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.


  1. 1 out of 66...that's an impressive 1.5%. What an embarrassment for the Korean government. yes, we must be one of the other 65 families for our son (who just turned 2) to come with us

  2. Thanks Steve for your post. I’m very appreciative of the information. I’m certainly glad to see more movement and hope it continues in the process. Uncertainty of the future is always hard and adds emotional stress to the situation. I continue to have faith in the system and pray for continued movement and I hope for the best for the waiting children and families.

  3. Thank you, Steve. I rely on your blog for the tiniest glimmer of hope, and I appreciate your keeping us PAPs (prospective adoptive parents) up-to-date.

    Still, I really feel like the only hope for waiting parents is for the Korean government to intervene and grandfather them into the old process. It is encouraging that one family has made it through the new process, but even if they manage to speed up the process considerably over the coming weeks and months, I can hardly see them being able to manage the backlog, much less deal with new cases.

    Some commenters on this blog have accused PAPs of being selfish and impatient. This kind of shaming is really counterproductive. All the people who are following these deveopments should be able to agree that the current law does not benefit anybody - not the PAPs, not the birthmothers, and certainly not the children. A waiting parent may not always express himself or herself in the most eloquent way possible, but I think we can all sympathize with their pain and frustration.

    I hope people will continue to comment on this blog, even after anonymous comments have been disallowed, because some of the information in the comments is as useful as the information in the posts. I don't feel the need to be anonymous: I am a PAF (father) in the US with two biological sons. We were referred a girl in May, 2012. She just turned two. We would drop everything to bring her home to her forever family today.

    1. David, I appreciate your eloquence and perceived sincerity.

      However, I would like to ask why you want to remove this girl from the country where her cultural and biological roots are. The US is a very, very long way away (almost the farthest distance possible). And depending on where you plan to take her, is there a Korean community, a Korean adoptee community that you will be able to share with her? Do you know any adoptees, any Korean adoptees? Will her parents be able to visit?

      If the answer to all of those questions is "no", or "why does it matter?", then forgive me for feeling that some PAP's deserve being considered "selfish and impatient" for adopting and isolating children from kindred folk.

      While I don't wish you or PAP's pain and frustration while waiting, I don't wish to be concerned about (or shamed into being concerned with) some sympathy that some PAP's need from everyone else during this life-altering transaction. Rather, we should remind ourselves about the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Adoption is about the well-being of the CHILD who has no control over the outcome, NOT the adoptive parents who have FULL control and authority in whether or not to partake in this system.

      The UN CRC states that for the sake of the child, when possible, safe, and nurturing, the child should stay with his/her original family, kinship/relatives, within his/her community, country (retaining original language is key), etc. If you truly care about the well-being of the child, you will understand and help to keep her biological and cultural heritage intact. The money you use for fees could be applied to help her parent(s) continue to raise her, or help to keep her amongst her "clan", without such a drastic disruption and breakage (unfortunately, sometimes permanently and devastatingly) that adoption can create. The UN CRC states that if it is not possible for the child to be raised with the parents, relatives, or in the original community/country, then ICA should be considered.

      Do you agree with the UN CRC policies? I know the US still hasn't ratified the UN CRC? But Korea has. And so has EVERY OTHER COUNTRY in the world (except Somalia). This current law, that you deplore, is designed to benefit the children by adhering better to the Hague and UN CRC. But, you're right, it's not designed to benefit the PAP's. But then again, adoption isn't a system to benefit the PAP's. It's a practice that should be about helping children who need support - support to be with a family (preferably their original family, and especially when their original family wants to raise them, and could with a little support and trust). So, before you say that the current law clearly doesn't help the children, please ask yourself if ICA is the BEST solution for this girl.

      Have you grown up with strangers, without your parents, family, relatives, people of your ethnicity, in a country and culture so far away and with a language so different? If not, then perhaps you should be more humble about another country's laws to protect their children, children whom you are asking/insisting that they grow up with strangers, removed from many connections inherent in them.

      And let's say you, why don't we keep the "woe is the PAP" comments out of these adoption talks? Adoption is NOT a tool to fix the emotional issues of grown, capable adults. Child welfare resources shouldn't be utilized to fix the emotional issues of PAP's, unless they want to be labeled "selfish" or etc. Let's focus on these CHILDREN, not the PAP's. This doesn't mean I don't sympathize with PAP pain, but adoption isn't about the PAPs.

    2. Dear 'T'

      What's in a name for 'T' and how is it different from 'Anonymouse'? Still I cannot allow someone hiding behind a letter.

      Please do not accuse or paint the PAPs in negative ways by using such strong statements like "remove this girl from the country...". No one is removing the children. PAPs simply want to adopt and love the children that have already been relinquished by the birthmothers. These children have already been 'removed' by the choices that birthmothers have made. The PAPs are not the ones 'removing' but 'accepting' the ones that have been removed.

      One thing you must know is that for the majority of birthmothers that have relinquished, the money is not the issue. They just don't want the children, period. The birthmothers are young, and have too much life ahead of them to be want to be tied down with the burden of taking care of their unwanted children. For them the money is not the issue. It has more to do with their unwillingness to be responsible for what they have brought upon themselves and to the children. For them it has more to do with bringing shame and embarrassment upon them and to the families, and this is why so many birthmothers relinquish their children. For them it has more to do with the issue of convenience.

      Who can disagree with the UN CRC? But it does allow intercountry adoption if the birthfamily cannot raise them, nor suitable adoptive families are found in Korea. Do you think a child cares how far he is adopted away or care about ethnicity and culture or even difference in the language? Do two years olds care about the language and ethnicity or culture? They just want mothers and fathers and loving homes. ICA may not be the best solution for a child, but it is next to the best thing if birthmothers don't want them, or cannot placed within the country of origin.

      Rather than blaming the PAPs for wanting to adopt the children, you should focus more on changing the culture of acceptance of unwed mothers to raise their own children. In so doing, a day may come where no more children need to be sent away. We all want this day to come sincerely. I have always advocated that ICA should only stop when there are no more children to be sent abroad.

      Sure the money is important, but not the biggest reason for continued abandonment or relinquishments by birthmotehrs. The PAPs are not out to fix their emotional issues by utilizing child welfare resources. They just want to love and care and enjoy the experience of raising children.

      I agree that we need to focus on children and their rights. I hope the current adoption law is a step in the right direction, except for a few changes that need to be made with the law. Adoption is all about children, PAPs and birthmothers, and the importance for all three need to be respected.

  4. T,

    I am hearing everything that you say and as a PAP, and I get it, but I think you assume an awful lot about PAPs. Some of us are Korean ourselves, some of are even Korean adoptees. Others aren't (I'm not), but live in a burgeoning Korean adoptee community. Some are learning the Korean language or learning to cook Korean dishes to have on a daily basis. Most of us are just hoping that a birth mother to our child will initiate contact so we can foster a connected relationship as possible. I can't move to Korea at this point and time but it isn't out of the question for me in the future. Until then, I plan to scrape every penny I can to visit with our family in the years to come. I am hoping that my child will spend at least a year in his birth country someday to best learn his heritage and culture and most definitely searches for his birth parents if he chooses to do so; since I can't give those things to him myself. But, that's the sacrifice all parents make...we concede that we can't give things to our child that we would absolutely love to do, and we make do.

    And we understand thoroughly, that this isn't about us, not really at all. It is about children. You called yourself pro-child welfare. I am too. I agree with everything that you said. I try to remember that how I vote and how I spend money has an substantial impact on others. The fact remains, however, that there are children that are currently in limbo while us "adults" sit here and bicker about the best way to figure this out. That's what keeps me up at night. I know that somewhere there is a child that has no other chance at a family but to live in my home in what will only ever be a 3rd best option for him. But, that still seems better than no option at all.

  5. Steve, I have followed your blog for some time but have been a silent PAP waiting for my beautiful boy. Firstly, I want to thank you for all that you do and advocating for the children and families. God bless you. But I can not be silent any longer.

    I will be as repectful as possible and respect anothers opinion but lets be truthful about the situation in Korea. No one is trying to steal Korean children away from their country or heritage. We all know that the best possible situation for a child is to grow up with their birth family in their own country. The truth is that the current culture in Korea does NOT support single mothers and therefore the children are being giving up/ abandoned in the streets....lets not kid ourselves, this is a TRUTH. SO, there continues to be a need for loving supportive homes for these innocent children in a country that does not support them.

    Enter the PAP..... a family that has the willingness and desire to give their life to a child who needs a family regardless of their ethnicity. A family that has gone through every medical, criminal, financial hoop in order to do so. How have we become the enemy? In our situation, we had decided to not endure fertility treatments and force a child into the world because there are so many children in the world already needing homes. Is there no nobility in that? I am sick of hearing people putting down us loving families when we have the best possible intention for our children and love them beyond words from afar.

    Heres a glimpse of a day in the life of a PAP. You get a referral for a beautiful child that you instantly in love with. You have been approved and get 3 pictures that you stare at every day. You send meaningful care packages each month and obsess about getting an email on your phone each month just to get a few pics and a glimpse of his beautiful face with the package you sent and it brings you such joy for another month. You send notes and gifts for the foster family and feel as if you can never repay them for the love they show your son. You think about your sons BM all the time, hope she is well and thank her for deciding to carry this precious boy to term. The pain you feel is immesurable each day that passes, knowing that the transition for your son is going to be harder with week day that passes. Your heart bleeds wiating to hear any news that the Korean courts have made a decision to continue the process and bring these beautiful children to their loving forever homes. You live in complete darkness because ther is no information and you know your child is waiting too.

    Lets all be honest about the situation. Hard to swallow, but the truth nonetheless. No disrespect to the Korean people or court system, we all know you are trying to do what's best for the children. I pray for the process everyday.

  6. VERY well said, momtobe! Couldn't have said it better!

  7. Steve,

    We heard from our agency that the EP quotas for 2013 have been provided to the agencies in Korea. Is that consistent with what you know to be accurate?

    Thank you

    1. Thanks for telling me this. I'll check on this.

  8. I just want to say as a waiting and returning Korean adoptive parent that James does not speak for all of us and certainly not for me. Yes there has been uncertainty and changes, but we all knew going in that a new law was being implemented. And I know, truly know, that the Korean government is doing its best to protect all parties in this adoption world, the children and birth families included. I love and honor the culture of my children's birth, and while spending a month to 6 weeks there or traveling twice is not financially easy for us, there are certainly ways to make it work and will be a time we treasure, soaking up the beautiful country and culture as much as we can. Having travelled to Korea before, it certainly does not have to cost anywhere near $25k. We travelled in high season in 2012 and paid almost half what James is quoting in airfare, bc we were willing to do layovers. And we stayed in a cheaper hotel with a smaller room than the ones recommended by our agency, which saved money too, and loved where we stayed and our time in Seoul. As for others, please don't paint all PAPs as isolated from Korean culture. We live in an area where there is an exceptionally large Korean American community, have Korean adoptee friends (both adult and children), and one of the reasons chose to adopt from Korea was that we have so much support from our Korean American community

  9. Steve, based on the new adoption law and longer waits, how old are these adoptees typically/how much older than before the adoption law too effect?