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New Korean Adoption Law 2011

New Korean Adoption Law 2011

The Korean government adopted a new law regarding adoptions in Korea that took effect one year later in July 2012. With the new law, renamed 'Korean Adoption Law', the government will be responsible for reducing the number of babies and children adopted by parents abroad. As such, children will only be eligible for adoption by foreigners if the government fails to place the child in a foster home. The new legislation will also mandate parents get court approval before adopting abandoned children as well as require adoption agencies declassify information on birth parents. In the event the birth parents don’t want to be identified, individuals wanting to learn more about their origins will be given all information with the exceptions of the birth parents’ personal details.

Highlights of the new law:
- Birth mothers will have 7 days after relinquishing their parental rights to change their minds.
- Adult adoptees will have the right to access their adoption records, minus their birth parents personal details if the latter do not want their names given
- More effort will be made to support single mothers and encourage them to parent their children rather than place them for adoption. Presently, almost all (80-90%) put their children up for adoption (as opposed to less than 5% in many European and North American countries).
- Continued emphasis will be placed on increasing domestic adoptions. In 2006, there were 1,332 domestic adoptions, 1,388 in 2007, 1,306 in 2008, 1,314 in 2009 and 1,462 in 2010.

According to a Korea Times article (June 2011), of the 8,590 abandoned babies and children in need of care in 2010, 1,462 were adopted domestically while 1,013 were adopted by foreign nationals; the number of adoptions by foreigners has steadily decreased since 2007 when the Korean government imposed a lower quota for overseas adoptions. The number of children adopted abroad was 1,888 in 2006, 1,264 in 2007, 1,250 in 2008, 1,125 in 2009 and 1,462 in 2010, according to the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs.

The new legislation was enacted as part of government’s efforts to shed what some refer to as a reputation as an “orphan exporter” and give more rights to adoptive children. The question of adoption continues to be controversial in Korea with supporters of one side of the issue concerned that more children will be sent to orphanages or temporary shelters as a result of the measure while others rejoice that Korean children will remain in the country of their birth, learning their own culture and language, and protected from potential abuse and rejection overseas.

Those concerned with the fate of children as a result of the new legislation point out that despite the increase in domestic adoptions, the increase does not offset the reduction in foreign adoptions. Moreover, domestic adoptions tend to favour female children rather than males due to the Confucian responsibilities and rights of males in the family. Reports indicate that many adopting families still pretend that they have not adopted and register the adoptee in the family registry as their biological child. (This was the case for 98% of the domestic adoptions in 2005). A survey revealed that almost 40% of the 2005 domestic adoptions were by families with an average annual income below the national level.

Children who are not adopted will remain in government care (institutions or foster care) until the age of 18. They face limited job and social opportunities as a result of their status. The majority of orphans and adoptees tend to marry other orphans as families may strongly oppose marriage of their child to an orphan.

- There are four adoption agencies in Korea that handle all adoptions - Holt International Children’s Services, Eastern Social Welfare Society, Korean Social Services, and Social Welfare Society.  
- Expats living in Korea may be interested in looking into an adoption service for expats that provides adoption home studies, post placement services and child placing services for expats. Services in English by a US licensed adoption agency. 

K4E Editor: Korea4Expats.com tries to ensure that the information we provide is accurate and complete, so should you notice any errors or omissions in the content above please contact us at info@korea4expats.com.


Last Updated on 2015-04-13

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