How to Adopt from South Korea

Children in Seoul

The Process

The process for adopting a child from South Korea generally includes the following steps:

  1. Choose an Adoption Service Provider
  2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
  3. Be Matched with a Child
  4. Adopt the Child (or Gain Legal Custody) in South Korea
  5. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption
  6. Bring Your Child Home

1. Choose an Adoption Service Provider:

The first step in adopting a child from South Korea is usually to select a licensed agency in the United States that can help with your adoption. Adoption service providers must be licensed by the U.S. state in which they operate. Learn more about choosing the right adoption service provider here.

Prospective adoptive parents are required to work with an adoption agency approved by the South Korean Government. Approved agencies are listed in the "Contact Information" section and further information regarding their partner agencies in the U.S. can be found through contacting them directly.

2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt:

To bring an adopted child from South Korea to the United States, you must apply to be found eligible to adopt (Form I-600A) by the U.S. Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Read more about Eligibility Requirements.

In addition to meeting the U.S. requirements for adoptive parents, you need to meet the requirements of South Korea as described in the Who Can Adopt section.

3. Be Matched with a Child:

If you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority in South Korea will provide you with a referral to a child. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of a particular child and provide a permanent family placement for the referred child. The child must also meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. law. Learn more about this critical decision.

4. Adopt the Child (or Gain Legal Custody) in South Korea:

The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in South Korea generally includes the following:

  • ROLE OF THE ADOPTION AUTHORITY: The Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs authorizes the adoption agencies. They also establish the criteria for selecting adoptive parents. The criteria are administrative policy guidelines and not legal requirements.
  • ROLE OF THE COURT: The South Korean courts grant legal custody to the prospective adoptive parents. Note: The prospective adoptive parents must complete various procedures (i.e., home visits, complete reports) before permission to adopt is granted. The adoption agency notifies the prospective adoptive parents when they can begin the adoption procedures in the United States. A child who is abandoned right after birth should acquire his or her own Korean identification card through the court. If a child is born out of wedlock and been registered under one of his or her biological parents' family certificate in order to qualify for intercountry adoption, the adoption service provider will need to receive guardianship of the child through the court.
  • ADOPTION APPLICATION: The application for an intercountry adoption is filed with the Korean Government.
  • TIME FRAME: The time from when prospective adoptive parents apply for a child in South Korea and when the child arrives in the United States is approximately one to four years. Healthy infant adoptions take approximately three years and children with special needs can take approximately one year.
  • ADOPTION FEES: The cost for intercountry adoptions from South Korea is between $9,500 USD and $10,000 USD. This includes child care fees (including payment for foster mother), medical expenses, legal processing fees, administrative fees, social worker payment and counseling fees, and post adoption service fee.
  • DOCUMENTS REQUIRED: Most documents required by the Korean Government will be prepared by the adoption agencies. Some of the documents required include:
1. Home Study report
2. Form I-864,
3. Affidavit of Support
4. Copy of prospective adoptive parent(s) birth certificate(s)
5. Form I-797, Notice of Petition Approval. NOTE: Additional documents may be requested. If you are asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic. Read more about Authenticating U.S. Documents.

5. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption:

After you finalize the adoption (or gain legal custody) in South Korea, the U.S Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) MUST determine whether the child is eligible under U.S. law to be adopted (Form I-600).

6. Bring Your Child Home

Now that your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child) there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for several documents for your child before he or she can travel to the United States:

1. Birth Certificate:

You or your adoption agency will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child, so that you can later apply for a passport.

2. South Korean Passport:

Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or Passport from South Korea.

3. U.S. Immigrant Visa

After you obtain the new birth certificate, passport, and I-600 approval for your child, you or your adoption agency also need to apply for an U.S. visa from the U.S. Embassy for your child. After the adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, schedule an appointment at the U.S. Embassy to obtain a visa for the child. U.S. visa regulations require that each child be brought to the U.S. Embassy for a personal appearance. Several of the approved adoption service providers request the adopting parents to personally bring their child in to the Embassy to meet this personal appearance requirement. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel to the U.S. As part of this process, the Consular Officer must be provided the "Panel Physician's" medical report on the child if it was not provided during the provisional approval stage.

To learn more about the Child Citizenship Act please read The Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

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