• 25 Factors to Consider When Adopting from South Korea

    south korean adoptions

    Click on each factor to learn more. Current as of November, 2014. 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 50 years old with no more than a 10-year age difference between spouses.  Parents that are part of the Korean Heritage Program may be between 25 and 50 years old.  

    + Divorce
    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.

    + Sexual Orientation
    Does not knowingly place with homosexuals

    + Children Available
    Healthy children 1 to 2 years old and children with mild to moderate special needs 1 to 6 years old.  Older children and sibling groups are rare.  In 2013, 97% of adopted children were under the age of 2.

    + Gender
    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.  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)
    4-6 months.  There is a shorter wait for Korean Heritage parents or parents 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
    $32,000 – $38,000 + travel

    + Youngest Age Upon Arrival Home
    12 months, but children this young are very rare.  The average age is 18-24 months.

    + 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.  Updates on child’s development usually given to families while they wait.  Additional information and medical testing is readily available.

    + Growing/Declining
    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, 2, 3, 6, 9 and 12 months.

    + 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.
    • Families where both parents are of Korean descent qualify for the Korean Heritage Adoption Program, which has shorter wait times and sometimes allows parents to request a gender. Ask your agency if you think your family qualifies.
    • No dossier is required; therefore, paperwork is less.
    • Korea requires that perspective parents be no more than 30% overweight and have a BMI of no more than 35.
    • Korea expects families to have an income higher than the national average and $30,000 is often cited as a minimum.
    • It may be possible for your child to search for and meet his birthparents.
    • There is currently a 5-month wait period before the child is eligible for intercountry adoption to ensure that the child cannot be placed through domestic adoption.
    • While in Seoul, families are welcome to stay at the Social Welfare Society’s guest apartments, which were built specifically for adoptive parents.

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