Archive for March, 2008

Exercise Vs. Blogging

Life has gotten busy again, so I have been forced to make choices:

To blog or not to blog?
To exercise or not to exercise?
These are the questions.
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
Tip-tap, tip-tap of the QWERTY key
Or to take arms, legs and body to the health club

I suspect that you can guess what my decision must have been based on my lack of postings. Yes, I have done a better job of getting to the health club than sitting down and composing random observation about my life.

Too bad one can’t blog and workout at the same time. I’ve tried to blog and ride the exercise bike but sadly the scribbles and sweat smeared ink were illegible. In fact it appears that I wrote “to redact or not to redact,” but why would I want to do that? Censoring one’s self seems rather defeatist for a blogger; however, the justice department is so politicized that it even feels the need to censor Supreme Court rulings (linkarchive).

Life has gotten busy again for several reasons; the start of a new year at Andy and BoA’s schools, new after school activities for BoA and Andy (Belly dancing and Taekwondo are out and English, Piano, and swimming are in), Jangmonim’s upcoming move (scheduled for March 14th White Day here in Korea), and the start of a new semester for me teaching in the HUFS TESOL program.

We also had to make time to get BoA’s passport renewed. Surprisingly, as much as I loath going to the American Embassy for the numerous bureaucratic nightmares which I have had to endure, renewing BoA’s passport was relatively painless. I wouldn’t call standing in line for the whole morning pleasant, but once we turned over the heap of documents (which included birth certificates, affidavits of marriage, and a photo album chronicling BoA’s existence in our family from the time of her birth to present) the renewal process went smoothly.

Anna will also need to get her passport renewed, but before she did that she had to check to make sure her 10-year American visa which I had to use political favors to get back in 2001 would still be good. Thankfully it is still good. Even though her passport will be cancelled, it does not invalidate the visa. She will, however, have to carry both her new and her expired passport with her when she comes to the US.

Speaking of things which have expired, I am still waiting for the state of NH to issue me a temporary driver’s license. They cashed my check over a month ago, but I still haven’t gotten the temporary license in the mail.   Maybe my bureaucratic nightmares will involve the department of motor vehicles instead of the American embassy. I think I’d prefer having a bureaucratic nightmare that I know rather than a bureaucratic nightmare that I don’t know. I’m not looking forward to having to go to the embassy to report Noah’s birth and to reinitiate Andy’s adoption process, but at least they are processes that I am familiar with because I have gone through them or tried to go through them before. More importantly I can deal with the bureaucrats at the embassy in person. I can only imagine how horrific my experience would be if I have to deal with the DMV personnel over the phone.

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

An Adopted Son

Andy has been our legal guardian for more than two years now. Although we have been looking after him pretty much since he was 18 months old, we only really started looking into the process of adoption three and a half years ago. We found that there are many hoops one needs to jump through in order to adopt a child both here in Korea and in the US.

A typical bureaucratic hoop

  In reality it is a multi-hoop process.

  Taking Andy as our legal guardian was the first hoops we were told we needed to jump through. It was suggested that we could restart the process after having been Andy’s guardian for 18 months. Being his guarding would supposedly help us in petitioning the court here in Korea for a waiver. Now that we have met that benchmark, it is time to begin looking into the process again. Hopefully the hoops that we are expected to jump through haven’t become more challenging while we were busy guarding.

Although I am not overly optimistic about the process being simple, I do think some of the changes that have been made should make aspects of the process easier. For example, since I came to Korea the divorce rate in this nation has spiked. (Some people have attempted to pin this spike on me, but I don’t consider myself a home breaker.) One of the consequences of this social phenomenon (other than it being proof that modern life-styles are triumphing over more traditional values in Korea) is that laws regulating the family census register system (Hyo jeok) have changed. When we looked into the process of adopting Andy two years ago, it was impossible for Andy to become “Anna’s son” that is under Anna on the Family Census Register. He had to remain on his grandfather’s and his father’s Family Census Register because he was the first son of a first son, therefore the head of the Roh clan.

This posed a significant adoption challenge for us. If Andy was Anna’s son, it was a relatively straightforward process to make him my son. This is because of the fact that divorced Korean women tended to be stigmatized by Korean society. Divorced Korean women find it very hard to remarry with Korean men. Divorced Korean women with children find it almost impossible to remarry with Korean men. Consequently, divorced Korean women who do get remarried tend to do so with foreign men. For these reasons there is a relatively clear cut procedure for this kind of adoption. However if Andy is not Anna’s son, but someone else’s and he was also not a ward of the state, a straightforward procedure was lacking.  Thus we were advised to make him our legal guardian for a period of time of at least 18 months and then petition the court to see if they would waive the law barring his transfer to Anna’s Family Census Register or to grant him special status as belonging both to Anna’s Family Census Register and the Family Census Register of his father and grandfathers.

My one concern is that other things have been made more difficult thus creating new and just as challenging hoops for us to jump through. After all, they don’t call this country Dynamic Korea for nothing.
Dynamic Korea

Once we have Andy’s adoption in Korea finalized we can begin the process in the United States. This will, of course, present us with an entirely different set of challenging hoops for us to jump through, but the key is getting Andy recognized as Anna’s son.

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008