Adopting in Korea
This page provides an overview of the immigrant visa side of adopting abroad. See also the following web page from the U.S. Department of State on adoption from Korea: http://adoption.state.gov
Eligibility for Orphan Visas
Eligible orphans must be under sixteen years of age at the time the petition is filed with the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).
A child who has become an orphan in any of the following circumstances may be eligible:
- A child who has lost both parents through death, disappearance, abandonment, desertion, or separation.
- A child who has one parent because of the death or disappearance of, abandonment or desertion by, or separation or loss from the other parent, and in which case the remaining parent is incapable of providing care for such orphan and has in writing irrevocably released the child for emigration and adoption.
The petition must be filed by an American citizen and spouse who have been married more than three years. They should be older than 25 and less than 45 years of age, the age difference between husband and wife should be less than 15 years, and the couple should have no more than five children including adopted children. The following provisions must also be met:
- If the adoption is completed in Korea, both adopting parents must have seen and lived with the child for more than three months either prior to or during the processing of the adoption papers.
- If the adoption is to be completed in the United States the adopting parents must complete pre-adoption proceedings through the Surrogate Court of the State of the child's proposed residence.
- A separate petition (Form I-600) must be filed on behalf of each orphan being adopted. When both adopting parents are residing in Korea, the petition and supporting documents must be filed with the:
Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
U.S. Embassy Seoul
188 Sejong-daero, Jongno-gu,
Unit 15550, APO AP 96205-5550 USA
One parent will sign the petition under oath, and the other parent will certify agreement in the space provided on the petition. U.S. military personnel may, if they prefer, have their signatures notarized by a commissioned officer of the Armed Forces.
When both adopting parents are in the United States, one spouse will take the oath, the other will certify accord, and the petition will be filed with the District Office of USCIS having jurisdiction over the place in which they reside.
No natural parent of any eligible orphan admitted into the United States under these provisions may, by virtue of such parentage, be given any right, privilege or status under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Processing of petition Form I-600 by USCIS normally takes from 4 to 6 months to complete. When approved, notification is sent by USCIS to the adopting parents, and the petition is sent to Embassy Seoul's Immigrant Visa Unit. The Embassy then informs the adopting parents or their agent about the procedures to follow in order to obtain an immigrant visa for the child.
The period of validity of a visa issued under the above provisions will be six months from the date of issuance. However, it can be extended within a period not exceeding three years from the date of issuance in the case of United States citizens who are serving abroad in the United States Armed Forces, or are employed abroad by the United States Government, or are temporarily abroad on business. The extension must occur during the visa's initial six months of validity.
Eligible orphans must meet medical requirements as prescribed by the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Follow this link to see the instructions given in adoption cases in Seoul, SEO-7.
The first step for a U.S. family is to apply for a U.S. adoption agency to conduct a home study of the prospective adoptive parents' home. This study can take from six months to one year. A social worker examines the work, marital, financial, social, and medical history of the American family. Family size, age and income of the prospective parents are carefully considered. The prospective adoptive parent(s) should contact the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) near them to initiate the pre-processing of paperwork necessary for an immigrant visa. It is important to contact USCIS very early in the process to ensure that the child you adopt will meet the requirements of U.S. immigration law.
How to Learn More about Adopting from Korea
Please take a look at some tips on international adoption from the Department of State's Office of Children's Issues
You can also contact the Office of Children's Issues as below:
Office of Children’s Issues
Department of State
Washington, D.C. 20520
For a recorded message: 888-407-4747
Follow this link for a detailed guide to Korean adoptions from the Department of State.
Two web sites may also be of help to you in learning more about adopting:
- Adoption laws for all fifty states are available on-line.
- You may also wish to take a look at the National Adoption Information Clearing House (NAIC).
Korean Adoption Agencies
American citizens wishing to adopt children in Korea may find it to their advantage to enlist the services of an adoption agency. While the below listed agencies are officially authorized by the Korean government, the American Embassy does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons associated with these agencies. The list is arranged alphabetically, and the order in which they appear has no other significance.
EASTERN SOCIAL WELFARE SOCIETY, INC.
493, Changchun-Dong, Sudaemun-Ku, Seoul
HOLT CHILDREN SERVICES
364-70, Hapjong-Dong, Mapo-Ku, Seoul
SOCIAL WELFARE SOCIETY, INC.
364-70, Yuksam-Dong, Kangnam-Ku, Seoul
Central Post Office Box 24, Seoul, Korea
Tel: 82-2-331-7055~7, 552-6227
Follow this link for contact information for U.S. state adoption services.
How to Find Birth Parents
Global Overseas Adoptee's Link (GOAL) http://www.goal.or.kr is an NGO established in 1998 to assist overseas adopted Koreans returning to Korea in search of finding their biological parents. GOAL serves as an information source that offers practical assistance and also serves as a forum reflecting views of all parties involved in adoption. For adoptees returning to Korea to visit or stay, GOAL has compiled resources such as home stays, guides, birth search departments, and other volunteer networks available specifically for Korean adoptees.
Updated: November 3, 2011