Thursday, July 24, 2014

Revision to Forego the Unannounced Family Visitation Requirement in the Law

Just recently, the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) has announced that it will forego the requirement in the Special Adoption Law that called for unannounced family visitations by the agencies during the home study period (Art 8, Sec. 3).

The MOHW has changed its mind upon further review of this issue that many times the agencies would waste their time visiting the families that are not at homes, and the unannounced visitation would amount to violating privacy rights of the families involved. In the litigation conscious country like the US, this is an important factor for both agencies and the families being visited unannounced. 
This issue has nothing to do with the death of Hyusu O’Callaghan and the mass it created aftermath.  But the unannounced visitation was articulated in the law well before the boy’s tragedy.
Instead of the unannounced visit, the MOHW has decided to accept a total of three (3) reference letters, signed and notarized.  Of the three letters, one can be from a relative, and the other two should be from close friends, co-workers, supervisors, pastors, etc.

How is this letter different from the reference letters requested by the agencies during the home study period?  Nothing. Except that the letters now have to be signed and notarized. So, for those who are already in the process, it may mean that you will have to obtain the original letters from your agencies, or write additional reference letters (as some agencies required only two letters before).  If you have already submitted the letters, you are required to have the original reference letters signed and notarized.

Fortunately, the letters may be from the same individuals who wrote them for the home study, but must be freshly signed/notarized - keeping in mind that only one may be from a relative.  The letters should be kept to one page in length.
If you are one of the families affected by this new change, you should hear from your agency soon.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Penalties for the Agencies If Domestic Adoption Efforts Not Made

This is in the news in several newspapers in Korea today.  The Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) has warned the three adoption agencies that it will order the agencies the work shutdown penalty from 7 - 15 days if the agencies do not comply with the mandates of the special adoption law to give priority for domestic adoption over intercountry adoption.

This came about during the audit of an agency, where in 15% of the cases there was no adequate efforts to place the children domestically first (that means in 85% of the cases the agency clearly showed that there were efforts to find homes domestically). 

While the agencies have kept the records of their efforts to place the children domestically and this record was shown in the audit, the MOHW faulted the agency in their failure to work with the central adoption database created by the Korea Adoption Services (KAS), where the children's information could be shared with another agency, which in turn might be able to find a home through its network.  In other words, if Holt has a child they are having some difficulty in placing within Korea, Holt is to share that child's data through KAS' database, so another agency like Eastern or SWS may try to find a home within Korea.  Whether this effort is in addition to the five-months holding period or that this is to be done within the five-months period, I'm not sure.  I would think that this should be done within the five-months holding period.

Apparently this component of the domestic placement effort wasn't being done to the satisfaction of the MOHW.  The special adoption law requires this, and this process of working through the database is still a work in progress between the agencies and the KAS. By instituting the penalty of closing down the agency for 7 to 15 days, the MOHW is squeezing the necks of the agencies to comply quicker.

As for the family court, I hear that the judges will be taking vacations from July 20th to August 10th. Not all of them will take the vacation at the same time. However, it does not mean that the other judges will take over the cases assigned to the vacationing judges.