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.