Thursday, June 17, 2021

Korea’s Revised Adoption Process - On the Road to Socialism

NOTE of Clarification:  I am sorry for the confusion that this blog may have caused all the adoptive families in the adoption process.  This blog was not meant to scare any of those that are already in the process.  The adoptions that are currently in process will continue to be handled by the agencies.  Only the new adoptions that are taking place starting from July 1 will be affected. The only process that will be changed is the process block highlighted in 'red' in the figure below.  All the other processes are still being debated and no law has been passed on them yet.  Therefore the remaining processes are still being determined.  The process described here is what the Ministry of Health and Welfare is pushing for.  The agencies are not being closed.  They will continue to operate as the government will need to work with them. So there is no worry for those that are already in the process as your cases will not be disrupted by the changes.

- Steve Morrison


MOHW (Ministry of Health and Welfare) has recently announced their plan on the Revised Adoption Process, which clearly shows the path towards the government controlled Socialistic system.  The first portion of the change (the red block in the figure below), is to be enacted on July 1, 2021.

MOHW’s announcement basically states that majority of adoption duties performed by the agencies in the past will be taken over by MOHW and NCRC and the local government entities.

MOHW made the announcement only a month before its enactment. There was no discussions nor prior announcement on what they were planning to do. Even the members of KAFA (Korea Adoption Family Alliance) were caught in a surprise, and this happened behind their backs as they have been fighting against this for nearly three years.

The key Adoption Process Change Summary Proposed by MOHW and NCRC is supposedly to strengthen the responsibilities by the central and local government regarding decisions on adoptable children, protection, matching, and post adoption services.


What seems to have caused such a dramatic changes in the adoption process?  

There is a great amount of mistrust on the adoption agencies by the government and the public. The agencies had years of unfavorable media coverages due to a few adoptive children that died at the hands of adoptive parents, where the agencies were blamed for continued intercountry adoptions, and the agencies usually did not defend nor respond promptly to the critics. Strong campaign to get rid of adoption agencies by the anti-adoption organization groups is one of the main causes of this movement. But perhaps the greatest reason is due to the general political environment in Korea that has rapidly moved towards the Socialism by the Moon government.

Current media coverages of the adopted baby Jeong-in’s abuse and death by an adoptive parent certainly did not help, nor another abuse case brought two months later seem to have cemented the death of the agencies.

Adoptive family members of KAFA is putting up some fights to overturn the changes, but not sure how successful they will be. On the other processes, KAFA will continue to fight, especially in the areas of matching children with families, and on the post-adoption services.

The bad news of the government taking over the adoption duties from the agencies presents the following dangers:
  • There is absolutely no infrastructure established at MOHW, NCRC, and local government to do what they are seeking to do starting July 1, 2021. In the words of one of the officials I spoke with, it is typical for the government to enact the law first and then perform the jobs as they learn-as-they-go method.
  • All unwed mothers or birth mothers now must go through their local government offices to receive counseling or to give up their babies.
  • This will deter a significant number of birth mothers as they do not wish to meet strangers and receive counseling, nor the government staff will have the expertise to help the mothers.
  • This will result in greater number of abandonments, deaths, and the increased intake at the Baby Box.
  • Culturally this is not acceptable to expect the unwed mothers to report to the local government for their relinquishment desires or receive counseling from the local government staff.
  • Government staff lack adoption experience and expertise. It was these staff that put the policy plan together. It clearly shows their lack of insight and knowledge in putting this plan together.
  • Staff rotation of two to three years will not establish adoption expertise. New members will have to be educated and perform their duties short period of time before being re-assigned elsewhere. Thus presents a real danger keeping adoption expertise.
  • Lack of expertise and knowledge will cause excessive delays in decision making, thus prolonging further delays in adoption.
  • Perhaps the biggest issue would be the delays in placing children in homes as young as possible to avoid adjustment/bonding issues.
Bottom Line – Fewer children will be placed in homes. The law will put more children at risk.

Latest as of this posting on 6/17/21.

Rep. Kim Miae (김미애 의원) met with the MOHW minister Kwon Deok Cheol and asked some tough questions such as, 
"Have you even thought of the countless number of babies that will be impacted by your decision?" "If I was an unwed mother with an unplanned pregnancy, would I be able to get an appropriate counseling at a local government starting July 1st?"

This exchange is in Korean only.

The minister had very little to say, but only to say he will take all the questions and points made and review/examine further. This has got to be a very embarrassing moment for MOHW to drastically try to centralize all the adoption processes that the agencies have built for over 60 years and take them away. I admit that the agencies are not perfect. They make mistakes every now and then. However, there is no question the government's attempt to implement the socialized structure will only hurt the children. I wouldn't be surprised to hear the increased number of abandonments and more children being given up at the Baby Box.

But I wish to applaud Rep. Kim Miae for speaking out on behalf of the voiceless children.

The Solution is to let the adoption agencies do their jobs.  They are the experts in what they do with very little turn over – thus maintaining expertise. They are the people with compassion and mission to provide for homeless children. 
Change what’s lacking rather than a complete replacement with an unproven methods with no expertise.

Regarding the Baby Jeong-in
What happened to the baby Jeong-in should never have happened.  Recent tragedies with Jeong-in should be viewed as child abuse rather than as an issue with adoption. 
According to the MOHW Child Abuse and Neglect data from 2019 (see graphic below), of the 30,045 cases of child abuses reported in 2019, the Nonadoptive families’ abuses and deaths of children far outnumber those by adoptive families. 

Of all the abuses reported, 75.3% abuses is by biological families, Schools/Institutions abuse 16.6%, Relative abuse is 4.4%, Non-Family abuse is 2.2%, Others at 1.2%, and 0.3% by adoptive families.

Note: Data for 2020 or 2021 is not available. But it is believed that the reports of abuses increased significantly during the Covid-19 pandemic period. But the abuse by the adoptive families is still expected to be around 0.3%.

Where are all the people that protested against Jeong-in’s parents when there is no protest against the nonadoptive families that have committed much more abuses and significantly higher number of murders? Why the double the standard?

Why is it such a big issue when an abuse is with an adoptive family and not with biological families that commit abuses in significantly larger number? Why are the adoptive families judged with a different yardstick? 

Many adoptive parents have become sensitive as there have been reports of some local officials calling many adoptive families to check on them. This has hurt many adoptive parents as they are now looked on with some suspicion.  It's a hard time to be an adoptive family in Korea these days.

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