Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Let us explain the best we can

Remember the last time you interviewed for a new job?

You may have just graduated college, or just finished high school. Maybe you were just applying at a new employer after biding your time and gaining experience at a previous post.

Remember how there was no clear-cut process, answers or timeline for when the position would be filled or how/when you would be notified that you were hired or passed over? Maybe the employer never called back. Maybe you received rejection by email or letterhead mail. This may have been after 2, 3, or even more interviews. It may have taken several months

It's not a perfect analogy, but it's the best I can come up with for trying to explain what Sarah and I are going through and why it's so hard to explain that we have no idea when we will be permitted to fly to Korea to bring Holden home.

When my brother and his wife became pregnant in 2010, the timeline was almost finite. Go for regular doctor visits, have baby showers after 7 months, and expect Baby Brody to squeeze his way out and into our lives sometime between early July and mid August barring any complications. And thankfully there were none, but even for those not so fortunate, birth complications only impact the timelines by weeks -- maybe just days -- and never multiple months or years.

But adoption has no finite -- or even approximate -- timeline. And there are complications more often than not, because there are bureaucracies, legalities and political motives involved.

You all, as have we, think all the time: "There are these babies who need homes and have no parents, so why not just let them come home?"

But, suffice it to say, it's just not that easy. Some of it is to determine if you are fit to parent, some of it is simply bureaucracy. 

1. Decide to adopt (began in late 2010)
2. Decide domestic or international (spring 2011)
3. Decide which country (spring 2011)
4. Have home study conducted (March 2011)
5. Apply to adoption agency (May 2011)
6. Fill out legal paperwork granting future adopted child U.S. citizenship (summer 2011)
7. Get child referral (October 2011)
8. Review medical records, and in our case have specialists examine MRIs, videos and  (November 2011)
9. Accept Holden's referral (November 2011)
10. Wait for exit permit submission (some have waited at least a year after acceptance of referral)
11. Exit permit approved (4-5 weeks)
12. Travel call (up to two more months)
13. Travel to Korea (within 2 weeks of travel call)

So, it can take up to a year to get a referral, in some cases, and another year to bring a baby home. 

Beginning March of this year, the agency has sent monthly emails no later than mid month detailing the progress of all "exit permit" submissions and approvals. An EP is simply a request and permission granted for a specific child to leave South Korea. Each agency gets so many per year ,and we were led to believe ours would be processed by the end of this year, allowing us to travel before the New Year.

Last week, we received an email that indicated the monthly notification that our agency sends out regarding travel permits was being delayed. No explanation why, just that because a new Korean law beginning in August requiring adopting families to appear in Family Court was motivating the agencies to process a larger "batch" of EPs than normal for the month of June and that they would not send out the regular email until all of those families and paperwork were notified.

I am sure that the agency was getting inundated with emails asking when the monthly email would be sent since parents had become accustom to an approximate timeline, which prompted them to send out a precursory email. But that can also work both ways. While it could get some excited that a larger than normal batch of permits would be submitted this month, maybe speeding up a child's travel time, it also could be a cause for concern that the agency is fearful that EP submissions will be cut off soon and they are just trying to cram in as many as possible beforehand.

EP submissions got cut off last October and didn't start back up until March of this year. That's a six-month delay in the process that has already occurred. Without that delay, Holden would already have traveled home, likely in the last 2-3 months.

So, especially for Sarah, the precursory email made us think the worst. So, she sent emails asking for an explanation, and the agency wasn't going to announce anything until all the paperwork for this month was finalized. But they asked us to have a conference call yesterday rather than email correspondence.
During the conference call, the director of the program bluntly said that all of these exit permit quotas are simply because the Korean government DOES NOT want other countries adopting their native-born kids, and while they aren't going to ultimately prevent matched children from leaving, they are going to do everything to deter others from embarking in the process in the future. 

She also explained that they believed before if nothing changed that we would be part of this year's EP submissions and likely travel by January. But they are unwilling to commit to a definite timeline, because things are continuously changing.

We want a timeline and date, and to be able to answer your questions more than anything. But there simply isn't a "for sure." That said, today, our agency finally sent the email detailing the EP submissions for this month. In the email, they detailed that all families who sent acceptance paperwork in September -- and even some from October -- were submitted. That means we are getting very close and just missed this cut.

The bad news is all indications are there likely won't be any submissions again until September at the earliest. But that also means our "hopeful" timeline of by the end of the year hasn't changed, it's just that some of the families just ahead of us got their EPs approved a month or two earlier than they expected. In the end, though, because of how many extra were submitted this month those families may have to wait longer than normal between EP submission and and travel call.

I was able to do a little snooping on our agency's message board to see all the families who were submitted, and one family submitted acceptance paperwork as late as Oct. 28. We mailed ours on Nov. 14. So, we are extremely close, and if EP submissions resume in September, we should be part of no later than the October batch. And, maybe, just maybe, we'll travel before Christmas.

But, for now, we're twisting in the wind, just like the guy hoping to hear about that new job, with no idea when we'll get an answer.

1 comment:

  1. I am so sorry you guys are dealing with this. A similar thing happened to us with getting the dude home. They said it could be as early as September. Then, it turned out that Korea had "met its quota" of children allowed out of the country, and the dude didn't come home until January 23.

    I know how much it sucks to live in the not knowing. To jump every time the phone rings. To be incredibly frustrated that NO ONE seems to be competent in doing their job or answering simple questions.

    No matter what, Holden is yours and the universe has put you together. Someday, this will all be a story for his life book. But it super sucks out loud now.

    Keep the faith,