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Following are current U. S. Department of State requirements for adoption from South Korea.  These can also be found here on the US DoS website.

INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTION

KOREA, REPUBLIC OF
August 2006

Disclaimer: The following is intended as a very general guide to assist U.S. citizens who plan to adopt a child from a foreign country and apply for an immigrant visa for the child to come to the United States. Two sets of laws are particularly relevant: 1) the laws of the child’s country of birth govern all activity in that country including the adoptability of individual children as well as the adoption of children in country in general; and 2) U.S. Federal immigration law governs the immigration of the child to the United States.

The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and our current understanding. It does not necessarily reflect the actual state of the laws of a child’s country of birth and is provided for general information only. Moreover, U.S. immigration law, including regulations and interpretation, changes from time to time. This flyer reflects our current understanding of the law as of this date and is not legally authoritative. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel. 

PLEASE NOTE: South Korea’s special adoption law No. 2977, Section 9 (A), requires the use of an adoption agency for overseas adoption of Korean orphans, and Section 10 (A) provides that such agencies must be authorized by the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs.

PATTERNS OF IMMIGRATION OF ADOPTED ORPHANS TO THE U.S.: Recent U.S. immigrant visa statistics reflect the following pattern for visa issuance to Korean orphans:

Fiscal Year      Number of Immigrant Visas Issued
FY 2005                                 1,668
FY 2004                                 1,773
FY 2003                                 1,817
FY 2002                                 1,786
FY 2001                                 1,868

KOREAN ADOPTION AUTHORITY: The government office responsible for adoptions in South Korea is the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. The address is as follows:

Population & Children’s Policy
Anyang Construction Tower 3rd Fl.
1112-1 Dalan Dong, Tongan Gu, Anyang
Tel: +82-31-440-9654

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR ADOPTIVE PARENTS: South Korean authorities have advised the U.S. Embassy in Seoul of the following criteria for selecting adoptive parents.  These criteria have been established by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. They are administrative policy guidelines and not legal requirements, but local adoption agencies can be expected to follow them:

  • The adoptive parents must be eligible to adopt under the laws of their country or state of residence.
  • Single parents are not eligible.
  • The couple should be married for at least three years and be between the ages of 25 and 44.  Korean authorities usually require that both adoptive parents in overseas adoptions be younger than 45 years old; however, they may make exceptions in some cases. The following three factors, while unofficial and applied differently from case to case, may be considered when making exceptions to the age limit:

    1. At least one parent is under 45
    2. The adoptive parents have previously adopted a Korean orphan
    3. The parents are willing to adopt an orphan with serious medical problems
  • The adoptive couple should have no more than five children. This number includes the child or children to be adopted.
  • The couple should not have an age difference of more than 15 years.
  • The income of the adoptive couple should be higher than the national average of their country and sufficient to raise the child.
RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS: Parents living in US don’t need residency in Korea to adopt a child from Korea.  They only need to contact one of US adoption agencies affiliated with Korean adoption agencies authorized by Korean government. 

TIME FRAME: The period of time between when a couple begins pre-adoption processing and when the child arrives in the United States is anywhere between one and four years.  This time frame includes the total timing for processing in the U.S. and in Korea.  In the U.S., the adoptive parents should have an Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petiton (I-600A) filed and approved by the Department of Homeland Security.  Please see "U.S. Immigration Requirements" below for more information on the I-600A.  Following approval of the I-600A, processing time in Korea will be about 5 to 6 months.  Effective January 1, 2007, Korean law will require a five-month waiting period before an infant orphan can be considered for intercountry adoption.  This new requirement, however, is not expected to lengthen adoptive parents’ overall waiting time.  

ADOPTION FEES:  According to the Korean Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and Korean adoption agencies, the total cost is between $9,500 and $10,000.  This includes:

  • Child care fees (including payment for foster mother)
  • Medical expenses
  • Legal processing fees
  • Administrative fees
  • Social worker payment and counseling fees
  • Post adoption service fee
ADOPTION AGENCIES AND ATTORNEYS:  The Korean government requires prospective adoptive families to work with agencies that have been approved by the Korean government.  The list is as follows:

EASTERN SOCIAL WELFARE SOCIETY, INC.
493, Changchun-Dong, Sudaemun-Ku, Seoul
Tel: 82-2-332-3941/5
Fax: 82-2-333-1588
http://www.eastern.or.kr

HOLT INTERNATIONAL CHILDREN’S SERVICES
382-14, Hapjong-Dong, Mapo-Ku, Seoul
Tel: 82-2-332-7501~4, 322-8102~3
Fax: 82-2-335-6319 or 334-5440
http://www.holt.or.kr

KOREA SOCIAL SERVICE
533-3, Ssangmun-Dong, Dobong-Ku, Seoul
Tel: 82-2-908-9191~3
Fax: 82-2-908-3344
http://www.kssinc.org

SOCIAL WELFARE SOCIETY, INC.
718-35, Yuksam-Dong, Kangnam-Ku, Seoul
Central Post Office Box 24, Seoul, Korea
Tel: 82-2-552-1015~8, 552-6227
Fax: 82-2-552-1019.
http://www.alovenest.com

KOREAN ADOPTION PROCEDURES:  Korean adoption is always conducted through one of the aforementioned authorized adoption agencies.  Accordingly, the first step for couples who wish to adopt a Korean child would be to contact the adoption agency. 

The procedure with the adoption agency is generally the following:

  • Pre-adoption counseling
  • Submission of application for adoption (please see below “Korean Documentary Requirements”)
  • A home study
  • Child assignment
  • Application for child’s overseas adoption to the Korean government
  • Applications for child’s passport and visa
  • Fly to the adoptive parents
KOREAN DOCUMENTARY REQUIREMENTS:  Most of the documents required by the Korean government will be prepared by the adoption agencies.  Adoption agencies will require from the would-be parents the following documents:
  • Home study report
  • Affidavit of support (Form I-864)
  • Adoptive parents’ birth certificates
  • Notice of petition approval (Form I-797)
AUTHENTICATING U.S. DOCUMENTS TO BE USED ABROAD:  The language describing the process of authenticating U.S. documents to be used abroad is currently under review. Please click on the following link for more information until the new language is finalized. http://travel.state.gov/passport/get/get_840.html

KOREAN EMBASSY AND CONSULATES IN THE UNITED STATES:

Embassy of Korea
Consular Section
2450 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20008
Tel: 202-939-5600
Web address:
http://www.koreaemb.org

Korea also has Consulates in Agana (Guam), Anchorage, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, Evanston (Illinois), Ft. Lauderdale, Honolulu, Houston, Kansas City (Kansas), Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Mobile, New Orleans, New York, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland (Oregon), San Francisco, San Juan, Seattle and St. Louis.

U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS: Prospective adopting parents are strongly encouraged to consult USCIS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adopting Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions. The USCIS publication is available at the USCIS Web site. The Department of State publication International Adoption can be found on the Bureau of Consular Affairs web site, travel.state.gov, under “International Adoption.”

Before completing an adoption abroad, prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to read the requirements for filing Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative.  Please see the flyer “How Can Adopted Children Come to the United States” at the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs web site travel.state.gov.

Once the I-600 is approved, the U.S. Embassy in Seoul will receive the notice of approval from CIS.  The Embassy will then inform the adoption agency, so they may prepare the immigrant visa application and medical examination.  After receiving the visa application, the visa is normally issued the following business day.

NOTE:  Visa issuance after the final interview now generally takes 24 hours and it will not normally be possible to provide the visa to adoptive parents on the day of the interview.

ACQUIRING U.S. CITIZENSHIP: The language describing the acquisition of U.S. citizenship for adopted children is currently under review. Until the new language is finalized, please click on the following link for further information: http://travel.state.gov/family/adoption/info/info_457.html.

U.S. EMBASSY IN SOUTH KOREA: Americans living or traveling abroad are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov/, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within the country of travel.  Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.  By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.  The Consular Section is located at:

Street Address
U.S. Embassy
32 Sejong-Ro, Jongno-gu
Seoul, Korea
Tel: 011-82-2-397-4114
Fax: 011-82-2-738-8845
Web:
http://usembassy.state.gov/seoul

Mailing Address
U.S. Embassy
Unit 15550
APO AP 96205-5550

DOCTORS: In addition to the designated panel physicians who must be consulted as part of the U.S. immigrant visa process, the U.S. Embassy in Seoul maintains current lists of doctors and sources for medicines, should either a prospective parent or prospective adoptive child experience health problems while in Korea.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Specific questions about adoption in South Korea may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Seoul. General questions regarding international adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children’s Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-29, 4th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-407-4747.

Useful information is also available from several other sources:

Telephone:

• Toll Free - For information on intercountry adoption and international parental child abduction, call Overseas Citizens Services at 1-888-407-4747. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-202-501-4444.

• U.S. Department of State Visa Office - recorded information concerning immigrant visas for adopting children, (202) 663-1225.
 
• U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services - recorded information for requesting immigrant visa application forms, 1-800-870-FORM (3676).

Internet:

• Adoption Information Flyers: The U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs web site at:
http://travel.state.gov/ contains intercountry adoption information flyers like this one and the International Adoptions brochure.

• Consular Information Sheets: The State Department has general information about hiring a foreign attorney and authenticating documents that may supplement the country-specific information provided in this flier. In addition, the State Department publishes Consular Information Sheets (CISes) for every country in the world, providing information such as location of the U.S. Embassy, health conditions, political situations, and crime reports. If the situation in a country poses a specific threat to the safety and security of American citizens that is not addressed in the CIS for that country, the State Department may issue a Public Announcement alerting U.S. citizens to local security situations. If conditions in a country are sufficiently serious, the State Department may issue a Travel Warning recommending that U.S. citizens avoid traveling to that country. These documents are available on the Internet at:
http://travel.state.gov/ or by calling the State Department's Office of Overseas Citizen Services Toll Free at 1-888-407-4747. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-202-501-4444.

• USCIS web site -
http://uscis.gov/.

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