On August 5, 2012, South Korea’s Special Adoption Act went into effect. The purpose of this Act was to increase domestic adoptions in country, thereby reducing the number of international adoptions. Any contemplated international adoption would need the approval of the South Korean Family Court.
Any adoptions not completed by August 5, 2012 would be processed under the new law. While new applications would be accepted, they were not expected to be processed until the new procedures were in place.
On May 24, 2013, South Korea took the first step to become a Hague Convention country, by signing the Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (the Convention). The Ministry of Health and Welfare is expected to be the Central Authority in South Korea, and will oversee all adoptions in country. South Korea now begins the process of creating and implementing needed adoption laws and regulations. No timeframe has been provided.
There are 2 adoption tracks – Traditional and Korean Heritage Adoption Program. The Heritage Program is for families where one or both adoptive parents are of Korean heritage. There is typically a shorter waiting period for a referral and the possibility of choosing the gender of the child to be adopted.
Who Can Adopt
The following are basic requirements for those adopting from South Korea. Some flexibility may be applied for the adoption of a special needs child.
- Heterosexual couples must be married for at least 3 years. Singles may not adopt. Each spouse of a couple may have 1 divorce.
- Adoptive parents must be between 25 and 44 years old at the time of application and 45 years old or younger at the time of the child’s arrival into the home. There can be no more than a 10 year age difference between spouses.
- There may be no more than 4 children in the home at the time of placement.
- Adoptive parents must be free of chronic or serious health issues. Some programs have weight limitations of no more than 30% above normal body weight or a BMI of 35.
- No current or recent history or use of anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medications.
- Education requirement includes high school degree plus some secondary education.
- Household income must be at least $35,000 plus $10,000 per child in the home annually.
Children Awaiting Adoption
Children are between the ages of 6 months – 5 years at the time of referral, and siblings are rare. Children are healthy, with mild and correctable special needs. The wait for girls is longer.
Children live in orphanages or foster homes. They receive good medical care.
Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider – The South Korean Government approves agencies to work with US families.
Complete Adoption Service Provider application process – the ASP will provide pre-adoption counseling, submission of the application for adoption, conduct or coordinate the adoption homestudy, oversee the referral process in the US, apply for the child’s adoption with the Korean Government, the child’s passport and visa, and coordination of the adoptive family’s travel to and in-country process in South Korea.
Complete Adoption Homestudy.
Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt – USCIS Form I-800A or I-600A.
Apply to country.
After submission of dossier, the wait time for a referral is approximately 10 months for a male child and 22 months for a female child.
Referral – Acceptance or refusal of referral.
Finalization or custody/guardianship.
Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption USCIS Form I-600.
Travel options include 1 trip of 4 weeks duration or 2 trips of 1 week each. You may also have the option of having your child escorted to the US. However, it is highly recommended you travel to pick up your child. This eases the child’s adjustment, as well as provides you with personal observations and experience to later share with your child.
Obtain child’s birth certificate and passport.
Child’s visa application (DS-260) – Adoption agency submits immigrant visa appointment request.
Obtain U.S. immigrant visa from the United States.
Return to the US with your child.
Child Citizenship Act
For adoptions finalized abroad: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows the child to acquire American citizenship when they enter the United States as lawful permanent resident.
For adoptions to be finalized in the United States: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your child to acquire American citizenship when an adoption decree is issued by a US court. Failure to obtain citizenship, may put your child’s status in jeopardy.
Complete post-adoption reports. The number and frequency differs from agency to agency. Typically 4 visits are completed within 2 years.
Adoptive Parents must provide an adoption application letter that makes clear the applicants’ willingness to allow post-placement follow-ups and provide post-placement reports as required.
Korea has a Korean Adoption Database which enables an adoptee to gain access to their adoption records. Age variations for access are set by each adoption agency, and include 13, 15 or 18 years of age.
U.S. Embassy in Country and in U.S.
U.S. Embassy in South Korea
32 Sejongno, Jongno-gu
Mailing Address: U.S. Embassy
APO AP 96205-5550
South Korean Adoption Authority
The Family Support Department
The Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs
6th floor Hyundai Bldg.
#75 Yulgong-ro Jongro-gu Seoul KOR
Embassy of South Korea
2450 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20008
*South Korea also has consulates in Agana (Guam), Anchorage, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, Evanston (Illinois), Ft. Lauderdale, Honolulu, Houston, Kansas City (Kansas), Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Mobile, New Orleans, New York, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland (Oregon), San Francisco, San Juan, Seattle and St. Louis.
Office of Children’s Issues
U.S. Department of State
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Email: [email protected]