Rep. Baik Jai Hyun, who sits on the Committee of Women and Families, has just recently filed a bill named ‘Les Miserables Cosette Adoption Law’ to save the lives of the babies born from the young teen mothers as many babies are abandoned in the streets and elsewhere.
The purpose of this bill is to amend the current Special Adoption Law that makes it mandatory for birth mothers to register their babies, and also to amend the ‘reconsideration’ period for birthmothers where they must keep the baby for seven days (whether they want it or not) after the births before giving them up for adoption or into the care of institutions.
This new amendment is the result of the sudden rise of the number of abandoned babies just after the passage of the Special Adoption Law in August 5, 2012. With all the rhetoric offered by the anti-adoption coalition in Korea (KoRoot, TRACK, ASK, KUMSN, and Gong Gam Law Firm) that still refuse to deny the increase in the number of abandonment is the result of the new adoption law, this action is seen as an effort by the Korean Government that saving the innocent lives of children is their utmost interest.
It was obvious there was a sudden increase in the number of children abandoned just after the law passed in August 2012. For example, 28 children were abandoned during the first seven months (Jan-Jul) of 2012, and 41 children were abandoned during the remaining months of the year. Instead of the usual practice by the young mothers relinquishing their children through adoption agencies, they have instead turned to black market adoptions, or abandon them on the streets, trash bins, subways, restrooms, and other means, and in some cases killed or left to die.
This has also brought an unintended consequence that goes against the intended objective of the law, which was to provide more complete information on birthparents for adoptees. Also, there are over a thousand children that were not birth registered before the new law, and this is especially true of many special needs children. For these children the adoption process has become more complicated and drawn out, and most of these children will be placed into institutions.
Yesterday I spoke with an orphanage director in Korea. She stated that there has been a sharp increase in the number of children being admitted into her facility right after August 2012. She was concerned that she and her staff in Korea is overburdened with the increased number of children in her facility with the limited number of staff to take care of them. She also said that she has never seen that many children come into her care in such a short time in all her experience.
Rep. Baik stated that “At the 18th Congressional Session the Special Adoption Law was passed with a good intention in mind, but this law has backfired with several unintended outcomes that are just not practical nor acceptable. No matter how promising the law is, if it does not address the current reality it must be amended to improve the situation.”
The amendment will remove the requirement that birthmothers must register their babies into their family registry, but leave the parental information with the adoption agencies where they will be kept closed from public. The record will only be opened when both an adoptee and his/her birthparent agree, or under some special exceptions requiring medical related information.
Also the amendment will revisit the requirement where the birthmothers are required to keep their babies at minimum seven days before deciding to keep the baby or not. The amendment will allow a room for birthmothers to relinquish their babies immediately after the births if they wish to. The amendment will also make it more favorable for special needs children to be adopted as they are more likely to be abandoned.
Rep. Baik also stated “This amendment’s ultimate objective is to protect the lives of innocent babies from being abandoned or killed.”
Despite this effort, the anti-adoption coalition held a press conference at the nation’s capital to protest the amendment bill ‘Les Miserables Cosette Adoption Law’ sponsored by the Rep. Baik Jae Hyuk. They maintain that adoptees have the rights to their records to seek out their birthparents and reunification.
This is where I differ from them. What good is having a good record if in the process a child is abandoned or killed, or left to die? Even if 100 or even 1000 adoptees benefit from their records but results in the loss of a life, it still is not worth it.