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Jul 12, 2011

Limits to Foreign Adoptions in Korea is Negative for Children

I do not write a great deal about issues not relating to Korean business, but this news just rubbed me the wrong way.

We have dealt with a number of adoptions either on a pro bono or low-fee basis for childless couples. This news is not only bad news for these families, but also for the children that now will live the remainder of their childhood without the opportunity to have loving parents.

The National Assembly has recently passed a bill that will make it even harder for foreigners to adopt Korean children. At present the imposed quota makes it difficult for more than the privileged handful to adopt children.

From next July, non-Koreans will only be allowed to adopt children whom the government can’t place in foster care. Additionally, the government will be responsible for ensuring that adopted children stay with Korean families – the specifics will be decided through a presidential decree, but it seems that ethnic Korean families will be allowed to adopt and other parents may be prohibited or limited.

Supporters of the bill claim that it will protect orphans from abuse and identity issues - BS.

All of the adopted children I have met through the years have had loving families. Some I met were lawyers, law school students, and university student volunteers in Korea. Without these families they would have had limited opportunities in Korea. A few recent cases, have shown abuse by adopting parents, but these cases are rare and there is no evidence suggesting that this will not occur with Korean adopting parents. We all have heard of the numerous instances of child-abuse in Korean households.

Additionally, the cultural identity issue is simply puzzling. Sure these children are no longer “Korean,” but who cares. Is it better to be “not Korean” and have the opportunity to advance in a society? Or is it better to be subjected to the margins of society and be Korean? The liberals that advocated this bill sure seem to think that it is better to be an orphan on the fringes of society in Korea – than be part of a non-Korean family abroad.

This law may be a good idea if Koreans are willing to take care of their own. However, there is already too many children in foster care, forcing the government to create orphanages and half-way houses(although the exact number of children in orphanages are unknown due to some that are illegally operated). One must ask why adoptions should be limited when a surplus of orphaned children remains.

According to government statistics, of the 8,590 abandoned children whom needed care in 2011, 1,462 were adopted domestically and 1,013 were adopted to families abroad. The figure of adoptions abroad would have been much greater if the quota was not in place.

The total number of foreign adopted children from Korea was 1,888 in 2006, but has dropped, since 2006 to around 1000, because of the quota. The government’s cap on foreign adoptions was, facially, to encourage domestic parents to adopt. However, slight increases in domestic adoptions have not come close to setting-off the loss of foreign adoptions.

Among those that have the greatest need are orphans with special needs. In 2009, foreign parents adopted 97% of these children, because of little interest domestically. Without foreigners whom are willing to support them, disabled children stand to be relegated to government-run group homes and mental health facilities. These homes are dismal at best.

The bill seems noting more that the normal anti-foreign sentiment of a radical liberal element in Korean society and care by the less liberal in Korea’s image abroad or the needs of these children.

Have a heart.
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SeanHayes@ipglegal.com