Thursday, February 28, 2013

Korea Update - The Issue on the Travel Requirements

Korea Update - The Issue on the Travel Requirements

I made a couple of calls to Korea last night to find out what the status is regarding the adoption process for those waiting families that are adopting children from Korea. I am sorry to say that the news is not good for now. I am somewhat reluctant in sharing this, but you have to know what is going on and be prepared for it.

It has to do with the travel requirements, which will strain and burden many adoptive families, especially those with children in their care already. The travel is necessary for the parents to go over to pick up their children and finalize adoption in Korea before the judges of the Family Court. They (the agencies) are predicting that adoptive parents can expect to wait 3 – 4 weeks in Korea while adoption is being finalized. Today I spoke with a friend of mine who was adopting from Puerto Rico, and he was told that he and his wife had to be in Puerto Rico for six weeks. So this wait is not unique to Korea apparently.

The great bulk of this waiting is due to the reconsideration period requirement of 14 days. During this time the parents are expected to be in Korea, at least that is the latest policy, but the agencies will be meeting with the judges and lawyers to discuss the impact that this regulation would have upon the visiting parents in terms of their time and expenses, not to mention the impacts upon the other children in the families.

Once the adoptive parents stand before a judge to interview through a process of questions and answers, and if the judge finds the parents acceptable based on all the paper works submitted and reviewed, then the judge declares adoption to go forward and the 14-day waiting period begins. This waiting period is designed to give chance to birthmothers to take back their children should they change their minds.

Birthmothers will not be present during the time when the adoptive parents stand before the judge. However, a separate inquiry will be made by the court beforehand to confirm birthmothers’ intention of giving up their children. Even if a birthmother confirms her intention to give up the baby, the judge will issue the 14-day waiting period when the prospective adoptive parents stand before a judge. After the 14-day reconsideration period is over, then the judge finalizes adoption and grants the parents to take the child home.

As of now, there are still some adoptions that have not been finalized based on 2012 quota. In other words, the 2012 quota has not been met and it is close to March 2013. There are about half dozen cases where EP has been granted and these cases are still being processed by the Family Court. There are another half dozen cases that are still waiting to receive the EP approvals, and another half dozen that are waiting to be submitted to start the EP approval process. These cases are all from the 2012 quota and they cover all three agencies. I don’t have the breakdown on the number of cases belonging to a particular agency.

So the intercountry adoption picture gets uglier due to the Special Adoption Law, which seems to focus on giving the birthmothers as much chance as possible for them to raise their own children. Nobody can deny the well-intentioned purpose of the law, but the reality just does not support it. What concerns me is that some of these birthmothers may decide on a moment to raise their children, but once the reality and hardship strikes them on their everyday lives, they may give up their babies later. There have been many in the past where the birthmothers gave up their children as they realized that raising children requires a lot of commitment and sacrifice that they were not prepared for.

It is entirely possible that during the 14-day waiting period some birthmothers may decide to take back their babies (just got an email today from a woman where this has just recently happened to her). Some may last longer than 14 days, but some will give up before the 14-day period is over. In this case the patience of the waiting parents may be rewarded.

But for now, I wish to turn to you folks who are reading this blog. I wish to compile a list of reasons why the 3-4 weeks wait in Korea may be too hard on you. I wish to submit a compiled list to the Family Court and see if something can be done to shorten the wait. The judges and lawyers in the court need to hear your voice.

Some of the hardships I have already mentioned. You may ask, “Can just one of the parents travel while the other takes care of the family?” or “Is there a way to shorten the waiting period if a birthmother is very sure of her decision?” or “I have a limited vacation days and this travel requirement is too difficult.” You may submit your comments along this line, and I am looking for some reasons that will really project the hearts and mind of all the waiting parents who are caught in this mess, and hopefully the powers that be in Korea will listen, and reach a favorable compromise that will work for all.

For more on this subject, click here.

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