Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Law Will be Revised to Protect Birth Parents’ Anonymity

This article is from the Yonhap News in Korea.
For a long time the Ministry of Health and Welfare has denied that there was a correlation between the Special Adoption Law and the sharp rise in the abandonments.  The article below seems to indicate that they are finally admitting that there is a direct correlation between the law and the abandonment increase since the law went into effect in August 2012.

The proposed law that is being worked is not 100% satisfactory, and may still result in many unwed mothers to abandon their babies, but it is certainly a step in the right direction to protect the unwed birth parents' privacy information even if a child is not adopted or in some cases disrupted. 

I have been advocating a revision of the Special Adoption Law to allow anonymous relinquishments by the birth parents without the required birth registration, but the approach  explained in the article is somewhat of a compromise that might work as the privacy information for all birth parents, regardless whether their children are adopted or not will be protected.  I hope this results in much fewer abandonments of babies in Korea. 

However, this produces another challenge. How do you convince the unwed birth parents that their anonymity will be protected even if they register the babies. It may take time, but I am encouraged and convinced that this law revision will reduce the number of babies being abandoned in such  places like the 'Baby Box'.


From the Yonhap News, September 21, 2014 (Original article in Korean at: http://www.yonhapnews.co.kr/bulletin/2014/09/19/0200000000AKR20140919095900017.HTML)

Under the increasing fear that birth parents’ personal records may be compromised by requiring birth registration in order to place a child for adoption, it appears perhaps the day is coming where the number of babies being abandoned in places like the ‘Baby Box’ may be significantly reduced. 

The law to protect unwed birth mothers or other information related to the birth parents from the public is being currently being revised, and is in the final stages of the process. Once it goes through the passage process, it could become law early next year.

On September 21, the Department of Justice, the Ministry of Health and Welfare, along with Human Rights Association of Korea, recognizing the never-ending controversy surrounding the human rights violations against the birth parents’ rights to privacy through the excessive disclosure of private information under the current law, have decided to revise the Family Relationship Registration Law. This legislation effort is led by the Department of Justice, which after the legislation’s review and discussion to be held this October, it will be submitted to the National Assembly. If this legislation revision is passed by the Assembly this year, the law will become effective as early as next year.

The legislation revision will require a proof of information in the Family Relationship Certificate, but will not include information that the birth parents do not wish to disclose. The types of proof that needs to be provided may include either ‘general certificate’ with minimum information or ‘detailed certificate’ with much greater detailed information. If there is no special purpose or reason, then one cannot request the detailed information. Not only that, the illegal request or distribution of private information will be punishable by law.

A birth parent may request that only limited birth information is included and another person may not view the record. In this way, the private information of the birth parents will be protected in the document if a child is not adopted, or if the adoption is disrupted.

In other words, the unwed mother will be spared from the agony of having to choose to abandon her baby because of the fear that the private information on child’s birth in the Family Relationship Certificate may become known.

The current law that was enacted on August 2012 requires the unwed mothers to keep their babies for seven days to seriously reconsider before placing them up for adoption. In addition, they are required to register their babies, and they need to submit a Family Relationship Certificate to the Family Court to get the baby approved for adoption.

The problem was that the law that was created to protect the rights of children and to promote domestic adoption has resulted in the disclosure of excessive private information on birth parents due to the Family Relationship Registration Law that was approved in January of 2008.

Currently, when a birth mother registers her baby, the record is included in her family registry. The record is erased once the baby is adopted. However if the baby does not get adopted or if the adoption was terminated, then the record does not go away. The worst is not really the record itself, but when she is required by her community to provide this document of her Family Relationship Certificate for whatever reason, the document will have the record of the child’s birth and the name, causing unnecessary amount of private information to be revealed. 

Even for the child, under the current law, all the documents related to the Family Relationship Certificate will reveal the history of the child’s adoption, or even adoption termination (if any), the fact that he/she was born out of wedlock, and the other information will be shown in great detail.

Once it was realized that the Family Relationship Registration Law allowed too much disclosure of private information, the Human Rights Association of Korea appealed last November to the National Assembly, the Department of Justice, and the Supreme Court with the right to protect privacy and stop unnecessary information being released to the public.
Ms. Lee Hyun Joo, the team leader for the Policy on Children’s Adoption Bureau in the Ministry of Health and Welfare stated, “We need to strengthen our responsibility to the nation by rooting down the adoption policies that will best uphold the rights of children, and we must try our best to come up with a child care system that will center on taking care of the children born in our country, first with birth parents, then domestically by parents who live in Korea.”