. Or that one may stay during this period while the other goes back to the States to tend to their business.

It appears that both the husband and the wife must be present at the first meeting with a judge. But only one needs to be present to pick up the child. So for a family with a very limited time, one can return to his/her home after a week in Korea while the other remains in Korea during the grace period. Once this waiting is over he/she can pick up the child and go home, pending the birthmother decided not to take the child back.

The first case of intercountry adoption under this new system has already been accomplished by a couple from Sweden. They got the nod from a judge, and they waited two weeks. The birthmother still did not want the child, so the couple took the child home. The whole process took 19 days (from the time they arrived in Korea to the time they left). However, I understand that this couple was prepared ahead by the agency due to their special circumstance, and wound up going to the Family Court right after they arrived.

But for most people, it will not be this quick as it will take about a week to process the paper works and stand before a judge. So if things go smoothly under this scenario, the parents can expect to be in Korea a little over 21 days. Remember, only one of the couple needs to stay in Korea after the first week, unless there is need for both to return for a while.

Under this adoption, the child will be issued an IR-3 visa, where the child will get the US citizenship automatically on the day of his entry into the US. This is the advantage of adoption through the Family Court. If not, the child will be issued an IR-4 visa if no court appearance was involved. In this case the parents become the legal guardian of the child until the child gets officially adopted domestically in the US. For most families this is done around 6 months after the arrival of the child. When his adoption is finalized in the US, the child will get a citizenship.

Again, I stress to you that nothing has been decided yet in terms of the court summons, and I think it may be case by case.  It remains to be seen as the court is trying to find its way in the complex maze of adoption, and this new experiment with the new law has been very painful for all, especially the waiting children and all the waiting parents that are eager to embrace them and shed the tears of joy.  May that day come for all of you soon.

To reduce conflicts among the readers, and to respect one another's comments while disagreeing, and to avoid personal attacks in the future amongst the readers, I have turned off the postings under 'Anonymous'. You may register to leave comments.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Ruling Party Gets Involved - in the Special Adoption Law

The ruling party (The Saenuri Party) has finally got its hands on the issues concerning the Special Adoption Law.  They have stepped in after the front page news article on January 3, 2013 by the Kukminilbo that featured the sharp increase in the abandoned babies at places like the Baby Box right after the enactment of the Special Adoption Law in August 2012.

Mr. Hwang Woo-yea, Chairman of the ruling Saenuri Party
On April 15th Mr. Hwang Woo-yea (pictured above), the chairman of the Saenuri Party stated “From what I gather from the news media there has been a 20-fold increase in the number of babies being abandoned since three years ago, and this has caused me to sound the alarm.  The safety and happiness of families need to come first as we tackle this problem and the party must embrace this as a core value and look at the problems brought by the law.  In so doing we can expect to contribute to the development of the adoption culture in keeping abreast with that of the other developed nations.”
Chairman Hwang emphasized in the interview with the Kukminilbo that “Even if there is one child that is hurt by the shortcomings of the law, then you can conclude that the law has problems.  We will examine the issues not only on the abandonments, but also look at aiding birthmothers and other issues as well.”
Mr. Kim Hong Joon (50, an MPAK member) of the Task Force to Revise the Law stated that “While it is a little late in the ruling party’s involvement, but nevertheless it is a welcome sign.  The Special Adoption Law forces the birthmothers to raise their children despite the fact they are not able to do so.  But the support for birthmothers must not be ignored.” 
Child abandonment is not the only issue with the law.  The other big issue is with the drastic reduction in the number of domestic adoption as the figure below shows.

Since the enactment of the Special Adoption Law on August 5, 2012, the number of children placed for adoption from August – December 2012 was only 25 children.  For the first four months of 2013, the number of children adopted domestically is only 22.  The Family Court just recently approved the first case of intercountry adoption, and the family is waiting on the 14-day period. 
The data clearly shows that even the domestic adoption is greatly impacted by the Special Adoption Law.  I believe the problems can be isolated into two areas.  One is with the implementation of the law, and the other is with the requirement by the law that children can be placed for adoption only after registering into birthmothers’ family registry.   
The implementation problem always exists in a nation that is getting ready to ratify the Hague Adoption Convention, and due to the unfamiliarity of the convention it will take some time to mature the process.  This is one reason for the drastic decline in the adoption results.  The Family Court is not able to process the new practices as if it is routine. But the other reason is that because of the birth registry requirements, and that the children can only begin the adoption process after the registry is complete, this has caused birthmothers choosing other means such as abandonment, black market adoption, in some cases killing the babies.  The seven days holding is required by the law before relinquishing the babies for adoption, and some birthmothers have opted to keep their babies, but not significant enough. 
The limitation on birthmothers’ freedom to relinquish their babies at birth has resulted in drastic drop in intakes by the adoption agencies all over Korea.  The agencies have experienced only 30% level of the usual intake volume.  This is even bigger reason why the number of adoptions plummeted due to the law.
It is very obvious, despite the oppositions’ arguments that refuse to acknowledge there are problems with the Special Adoption Law, the law has produced two very unwelcome outcomes:  A sharp INCREASE in the number of children being abandoned, and a sharp DECREASE in the number of adoptions taking place.  Something’s really really wrong at both ends, and it’s got to be revised.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Hung Up at the Family Court

By the response comments that people post, it is easy to understand what really interests many of you.
You simply want the adoption process to move on so that your children will be home soon.  Many have expressed their frustrations through the comments.  I hear your cries.  It's just that I wish I had the answers.

The process is currently hung up with the Family Court in Korea.  There are many pending cases that have been submitted to the court and are waiting for the judges to clear the cases.  Unfortunately, the pending cases at the court are still the EPs that have been approved for the year 2012.  The EP process has not even begun for 2013.  When asked why there is a delay in the court, the agencies didn't know.  The agencies are waiting just like you folks.

Please do not blame the agencies, whether they are in your country or in Korea.  As you wait the agencies wait with you.  All I could guess is that the judges serving at the court are not familiar with adoption process and they are slowly and carefully learning the process.  Even for domestic adoption, it is taking long time. 

But I don't think the delays in the court will last.  I am hoping that once the judges get into the rythm of the flow, the processing should move along much quicker. 

I will continue to keep you posted.  In the mean time, do not lose your hope.

Friday, April 12, 2013

The EP and Quota Situation

There has been no EP movement yet. 

I know how hard it is for parents to wait and wait.
I am sorry that I don't have a better news yet.

The EPs for 2013 has not even begun as the quota for the year has not been set by the MOHW.  It is expected that MOHW will issue a new quota, which normally comes out by this time of the year.

The Family Court process has been very slow, and I think the hang up is with the court mainly. 

They are requiring the agencies to translate all the documents into the Korean language before submitting to the court.  So an agency that may have processed 10-12 family files are now processing only one family and they had to hire additional translators to do the works.

The recent case with a couple from Sweden going to the Family Court was not something unexpeced as I have indicated before that the court reserves the right to summon any families even though they gave an umbrella direction that the families don't need to appear before the court.  I believe the Swedish couple is going through the 14-day waiting period, and they will learn the status of their child in 14 days.  I believe the couple made a non-refundable travel arrangement before there was an announcement.

I feel for all the parents that have to wait helplessly as their children are aging, and the older they get the harder it becomes for children to be separated from their foster parents. I think everyone, including the powers that be in Korea, know that this is not good for the children.

Also, many have asked the question on what if a birthmother cannot be located for the 14-days notification.  I am told that because she has already signed the relinquishment paper after the 7-day period right after the birth of her child, the intake agency will document their attempts to contact the birthmother.  If the agency can't locate her, then that information will be given to the court.  The court then verifies this information by doing an independent search for the birthmother, and if they don't succeed, the child will be granted adoption.

Also, I want all the readers to know that I appreciate all the comments whether they are related to the blog topic or not.  It just lets me know what is important to you as waiting parents, and it shows me where your hearts are - you just want your children home as soon as possible.  So I am OK if I post something (i.e. child abandonment in Korea) and you post your concern on when your children will come home, it is quiet OK with me.

This gives me even more motivation to try harder to be a voice on behalf of all the homeless children. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Baby Abandonements Happening In Other Parts of Korea As Well

I got this from April 9, 2013 issue of the Nocut News in Korea.  The article is in Korean, but I translated for the readers.  The Korean version is at

It just goes to show that the baby abanonment is not unique to Seoul nor the Baby Box. I have seen many other news articles on how several orphanages have seen a sharp increase in the number of children being admitted to their facilities (they say they were in downward trend until August 2012).  What's amazing is that despite the abandunce of data, there are many that still deny that the abandonment is caused by the Special Adoption Law. Not all parts of the law is bad, but a portion of it needs to be revised.  Here is an article regarding the abandonment in Daejon and Chung Nam Provice areas.

Recently there has been a sharp increase in the baby abandonment in Daejon City and the Chung Nam Province areas.  In the past these babies would be put up for adoption, but since the enactment of the Special Adoption Law in August 2012, there have been many cases of baby abandonments. 
One of the key aspects of the Special Adoption Law is the requirement that birthmothers register their babies in their family registries.
The purpose of the law was to enhance birthmothers the chance to raise their own children and also to provide a way for adoptees to search for their roots, but the birthmothers are afraid their privacy will be violated because of the registration requirement. 
In essence the Special Adoption Law has backfired.
On April 6 a baby boy who was barely a day old, was discovered in a restroom after he was born in a hospital in Daejon. Fortunately the baby was discovered early and was saved, but the baby who lost his mother cried continuously. The police examined the video images from the CCTV security cameras but could not find the birthmother.
On February 6, there was an incident at a Chung Nam hospital where a teen birthmother deserted her baby in the hospital and left without notice.  The mother of the birthmother was contacted by the hospital, but the baby’s grandmother did not want the baby.  However, she was requested by the police to locate the birthmother.
On February 22, a birthmother in her 20’s was captured by the police and questioned after killing and discarding her newborn baby. 
Incidents like these are adding to the ever increasing number of babies being abandoned.
On April 8, according to the Central Child Protection Agency, in 2011 there were a total of 53 cases of child abandonment recorded in Korea.  But by the third quarter of 2012, the abandonment has shot up to 118 cases.
At the same time the adoption in Korea has dropped sharply as well.
Before the Special Adoption Law was enacted, there were 6 to 7 adoptions among 10 abandoned babies, but now it is only 1 to 2 that get adopted in the areas of Daejon and Chung Nam, clearly showing the sharp decrease in adoption.
Many experts in the child welfare areas are advocating that a revision is needed in the Special Adoption Law. 
A representative in the Daejon branch of the Eastern Welfare Society states, “If we compare the number of adoptions taking place before and after the law, the law has resulted in the significant decrease in adoption by 2/3 (67%), if the birthmothers cannot come to the agencies, the babies will most likely be placed through illegal, black market types of adoption or abandon the babies, or choose other harmful methods to rid of their problems.”
She also stated that, “To stop the increased abandonment of children and to discourage other unfavorable outcomes with the children, the Special Adoption Law must be revised to allow the birthmothers 24 and under to allow their children to be adopted through the adoption agencies.” 
Additional comments from Steve:

The Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) announced yesterday (April 8, 2013) that they will provide up to 700,000 Won (approximately to $615 as of this writing) to all the unwed birthmothers to keep their babies for seven days after the birth.  The amount will depend on the types of care facilities the birthmothers stay.
This is definitely a step in the right direction, and hope that this will help the birthmothers.  I encourage MOHW not to stop there.  They should support the birthmothers even after the seven days, if the birthmothers so choose to keep their babies, by providing similar amount or more to help take care of their babies.
However, I have always maintained that for the majority of birthmothers, the issue is not the cost.  The real issue for them is the pressure and shame they feel from the society that looks down on them.  This is exacerbated by the lack of support or unwillingness to accept the children born out of wedlock by the immediate families.  For these birthmothers no amount of financial aid would help them as they wish to hide from being disgraced. 
More efforts should be made by the Korean government to work on to remove negative stigma against the unwedded birthmothers.  Rather than bashing on adoption, the people opposed to adoption or against the revision of the law should focus more on changing this aspect of the Korean culture and they will go much farther and quicker for the cause of birthmothers.  They should not waste time by speaking against adoption.  Why is it that one has to be killed to make the other survive?  Adoption and the rights of birthmothers need to go hand-in-hand, not against one another.

Friday, April 5, 2013

An Interview with an Orphanage Director

An Interview with Ms. Kim, Young Sook of Emmanuel Orphange in Korea
An Orphanage Director’s Perspective
(This interview was conducted by Steve Morrison in front of many visiting adoptees and Korean nationals at one of the gatherings in Seoul, Korea three years ago.

Q: Please introduce yourself.

A:  My name is Kim Young Sook and I have worked 19 years at the Emmanuel Orphange in the city of Kim Cheon. 

Q: You must have witnessed many children come and go while working at the Emmanuel Orphanage.  About how many children have you served?
A: Because I was there 19 years, I would guess around 350 children have come and gone.

Q: What were the typical reasons why the children were admitted to your facility?

A:  There are various reasons. In the old days many children lost their parents but today many children come in because parents cannot fulfill their responsibilities.  For example children born out-of-wedlock, abandoned, or dysfunctional families due to parental separation or divorce.

Q: For the children in your facility, about what percentage of birth parents come and visit your children?

A:  Most parents drop off their children in the orphanage promising that they will come to reclaim their children once the economic situations improve.  But most of them don’t keep their promises as they entrust the babies and the babies grow up in the orphanage as parents are never heard from again.

Q: Do children wish that their parents would one day show up?

A:  Yes. That is true.  They hope that their parents would come and take them back home.  When they don’t hear from their parents and when they see their friends get adopted, they come to me saying, “Mrs. Kim I want to be adopted too.” And they are very envious of their friends.

Q: What is the age when orphans are sent out of the Emmanuel facility?

A:  Typically when they turn 18 that’s when they are sent out.

Q: What sorts of preparations are being done now when they are sent out?

A: In the old days they were sent out without any preparations, but since 1990 they were given Adjustment to Independence money of around $1,000, and today they are receiving around $5,000.  The amount varies depending on the cities, if the city has money, the outgoing orphans are given $5,000, and if the city has some difficulty in finance they are given only $2,000 to $3,000.  But Kim Cheon city gives out $5,000 to our outgoing boys and girls since last year.  Nowadays we also provide needed items when  they leave.

Q: No matter how much an orphanage may prepare its children, Isn’t it still very challenging for the orphans to adjust to the real world?

A:  Once an orphan leaves the institution, he/she has no place to turn.  Once he leaves the facility his sponsorship by various people will end and he needs to stand alone.  If an orphan leaves the facility with no specific preparation to work anywhere, then their livelihood becomes very basic level through various menial labors just to survive.

Q: Do most of the orphanages require orphans leave their facilities when they turn 18?

A: Not most, but all of the facilities are like that.  They are sent out when orphans turn 18, but in some special circumstances or when he/she goes to college they are given longer stay in the orphanage.

Q: Despite all the hardships that orphans may face after leaving the institution, aren’t there some successful cases?

A:  Of course, there are.  No matter how difficult an environment is, if a person works hard they can be successful.  There have been pastors, teachers, nurses, kindergarten directors that came out of our orphanage, but successes like these are very few.

Q: How is the education level for the orphans?  Can you give some comparisons from early years versus today?

A:  10 years ago, it was very difficult for orphans to go to colleges.  Only 3% - 5% went to colleges.  The reason is that institutionalized children cannot afford to go to colleges, and also because they live in the institutions they are at significant academic disadvantage.  But now things are different as the Government provides some assistance to orphans who want to go to colleges, but the rate of orphans going to college is still far lower than children from ordinary families.

Q: What do you feel is the main difference between domestic adoption and the intercountry adoption?

A:  I’m sure that adoptive families love their children.  But from my experience in domestic adoption, Koreans adopting are very conditional such as a child must be pretty, and have a good personality.  But for the intercountry adoption, many adoptive parents are open even special needs, and that tells me that adoption for them is child centered rather than parent centered as it is for Korean adoption.

Q: Now, do you wish to say anything to the visiting adoptees?

A:   As I look at all of you, I feel so moved to see all of you grown up so beautifully.  You have been blessed to grow up in your homes and receive much love and happiness.  But in our orphanage there are still many children waiting to be adopted. In our facility, there are children whose parents don’t care nor ever pay a visit, and the fact that these children have parents somewhere make them unadoptable, and this is very painful for me to think about. These children would be better off growing up in families rather than stay in institutions.  It is my sincerest desire to see all the children at our facility be adopted into loving homes someday.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

My Perspective

Thanks to all who visited and exchanged (or argued) on the board of the last blog "Confirmed - No Summons Needed by the Family Court". Your exchanges are all important as I have to respect the opinions offered by those that are different from mine (ours).  It just goes on to show how complex the issue of adoption is for adoptees, adoptive parents and birthmothers, and all those who are involved.

However, it is important that we step back and think about what we are doing, and how we are responding to someone who seems to display a lot of anger.  Like most of you, I am not one for a big argument.  The angry “KAD” has the right to display her emotion and opinion.  But it is far more important on how we respond to her comments than what was said by her.  So I do not believe that harsh and angry comments should be responded back in the same manner that she has. It just isn’t worth it.  If you do, you both lose. 

The “KAD” in question is most likely living in Korea, and is heavily involved in an organization that strongly opposes adoption, especially the intercountry adoption, and advocates birthmothers’ rights.  She seems to be very knowledgeable regarding the issues of Korean adoption.  I can’t agree with her on most of the things, but I think it has more to do with how we choose to look at the same thing in different ways.

For her, the adoption has been a painful experience as she claims that she was ‘stolen’ from her birthmother. That Korea sold her to a foreign country for economic reasons, and that the adoption agencies have coerced her mother into giving her up for adoption.  If her claims are true, then she has the right to be angry. She has the right to demand justice.  I think this is more important to her, and perhaps it has been eating away her life in a way that causes her to be very negative and angry in life. The pain and anger that she feels probably won’t go away soon, but what is happened is happened, and I hope that she will be able to find forgiveness and compassion in her heart and move on with her life.  The one thing that I know is this.  God loves her just as much as He loves me, and it is not up to me to condemn her in any way.  We can disagree with her, but we should not condemn her.

Whether we agree with her or not is not that important.  She is shouting at what she feels as the injustice done upon her past.  For many adoptees the supposed injustices of being separated from their birthmothers, and seeing that there are other adoptees that have gone through the similar experiences find common ground for protests. But for many other adoptees, probably the great majority of adoptees, they are content to be who they are as most of them were willingly abandoned or given up for adoption by birthmothers.  Even the KAD mentioned 70% of birthmothers choose to give up while 30% prefer to keep their babies.  Of the 30%, who know how many actually wound up raising their children without giving them up later?

For me I have been too blessed through adoption to make any complaints.  I am very grateful that I was adopted. And believe me, there are many times more adoptees out there that are happy and content, and when one is content and happy and busy with their lives, there is little expressed in the way of gratitude.  So the absence of gratitude does not mean it isn’t there.

I have been tremendously blessed through the intercountry adoption.  So much so that I have expressed through my past publications that if I were to start my life over again, I would choose the life of becoming homeless, being hungry and cold while living in the streets of Korea.  I would choose to be admitted to an orphanage at six and growing up in an institution for eight years before being adopted at age 14.  I would again choose this path, just so that I could be with my parents John and Margaret Morrison. 

What about my birthparents?  It does not mean that I was without pain when I was separated from by birthparents.  While my mom was a very loving person, my father was very abusive with his words and hands.  He would come home drunk almost every day and we would live under his terror.  Therefore living with a birthmother or a father does not guarantee the safety or happiness for a child.  It is not an answer to all the problems.  There are many children that are unhappy living with their birthparents.  And I am sure that this is true even among the adoptive families as well.

Having a birthmother raise a child does not solve all the problems or insure happiness for the child, but it does have one thing that can never be replaced – that she is the mother that gave her life. That she is her own flesh and blood.  This is the reason why adoptees are drawn to birthmothers.  And of course to find the answers on how they came to be and why they were given up.  Many are better able to cope with the absence of birthmothers in their lives, but many others don’t.

As for me, I have long buried my pain of being separated from my birth parents, but my adoptive parents are my REAL parents, and it was through their love and by the grace of God I was healed. If I ever meet my birthparents, I want to hug them and tell them that I love them, and that I turned out OK after all.