Korea Adoption

Historical Context of Korean Adoption

The Republic of Korea (ROK) better known as South Korea is located on the Korean peninsula down from China. South Korea is bordered on the north by North Korea. It’s southern tip is only separated by a few miles of ocean from Japan. Korea is cold in the winter and hot and humid during the summer.

Technologically advanced, Korea’s economy has grown exponentially since its destruction during the Korean War in the 1950’s. In the last fifty years, Korea has changed rapidly from a country based on farming and villages to one where most of its 50 million people live in cities. It now has the 11th largest economy in the world causing some to question why Korean overseas adoption continues.

International Adoption from Korea began following the Korean war with mixed race children fathered by American soldiers and has continued to the present day. Most Korean children available for adoption today are placed by unmarried mothers who are concerned about the strong stigma against children who are born out of wedlock.

Korea now places the fourth-largest number of children with U.S. families for adoption. Typically, infants are relinquished at birth and live with a foster family until they are adopted. Well over 90 percent of babies adopted from Korea are between 4 and 12 months old at the time of adoption. Background information on the birth family is usually available. Adopters have the option of traveling to Korea to meet their child and bring him or her home, or having the child escorted to the U.S. With their extended family and friends they form a Korean adoption community of over two million.

Quick Facts

Number of adoptions from South Korea 2006: 1,376
2005: 1,630
2004: 1,716
2003: 1,790
2002: 1,779
Age/gender of children adopted from Korea in 2005 38% Female
92% under 1 year of age
7.5% 1 – 4 years of age
Estimated Cost $20,000 to $28,000
Profile of Children 4 mos. to 4 yrs. Special needs and older children are available
Family Status Must be married at least 3 years; 1 divorce per spouse. No singles. Fewer than 4 children already at home. Specific agency restrictions may apply
Parent Ages Both parents must be 25 to 45 years old at placement; sometimes waived for special needs children and parents of Korean ancestry. Some agencies may have other restrictions
Travel Children may be escorted to U.S. or one or both parents may travel.
Timeline From application to placement: girl, 8-12 months; boy, approximately 5-6 months