Published : 2013-09-12 20:47
Updated : 2013-09-12 20:47
An argument has persisted over the revised adoption law, which is aimed at protecting adoptee rights more effectively but has inadvertently resulted in a sharp reduction in adoptions and rise in abandoned infants.
Critics note the amended law, which took effect in August last year, has failed to take the actual conditions of Korean society into account. Advocates for adoptee rights, however, argue that it is short-sighted to reject the measure just because of the decrease in adoptions, saying a long-term approach is needed.
The revision has tightened the adoption process, obliging a birth mother to go through a seven-day period of consideration before deciding whether to give up her baby. The most disputable part of the amended law seems to be the requirement for a single mother to register the birth of her baby before applying for court approval for an adoption.
As the record of her motherhood will be deleted only after the adoption is actually made, many unwed mothers hesitate to go through the process out of fear that their identity may continue to remain on file.
Figures from the government and private institutions show the revision has been accompanied by a decrease in adoptions and rise in deserted infants. The number of domestic adoptions increased from 1,306 in 2008 to 1,462 in 2010 and 1,548 in 2011 before declining to 1,125 last year, with only 25 children adopted in the last five months of 2012. So far this year, there have been about 20 adoptions per month, approximately one-sixth of the average monthly figure for the period of 2006-11. In contrast, a church in Seoul has seen the number of infants placed in its baby drop box rising from 22 in 2011 to 67 last year and 176 so far this year.
What these figures suggest seems to be that the revised law has outpaced what our society is prepared for. As this paper has noted, it may be necessary to make some changes to the revision to put it in line with the actual conditions of our society.
It was right for the amendment to seek to ensure that single mothers make a decision they will not regret later by letting them know about the government support and other means they may use to take care of their babies on their own. It also makes sense to leave room for adoptive children to find their biological parents when they grow up.
But there can be no case for the effort purported to improve the adoption process if it proves to deprive unfortunate children of opportunities to be adopted into a stable family life. The revised law should be changed at least to allow underage single mothers to apply for adoption approval without registering the birth of her baby. Tighter measures need to be taken to protect the birth mother’s identity by keeping adoption records as confidential internal documents of a court.