Travel Requirements for Korean adoptions: The Latest Sad News

Snow Day.

We're at home today because of the snow. Which is good. Because I couldn't sleep a bit last night. And I keep crying.

The latest news from the Korea adoption from broke on the MPAK blog last night. Read the post HERE. For many families who are waiting, this news will end their journey to adopt from Korea. To summarize, the blog says that families will have an appearance in Korean courts, where both adoptive parents must be present. Once the judge determines if the suitability of the parents, then there will be a 14-day waiting period during which the birth mother can end the process if she chooses to parent. If the birth mother does not come forward, then the adoption can continue.

If it's true, it's devastating. The author of the blog has been staying on top of the changing rules and processes since the new law went into effect last year. It's' probably an accurate summary of the situation as it currently exists, or at least fairly close.

So, obviously this is a huge change in the process but as an AP, the birth mother provision is the scariest part. Keep in mind, that the birth mothers already waited out the 7-days after birth before being allowed to consent to adoption, and had another five-month waiting period in before children are eligible for international adoption. By the time the courts see the cases, these children are already 1-1 1/2 years old. While I'm all for giving the birth mothers ample time to change their minds (after all this is a HUGE decision), couldn't the waiting period be completed before the adoptive parents have went through all the hoops and expenses, are in Korea and are about to bring home their baby?

There are many families left on the 2012 quota who are awaiting travel. They have been on hold several months as the courts reviewed documents and became familiar with adoption procedures. Now these same families are facing extra thousands of dollars in expenses at the last minute as they are told they must extend their stay in country from a week to 3-4. And the fact that both parents must now appear in court...another unexpected challenge for some.

That aside, I'm most concerned by the added strain on children, both for the child to be adopted and other children in the adoptive family. The extra court processes and waiting times will likely mean that the children who are being adopted will be coming home much older. That is harder on the children since they have spent more time in their foster families. Plus the extra weeks families must stay in Korea may affect the amount of time they will have once they return stateside, to bond and help their child adjust to their new home before the parents must return to work.

For children already in the family, they face being without both parents for 3-4 weeks. Obviously a huge obstacle and could make the initial relationship with a new sibling much more challenging. If they travel to Korea with their parents, it's a long journey, weeks away from the comfort of home. If the children are school aged, that may not even be a possibility. And what about for special needs families?

The international adoption program helps provide homes to many Korean children who were not adopted domestically. If the number of IA goes down due to this extreme new set of rules, where will these children go? The domestic adoption numbers have not increased enough to provide homes for them. They are in foster homes now as they await IA, but those are not forever homes. And each agency only has so many foster homes. So, if these children are not adopted will they will be moved into orphanages?

It's always a delicate balancing act to protect the rights of the birth parents. But what about the rights of these children to be able to have a forever home quickly?

The first 2012 cases are scheduled to move into the Korean court systems in April. I hope this latest MPAK post isn't true, or at the very least, the rules are not set in stone. Just hate to see the system end up punishing children and the families who desperately want to provide for them.

And of course, the most important thing is to remember that this is just all conjecture at this point. Not a single agency (that I can find) has reported any of this information to their clients. Until we hear it from them, it's not official.


  1. Just as an FYI, the birth mother could always end the process, and nearly did in our case, MONTHS after our referral, and more than a year after relinquishment; we were told at that time (but not before, which we consider a failing of our agency) that the bm could change her mind at any point before our son left the country. We were on tenterhooks for 10 months after we learned of her interest in parenting him. The main difference now is a "formal" venue for this, and at a *really* bad time (right before the kids leave Korea).

  2. Oh yes. You are completely correct. I've heard several other cases (unfortunately) where the birth mother chose to parent after the referral was made. I've also heard of the foster family choosing to adopt after referral so the referral was retracted.


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