Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Tragic Decision by the City of Seoul on Baby Box

Below is the statement that came from Ms. Young Ran Jeong of the Jusarang Community Church, which houses the Baby Box. I ask for your prayers that God will reach out to the hearts of the government officials to protect the lives of the innocent babies. I love many things about Korea, but certainly this is not one of them.


Here is Ms. Young Ran Jeong's message:

This morning we received a call from the person in charge of the Baby Box at the Kwanak-Ku office.  I was told that the city of Seoul and the Seoul Metropolitan Children’s Welfare Center (서울시아동복지센터) and the Seoul City Children’s Hospital (서울시립어린이병원) had a discussion and they have decided they will no longer accept the babies abandoned through the Baby Box.

They have concluded that other than in emergency situations, they cannot accept additional babies as there is no spaces available in the institutions in the Seoul areas.  They told the Jusarang Church (where the Baby Box is) that it would be up to them to take care of the abandoned babies from now on.  The city was scheduled to come on Thursday to pick up the children, but they will not do that now.  They also stated that the best solution is for them to move to another area region other than Seoul.  The other regions have enough rooms to accommodate the children, so it would be good for the Baby Box to move there. 
I asked whether it would be possible for the city of Seoul to contact the regional areas and arrange to have the children be transported to those regions.  But their excuse was that this would not be possible without changing the administrative related laws.
I also asked the city employee to help the Jusarang to host a children’s center, but was told that if the condition was ideal for Jusarang this would be no problem (stipulation that Jusarang does not qualify under the current facility regulation as they are not legally approved to take care of children as the facility is too small).    
They were clearly aware of our limitations, and I could not believe the city was telling me these things. The room at our facility for the newborn babies barely can hold seven babies…and what are we suppose to do for all the children that continue to come to our care…and we can’t even help with the birth registration matters.
I think the bottom line message from Seoul is that they want us to close the Baby Box.  Because there have been lots of pressures in the past to close the Baby Box, now the government is using this devious scheme to shut us down.   Why can’t they understand that closing the Baby Box is not the solution?
Outside the weather is very cold, and how can they think in this way when just a few days ago there was another news article where a baby was discovered abandoned somewhere and the baby was in a critical condition!!!!
We are at a loss as to what to do as they didn’t even give us how much time we have, but they just dropped the news on us.   We can only pray.
I ask for your prayers that this sticky situation will be resolved soon.
Young Ran Jeong's message in original
오늘 이른 아침 관악구청 베이비박스 담당직원으로부터 전화한통을 받았습니다. 서울시와 서울시아동복지센터와 서울시립어린이병원과 이야기를 나누었는데 더이상 베이비박스에 들어온 아기들을 받을 수 없다는 것입니다. 정말로 긴급히 병원에 가서 꼭 치료를 받아야 하는 아기를 제외하고는 더이상 받아 줄 시설이 서울에는 없다는 것입니다. 이제부터는 주사랑공동체에서 알아서 하라고 하더군요. 낼 목요일이 정기적으로 아기를 데리러 오는 날인데 낼부터 아기를 데리러 올 수 없답니다. 가장 좋은 방법은 빨리 지방으로 이사를 가는 것이랍니다. 지방 시설에는 자리가 많이 나기때문에 그쪽으로 베이비박스가 가면 괜찮다는 것입니다. 

 그렇다면 현재 베이비박스에 보호되는 아기들을 서울시와 연계해서 지방으로 보내면 되지 않겠느냐고 했더니 행정절...차상 법을 다시 바꿔야 해서 안된다는 것입니다. 그럼 우리가 일시보호소를 운영할 수 있게 해 달라고 하니 조건만 갖추어준다면 얼마든지 할 수 있다는 겁니다. 주사랑공동체 열악한 환경을 뻔히 알면서 어떻게 이런 말이 나올 수 있는지...신생아실로 쓰고 있는 믿음방은 신생아가 7명만 누워있어도 어른들 자리가 없는데 앞으로 베이비박스에 보호되는 아기들을 어떻게 해야 할지...그렇다고 출생신고를 할 수 있게 해 주는 것도 아닌데 말이죠..

 결국은 베이비박스 문 닫으라는 소리나 다름없는 거죠. 베이비박스 폐쇄압박이 직접적으로 먹히지 않으니 이렇게 우회적으로 돌려 이야기는 하는 정부의 형태가 참으로 어이가 없고 기가막힐 따름입니다. 이제는 베이비박스 문을 닫는다고 해서 해결될 일이 아니라는 것을 왜 모를까요?
날씨는 점점 추워지고 있고 며칠전에도 바깥에서 버려져 아기의 생명이 위험해진 기사를 봤을텐데도 이런 생각이라니!!!! 언제까지 기한이 정해진 것도 아니고 어떻게 해야 할지 참 막막합니다. 현재로써는 기도할 뿐입니다.

 이 문제가 원만히 잘 해결 될 수 있기를 간절히 기도해 주세요.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Family Court Adds One More Judge

I tried to sleep, but the sleep wouldn't come. So I decided to get up and update my blog.  I have been back to the States for three days and still going through a tough time in adjusting to the Pacific Time zone.  I had a very fruitful 10 days trip to Korea. 

The family court in Korea has added one more judge, bringing the total number of judges to five.  However, this new judge is dedicated solely for the purpose of adoption hearings.  Apparently, the four judges that have been summoning the parents so far were not always dedicated to the adoption cases as they ruled on other family related matters at the court. 

I asked my source whether this addition of a dedicated judge to the adoption cases would mean quicker court proceedings, but they weren't sure.  They weren't sure whether the existing four judges will continue to be involved with the adoption processes at their usual paces, but augmented by the addition of the fifth judge, or that the four judges will have a reduced roles in the adoption hearings due to the addition of this dedicated judge. No one has the clear answer.

However, the new judge has already summoned some families, thus giving clear evidence that the court has five judges that are handling the adoption cases now. 

I have also heard that the EP process has picked up some speed under the new director, who I happened to meet at the MPAK conference.  I had a brief exchange with him, but it was more on the issues of the special adoption law. 

This year’s quota was set at 743, and the number of EPs submitted to the Ministry of Health and Welfare is now around 50% of the quota (currently around 375) as of mid-November.  It is expected that by the end of the year, we can expect the EP approvals to be closer to 425, which is still a way short of the quota level.

If the year 2013 can be considered a year of experimenting and a new learning process for all (the agencies, the Ministry and the family court judges), coming short of the quota is understandable.  But I am hoping that when they set the new quota for the year 2014, I expect them to meet it 100%.  At least that's what I'm hoping for.  But if the past is any indication, that could be a challenge.