We hope you have questions for us as we go through this process! It is quickly becoming a passion of ours to spread awareness and enthusiasm for international adoption, especially South Korea. Here are a few questions you may have — some you’d ask us in person, some you may just be wondering in your brain. I’d like to be reasonably open here for others who are googling “2018 South Korea adoption blogs” like I was at the start of this process.
- Why were you drawn to South Korea?
While researching adoption options, Josh and I were both drawn to South Korea. We love the care South Korean children receive prior to adoption — from medical care to attentive foster families. We also appreciate the dedication to ethical adoption and medical histories.
Other than that, when reviewing waiting children profiles as we first explored the idea of adoption in general, we both just kept gravitating toward South Korean children. While this isn’t a logical answer, it just felt “right”.
2. How long will the adoption process from South Korea take?
Honestly, we don’t know. There are a lot of variables in play, and most of them are beyond our control. However, we have been given an estimate of anywhere from 14 to 24 months. I’ll likely go into more detail on the specifics of this timeline in a future post, but basically, it all comes down to the adage “hurry up and wait”. We want to move as quickly as possible on our end, but background checks, referrals, EP permits, setting court dates and possible law changes can all cause significant delays. We are praying for a smooth process. The call to adopt came quickly and urgently for Josh, and we are trusting there is a reason for that.
3. Are you requesting a specific gender or age?
South Korea requires a one year age gap between our youngest child and our future adopted child. That means we will be matched with a child born after December 2016. Children are eligible for intercountry adoption in South Korea at 6 months old, so that would be the absolute youngest a child would be upon referral. It is more likely we will be matched with a child who is 10 – 12-months-old at referral, and 18 – 24-months-old when coming home to the US.
We are not requesting a specific gender for our adopted child. Some of you might assume we are hoping for a girl after parenting two boys, but much like we were surprised with our biological children, we look forward to the surprise of who we are matched with when the time comes. Statistically, most intercountry adoptions in South Korea are currently for boys.
4. Will this be a special needs adoption?
We completed paperwork that indicated we are open to a number of mild to moderate special needs. We did this prayerfully as we considered what would be in the best interest of our biological children and our future adopted child. This was truly the hardest part of the process for me. I naturally want to take any and every child in need of a home, but I also don’t want to bring home a child that deserves more attention, financial support and medical care than I can provide at this time.
5. Why did you not adopt domestically? Why are you adopting a younger child?
I grouped these two together because the reasons are very similar. We did not want to disrupt the birth order of our biological children. That means we need to adopt a child under the age of 2. In the United States, domestic infant adoption or adoption of young toddlers without major medical needs or sibling groups to consider are not in short supply of parents.
In South Korea, domestic adoption is quite unusual. While the government has been working hard to encourage more domestic adoption, the cultural stigma of adoption remains a major issue in South Korea. A 2015 BBC article explains it this way: The problem is that adoption in Korea is taboo, so the gap left by the fall in foreign adoptions has not been filled by adoptive Korean parents.
Basically, South Korea needs adoptive families for children under the age of 2 more than the United States does. Don’t believe me? I just searched Tennessee’s waiting child registry for children under the age of 2 who are not part of a sibling group. No results were found. (I want to say that I still think domestic adoption is incredible, and we prayed about it extensively. Our very first instinct was domestic infant adoption, but that’s not the path God called us too. Same for fostering. We know some incredible foster families, but it’s not what we are pursuing at this time.)
Furthermore, South Korea actually has some fairly strict criteria for adoptive parents. It’s quite expensive and the process requires families to meet specific characteristics. We even have to do a set of psychological tests. Not everyone who would be willing to adopt from South Korea can actually adopt from South Korea. We meet the criteria.
6. Were you trying to have another biological child? Did you experience infertility struggles?
I don’t know how many readers would ask me this in a normal conversation, but I think it is something people wonder about when they hear a family is adopting. The simple answer is: No. We did not try for a biological child, and we have not had any infertility struggles. The long answer can be found in our Adoption Story.
7. How much does it cost to adopt from South Korea?
Look, I won’t lie to you. This is a huge financial undertaking. The fees will be split up into 3 basic parts: Application Fees, Referral Acceptance, and Travel.
You can Google for specific numbers, but I’ll say it’s similar to trying to put 20% down on a house.
Here’s what I want you to understand though. “How much does it cost” is not the most important question when you’re considering adoption. There are grants to apply for, odd jobs to pick up, fundraisers to plan. There is ALWAYS a way.
What excites me about South Korea is WHY it costs so much. I’ll elaborate on this in a separate post, but South Korea does a really great job of taking care of their orphaned kids until they are adopted. Sometimes we think about international adoption in terms of overcrowded, underfunded orphanages where children don’t cry because they’re so used to being ignored and several medical needs are ignored because care is too expensive.
Not in South Korea, y’all. These children are with trained foster moms. They receive routine medical care, including monthly check-ups. During our informational phone call, I literally said, “Wow, they have more well-checks than my current kiddos do”. Major medical problems that can be corrected with surgery are taken care of upfront. Kids don’t suffer for years hoping a family will adopt them and afford their surgeries. This was a hugely important thing to me. I don’t mind paying a high country fee when it helps provide better quality care for children.
In addition, Korea’s fees go toward making sure adoptions are done ethically. There are horror stories in other countries of babies being essentially trafficked for adoption. Parents are led to believe children will be educated in America and returned, only to discover that was never the plan at all. In other situations, family members coerce single mothers to place their child up for adoption due to social stigma.
While South Korea is still working out the specifics, they do counsel birth moms and give them ample opportunities to change their mind throughout the process. While this can be scary for us (as we could be matched with a child and then the child’s birth mother could decide to parent before the adoption is finalized), we also believe it is in the best interest of the birth mother and child. Grief is an inevitable part of adoption. With our incredible joy at adopting a child comes the true grief of a birth mom making an incredibly difficult and irreversible decision. That decision should never be forced or manipulated. Ethical adoption is a huge priority to us.
Anyway, social workers, translators, foster care support, medical care, counseling for birth moms, etc — this all costs money. Thus the country fee is higher than you would see in other areas of the world.
8. Will you be fundraising for the adoption?
Yes. We will likely sell t-shirts as a fundraiser. I (Whitney) will also be re-opening my Etsy shop and looking for individual freelance opportunities (not ongoing contracts). If you know of any wonderful fundraising ideas, we’d love to hear them!