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A Giant Step Forward for Orphans in Korea

December 30, 2011

Yesterday, Steve Morrison of MPAK (Mission:Promote Adoption in Korea) broke the news that after 15 years of lobbying, the Korean legislature passed a new law that will terminate the parental rights of parents three years after they abandon their children. This appears to be a giant step forward toward Korea’s’ ability to sign onto the Hague.

A November 21, 2011 article in the Korea Herald is fascinating context for the new parental rights termination law. As the article’s title asks, “Will Korea End Limits on Overseas Adoption?”

It is too soon to guess how the new parental rights termination law will intersect with upcoming changes in Korean adoption procedures going into effect this summer –another indicator that Korea is moving closer to signing on to the Hague (which I support). The news of change is unsettling for families in process who are potentially directly affected; for them there is no “too soon” for more concrete information from their agencies.

But in a big-picture sense, I am encouraged by these changes. In 2006 and 2008 I visited private orphanages for young children in Korea. Even though the children I held and played with have aged-out into the government-run orphanages for older children, this new law creates a new potential for their future. Instead of growing up as wards of the State in an institution, after parents have been given a reasonable time to return (three years), abandoned children will become eligible for adoption.

So it seems the adoption community in Korea and abroad is standing on a new threshold: the adoption of older, post-institutionalized children.  That has  been happening successfully for decades on a small scale from a handful of institutions associated with an adoption agency, like Holt’s Ilsan and SWS’s Amsa. I can only hope that with the passage of this new law, more of Korea’s estimated 280 orphanages will be drawn into the system.

I have a soft spot for one of them: The Children’s Home in Busan. If you remember these stories, you don’t need to follow the links. But if you haven’t heard the story of what God did via the process of our attempt to adopt Joy’s twin sister Amy out of an orphanage, I think you’ll be encouraged that children who are blessed to be delivered to The Children’s Home, not only receive outstanding care in an “institution,” but do very well when they find forever families, like Amy and PooReun did.

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