Korea to join adoption convention, The Korea Times, 2012-11-16 19:11

Korea to join adoption convention, The Korea Times, 2012-11-16 19:11

By Kim Bo-eun

The government plans to join the Hague Convention on Intercountry
Adoption to better protect the human rights of overseas adoptees.

“We are in the process of making domestic laws accord with the
standards of the convention,” said Lee Kyung-eun, director for child
welfare policy at the Ministry of Health and Welfare said Friday.

The ministry announced a set of measures to increase support for
Korean overseas adoptees. They include aiding them in finding their
parents, providing them the necessary services when they visit their
home country and expanding opportunities to have contact with Korean
culture.

“If the parent or family is unable to provide a home, the child should
be sent to certified domestic institutions. International adoption
should be the last resort,” she added.

“Support for single moms also needs to be expanded, as most cases of
adoption arise due to the lack of it,” Lee said.

She added that the government needs to create a division in charge of
adoption policies so that it can certify and oversee adoption
institutions.

Korea is yet to become a signatory to the International Convention
Protecting the Rights of Overseas Adoptees which went into effect in
1995 worldwide. It has been ratified by 91 countries so far.

The reason Korea had not yet been able to join the convention is
because its laws did not meet the required standards.

But, the government has made efforts to lay the groundwork for the
joining. A special act on adoption was enacted on Aug. 5. The act only
allows adoption after court approval.

The ministry plans to create a taskforce with other ministries by the
end of this year to prepare for the joining of the convention.

According to ministry data, some 240,000 children were given up for
adoption from 1958 to 2011. Among them, 165,000 were adopted overseas
while 76,000 were adopted domestically.

The number of overseas adoptees has been decreasing since it reached
its peak in 1985. The domestic adoption rate began to surpass overseas
adoption for the first time in 2007 because of stronger regulations
against the latter.

Kim Do-hyun, director at KoRoot, a nonprofit organization for Korean
overseas adoptees, said that although Korea has shown great progress,
it still has far to go.

“The government needs to change the current reporting system in which
parents voluntarily register their child within 14 days of birth, to
one where births are immediately registered by government officials,”
said Kim.

“Such a system provides babies legal rights and a safeguard from
laundering, trafficking or abduction,” he said.

He added that the government needs to provide single moms as much
financial support as they are providing orphanages, to help them
afford to keep the babies.

bkim@koreatimes.co.kr,

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