Adoption agency offers family search services

from the Korea Herald

2012-08-02 20:24

On June 29, one year ago, the National Assembly passed the revision
of the Special Adoption Law, which gave more rights to adoptees,
better protection to birth mothers, and greater protection of
children’s rights. The law will enter into full force on Aug. 5.

What changes are taking effect next week? It is not possible to give a
definitive because the Ministry of Health and Welfare is still
finalizing the decree and ordinance for the law application.

However, from the draft published in March, it can be noted that the
Korea Central Adoption Resources, which is currently promoting
adoption and providing post-adoption services, will have a new name:
Korea Adoption Services. Along with its new name, KAS will also take
on new responsibilities. For example, it will keep a central database
of adoptees’ records and provide birth family search services even to
those who have no known adoption agency, with the goal of building a
cooperative system among adoption agencies. Compared to adoption
agencies, KAS will become more powerful because it will be able to
request collaboration from governmental offices as well as from the
agencies themselves.

Concerning access to records, which many adoptees regard as paramount,
it will be possible to request and receive records via mail, fax, or
the Internet (probably an online form). Adoptees will also be able to
receive information in electronic format as long it is not too
burdensome for the agency to produce it.

A fee covering the cost of disclosure and delivery can be charged on
the requesting adoptee; however, some adoptees are concerned that,
unlike with other social insurances, no upper limit has been set.

In addition, the new law (decree) requires adoption agencies to
respond to adoptee requests within 15 days. If during that time the
agencies cannot receive personal information disclosure approval from
birth parents, the decree permits an extension of 30 days, in which
case the agency must send an explanatory statement to the applicant.
However, if the biological parents are deceased, or if the information
is needed for medical purpose, the adoptee can still receive personal
details of his or her biological parents.

Another key point is the preservation of files. Adoption records will
have to be kept permanently but it’s unclear who has this duty, KAS or
the adoption agencies. The final version of the decree and ordinance
might bring an answer.

Of other general changes, it should be mentioned that both domestic
and international adoption will have to be formally approved by a
family court.

According to the law, biological parents will receive sufficient
counseling services from adoption agency before giving consent for
adoption. They also can give their consent for adoption as early as
one week after the birth of the baby.

Lastly, the law will require social workers practicing in the adoption
field to follow continuous training.

Again, all the points mentioned in this article might be not fully
accurate, since the final version of the ordinance and decree has not
yet been made public by the Ministry of Health and Welfare. Therefore
everyone interested in the changes brought by the application of the
Special Adoption Law revision should check after Aug. 5 for full
details.

By Marc Champod

Marc Champod is currently studying social welfare at Seoul National
University as a master’s student. He had worked for many years in the
field of pension and benefits in Switzerland before coming to Korea to
study the Korean social welfare system on a Korean governmental
scholarship. — Ed.

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