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So I have received quite a f ...

Posted Jan 27 2009 7:38pm

    So I have received quite a few e-mails recently regarding adopting from South Korea, so I thought I would put out here all the general information! I will still be responding to the e-mails with some more specific information but this way you can all have the basics!

    Generally the following occurs when you want to adopt from South Korea (1) Pre-adoption counseling (2) Submission of application for adoption (3) A home study (4) Child assignment (5) Application for child’s overseas adoption to the Korean government (6) Applications for child’s passport and visa (7) Fly to the adoptive parents and this process can be very long or pretty short (as most of you know). The period of time between when a couple first applies for a child and when the child arrives in the United States is anywhere between one and four years. Much of what determines how long your wait is depends on what special needs you are open to and if you are open to a boy. I know of a few agencies that are more or less looking for paper ready couples who are open to adopting boys but there are others who have a long waiting list for either sex. 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. 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 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. 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. 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. In South Korea, most cases are for children that are given up for adoption by a single parent or both parents but the child still must remain up for adoption for five months in South Korea before being able to be adopted internationally.

    So then who can adopt from South Korea, authorities in South Korea have advised the U.S. Embassy in Seoul of the following criteria for selecting adoptive parents.  These criteria have been established by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. They are administrative policy guidelines and not legal requirements, but local adoption agencies can be expected to follow them (and I have yet to meet one who bends them without first checking with South Korea):

    (1)     The adoptive parents must be eligible to adopt under the laws of their country or state of residence.

    (2)     Single parents are not eligible.

    (3)     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 three factors, while unofficial and applied differently from case to case, may be considered when making exceptions to the age limit:

        (a)    At least one parent is under 45

        (b)    The adoptive parents have previously adopted a Korean orphan

        (c)     The parents are willing to adopt an orphan with serious medical problems

    (4)    The adoptive couple should have no more than five children. This number includes the child or children to be adopted

    (5)    The couple should not have an age difference of more than 15 years

    (6)    The income of the adoptive couple should be higher than the national average of their country and sufficient to raise the child.

    The Korean government requires prospective adoptive families to work with agencies that have been approved by the Korean government.  The list of agencies in Korea is as follows (1) EASTERN SOCIAL WELFARE SOCIETY, INC. (2) HOLT INTERNATIONAL CHILDREN’S SERVICES (3) KOREA SOCIAL SERVICE (4) SOCIAL WELFARE SOCIETY, INC. Agencies in the US work with one or more of these agencies, and unless you are adopting a waiting child you are usually required to work with one of those agencies. There is a comprehensive list of agencies here. If you are interested in a waiting child, then you can adopt from any agency offering the child (typically there is only one agency offering that child) it does not matter if that agency does not serve your state. (This is where I have the most experience, so if you are interested in finding a waiting child let me know and I can talk to you about it off of the blog.)

     According to the Korean Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and Korean adoption agencies, the total of fees paid to South Korea is between $9,500 and $10,000.  This includes: (1) Child care fees (including payment for foster mother); (2) Medical expenses; (3) Legal processing fees; (4) Administrative fees; (5) Social worker payment and counseling fees; and (6) Post adoption service fee. Typically the total cost is between $20,000 and $30,000 for the entire adoption.

    Finally the part you may all be wondering about, how bad is the dossier. Here is one of the best parts – there is NO dossier! Most of the documents required by the Korean government will be prepared by the adoption agencies.  Adoption agencies will require from the would-be parents the following documents: (1) Home study report; (2) Affidavit of support (Form I-864); (3) Adoptive parents’ birth certificates; and (4) Notice of petition approval (Form I-797). Some agencies send the home study to Korea prior to the referral and some after, also for the most part the matching is done by the agencies there are exceptions to this but our agency told us this is so that the children are matched to the best parents and not so they are just paired with the next set of parents on a waiting list.

 

    So I have received quite a few e-mails recently regarding adopting from South Korea, so I thought I would put out here all the general information! I will still be responding to the e-mails with some more specific information but this way you can all have the basics!

    Generally the following occurs when you want to adopt from South Korea (1) Pre-adoption counseling (2) Submission of application for adoption (3) A home study (4) Child assignment (5) Application for child’s overseas adoption to the Korean government (6) Applications for child’s passport and visa (7) Fly to the adoptive parents and this process can be very long or pretty short (as most of you know). The period of time between when a couple first applies for a child and when the child arrives in the United States is anywhere between one and four years. Much of what determines how long your wait is depends on what special needs you are open to and if you are open to a boy. I know of a few agencies that are more or less looking for paper ready couples who are open to adopting boys but there are others who have a long waiting list for either sex. 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. 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 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. 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. 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. In South Korea, most cases are for children that are given up for adoption by a single parent or both parents but the child still must remain up for adoption for five months in South Korea before being able to be adopted internationally.

    So then who can adopt from South Korea, authorities in South Korea have advised the U.S. Embassy in Seoul of the following criteria for selecting adoptive parents.  These criteria have been established by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. They are administrative policy guidelines and not legal requirements, but local adoption agencies can be expected to follow them (and I have yet to meet one who bends them without first checking with South Korea):

    (1)     The adoptive parents must be eligible to adopt under the laws of their country or state of residence.

    (2)     Single parents are not eligible.

    (3)     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 three factors, while unofficial and applied differently from case to case, may be considered when making exceptions to the age limit:

        (a)    At least one parent is under 45

        (b)    The adoptive parents have previously adopted a Korean orphan

        (c)     The parents are willing to adopt an orphan with serious medical problems

    (4)    The adoptive couple should have no more than five children. This number includes the child or children to be adopted

    (5)    The couple should not have an age difference of more than 15 years

    (6)    The income of the adoptive couple should be higher than the national average of their country and sufficient to raise the child.

    The Korean government requires prospective adoptive families to work with agencies that have been approved by the Korean government.  The list of agencies in Korea is as follows (1) EASTERN SOCIAL WELFARE SOCIETY, INC. (2) HOLT INTERNATIONAL CHILDREN’S SERVICES (3) KOREA SOCIAL SERVICE (4) SOCIAL WELFARE SOCIETY, INC. Agencies in the US work with one or more of these agencies, and unless you are adopting a waiting child you are usually required to work with one of those agencies. There is a comprehensive list of agencies here. If you are interested in a waiting child, then you can adopt from any agency offering the child (typically there is only one agency offering that child) it does not matter if that agency does not serve your state. (This is where I have the most experience, so if you are interested in finding a waiting child let me know and I can talk to you about it off of the blog.)

     According to the Korean Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and Korean adoption agencies, the total of fees paid to South Korea is between $9,500 and $10,000.  This includes: (1) Child care fees (including payment for foster mother); (2) Medical expenses; (3) Legal processing fees; (4) Administrative fees; (5) Social worker payment and counseling fees; and (6) Post adoption service fee. Typically the total cost is between $20,000 and $30,000 for the entire adoption.

    Finally the part you may all be wondering about, how bad is the dossier. Here is one of the best parts – there is NO dossier! Most of the documents required by the Korean government will be prepared by the adoption agencies.  Adoption agencies will require from the would-be parents the following documents: (1) Home study report; (2) Affidavit of support (Form I-864); (3) Adoptive parents’ birth certificates; and (4) Notice of petition approval (Form I-797). Some agencies send the home study to Korea prior to the referral and some after, also for the most part the matching is done by the agencies there are exceptions to this but our agency told us this is so that the children are matched to the best parents and not so they are just paired with the next set of parents on a waiting list.

 

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