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South Korea is open for international adoption, but the long-term view is negative. Quotas are tight and the South Korean government has a goal of eliminating foreign adoptions by 2012. It's putting emphasis on domestic adoption, in an effort to find permanent homes for children in their own country.

In the U.S. adoptions from South Korea increased, from 939 in 2007, to 1,065 in 2008. In Canada adoptions were down 53%, from 102 in 2006, to 48 in 2007.

Mid-2006 saw a slowdown in international adoptions from South Korea, which restricted the number of files the country would accept -- it preferred to promote domestic adoption.

For Canadians, South Korean adoptions opened in 2005 after years of being closed. However, Canadian adoption agencies quickly fill their quotas.

On Aug. 8, 2006 the adoption authority in Quebec (Secrétariat à l'adoption internationale, SAI), in its article "Ralentissement des activités", said it has stopped accepting new applications for South Korea. SAI will not accept new files before April 1, 2007; existing files will be processed as usual. The SAI's counterpart in South Korea, the Social Welfare Society, has limited the number of international adoption files from all countries for the time being. SAI said that South Korean government policy now favours domestic adoption. Measures have been taken to increase adoptions by South Koreans, for example, infants must first be proposed to Korean families; only after five months may they be proposed to a foreign family.

According to Adoptive Families magazine (Sept./Oct. 2006), Korea's Ministry of Health and Welfare recently said that healthy children would be eligible for intercountry adoption only after waiting five months to be adopted domestically. The waiting period does not apply to disabled children. The Ministry didn't say when this rule would take effect.

Status reports from the agencies

Children's Bridge (Ont.) -- Not taking files for 2007. South Korea's Social Welfare Society will place only 30 children in 2007 with Children's Bridge and the agency quota is already full for 2007. Most of 2008 quota is full also. A call-back list is in place; interested families will be called when the active list has space. In future years, the quota will be reduced by 10% each year. (Korea program is for Ontario residents only.)

Enfants d'orient(Que.) -- Not taking new files. Had sent in 52 files in 2006. The agency's quota for 2007 is 40 files, which was reached in March, so Enfants d'Orient is taking no more applications in 2007. South Korea is thus effectively closed to Quebecers. The agency hopes conditions will improve in 2008. South Korea is favouring domestic adoption, and so Social Welfare Society is accepting far fewer foreign applications.

Sunrise Adoption (B.C.) -- Not taking new files for 2007. South Korea has restrictions on how many children may come to Canada. Currently, all spots in 2007 are filled. There are still spots for 2008. Sunrise has a waiting list for applicants. The Asia Program Manager can give the current waiting time.


For resources on South Korean adoption, see Adoption Resource Central, Country-specific Resources - South Korea.

For more, see Canadian Guide to Intercountry Adoption.

Find an agency for South Korea: use Agency chooser,

Descriptions of agency programs are at

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Country News is written by Robin Hilborn,
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©2009 Robin R. Hilborn
Updated Jan 7, 2009

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