Number of South Korean children adopted drops by half

Posted on : 2014-05-12 14:40 KST Modified on : 2014-05-12 14:40 KST
After revisions to relevant laws tighten procedures, both domestic and international adoptions falling
 May 11
May 11

By Park Su-ji, staff reporter

According to figures released by the Ministry of Health and Welfare on May 11, or Adoption Day, 922 South Korean children were adopted domestically or internationally last year. Considering that 1,880 children were adopted in 2012, the scope of adoption was nearly halved. Domestic adoptions fell by 39% from 1,125 to 686, while international adoptions decreased 74%, from 755 to 236.

The Ministry explained that the reason for the considerable drop in adoptions over the past year was that fewer children were put up for adoption and fewer parents wanted to adopt.

“Considering that over 90% of adopted children are the children of single mothers, we can surmise that the growing tendency for single mothers to raise their children themselves is contributing to the reduction in the number of adoptions,” the Ministry said.

Over the past five years, the number of children of single mothers who needed a guardian dropped 50% from 2009 to 2013, from 3,070 to 1,534. The number of parents wanting to adopt in 2013 was 39% lower than 2012.

The downward trend in adoptions seems to have been affected by the revision of the Special Adoption Law, which took effect in Aug. 2012, tightening the procedures and requirements for adoption. Under the revised law, only children whose birth has been reported are eligible for adoption, making it impossible for children to be adopted without their births having been registered with the government. The law also implements a period of deliberation, requiring birth parents to wait at least seven days from the date that they report a birth to determine whether or not to give the child up for adoption.

The requirements for adopting have also been stiffened. Parents who wish to adopt must visit a court for an examination of their ability to take care of the child and their motivations for adopting. This effectively makes it impossible for children to be adopted off the record or unofficially. Individuals with a record of child abuse or drug addiction are not permitted to adopt.

“We need to expand support so that single mothers can raise their children themselves, and we should also continue to educate adoptive parents and strictly enforce the eligibility requirements,” said No Hye-ryeon, a professor of social welfare at Soongsil University.


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