New Korean adoption laws went into effect in August 2012 in an attempt to help reduce problems in the system and, specifically, to help reduce the number of intercountry adoptions. Korean officials wanted a greater emphasis on in-country foster care and adoptions, making international adoptions a last priority. Only six months have passed and some experts are pushing for a reversion back to the pre-August 2012 state for adoptions from Korea. Such a reversion would be “a step backwards for Korea’s adoption program,” writes Heit.
Heit argues that six months isn’t nearly long enough to study the true impact of the new Korean adoption laws and gives point-by-point responses to common complaints from critics of the new law. Heit pays special attention claims that there’s been a rise in child abandonment in Korea as a result of a law mandating a birth registry.
“While it is being claimed that more babies have been abandoned since last August, there are no statistics to support this beyond the case of one baby box,” writes Heit. “Before trying to revise the law again, a nationwide study should be conducted in order to confirm or negate these claims.”
Korea has long been seen as a stable, efficient and corruption-free program by U.S. families looking to international adoption as a means to build their family. Between 1999 and 2011, 18,605 Korean children were adopted by U.S. families, according to the U.S. Department of State.
As a Korean adoptee, Heit offers a unique vantage point on the Korean adoption program and the impact of the changes made last August. She argues passionately that Korean officials take a long-term look at the impact of international adoption.
“Over the past 60 years, Korea has sent over 200,000 children for adoption, and many of our birth records, like mine, were falsified or altered,” says Heit. “Because of this, the success rate for birth family searches is a mere 2.7 percent. Is Korea going to repeat this record of human rights violations or work to ensure that this never happens again?”