Monthly Archives: July 2009

Protest image of the day

church

‘새로운 진보신당 운동’ 회원들이 27일 오후 서울 서초동 ‘사랑의 교회’ 앞에서 팬티만 입은 채 “네 이웃인 비정규직을 사랑하라’는 내용의 퍼포먼스를 진행하고 있다.

Dang, they beat us to the naked performance!
This performance by members of the New Progressive Party movement in front of the Church of Love in the monied neighorhood of Seocho in Seoul is in support of the people called “irregular” workers in Korea. Irregular workers are those who are not guaranteed a steady job through their contracts.
On another note, I just want to put this out there: If you are an adoptive parent or a prospective adoptive parent, and you don’t know how what the policies or plans are of South Korea’s ministry of health welfare and family, that is because your adoption agency did not explain it to you. It is not your fault, but theirs. Can you find anyone in your adoption agency stateside who can explain it to you clearly and with 100% accuracy and assuredness? If not, ask yourself why. If not, ask yourself why you are adopting through them if they don’t even know what’s going on. What we are talking about is children’s lives and government policy, not country-of-origin rules on an FTA (although that is probably discussed by government officials in more detail and watchdogged more closely). If your agency really cares about what is going on, they would be over here finding out what is going on and reporting back. I can say with certainty that I have not met one agency representative from the U.S. at either of the two public hearings on Korean adoption law.
Now, I am Korean and I love Korean people, but I don’t think Americans should count on Koreans being forthcoming or transparent with information. This culture is about rank and personal relationship, not democracy and transparency. (That’s what TRACK is for.) So all that is to say, I don’t think PAPs or adoptive parents should let themselves get lulled into thinking we have no cultural differences and that the agencies here communicate with agencies there in the same way that you might expect American-on-American communication to happen.

New links on TRACK blog

Hi everybody,

Please check the TRACK blog for new links on the right-hand navigation bar:

1. Adoption Agency Birthfamily Search Policies (comprehensive list)

2. Korean Adoptees for Fair Records Access (a Facebook group you should join)

3. Miss Mamma Mia cafe (a site for our friends in Korea who are “unwed” moms who are raising their children by themselves)

I’m not linking here, because I want you to head over to TRACK. ^^ Thanks.

Brawl in S. Korean parliament

Today’s mosh pit in the South Korean parliament (called the National Assembly) over media law shows you that Koreans believe laws are worth fighting over. ^^

If your adoptive parents adopted you because they thought Koreans are passive, submissive, compliant, and orderly, well — they must have had us mixed up with somebody else.

FACE Act

Thanks to Joy Roh for alerting me to this act in favor of the total erasure of U.S. international adoptees’ history and identity. What it means is that on paper intl adoptees would look like they were born in the U.S. Anybody who is onboard for dual citizenship rights of adoptees should be against this one. If you are in the U.S., please go over there and give lawmakers Landrieu, Inhofe, Watson, and Boozman a piece of your mind in person.

As you may recall from the responses for the Family Immigration petition, lawmakers apparently need folks to come into their offices many times and talk with them in person. They do not respond to email or snail mail so well. Please go to their offices and talk story.

This is copied and pasted from the Ethica site.

Foreign Adopted Children Equality Act (FACE Act)

introduced in the Senate as S. 1359 (Senators Landrieu and Inhofe) and in the House as H.R. 3110(Rep. Watson and Boozman):  A bill to provide United States citizenship for children adopted from outside the United States, and for other purposes.

Ethica opposes passage of the FACE Act.  Ethica believes the FACE Act, if passed, would harm adopted persons and their birth- and adoptive families in a number of ways, including:

  • The bill is intended to eliminate the U.S. immigrant visa process, which means it eliminates the safeguards put in place to help ensure that children placed for adoption are legally in need of homes abroad
  • By conferring citizenship retroactive to birth, Ethica believes the bill creates a legal fiction anddiminishes adoptees’ birth history
  • While eliminating the visa process may save adopting families a small amount of money toward the large costs of adopting, there is no guarantee that the Department of State will not charge similar or even higher fees for services it will provide under this bill.
  • The bill may create additional hurdles and costs for adopted persons in the future as they attempt to claim benefits and privileges they are otherwise entitled to in their countries of birth
  • Eligibility for adoption of a particular child is generally determined by the “competent authority” of the child’s country of origin.  The bill does not address eligibility for adoption in countries that have not designated a competent authority
  • The suitability of the adopting parent is based on the person’s ability to support the child and appropriate criminal background checks.  The bill does not address existing federal requirements for homestudies of prospective adopting parents.
  • Enacting this bill may stall adoptions in process:  It is unclear how this bill will affect provisions of the Intercountry Adoption Act (which implemented the Hague Convention).  Instead of speeding up processing by bypassing the visa system, confusion in interpretation and the development of new processing procedures, particularly for Hague countries, will likely create delays for adopting families and children.

Ethica believes that adoptees and other immigrants should be able to become President, but pursuing the right to presidency should be done in a way that does not erase personal histories.

Ethica also wholeheartedly agrees that citizenship procedures should be improved for adoptees, and believes that adoptees not covered under the Child Citizenship Act (including adopted persons who have been deported) should be conferred U.S. citizenship. However, this bill goes far beyond these measures and has the potential to hurt more than help.

This bill is being considered in two committees in the House of Representatives and one committee in the U.S. Senate:

In the House:

House Committee on Foreign Affairs:
Phone:  (202) 225-5021
Email:  http://foreignaffairs.house.gov/contact.asp
Members on the Committee who are also available to hear your opinions:
http://foreignaffairs.house.gov/members.asp

House Judiciary Committee:
Phone:  202-225-3951
Find members of the committee who would be happy to hear your opinions:
http://judiciary.house.gov/about/members.html

In the Senate:

Senate Judiciary Committee:
Phone:  202-224-7703 (Democrats) or 202-224-5225 (Republicans)
To find members of the committee who would be happy to hear your opinion:
http://judiciary.senate.gov/about/members.cfm

Consider joining this Facebook group formed in opposition to the FACE Act.

Korea Continues to Deny Overseas Adoptees Access

Hi everybody! Here’s an op-ed that ran today in Korea that explains more about adoptees’ and their families’ democratic right to access revision processes on laws that affect them. TRACK delivered almost 300 signatures to the central authority today. But we need at least 700 more signatures on the petition!! (See the post below). Please spread it around so we can deliver 1,000 signatures (or more!) to the ministry in a couple of weeks. It only takes a moment. THANK YOU!

Petition in English

Petition in French

Petition in German

Korea Times

07-17-2009 15:45
Korea Continues to Deny Overseas Adoptees Access

By Jennifer Kwon Dobbs and Jane Jeong Trenka

The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Family opened a central adoption information service center Wednesday to provide post-adoption services to adoptees searching for their birth families. However, there’s one significant problem that the ministry has ignored: adoptee access.

This center is meant to fulfill the requirement of a “central authority” by the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. Click on the central authority’s new Web site (www.kcare.or.kr) featuring images of adoptees for whom their birth families are searching and you’ll find it is completely in the Korean language. Can an overseas adoptee whose first language is either English or French read or use this?

Since 1953, South Korea has sent over 160,000 Korean children abroad to 14 Western countries. It is the oldest and largest adoption program in the world, despite South Korea’s economic miracle.

Reunion with birth families is a primary reason for adoptees to return to South Korea. From 1995-2005, the ministry reported that 78,000 adoptees came to South Korea to search for their families. Yet only 2.7 percent were reunited. What accounts for this low success rate?

Mads Them Nielsen, former director of post-adoption services at Global Overseas Adoptees’ Link (G.O.A.L.) from 2001-2003, said, “In a given year I received approximately 240 requests including e-mail inquiries. I have reunited only 10 cases. The main problem was getting information from the agencies.”

The lack of adoptee access includes not only records and translation, but also active adoptee representation.

Although the central authority has prominent representation by adoption agencies, an overseas adoptee who lives in Seoul, who was a potential candidate for the board, was dropped without explanation.

His replacement, Steven Morrison, is an adoptee living in the United States who is head of Mission to Promote Adoption in Korea. He cannot regularly attend meetings or events in Seoul important to the information service center’s decision-making process due to his overseas residence.

At an institutional level, the ministry continues to view adoptees as a whole as children and discriminates against them as “orphans” and “foreigners” who cannot represent their own interests and who should not make decisions about themselves.

However, adoptees continue to struggle to make their voices heard. The ministry’s second hearing on the revision of South Korea’s civil and overseas adoption laws on July 1, sponsored by the Korean Women’s Development Institute (KWDI), marked the first time in 56 years of international Korean adoption that a critical mass of overseas Korean adoptees were able to directly communicate their own interests in a governmental forum. The KWDI provided professional, simultaneous translation services.

This public hearing was originally intended to be the last one before the ministry sends its suggested revisions to the Adoption Law to the National Assembly.

However, after seeing the number of adoptees and supporters who turned out to voice their opinions, Park Sook-ja, director of the ministry’s family policy bureau, announced that another public hearing might be necessary to further discuss adoptee and single mother concerns.

But the ministry has not released information about a third public hearing. Instead, it has rushed toward opening the service center both online and onsite without consulting overseas adoptees and without any regard for the comments they gave at the last public hearing.

The ministry intends for the center to bring South Korea into compliance with the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption.

In accordance with the convention, it should hold the records of the adoptees and assist with birth family searches. It should also serve as a watchdog over the agencies. However, the center is incorporated as a private entity, not a governmental agency with sufficient oversight.

The center’s facilities and problems are the same as the old GAIPS (Global Adoption Information and Post Services Center) Adoption Information Center.

In fact, it is located in the old GAIPS office ― they have yet to even change the sign on the door. GAIPS failed to establish a sufficient working relationship with overseas adoptees because it was not willing to provide language access.

Despite appearing to make improvements, the South Korean government continues to deny the adoption community authentic access and services. Fifty-six years and counting of adoption history, overseas adoptees are still waiting.

Jennifer Kwon Dobbs, professor of English at St. Olaf College in Minnesota, is the author of “Paper Pavilion.” Jane Jeong Trenka is the author of “The Language of Blood, Fugitive Visions,” and co-editor of “Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption.” They are members of Truth and Reconciliation for the Adoption Community of Korea (TRACK), a group advocating for transparency in adoption practices both past and present to improve the lives of Korean families and adoptees.

South Korea’s new central adoption authority

Inauguration of S. Korean central adoption authority

Despite the adoptees’ request to be considered in the Korean law revisions, the central authority is having its inaugural celebration tomorrow. The new central authority is in the same office as GAIPS, which had never developed a relationship with the overseas adoptees because they never bothered to provide language access. Click on the new Web site and you see that it is the same now as ever. Can you read that? Are they helping you access your information? Are they helping reunite you or the people you love? This organization is basically GAIPS with a new name. In fact, they haven’t even taken the GAIPS sign off the door yet! (We physically went over and checked this today.) Most adoptees cannot go to this celebration because we were not invited or informed. But this central authority is supposed to help you — not exclude you!! What’s going on here?

TRACK representatives will protest by arriving at the meeting, but not going in, to symbolize how the we have been excluded. We do not expect you to come. We will release a video and statements about this celebration in the coming days. In the meantime, you can help by signing the petition for adoptee inclusion in the law revision process. Please ask the people who care about your rights as an adoptee to sign it too.

Petition in English

Petition in French

Petition in German

Translation of the invitation below:

To help provide centrally coordinated services of adoption resources, KCAR has been established.

The inauguration of KCAR, the first domestic foundation of central adoption resources, is held on the 15th of July 2009.

The director of the center, Lee Bae Keun, will hold the opening ceremony at the Francesco Education Hall 4th floor on July 15th at 3 p.m.

The Ministry of Social and Family Welfare has established KCAR in order to meet the United Nations agreement on children’s rights and The Hague agreement to protect children and to meet the social responsibilities that come with adoption.

KCAR is founded in response to the need for a central database that will be helpful in birth family search and supporting, administering, and evaluating organizations and institutions that are involved with domestic and international adoption. It will also rectify the decline in the quality of adoption services.

The center’s primary objective is to promote domestic adoption and improve the management of post-adoption services.

A detailed list of the center’s primary services: to run a database of adoptee and birth family information, provide counseling for domestic and overseas adoption, manage public resentment, educate Korean nationals about adoption in order to instill a Korean mindset for adoption, research and analyze the regulations and services related to domestic and overseas adoption, run and evaluate adoption programs, run international collaboration on adoption issues, and finally do the work entrusted by the Ministry over Health, Welfare and Family Affairs.

The director of KCAR, Lee Bae Keun, is confident that the center will establish an administrative and support system for domestic and overseas adoption. And so he wants to develop the “after” services of both types of adoption. To do so, he wants to raise an interest in adoption in the Korean population and eliminate social and cultural prejudices through public relations thereby creating a desirable adoption service culture.