|Chunky. © Cheese Curds and Kimchi|
I can't believe how fast he's changing already. He's getting quite juicy, as you can tell from his cankles. Little fat calves that go straight to his ankles. Actually, the fat starts at his butt and just goes straight down in sweet little rolls. His socks look way too tight, but that's how all his socks fit!
In the midst of the melt-downs, frustrations, and teething going on around here, last week I was reminded how fortunate and blessed we are to be dealing with these *issues*.
This past week, our Korean agency, SWS, announced that it had run out of Emigration Permits for the year. The Korean government issues these permits which allow the children to be adopted out of the country. Without a permit, your baby doesn't get to come home.
They started this process back in 2007. It was a way to appease the Korean populace who are saddened and ashamed that so many of their children are being adopted internationally. They have called on the government to address this issue and many people want to see the international adoption programs from Korea closed. The program has been set to close several times, but it seems they have pushed back the closing to 2016 (for now).
I do believe that domestic adoption within Korea is the best option for these children. Don't misunderstand: we know LM was meant to be our son. And we are always thankful for this blessing. But being raised in your birth country is probably the second best thing to being raised with your birth family.
However, it isn't a popular option in Korea because of cultural beliefs. There's a lot of reasons for it, but the end result is that these kids are caught between the shame of the Korean people for *sending* their children to be raised in other countries, and the stigma of adoption in their culture.
The government's answer was a two-fold approach. They have worked hard to educate the public and increase awareness about adoption in their country. They are making headway, but very slowly. At the same time, they instituted a quota system, reducing the amount of EPs given each year by 10%, starting in 2007. Once the yearly EP quota has been met, then the children who were referred had to wait until the following year to leave. That usually happened at the end of the year and might only mean a delay of a month or two in bringing the children home.
The numbers look better for the government, but they aren't actually true. While less children are leaving each year, more children are stuck in limbo, waiting to join their families. Those referred children will roll over into the next year's EP allotment, meaning the agencies run out of EPs earlier and earlier each year. The numbers game can't be run forever.
The end of last year one of the largest agencies, Eastern, hit a wall. Families were told that children who were referred in Dec. 2010 would not be traveling until early 2012. Heartbreaking to have to wait so long after seeing your baby's face to bring them home! And it's more challenging for the children, who have spent longer periods in their foster homes and would now be about 18-months old when they came home, instead of 9-months old. This was the reason that we didn't stay with our first agency.
Social Welfare Society, our current agency, announced last week that the shortage has now affected them. Children who were referred in April will now have to wait to join their families until early 2012. In addition, they will not begin making referrals again until the fall.
We know many people who are caught in this EP snare. Friends who were thrilled at their referral and planning on bringing the 9-month-olds home in a few months, will now wait to bring home a 16-month-old toddler (or older) sometime in 2012.
This doesn't affect our process at all, but it's still sickening to think about. And what's worse is to think about it from the children's perspective. They willhave been with their foster families for much longer, making the separation from them even more difficult. We are still struggling through LM's grief and sadness about his foster family and he had only been with them 5 months. I can only imagine if he had been with them a year. And what about the foster families, who grow more attached to those sweet babies the longer they are caring for them?
There is really nothing that can be done about this. In the international adoption realm, we are at the mercy of another country's culture, decisions, and beliefs. We cannot judge whether they are right or wrong. Goodness knows that the US makes a lot of decisions that don't make sense either. We can only hope that there is a solid plan in action to support the children who are waiting for families.
Today's round-up is a list of blogs of families who are caught in the middle of the EP issue. The best thing we can do now is to support them, so please, visit these blogs and leave a comment. It really goes a long way. And if you know of others who need a little love, (or it might be you!) please leave your blog address too.
My Adoption Rant--(This blogger is not waiting for a child, but has a great explanation of the EP issue)
Adjusting our Plans
The Long and Short of Homecoming
Joining the Army
Waiting and Gift Buying