PARTICIPATE IN THE MID-TERM PUBLIC HEARING ON ADOPTION LAW.
Your presence is urgently needed. Please come.
Thursday Feb. 26 at 10 a.m.
Francisco Education Center in Seoul (near City Hall and Seodaemun)
As you may already know, the Ministry of Health Welfare and Family has requested research to be done about adoption. This research covers three areas: South Korean domestic adoption, South Korea’s special law on international adoption, and how South Korea would implement the Hague Convention.
The person that the government asked to do this research is an American-trained professor name Huh Nam-soon. She and the team that she has put together have no power to make the law, but only to make recommendations to the government. The government makes the law.
The timeline for this is that we are about mid-term. The Ministry of Health Welfare and Family is doing their own research, and the Ministry of Justice will do research on the Hague Convention from March-October.
At the end of the year, TRACK’s legal representatives (the Gonggam lawyers) who are helping the whole group of TRACK, ASK, GOAL and KoRoot will draft our own bill to introduce at the end of the year to parliament.There will probably be a draft bill around the end of the year. That means there is still time to fight on important issues that directly affect our lives.
Many adoptees may have seen the survey that was put out by this research group. However, the adoptees were never meant to participate in this research — there was not even a box for them to check identifying themselves as regular concerned adoptees, and the survey was put out in Korean — which is the language LEAST spoken by Korean adoptees.
GOAL translated the survey and collected results, but it appears that those results are not reflected in the research. Clearly the adoptees were not intended to participate in helping to form these laws and policies that are about our human rights.
In addition, I have asked the professor in charge of these meetings twice now for translation at the public hearing. She has turned TRACK down twice on this issue. She said they didn’t plan for it. (Sure, I can see that — they didn’t want adoptees to participate, clearly! So of course they didn’t plan for that. ) I fired off an email to TRACK’s parliamentarian this afternoon to complain and request that next time they prepare better. If Korea wants to be a pluralistic society and a democracy, they must prepare for these things.
Out of principle, because they are making laws about US, they should make the “public hearing” accessible. They can do this by providing translation in at least English, but also ideally French and possibly Dutch. They should send out notices in English. But all the notices have come out in Korean. How can the adoptees participate in society, in laws about themselves, if they are purposely keeping us in the dark through the very same language barrier that they created?
So that we can understand, GOAL will provide translation, but this is the government’s job. The government must understand that we are doing them a favor by picking up where they have been insufficient. Indeed the government has all the translation it wants right at its fingertips to make adoption papers when it comes to shipping children overseas to foreigners who speak English, French, Dutch, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish — but when it comes to giving us two hours of live translation in Seoul — the bare minimum of what we would expect — they look at us like, “Huh?”
Let’s go together and demand our right to participate in laws that are about us. Let’s go and speak our broken Korean, our English, and our French, and demand that there be Nothing about us without us!!
Besides the language issue, these other issues are on the table for discussion. The research group is discussing their planned recommendations. I do get the feeling that some of these issues are not really open for discussion and they are already decided, but we have to put our bodies in those chairs and open things up for a real debate again.
1. Group recommends opening Korea to the international adoption of children from Africa and other parts of Asia.
2. The length of time a mother has before she can legally a) relinquish a child and b) take the child back.
3. Group recommends expanding the definition of who is considered “adoptable” to make adoptions easier.
4. Qualifications of prospective adoptive parents.
5. The use of the court in performing adoptions and breaking adoptions.
6. Open records for international adoptees whose parents agree to reveal identity.
7. Child’s right to consent to his/her own adoption to be dropped form 15 years to 10 years.
8. The system used to report/give permission to adoptions – how the child is registered in either adoption agency office or through the court. This is an issue about the right to identity for domestic adoptees.
9. The role of the Central Authority if Korea ratifies the Hague Convention. What authority will it have over the agencies? What will it do for the adoptees?
Your presence is very, very necessary. We are at a watershed time. This is your chance to participate. If you need to skip class, then skip class. If you need to take a couple of hours off work, do it. You cannot expect to complain about this stuff later if you don’t participate now! YOUR human rights are at stake. The rights of your friends who are searching are at stake. Be involved. Don’t let the Korean government get away with negligence again and again. Don’t let them continue to trample on you because you’re too busy to make them stop it! Make time for things that are important.
Together we can do it!! We can change Korean society!
See you there.