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State-led adoption system to be established to ensure adoptees' well-being, minimize overseas adoption

By Yonhap

Published : May 10, 2024 - 21:08

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The government plans to establish a state-led adoption system to better ensure the well-being of adoptees and reduce the number of children adopted overseas, health ministry officials said Friday.

The announcement of the adoption system reform comes ahead of the scheduled implementation of laws on overseas and domestic adoption in July next year, aimed at enhancing the rights and well-being of adoptees and adoptive families.

In the envisioned system, the central and the regional government will take over the adoption process, currently managed by private agencies, to facilitate the placement of adoptees with new parents and provide support for adoptive families.

Under the measures, local governments will permit adoption only when it is determined to be in the best interest of the child, and the heads of regional municipalities will assume the role of official guardians to safeguard the adoptees until the adoption process is completed.

The health ministry, meanwhile, will be responsible for selecting candidates for overseas adoption and verifying the qualifications of prospective adoptive parents.

As part of the adoption system reform, the health ministry will also seek a policy to minimize the number of children adopted abroad and promote domestic adoptions.

A total of 79 South Korean children were adopted abroad last year alone, the health ministry said, although the rate of overseas adoptions decreased to 34.5 percent last year from 43.8 percent in 2022.

Under the reform, the health ministry and an affiliate agency will together be tasked with providing consulting services and processing adoption applications from prospective adoptive parents.

In addition, the government will also provide future adoptive parents with preparenting courses and those willing to adopt children over 24 months old or with medical issues will be eligible for an expedited adoption process, the ministry officials said.

The qualification verification system for future adoptive parents will also be upgraded to more thoroughly assess financial and other qualifications. (Yonhap)