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.


  1. Does the Ministry plan to approve anymore EP's before the end of the year?

    1. I'm pretty sure they will. The question is just how many. I hope somehow they can approve all the EPs that have been submitted at mimimum.

    2. This is so frustrating. If they looked at/approved/processed just 2 EPs a day they would more than meet the quota for a given year! It's really hard to understand why this takes them so long!! One of our big reasons for deciding to adopt from Korea was knowing that there had been a very stable program between Korea and the U.S. for some 50 years or more.

  2. Thanks Stephen for your last post and for giving us this information.
    I wanted to ask why the Ministry take so long before approving the EP. How come the pairs of SWS until last year (2012) were able to take their child a few months after referral? What is it that is blocking the process now ?
    And then, as says Wendi, you can approve the remaining EP by the end of 2013?
    I know 'that there are questions that can not be answered.
    I wish there were more specific information, especially by my agency. For us it is really frustrating, this up and down of emotions, uncertainty about the waiting time. We are all stronger we adoptive parents, but at times also very fragile and this news does unleash tremendous pain and madness.
    Thanks for the support that you give us

    1. I inquired the agencies and they don't know why it is taking so long at MOHW to approve EPs. I don't know anything about the SWS case. But I am hopeful that the MOHW will do their best to approve the EPs already at their hands. But with so much changes going on, the odds are against the waiting families, and this is really sad.

    2. Thanks, Steve, for your dedication and hard work.

      There was a post from last year I vaguely remember which suggested a different process was in the works for adoptive parents of Korean heritage. Has this been implemented yet? If I remember correctly, an expedited EP process for Korean heritage families was one of the expected changes.

      Also, I remember another post about termination of parental rights in Korea three years after last contact between a parent and a child left in an orphanage. What will happen to those children? They will be at least 3 years old when they become available for adoption and if they are only available for domestic adoption, they will continue to spend the remainder of their childhood in the orphanages because domestic adoption of older children will likely be even more unpopular than domestic adoption of infants. Has there been much discussion about this between the major adoption agencies in Korea?

      Lastly, I read there are recent shortages of funding for programs helping single mothers in Korea. What safety net is in place for these families if the government is unable to provide enough support? Are there alternative resources for these women?

    3. The Korean heritage priority was decided by the ministry, but then the agencies have not cooperated with this as well as the ministry had hoped. One or two agencies were opposed to giving priority to Korean-heritage, and I don't think this got anywhere.

      The 3 year rule for the parental termination is yet to see. Since it was passed in early 2012, we should see whether this gets implemented in practice or not. There are thousands of children in institutions whose parental rights need to be terminated as they have been in the institutions for years. And the recently abandoned babies through Baby Box, their parental rights need to be terminated sooner, but I believe they would have to wait three years. So much for the claims by some adoptees that claim children are coerced from birthmothers.

      As for the shortage in funding for programs helping single mothers in Korea, this is very unfortunate. They should increase it rather than take away. While the great majority of birthmothers still would not want their unwanted children despite the economic help, there are some that will want to raise their children if economically possible. For these birthmothers, Korea need to come to their aids.

  3. Steve, do you know when the office plans to move? Do they have an exact move date yet?

    1. Shaina, I'm in Korea and I am told they will move on December. Not really sure if this will happen, but this is the latest news.