Monday, January 22, 2018

PETITION - PLEASE SIGN: Let the Children Grow Up in Homes, Not in Institutions


Rep. Nam Insoon, a Democrat in the Korean Government, and a contingent of people and organizations that are anti-adoption, have recently held a Forum on January 16, 2018 to propose an amendments to the current Special Adoption Laws that will result in significant reduction in adoption (both domestic and intercountry) and would force more children to grow up in institutions.

The proposed law takes away the adoption services provided by the agencies such as Holt, Eastern, and SWS, and 20 other domestic adoption agencies and forcing them to turn over their adoption service duties to be managed and controlled by the Ministry of Health Welfare (a branch under the Korean government), or a designated government agency. The last thing we want is more bureaucratic process that will be so inefficient, slow and worst of all, run by the people that have no love or care for such children.  It will just be day-to-day duties for the government workers, that will not best serve the children's needs.

In order to discourage and to reduce adoption, the law also mandates that birth parents have the rights to demand information on their children from the adoptive parents, and this has caused a lot confusion and anxiety among the good adoptive parents. Imagine an adopted child, being approached later by a stranger that claims that he/she is the child's parent. This would be especially hard if the child was adopted secretly and he/she doesn't know about the adoption (as this is still the most case with the adoptive families in Korea).

All this is leading to one thing...more children growing up in institutions. This all stems from the anti-adoption individuals or organizations that accuse the presence of adoption as the cause of separation of children from their birth parents. We have always advocated that adoption is simply a response to already separated children.
The law amendment language has been drafted, and is undergoing a few public hearings before it gets elevated to discuss in the Assembly and voted.
I urge all who share in the value of protecting the orphans, and all the adoptees and adoptive parents that really care for the children's rights will not stand by as this amendments only threatens the lives of homeless children, and their rights to chances at life and opportunities, and their rights to loving families.

Therefore, we call on Rep. Nam Insoon to DROP the proposed amendments immediately and completely, and STOP threatening the lives of thousands of homeless children.  Also know that the proposed amendments to the adoption law is not in the best interest of children.

We demand the following from Rep. Nam Insoon and the Government of Korea:

1. We demand that in the future when an amendment is recommended for the adoption law, please include adoptees (both domestic and intercountry adoption), adoptive parents, adoption agencies.  Do not exclude them from an early discussion as you have at this forum.  You have only included those individuals and organizations that are opposed to adoption.

2. We demand that no effort should be made to deliberately stop the intercountry adoption.  We support all efforts to reunite a child with his/her biological family. We also support that domestic adoption should be given a priority over the intercountry adoption program.  However, if the previous options are not available to a child, he/she should be given a chance to be adopted overseas.  In fact, this is the priorities set by the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. There should be no consideration made to slow or block the intercountry adoption simply because of the national shame.
To a child, the best option is a loving home, whether it be in Korea or abroad.

3. We demand the rights to privacy that a birth/adoption information can only be provided when the adoptive parents agree if a child is under 18.  If an adoptee is 18 or older, the decision can be made by the adoptee without the parental approval.

4. We demand that the adoption services provided by the agencies such as Holt, Eastern, and SWS not be taken away by the government.  These agencies have 60 years of serving the homeless children, and they serve the children with their hearts. If the government takes away the adoption services, more problems will arise due to lack of expertise and individual care needed. There is no insurance against greater abuse or neglect experienced if the government performs the adoption services. According to the Hague Convention, one of the functions of the government is to accredit and audit the adoption agencies periodically. But allows leaving the adoption services to the accredited agencies. Let them do what they do best and don't take away their duties.
To all the readers, please sign this petition.  Share this widely and Let the Children Grow Up in Loving Homes, not in Institutions!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Protest Statement to Rep. Nam Insoon of Korea

The Protest Statement by the Adoptive Families in Korea, in response to the Forum to amend the current adoption law in Korea to undermine the good adoptive families and the attempt to reduce/close adoption, thus forcing more children into institutions.

Please spread this widely to all the adoptees and adoptive families.

The Protest Statement - 

From the Members of the Emergency Adoptive Family Task Force Against the Amendments to the Special Adoption Law Initiative

The Forum Organized by the Anti-Adoption Groups is Invalid.

The forum on ‘The Policy Change and Response After the Adopted Children Abuse and Death, Centered on The Daegu-Pochun Adoptee Abuse and Death Case’ was held on Tuesday, January 16, 2018. The main panels in the forum consisted mainly by the anti-adoption advocates that have long campaigned against adoption.
The forum missed the greater perspective of adoption, which should have included a greater diversity of experiences or opinions or values, but was designed to give greater platform to the people that centered on the negative aspects of adoption based on a couple of exceptional cases.

Within the word ‘Adoption’ there is a life and rights of a person. We as adoptive families acknowledge that no matter what the reason is, for a lone child who has no one to care for, the best solution is to give the child a family through adoption. The Hague Convention of Adoption considers the institutionalized care as the last option for such a child.
However, the forum was mainly centered on the people and the organizations that totally disregarded the intent and the spirit of Hague.

By proposing a set of surprise amendments, this was not a forum but an announcement of an agenda that was already planned and decided by the organizers.
The forum should be about bringing people with diverse opinions and backgrounds, and hopefully come to an agreeable and unified conclusion for good. To do this effectively, it is a general rule that a forum organizer must provide the forum materials to the public well ahead of the meeting.

However, the forum organizers provided only a select portion of the proposed special adoption law amendments, which came to the full light on the day of the forum. The organizer was not transparent with the forum agenda nor make it public, and with the few information they provided ahead of the meeting, they surprised all of us with the other materials.

The forum went against the common sense and against the values that are typically held at such an event. And the forum was conducted in a manner that gave advantages to the individuals or organizations that were against adoption, and did not give equal footing to the others that had the different opinions, and in fact even blocked others from making comments. Thus, the forum that was supposed to be about a frank discussion on a certain topic turned out to be a one-sided affair.

The Proposed Amendments to the Special Adoption Law Goes Against the Human Rights and Life.

The forum in question was held three days ago. We did not have enough time to digest the proposed amendments to the special adoption law that was made public on the day of the Forum. However, there were some very disturbing contents in the proposed amendments that stood out.

First, it was on the Article 30 on the Rights of Adoption Information. This law would require the adoptive parents to release all adoption information when a birth parent a birth relative demands it. All the adoptive parents in attendance were alarmed at this. This law would give the rights to the people who ‘willingly’ gave up their parental rights to later approach the adoptive parents anytime and demand the information from the parents that now hold the true legal parental rights. This is a gross violation of human rights.
The amendment states that the Rights of Adoption Information will be applied to all intercountry adoptions, but our concern is that there is no clear language that this will not be applied to all the domestic adoption cases.

Second, the proposed amendments to the special adoption law is also designed to block and reduce the number of adoptions significantly, thus this is an anti-adoption bill. The proposed law is evil in that has stripped down all languages that give positive supports to adoption and proposed that it should be run by public system, and make the adoption process more difficult, and if possible discourage adoption altogether. However, it was interesting to hear that a representative from the Ministry of Health and Welfare at the forum comment that even if the adoption was run by a public system there is simply no infrastructure or capability to operate such system by the government.

Therefore, we the adoptive parent representatives from all the regions of Korea have gathered and discussed the contents of the one-sided proposed amendments to the special adoption laws on Thursday, January 18, 2018, and view the proposed amendments goes against our human rights and threatens the lives of the children and their rights to homes.

Our Demands

We have therefore established ourselves “The Emergency Adoptive Family Task Force Against the Amendments to the Special Adoption Law Initiative” on that day and have decided to provide a collective response to the Rep. Nam Insoon as follows:

1. We demand an apology for holding a forum that was centered on anti-adoption agenda on January 16, 2018.

2. We demand an apology for completely and deliberately ignoring and excluding adoptive parents during the process to develop the amendments to the special adoption law.

3. We demand the immediate stop to push the Amendments to the Special Adoption Law Initiative.

4. We demand an open forum to include the adoptive parents, domestic and intercountry adoptees, and the adoption agencies to come together to discuss and develop the amendments together, rather than a forum that excludes the other important groups.

We the adoptive parents declare that if you do not comply with our demands as stated above, the collective forces of all adoptive families from all corners of Korea will join in a unified protest on the streets to voice against the inhumane amendments proposition to the special adoption law.

From the Members of the Emergency Adoptive Family Task Force Against the Amendment to the Special Adoption Law Initiative 

Friday, January 19, 2018

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

When a Family Member Opposes Adoption

I just recently received a following message from a couple in the process of adoption.

"Hello, My wife and I are Korean-Americans (both of us were born in the US to Korean immigrant parents) and we are in the process of adopting a child from Korea. Although initially both of my parents expressed their support of our decision to adopt, my mother has recently confessed her displeasure and discomfort with our decision. I was wondering if you had any helpful information or websites written in Korean that I could send her so she can learn about the beauty of adoption and possibly hear some testimonials from Korean adoptees living in the US. I believe she is so caught up in the stigma in Korean culture around adoption that she will miss out on the opportunity to love and embrace her grandson. Please let me know when you have a chance. Thank you, H.XXX"

I replied back to H as follows:

"Please go ahead and don't look back. Do not be swayed by your mother. You and your wife are the ones that will raise the child. You do not even need to ask for their permission. Now why do I say this?

Do we ask our parents whether we can have children or not before going to bed? They come whether we planned or not, and certainly didn't get permission from our parents to have them.

So adoption is like that. We need to treat it as another method that God allows us to have children.  Some are born by wombs, some are born by hearts.

Having one's children have never been someone else's decision, but yours only to make. So don't look back but push on.

So happy for you."

I also followed up with another message:

Another note,

"There have been several cases I know where the grandparents had lots of reservations, and when the children came home they wouldn't even glance a look.
But later on, they slowly warmed up to the children, they would use an excuse just to come and see the children.

We humans are so limited with our own understanding as to what is good for us.
It is quite normal to fear the unknowns.
When the situation is thrust upon us (as in your case to your parents), they (your parents) will accept the child and would later go crazy.

I've seen this happen time and time again.

For example, a grandfather in Korea would not even take a glance at a newly adopted child and even refused to put the child under their family registry.
But gradually his heart melted and later became the child's biggest advocate.

I'm sure it will happen to your parents as well.

Best wishes."

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Status of the Slow EPs in Korea

I haven't written my blog in a while, and I apologize for making all of you wait so long regarding why the EP process has slowed down so much in Korea.  A few families have written to me wanting to know what's going on as they anxiously wait for their children to come home.
So far the Korean government branch of the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) has not requested the agencies to submit a certain number of EPs that they normally accept from the agencies around February of a new year.  But it's already the end of March and no request from MOHW was given to the agencies to submit a new batch of EP applications.
Just this wee, one or two agencies went ahead and submitted the EP applications to MOHW regardless.  From what I hear, the MOHW recently underwent a new staff rotation program, and all the staff members have been replaced except for one, thus creating some learning curve for the new members, thus the slow EP process.
However, there have been some EPs cleared this year, but these are the ones that were submitted for application on last November 2016. But for 2017 there has not been any EP batches submitted until this week.
So it's going to be a slow process for the time being, but expect the staff members to learn the ropes soon.  I think another reason may be that the whole country has been so absorbed for months by the impeachment of the President Park, and much of the country did not move with their normal activities because of the national emergency.
Stay tuned.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Life of Orphans Aging-Out in Korea

The original article is in the news, a major newspaper in Korea.

Kim (19, right) who is All-Alone, walks with Lee (17) who will age out next year.
He was abandoned by his birth parents when he was seven, and grew up in an orphanage in Ansan City in Kyung-gi province. When he turned 18 he had to be on his own (in Korea he is 19 in Korean custom). His entire asset was a meager $5,000. He didn’t even know how to rent a room, and didn’t even know how to pay the electric bill.  He felt abandoned again. 
Kim Min Jae (19), just faced the Adult Day (Morrison’s note: 성년의 , this day was established in 1973, went through some modification with the third Monday of each May being the Adult Day in Korea, applies to only those turning 19 to welcome them into adulthood of responsibility in the society). He stated, “I realized what it means to be all alone. Instead of being congratulated for turning into adulthood, the correct description is how I struggled and survived a year.”

Kim is one of those ‘All-Alone Youths”. They are also called ‘The Terminated Youths’.  The social welfare law requires them to be emancipated from an institution once a youth turns 18.  Each year, there are approximately 2000 youths that become ‘All-Alone Youths’.

The only support they get is the separation pay of $5,000 from the government. Kim was able to save up an additional $1,000 over the years, but he faced a stiff challenge to find a room of his own in the Ansan City where he lived for the past 12 years. He finally settled in the city of Kyung-san in the Kyung-buk province where he knew no one.
Finding a place to live was a daunting task.  He did not know that he had to work through a real estate agent and sign the necessary documents.  At first he spent a week at a sauna facility (Morrison note: Sauna or 찜질방 is a place that people often take bath or sauna and be able to stay for short term), but his water and power was cut off after three months.  He didn’t know the concept of paying the bills. He said, “I would often find some kinds of mail in my box but I put them back in the return box, and didn’t realize those were the bills.”  He said, “No one at the orphanage ever taught me these things. I remember sobbing in a dark room with no electricity.”

The entire asset he had was run dry only after a month.  The room deposit took $3,000, and he spent another $1,000 buying the necessary items to live.  He wanted to study to become a dog trainer and enrolled in a college, but after factoring in the government grant of $2,000 to pay for the $3,200 tuition fees, he was left to pay $1,200 to pay the remaining enrollment fee, and even his emergency fund went dry.
The difficulty of hard living came as quickly as the loneliness.  The basic cost of living of $550, which included $200, with telephone fees and foods were hard to meet each month.  He worked a part time at a coffee shop but quit after two months.  He couldn’t take his time away from studying, which was needed to qualify to maintain his government grant. Due to his part time job, his basic aid in the cost of living stopped as well.  He seriously thought about withdrawing from the school. Nowadays, to save for the cost of school, he has cut down on his food expenses. To hang around with his circle of friends is out of question.
Kim is not so bad as compared to others. Chun (23) was separated from his parents for 20 years, but could not apply for the basic cost of living due to his parents showing enough income (Morrison’s note: Many children in orphanages have parents living, but never visit or support their children). He applied for a basic cost of living to attend a college, but he was told “Your parents must first submit the ‘Termination of Parental Rights’ to qualify.”  He quit the school and got a job instead. Because of the financial difficulties faced by so many All-Alone Youths, most of them choose to work instead of education just so they can survive.  It is believed that 77% of the orphan children desire to go to college, but only 24.1% actually do.
It isn’t that there is no education provided for them.  The Ministry of Health and Welfare’s Age-Out Youth Service provides several educational programs through the orphanages, but the youths usually choose topics like ‘Expressing Myself’ or ‘Cleaning Our House’.  The education programs designed to help with self-sufficiency, such as ‘How to Apply for a Rent’ is chosen by only 1.5% of the youths, and ‘Managing Your Money’ is chosen by less than 10%. There are other small care centers (such as group homes) that are not obligated to teach the similar programs to their youths.  The Age-Out Youth Service worker stated, “We are still in the process of developing more effective pre-separation education programs for the aging-out youths”.
What is most needed is the financial helps for these youths.  A person working at ‘The Beautiful Store’ said that “I have been saving since 2011 to individually support these youths, but the overall attitude of the people in Korea is that ‘Why help the grown up adults?’, which is prevalent in the society and that’s not easy to deal with.”  He also said, “Even though they have turned into adulthood, we must not forget that they are the youths that still need our help and attention.” Park Sul-mi, the Self-Sufficiency Program Director of the Dong Myung Orphanage stated, “Not only the economic help is needed, but they also need post-separation counseling and care services as well.”

Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Reality of the Illegal Adoption Market in Korea

The Reality of the Illegal Adoption Market in Korea

This report was translated from the article that was published in the January 7, 2016 issue of The Chosun Daily, a New York Times equivalent newspaper in Korea.  A reporter went undercover to reveal the reality of the illegal adoption market in Korea. 
As I have stated several times before, the special adoption law took away the rights of those adoptive parents in Korea that still wish to keep their adoptions secret.  This was one of the biggest reasons for such a significant decline in the number of domestic adoption.  What used to be over 1400 domestic adoptions per year dropped down to less than 700 domestic adoptions.  And I also did mention that illegal internet adoption is quiet sizable and would probably make up the difference not seen in the recent years after the passage of the special adoption laws in Aug 2012.  This article by the Chosun Daily seems to validate my earlier claims on the real reasons why the domestic adoption was halved by the special adoption law. Many parents in Korea still wish to keep their adoptions secret, and the current law does not allow it, thus making many to choose illegal adoptions.

The original link of the story in Korean can be found in:

Reporters note:
“When a message “I want to adopt” was sent, the cost of introduction was $1000, an unwed mother signed a statement of “no contact”, the adopting mom acted as a birthmother in an OB/GYN clinic…and registered the baby under her name.”

This illegal adoption happens several tens of times a day…
The parents that want to adopt secretly, and the unwed mothers that want to erase their pasts

Ever since the news of a woman in her early 20s took in six children by paying money and even registering the babies under her family registry, the truth is now coming out on the existence of illegal adoption market.
On January 6th The Chosun Ilbo (Newspaper) discovered a posting on a portal site by a high school girl with a message ‘I am 8 months pregnant and is there a way to adopt away my child without my parents finding out?’.  There was a response message that said, ‘I will help you. You may call me’ and left a phone number to call.

An undercover reporter responded to the posted phone number with a message ‘I want to adopt a child without going through an agency. Is this possible?’
Within a few minutes there was a phone call from a woman in her 50s. She said,
“I work in the new born baby section of an OB/GYN clinic as a nurse, and I want to introduce you to an unwed mother who may abandon her baby and I feel bad for this child.”

The reporter told her that ‘I would prefer a girl’, and the woman called the reporter back in an hour saying, “I want to introduce you to an unwed mother who lives in Seoul Kangsuh District.”  She asked the reporter to set the date and place where the baby can be transferred. 
When asked how much she charges for the introduction, the woman broker said, “I usually charge around $1000.  Because the unwed mothers want to erase any memory of giving birth, you do not need to pay the unwed mother.”

The current special adoption law requires the adopting parents to adopt through an agency, and receive the adoption approval ruling from the family court.  To do this it is necessary to have a birth registration by the birth parents.  But the method the broker uses does not involve the court system.
When an unwed mother is pregnant, the adopting mother registers her own name as the birthmother at an OB/GYN clinic.  When a baby is born, the baby is registered under the woman who is adopting. This is so that when the new mother reports the baby at a local government office, she needs the birth registry as a proof.  Since the adopting mother was acting like a birthmother before the baby was born, there was no need for her to follow the legal method of adoption process. 

The broker stated, “This is how I introduced two or three other unwed mothers’ babies before.  You never need to worry about anything as I make an unwed mother sign the paper that says, ‘I will never see the baby nor the person adopting the child’. So all the backdrop work is done by me so you don’t need to worry.”
This type of adoption is practiced by the adoptive parents that do not want their children to learn of their adoptions later in life. But if one follows the legal form of adoption, his social ID card documentation will have a record of ‘adoption’, which might reveal to the child that he/she was adopted.   

Not only the transfer of a child between the two persons is involved, but they can adopt by choosing a gender or the blood type, and this is another reason for many choosing illegal adoption.  And the unwed mothers that do not wish to be identified and remain anonymous on their birth giving, the advantages of the illegal adoption market are very attractive.
The experts all agree that this type of adoption is being carried out rampantly.  In the internet portal site, they call this type of adoption as ‘personal adoption’, and each day there are multiple tens of postings by people that want to practice the ‘personal adoption’.

The broker I spoke with said, “If you let me know the gender and the blood type preference I can find a baby for you.”  At first the broker said to the reporter “I may have an unwed mother who is 30 weeks into her pregnancy living in Daegu”, but when the reporter said that she wanted a girl, the broker then introduced an unwed mother that had the similar months of pregnancy that lived Seoul Kangsuh District. 

In 2014 there were 637 children adopted legally in domestic Korea.  A person in an adoption agency stated that she saw some adoptive parents that came to them because they couldn’t find ways to illegally adopt children. 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Adoption, EP, and Court Status in Korea as 2015 Closes

I realize that I haven't shared for a long time the current adoption happenings in Korea.  I apologize for the delay in providing the latest information.  But to be frank, not much improvements or good news have been available to share. 

It appears that the total number EPs granted for the year 2015 is going to be around 320 - 330. This is the combined total for all three agencies.  This is consistent based on the projected domestic placements, which is around 440 for all three agencies.  Again the '2/3' rule still in place. I need to revisit these numbers next year and give you more accurate count.

But the Family Court process is flowing smoothly with no issue so far.  I'm told that the court process (from the time of the paper submission to the finalization) takes around 2 - 3 months nowadays.

Ever since the Special Adoption Law was placed, hundreds of babies are continuing to be abandoned, and frequent news stories of the babies being killed and discarded in Korea are still common place. There is some movement to revise the law to enable the agency heads to register for the babies being abandoned and make them available for at least the domestic adoption.

The number of children available for adoption is continuing to decline. While there are some factors to consider such as better sex education to avoid pregnancies, some unwed mothers choosing to keep their children, and many illegal internet adoptions, but I am quite positive that the greatest contributor to the reduction in the number of children is due to the sheer number of abortions taking place in Korea.  While there is no definite data on this, many unwed mothers choose to abort their babies rather than face the complexity of registering their babies and face the risk of raising them in a society that does not embrace them well.