25 Factors to Consider When Adopting from South Korea

25 factors to consider when adopting from south korea

25 factors to consider when adopting from south korea

Click on each factor to learn more. Current as of August, 2017. This information is subject to change; therefore, check with an agency that places from this country for the most current information.
Parental Age
Parents must be between 25 and 44.5 years old with no more than a 10-year age difference between spouses. Parents that are part of the Korean Heritage Program or who have previously adopted from Korea may be between 25 and 49.5 years old.
1 divorce per spouse
Children in Family
Up to 4 children.  The adopted child must be at least 12 months younger than that youngest child at home.
Medical Restrictions
Adoptive parents must be in good mental and physical health. Both parents must have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 35 or less and be no more than 30% overweight. Parents with a BMI in the range of 30-35 should contact their physician for a medical letter after applying.

While not impossible, it can be difficult to adopt from South Korea if either parent has a history of depression or mental illness. Families currently on medication for a mental health condition such as depression or anxiety are not eligible to adopt. Families with a history of depression should contact an adoption agency to determine their eligibility.

Single Applicant
Not allowed
Sexual Orientation
Does not knowingly place with homosexuals
Children Available
Children with very mild to moderate special needs 1 to 6 years old. Many of the medical conditions have already been resolved by the time a referral is made. Older children and sibling groups are rare. On average, children are between 18-30 months at the time of placement.
East Asian
Boys and girls; parents may not request a gender. More girls are adopted domestically than boys, so families will likely be referred to a boy. Some agencies allow parents that are part of the Korean Heritage Program or families adopting a Waiting Child to request a gender.
Referral Method
The adoption agency matches the parents with a child. Parents receive photos and a medical and social history of the child, and have 2 weeks to decided whether to accept the referral. Once the parents gave accepted the referral, they complete their paperwork for their adoption application to the Korean government.
Travel in Country
Two trips, both approximately 1 week long. Both parents are required to travel on the first trip, but only one must make the second trip. On the first trip, parents meet their child and appear in court. Once the court makes its final ruling (approximately 4 to 8 weeks later), the parents return to Korea to apply for an immigration visa and escort their child home.
Wait For Referral (After Dossier Submitted)
4-12 months. There is a shorter wait for families adopting a waiting child. 85% of families are matched with a child within one year. 100% of families are matched within 2 years.
Wait After Referral
13-18+ months. Many families wait 1-1.5 years after receiving their referral before traveling to pick up their child.
Approximate Cost
$35,000 – $39,000 + travel
Orphanage/Foster Care
Foster care.  Every IA doctor I interviewed has rated the care after birth to be the best.
How Children Enter Government Care
Relinquishment due to social stigma and lack of support for single mothers. 
Prevalence of FASD
Birth mothers are usually interviewed thoroughly, and according to agency and IA doctor interviews, approximately 30-35% say that they drank some alcohol while pregnant.  Details are usually included on the type of alcohol, frequency of consumption, and timing during the pregnancy. IA doctors report that they are not generally seeing neurological impacts, which may mean that the type, quantity, and timing of consumption were not of the nature to cause FASD, or it could mean that impairments are subtle and will not be detected until the child reaches school age.  If this is a concern with your referral, consult an IA doctor.
Adequacy of Medical Reports
Excellent; every IA doctor interviewed rated the Korean medical reports as the best. There is usually fairly detailed information on birth family medical, background information and prenatal history. There is also excellent medical care for the child after birth. After they accept a referral, parents receive periodic photos and progress reports on their child. Additional information and medical testing is readily available.
Declining.  Korea has a policy of phasing out international adoptions; therefore, they reduce the number of children they will place abroad each year.
Post Adoption Reports
Required at 1, 4, 8 and 12 months. Reports must be prepared by a social worker and include photos and developmental milestones.
Hague Treaty
No.  In June 2013, South Korea signed the Hague Convention, but it has not been implemented yet.
Additional Information
  • Children are generally healthy. Children are usually of average birth weight and head circumference and arrive with no developmental delays unless classified as special needs.
  • Most IA doctors said that the Korean program is the model for the world in health of the child, postnatal care and providing accurate medical and developmental information.
  • Adoptions are finalized in Korea.
  • Korea specifies which agencies may place in each state. To find an agency that places children in your state, visit Adopting From Korea’s index of adoption agencies. If your state is not listed, call one of the agencies listed and ask who has partnered to place in your state.
  • Due to the quota system limiting the numbers of children placed for international adoption, there may be a delay in travel to pick up the child or have him escorted in the fall of the year when quotas have been filled. Ask your agency.
  • Korea expects families to have an income higher than the national average. Families should have a monthly income that is $1,000 above their monthly expenses.
  • Families where one or both parents are of Korean descent qualify for the Korean Heritage Adoption Program. Ask your agency if you think your family qualifies.
  • It may be possible for your child to search for and meet his birthparents.
  • Korea requires proof of the child’s citizenship via a Certificate of Citizenship as soon as it is available and obtained from USCIS.
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