Saturday, July 2, 2011

Korea Times: New Adoption Law

I posted last week about South Korea's new adoption law.  The Korea Times, under the headline New Law to Restrict Adoption by Foreigners, offers some interesting information, including statistics about domestic and international adoption:
From July next year, foreigners will be restricted from adopting a Korean child, unless the government fails to find his or her foster family here.

Under the Special Law on Adoption and its Procedures passed the National Assembly Wednesday, the government will be responsible for reducing the number of babies and children adopted by parents abroad.

It will also be required to draw up measures necessary to make them remain in the care of a Korean family.

The law will take effect one year after promulgation, which is expected to take place within two weeks.

“It puts the top priority on the welfare of adopted children,” said Rep. Choi Young-hee, a lawmaker of the main opposition Democratic Party who proposed the bill.

She argued that those adopted abroad are more vulnerable to identity crisis and abuses by foster parents.

Critics, however, say that more children will be sent to orphanages or temporary shelters as a result of the measure.

Government statistics show that of 8,590 abandoned babies and children in need of care last year, only 1,462 were adopted domestically while 1,013 were taken home by foreigners.

The number of adopted children by foreigners has seen a decrease in the past few years since the government reduced the quota for overseas adoptions since 2007.

The number of children adopted abroad was 1,888 in 2006, but it nose dived to 1,264 in 2007, 1,250 in 2008 and 1,125 in 2009, according to the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs
Oh, and when you go to the article, notice the ad to the right, showing before and after pictures for "eye-widening" surgery.  (I've posted about that surgery in the context of adoption here and here and here.)


Jen said...

Oh, so sad to see oversees adoption is on the decrease year after year.

Mei Ling said...

@ Jen: Why is that?

Anonymous said...

I applaud any governments' efforts to care for their own but this seems shortsighted; especially in light of the fact that number of babies/children abandoned and in need of care has not diminished despite caps on IA.

Meaningful change needs to be systemic and to be so, time is needed to sway the hearts and minds of Koreans who still believe that adoption is taboo.

Additionally support is needed for those parents wishing to keep their children but lacking resources. I find it sad that there is no mention of keeping families intact, but only of finding Foster placements for children.

Finally, I think I understand where Jen is coming from: the need does not diminish even when IA ceases. Romania is still in crises as is Cambodia ( open for IA to other nations, not the U.S.) etc.; how will Korea address the shortfall of suitable homes for those children? What if it exceeds the capped limitations on IA?

Hmmm...its a step I suppose; thank you for sharing this.

KAA Anon.

Mei Ling said...

"how will Korea address the shortfall of suitable homes for those children? What if it exceeds the capped limitations on IA?"

What, in this law, indicates that these issues are not being dealt with?

We adoptees are always being asked "Well, how do you think adoption should be fixed?" or "What constitutes as reform?"

Then, when we present a solution or a news item that a law has been reformed, people comment and say "That won't do anything! Adoption will still be a need!"

I don't understand this pessimistic view.

In-country adoption should come first - a.k.a foster adoption. *Then* international adoption if all other possibilities are completely impossible. Which is exactly what this law reports, and exactly what Korean reform advocates have been saying for decades now.

Anonymous said...

"From July next year, foreigners will be restricted from adopting a Korean child, unless the government fails to find his or her foster family here."

Is it better a child stay in their country in foster care (ie possibly never a permanent family) or adopted abroad into a permanent situation? There are losses on both sides of the fence.

Mei Ling said...

@ Anonymous: So foster family can never be equated to permanent family, ever?

That's not the impression I get from reading this new law.

Anonymous said...

My impression is they are looking for placement into a foster family-- not necessarly foster to adopt.

Having worked in the foster care system in the U.S.-- in the large urban county I worked in-- the children in foster care were rarely adopted by the foster family. As the children got older,they circulated through many foster homes, knowing they were a commodity (incomed for the foster parents) and/or (sometimes unwelcomed) house guest. Adoption became next to impossible.

Many of the children, the ones who were not completely shut down, expressed sadness over not being adoptable, not having a family.

I think the best interest of the child is to minimize potential pain (not negate pain, it will be there). The best way to do that is to put the child in a permanent, safe, loving family setting.

Mei Ling said...

It's interesting that you say that, Anon, because I was under the impression Korea was setting up adoption reform laws which would indicate an decreasing rate of international adoptions and shut down all international adoptions by 2012, so that social stigmas and family social support services could be put into place.

I'm not sure how true (or feasible) the 2012 claim is, but the overall idea is that they'd like to be less known as the "Baby Exporting Country" and look into fixing the issues in their systems for family support services and social welfare so that families no longer have to relinquish their children to orphanages.

Anonymous said...


How can you possibly compare one countries fostercare to another as to how it works?

The US has a population of approx 300 million and 120,000 Legally free for adoption foster children - not taking into account those who are in the reunification services or who have made the choice not to be adopted.

Korea has a population of approx 49 million and estimates of up to possibly 110,000 children in fostercare of which - up to 60,000 live with grandparents or family members so they are not in the same type of typical US fostercare of legally free for adoption.

And of those Korean foster children who might be free for adoption just how many older than toddler age would be adopted into the US? My guess - almost none...

malinda said...

One point -- when the article refers to "foster" I believe they mean "adoption." That is a very common English translation in many countries in Asia. In other sources about the new Korean adoption law, they talk about domestic adoption, connoting the same permanancy that we do, before international adoption.

Anonymous said...

@ Mei-Ling,

This Anon. 1; I am a Korean Adult Adoptee, therefore I find it odd that you cited arguments commonly used to AA's to diminish real change (in your opinion I might add) ~ with me.

At any rate, I wish to address your points.

I don't view my contribution as pessimistic but rather reality based.

I clearly applaud the efforts the Korean government is taking as I stated but having spent 2 years living in Korea (recently & as a working adult), I can tell you firsthand the stigma still exists and is systemic. Children that are adopted in country will quite possibly never be told of their adoptive status as it remains a shameful topic for many Koreans; nor will be there be enough families for all of the children ~ how is a policy tweak going to bridge that deficit?

The Korean government can choose any date they wish to end IA and go forward with their initiatives, but to presume that their wishes to no longer be viewed as a child exporting nation will equal meaningful change is naive at best and at worst, ill conceived.

Sorry if that's hard for you to accept; even such, that doesn't automatically disqualify it as truth. Nor am I preaching that they shouldn't try; rather I was adding my own knowledge of the difficulties ahead and adding my dismay that more is not being done to keep First families intact.

KAA Anon.

Reena said...

"One point -- when the article refers to "foster" I believe they mean "adoption." That is a very common English translation in many countries in Asia."

This is my understanding as well.