Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Summary of New Adoption Laws in Korea


The Members of KCARE in Korea reviewed with me (2nd from right sitting) the new adoption laws that will take effect in August 2012

Sorry it took so long to sit down and write this one on the changes in the Korean adoption laws. 
When I was in Korea in mid-May, I was given a thorough presentation of the new Special Adoption Law Revision by the members of the Korean Central Adoption Resources (KCARE), in which I am a board member. 

I won’t bore you with all the details, but only highlight some of the new features of the laws that will impact both the domestic and the intercountry adoption.  Some of the laws have remained the same.  Throughout the blog, Article is referred as “A”, Section is referred as “S”, and Subsection is referred as “SS”.  For example A1 S2 SS3 means Article 1, Section 2, Subsection 3.  Although this is not important to you, but I put it down just in case to track to the original reference.

Article 1:  General Provisions

A1 S1 SS1:  A “Child” is defined as a person under the age of 18.

      S3 SS4:  The Government and the regional government/organizations must establish a sound adoption culture by promoting domestic adoption for the needy children, that they must do all they can to provide post-adoption services to help them to adjust to the new families.

      S5 SS1:  May 11th of each year is designated as the National Adoption Day, and the subsequent one week starting this day would be called the National Adoption Week.

      S7 SS1:  The Government and the regional government/organizations must place the highest priority in placing children domestically.

      S7 SS4:  If the adoption agencies cannot place children domestically despite their efforts, then they are allowed to look for families overseas after the five months waiting period have passed.  For those children that require special medical attention, the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) may grant them exemption from this waiting requirement.

      S8:  To carry out the welfare and responsibilities for the children, the Government must make efforts to reduce the intercountry adoption.   (Steve’s comment:  This is a rather contradictory statement.  I would think that the best welfare and responsible thing to do would be to find families abroad if they can’t be found in Korea).

Article 2:  Adoption Requirements

      S10 SS1: Adoptive parents must meet all the requirements noted in this section:
               1. Adoptive parents must have adequate assets
               2. Must have freedom of religion, and must be able to educate children to function in the society
               3. Must not have history of abuses related to children, spouse, sexual, drug, alcohol, and criminal in nature
               4. Domestic and Intercountry Adoption
               For domestic adoption - An adoptive parent must be at least 25 years old and the age difference between the child and a parent must be less than 60 years. 
               Intercountry adoption - Foreigners must meet the qualifications of being adoptive parents expressed through the laws of their respective countries.  For foreigners, an adoptive parent must be at least 25 years old but less than 45 years old.  However, if an agency determines that a family has a favorable and healthy environment to raise a child, there can be an exception.
               5. An adoptive parent must possess the requirements established by the MOHW to provide and care for a child.

      S10 SS2:   A parent must not be involved in any profession that is detrimental to the welfare of a child or any profession that abuses the rights of a child in any way.

      S10 SS3:  An adoptive parent must complete the educational requirements set forth by adoption agencies as directed by the MOHW.

      S11 SS1:  Agencies must receive approval from the Family Court to adopt and the following documents must be submitted.
1.      Child’s certificate of birth
2.      All the documents related to Section 9 (S9) and Section 10 (S10)
3.      All the documents related to Section 12 (S12) and Section  13 (S13) on relinquishment or consent of adoption
4.      Other documents required by the MOHW

S11 SS4:  The approval process involving reviews and determinations will be made according to the procedures determined by the Supreme Court.

S12 SS1:  An approval of a birthparent is required for adoption except for the following situations:
1.      Birth parents looses the parental rights
2.      Parental consent could not be obtained due to inability to locate the parents

S12 SS2:  If birth parents cannot be identified, the consent must be received from an authority that has the child’s custody rights

S12 SS4:  If the child is over 13 years old, the adoptive parents must first receive the consent from the child.

S13 SS1:  The consent to adoption by birthparents can be made 7 days after the birth of a child.

S13 SS3:  The agencies must provide consultation to birthparents should they choose to keep their children.  The consultation must include on how to receive benefits to raise the children, legal ramifications and rights, in accordance to the guidelines established by the MOHW.

S16 SS1:  Birth parents who are not responsible for the generation of consent of adoption on their children, may file a petition to repeal (cancel) the adoption.  Birth parents have six months to file this petition after being aware of the adoption.

S17  SS1: Parents, child, or a judge may petition for adoption disruption to the Family Court under the following circumstances:
1.      If an adoptive parent abuses the adopted child and is negligent in providing the needed care
2.      Immoral act of an adoptee against the adopted parents


S19  SS1:  For intercountry adoption, the agencies must submit the Exit Permit (EP) received from the MOHW to the Family Court to get approved for adoption.

S19 SS2:  Intercountry adoption while residing in Korea – Must work with the agencies to start the adoption process

S19 SS3:  Once a child receives an EP and immigrates to an overseas country, and then subsequently receives a citizenship of that country, the responsible agency must report this fact to MOHW, which then will report to the Justice Department of Korea to revoke the child’s Korean citizenship.

Still being worked
The exact roles played by the MOHW, Family Court, the Agencies, and how the information gets flowed and who decides on what is not clearly understood.  As for the impact of this new laws related to the EP process is not clearly understood, and I intend to find this out soon.

More to come later.

40 comments:

  1. Thanks Steve. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for the report and for all the hard work you do!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow. That is a lot of translation to do. We adopted our son while we lived in Seoul in 2006. The adoption went through Korean Family Court. We saw the good, the bad and the ugly sides of the birth parents, the system and the low status of these poor kids.
    A few things struck me as I read this:
    1. The difference in age requirements for domestic adoptive parents vs. foreign adoptive parents. They would allow a 58 year old Korean a child but not a 48 year old foreigner? Any Korean over the age of 55 can't even ride amusement park rides! Ask my parents who came to visit us how surprised they were at Lotte World.
    2. I don't understand s19 ss2.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It simply means that the final adoption approval will not be with the Ministry of the Health and Welfare (MOHW) as it has been all these years. MOHW will continued to generate the EPs, but they would have to be submitted to the Family Court (along with all the other adoption paperworks and documents). The Family Court will review the case and have the final authority in granting the adoption.

      Delete
    2. A bit odd but I am sure they had a good reason. But I am sure they didn't base this on who can ride amusement park rides buddy.

      Delete
  4. Thanks, Steve, for all that you do. How will this law affect (or will it) kids already placed and home, but not yet finalized?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This law will take effect for all future new cases that have been approved by the Family Court and will not impact those cases that are already in progress.

      Delete
  5. Thanks Steve for all the work you do. How will this law affect the children who have already been matched with families and are waiting for their EPs? Some of these children have been waiting for their EPs for more than one year. Thank you again for your help

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm looking forward to hearing about this too! Thanks Steve!

      Delete
  6. Children that have been matched and waiting for their EP, by August if these EPs are not cleared by MOHW, then after that I believe these EPs will be handed over to the Family Court. But don't quote me on this. I will call Korea and find out on this. It would have to be next week as I am on a business travel now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much! I look forward to hearing back from you. We were matched with our child in July of 2011 and our child is waiting for the EP to be submitted to the MOHW

      Delete
  7. Thank you for this info. Do you think children that were recently submitted for EP (June) will fall under the new law (not approved until August) or potentially cleared out/pushed through?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Most likely those EPs submitted in June will be cleared before August and should not be impacted by the new laws.

      Delete
  8. Pastor Eddie Byun has mentioned that this new law could lead to the older children or children with special needs to be exempt of the quota...any thoughts on that? Thank you so much for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am not sure about this as special needs are part of the quota under the current system, and it would be great if they (and the older children) are exempt. But I don't have much hope that this will be the case.

      Delete
  9. Very helpful, thank you Steve! I had a question. For domestically adopting a child In korea must you still be married, or is that just for foreigners overseas?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For domestic Korean nationals (or Korean heritage with dual citizenship), single status adoption is allowed. However, this is not true of anyone with foreign citizenship.

      Delete
  10. Thanks a lot for the info. Do you know how the change will affect Canadian families in waiting. We just accepted a referral for a baby boy and are waiting for the travel call which can take about 12 to 16 weeks according to our agency in Canada. I wonder if it will be longer since it has to be approved by family court.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Our agency (Holt) estamates an increase in time from referral to travel call after the new law is implemented i august. Do you now why? Do the child have to have an EP before the case is taken to court?

    ReplyDelete
  12. Will this new law make it harder for foriegners to adopt while living in Korea? I keep hearing that it will be. I want to adopt a second time while I am living here, but the lawyer I used last time told me I need to hurry up or it will be almost impossible for me to do it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The beauty of the new law specifically makes it into the laws the ability for expats living in Korea to adopt whereas the old laws did not have this clause.

      Delete
    2. it looks like with the new laws, you are removing private adoption for foriegners living in Korea. They have to do it through agencies now. Korean agencies or American agencies? If it is only through American agencies, then you made the cost go from $1,500 for to hire a lawyer to do the adoption, to $20,000. I don't understand how that makes it easier for expats in Korea.

      Delete
    3. Darshan - I will let you know on the private adoption. Those laws are still there, as far as I checked. The new law is basically the amended "Special Adoption" law, which did not govern private adoptions. The "Special Adoption" law generally affects adoption through agencies. However, I am not sure how all those different adoption laws will work together. I will know for sure once I hear back from the Family Court here. I am an American citizen (married) currently residing in Seoul. I have been trying to adopt two children from a local orphanage, whom I have been sponsoring since last April.

      Delete
    4. Darshan - I have found that the new laws have pretty much blocked us at every turn as both international agencies and local organisations tell us that we can't adopt here, which is strange since the government office told us we can under the Special Adoption (Section 18).

      I guess you might have more success if you are American - us coming from Ireland seems to have left us with a brick wall as Koreans keep saying unless we are American then no!

      Delete
    5. My husband and I are Canadians living in Korea and would like to adopt, but don't know where to even begin looking for information. We cannot adopt through a Canadian adoption agency because they require you to do a homestudy and attend a course (which must be done in Canada). Can we adopt through a Korean agency as a domestic adoption?

      Delete
    6. anonymous, I am not sure since the laws changed, but you should be able to adopt domestically. They have a couple of different kinds of domestic adoptions and so different laws govern them. Talk to an adoption lawyer or find an orphanage willing to work with you, though I have found that many orphanages will decline you because they want to keep that income they get from the kids and will outright lie about the laws. It sounds mean, but I am far from the only person who has adopted here who has noted this.

      Delete
  13. wait, you said singles are not allowed to adopt if they are foriegners, even while living in Korea. I am single and I adopted my son while living in Korea 6 years ago. So, is this law new?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know how you were able to pull that one off adopting as a single living in Korea. Even the old law specifically states that only couples married over 3 years are allowed to adopt. So I don't know how you did it, but congratulations for doing it.

      Delete
    2. the law said single residents of Korea could adopt. As a legal alien here, I am a resident and so was allowed to adopt.

      Delete
    3. Was your adoption an independent private adoption? There are three different sets of adoption laws. I think Darshan's adoption was probably ruled by a different set of adoption laws, NOT the "Special Adoption" law. I am not sure whether an independent private adoption would also have to be approved in accordance with the "Special Adoption" law, or could be approved under the other adoption laws. I will have to see what the Family Court says about my own adoption cases.

      I am currently trying to adopt two "older" children from a local orphanage in Korea. My adoption applications already have been submitted to the Korea Family Court three weeks ago (in July), and I am praying hard that the Court will approve my adoption. I'm doing an independent private adoption for both children. My to-be-daughters have been part of the family for the past year, and I just can't imagine what it would be like to not be able to take them with us when we get to move out of Korea.... Both my husband and I are American citizens, and this was the easiest way to adopt Korean children.

      Delete
    4. Jenn, I just checked in on this and saw what you wrote. Thanks for the info and if you know any more please let me know, I am trying to do a private adoption of a boy I knew many years ago now, a former foster brother of my sons, and we were waiting to find his mother to sign the papers. We jsut found her this month and are waiting for her answer. Did you get your girls adoption to go through? I hope you did.

      Delete
  14. Steve Morrison, how may I contact you? I am in need of the entire law regarding the Korean adoption Law translated in english.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Any new news? We are hearing rumblings of new fingerprints being required, new medicals, net worth of 80K, college diplomas.. Why is the govt requiring current families in process and with referrals to do this stuff again??

    ReplyDelete
  16. I was wondering, about the age limits for intercountry adoptions. I turn 43 next week, am in process and my agency is telling me that I have to be matched by my birthday or I cannot stay in the Korea program. Is the 45 the max age or does your child have to be home by the time you turn 45?

    ReplyDelete
  17. As a mother of daughter and husband waiting 22 months now for their adoptive son from Korea wondering if Korea will honor its promise to release child? They are concerned about country stopping their adoption process. They have given their monies to agency and sponsored this little boy for almost two years. What is your best prognosis?

    ReplyDelete
  18. In the lengthy process of the child placement agency, a lot of kids end up learning to skateboard while eating cake. There's nothing better to do.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Steve - do you have any of the information on the post-adoption services laws that went into affect last summer? The ones pertaining to search - age for searching, what is required of the agency, etc.?

    Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  20. This is a good roundup of the information. Thanks for the post. It seems like, the more I learn about adoption, the more important it will be to have an adoption lawyer.

    Chester Jones | http://www.holmanlawfirm.com/Services/

    ReplyDelete