Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Outline of Adoption Proceedings in Taiwan

When we first received our referral I was so stunned that for the first few days I couldn't really feel anything except relief that our wait was over. I thoroughly enjoyed the next week floating around on a cloud of bliss; so happy, so excited about our new little daughter. Yesterday the anxiety started to set in and I began to feel antsy and irritable about our NEW wait. Well I better get over that because we definitely have a awhile before we travel. So to pass the time I thought I would post about the next leg of our adoption journey. Pay attention dad, this has to do with your counterparts in Taiwan, the District Court Judges. So, if you have any pull over there now would be the time to use it. A professional courtesy call perhaps?? = )

District Court Process: District courts in Taiwan are divided into a number of specialty groups. Family Court is the court within the district court system that deals specifically with adoption as well as other family issues.

The responsibility of the District Court is to make sure that every issue related to the best interest of the child has been considered. Though lengthy & frustrating at times, the District Court process protects the child, the birth parent, the organization caring for the child, AND in the end protects us as adoptive parents. When the District Court decisions have been made, adoptive families can be confident that the process was handled with consideration and in the best interest of the child.

1. Hearing
a) The family court office in the county where the child was born reviews the case/petition and a Judge is assigned to the case.
b) The judge reviews and considers the case and schedules a "hearing". Hearings are handled differently depending on the circumstances of the birth family, the judge's schedule, persons representing the birth family and those representing the adoptive family. The time involved in getting a hearing scheduled depends on the judge's schedule (docket) and that of everyone else required to attend. Hearings can result in: The immediate decision to finalize the adoption (though this is rarely the case) or the judge may request more information (again, this is rare). Usually, the hearing simply provides the judge with more information about the case and allows him/her to rule on the adoption with confidence. Most often, the judge's decision (final ruling) happens weeks or even as long as months after the hearing. Time line for hearing - 1 to 3 months after court papers are filed.

2. Part I of Final Decree(First Ruling). Once the hearing has been completed and the judge has had time to review all the information, he/she issues the first part of the Final Decree. This is a short statement signed by the judge that is forwarded to all parties involved (social services organization on behalf of the adoptive family and the birth family) notifying everyone of his/her decision to finalize the adoption. This first part of the Final Decree must go to each party and there is a waiting period of 10 days before any further court action can occur. The birth family has until the end of this 10 day period to change their mind regarding the adoption. Once the 10 day period is passed however, the judge can make the final decree. Time line for 1st ruling - 1 to 3 months after hearing.

3. Part II of Final Decree (Second Ruling). Once the 10 day waiting period is over (and the court staff finds time!), the second part of the Final Decree is forwarded to all parties. When the second part of the decree is received by your child's social service organization, the court process is DONE! Time line for 2nd Ruling - 2-6 weeks after the 1st ruling

4. Household registration change and immigration requirements. Before the adoptive family travels, a lot must be accomplished by the child's social service organization. All court documents and background info on the child must be officially translated to English and submitted with certain paperwork to AIT. Also, the child must have his/her Visa medical exam which is forwarded directly (unopened) to AIT's immigrant visa office. At some point the child's guardian must file for a household registration change. The household registration is a file located at local government offices in Taiwan that contains certificates and information about each person in Taiwan. Your child's household registration is attached to his/her guardian's file until the adoption has been finalized by the Taiwan courts. Once the child has been legally adopted in Taiwan, the guardian files with the government office to remove the file from theirs and create a new file showing that the adoptive parent(s) are the new legal guardians.The household registration change takes a day or two or a week depending on the placing organization and the local government office. Time line for official paperwork 2-4 weeks.

5. Adoptive Family receives travel date. Each organization in Taiwan is different in when and how they schedule a travel date. Some wait until all of the above paperwork is filed and then give the family notice to travel quickly. Some schedule the travel in advance, while they work at preparing the above documents. JOH families are typically given 1 to 3 weeks notice to travel.

So that's about it. Our timeline is now in the hands of a district court judge almost 7000 miles away. We have no way of knowing which judge we will be assigned or how full his/her docket might be. Based upon the experience of other JOH families we expect to travel to join our daughter in 4 to 6 months time. Please keep us in your thoughts while we eagerly await word that the courts are making headway in our case.


Rebecca said...

Praying it's a FAST JUDGE!!!! I hope your little sweetheart is home soon!


dan and rachel said...

Thanks for so carefully explaining the process, Sarah! I, too, hope that your judge is fast so you can hold your sweet daughter in your arms ASAP! :)

lorabelle said...

THis was the hardest part for me!
They send you pictures/video of your precious baby, but won't let you hold her for seems/feels like forever! Hang in there!!!
THinking about you...
Lora & Allie

Lisa said...

Thanks for sharing all of this and please know I'm praying your beautiful girl is home soon!
Lisa C. (JOH)

Our family said...

I am also praying that baby Kate is home very soon!! So glad you explained all this. It was fun to read. :-)

Thinking of you....

Kay Bratt said...

It is so sad that the wait has to be so excruciatingly long when it is a child waiting to be united with their family. I don't understand it..

Prayers going up for you.