Adoption procedures in Korea
What's Involved in Adopting a Child From South Korea?
The government office responsible for adoptions in South Korea is the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. The South Korean authorities believe that the international adoption process in Korea should be child-oriented rather than parent-oriented - they keep the best interests of the child at the forefront throughout the international adoption process. Most Korean children adopted by U.S. citizens leave South Korea in the foster care of a U.S. adoption agency affiliated with one of the four South Korean government licensed adoption agencies. The adoptive parents in the United States then formally adopt the child in America.
After the child arrives in the U.S., the U.S. adoption agency follows up with the parents and child through a series of home visits at six-month intervals. The U.S. agency sends reports of the post-placement home visits to.the South Korean adoption agency, which keeps the reports in the child's permanent file. The U.S. family does not officially adopt the child until the child has been in the U.S. for one year. It's important to note that the Korean adoption agencies' files on adopted Korean children are maintained indefinitely - very useful in the event that a child adopted from Korea wants to search for his/her birthmother.
Children Available: Healthy infants, both boys and girls, six months of age and older. Special needs and older children are also available for adoption.
Parent Requirements: Couples aged 25 to 44 years old who have been married at least three years may adopt. There must be no more than one divorce in each parent's past. Single parents may not adopt from South Korea.
Travel Requirements: Travel to South Korea is not required. However, it is always strongly recommended that adoptive parents travel to the country of their child's birth. Parents who do choose to travel to South Korea need stay only two or three days to complete the adoption.
Time Frame: From the time of the initial application through child placement averages twelve months.
Additional Information: No dossier is required to adopt children from South Korea. To adopt from Korea, you should not have more than four children currently living at home. The children available for adoption from South Korea are in foster care. Children who have a low birth weight or who are born prematurely are classified as having minor special needs. Six months of post-placement reports and supervision are required.
The Republic of Korea's special adoption law No. 2977 Section 9 (A)
requires the use of an adoption agency for overseas adoption of Korean orphans,
and that section 10 (A) provides that such agencies must be authorized by the
Ministry of Health and Social Affairs.
Korea adoption procedures
South Korean authorities advised that the entire adoption process in Korea should be child-oriented rather than parent-oriented. This reflects the fact that there are many more interested prospective parents than there are children available for adoption.
The first step for a U.S. family is to apply to a U.S. adoption agency to conduct a home study of the prospective adoptive parents. This study can take from six months to one year. The home study examines the work, marital, financial, social, and medical history of the U.S. family. Family size, age, and income of the prospective parents are carefully considered. The prospective adoptive parent (s) should contact the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security (BCIS) nearest them to initiate the pre-processing of yet-to-be-identified child or specific child for an immigrant visa. It is important to contact BCIS very early in the process to ensure that the child you are trying to adopt will meet the requirements of U.S. immigration law to qualify for an immigrant visa.
Most Korean children adopted by U.S. citizens leave South Korea in the foster care of an U.S. adoption agency affiliated with one of the four South Korean government licensed adoption agencies. The adoptive parents in the United States then adopt the child. It is not necessary for the prospective adoptive parent (s) to travel to Korea. The adoption agency will process the case in Korea and arrange for escort and transportation of the child to the U.S.
After the child arrives in the U.S., the U.S. adoption agency follows up with the parents and child through a series of home visits at six-month intervals. The U.S. agency sends reports of the postplacement home visits to the South Korean adoption agency, which keeps the reports in the child's permanent file. The U.S. family does not officially adopt the child until the child has been in the U.S. for one year. The U.S. adoption agency maintains a constant relationship with the child and family even after the final adoption, until the child becomes a naturalized U.S. citizen, usually two years after the child's entry into the United States. The Korean adoption agencies' files on adopted Korean children are maintained indefinitely. The children and their adoptive families are also encouraged to attend U.S. agency-sponsored get-togethers to maintain contact with other Korean adoptions in their community
A separate Korean regulation governs the adoption of abandoned children. This rule states that an abandoned child can only be adopted six months after the child has been registered with the Korean Children's Fund (KCF), which maintains a central listing of all abandoned and missing children in order to help parents who are trying to locate them. Adoption of children over 18 months of age must be delayed for 12 months after registration with KCF. Attempts to obtain waivers of this waiting period have been unsuccessful to date and adoptive parents impacted by this procedural change have no recourse but to wait the additional time. This procedure does not apply to children who have been given up for adoption by a single parent or both parents.
U.S. adoption procedures: Comprehensive information regarding international adoptions by U.S. citizens is available through the State Department's Office of Children's Issues in the Bureau of Consular Affairs and through the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security (BCIS), and your local state's agency or department that handles adoption.
Age and civil status requirements
South Korean authorities have advised the American Embassy in Seoul of the following criteria for selecting adoptive parents that have been established by the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs. These are administrative policy guidelines and not legal requirements, but local adoption agencies can be expected to follow them:
· The adoptive parents must be eligible to adopt under the laws of their country or state of residence
· The couple should be married for at least three years and be between the ages of 25 and 44. Korean authorities usually require that both adoptive parents in overseas adoptions be younger than 45 years old; however, they may make exceptions in some cases. The following factors may be considered when making exceptions to the age limit:
- At least one parent is under 45
- The adoptive parents have previously adopted a Korean orphan
- The parents are willing to adopt an orphan with serious medical problems
- These factors are not official and may be applied differently depending on the circumstances of a particular case.
- The adoptive couple should have no more than five children. This number includes the child or children to be adopted
- The couple should not have an age difference of more than 15 years
- The income of the adoptive couple should be higher than the national average of their country and sufficient to raise the child