When people find out we’re adopting from South Korea their first response is often:
And the simple truth is: because that’s where our son is.
When we first started considering adoption we wanted a closed, private, domestic, newborn adoption. We. Were. So. Naive. Thankfully, God didn’t just plant the seed of adoption in our hearts but He also nurtured it and helped us grow. After He closed the door with that first agency, we took some time off before putting it all back on the table: newborn, foster, domestic, international, open, closed.
After some soul-searching, we found a new agency. One that we felt was ethical and right for us, that happened to also be a pioneer in international adoption. In the year+ we spent discussing adoption, we had never really seriously considered international before. We knew it would be more involved (immigration, etc), likely more expensive (travel, etc), and that it meant parenting a child of a different cultural background (and thus adding cultural losses to their trauma).
“Aren’t there plenty of kids in America that need homes?”
We did not want to disrupt the birth order of our (bio) kids, which means we would need to adopt a child under the age of two. Ultimately, there is a greater need for families for kids in South Korea than newborns in the US. Domestic adoption in South Korea remains taboo and plagued by cultural stigma.
Furthermore, South Korea has fairly strict criteria for adoptive parents. It’s quite expensive and comes with many requirements – family dynamics (time off work after the adoption is finalized), medical requirements (no drugs for anxiety or depression, etc), and both parents must undergo psychological evaluations. Every one of us has a role to play in God’s call to care for the orphans- be it prayer, child sponsorship, adoption, etc- and we feel this is the one God is equipping us for.
Not to mention.. all children deserve a family, not just the ones in America.
“Why not foster to adopt? I hear that’s free!”
Reunification and family preservation should always be the goal of foster care… so long it is in the child’s best interest. (Obviously there will be times when that is not the case.) We are not in a position, nor do we feel called by God, to serve in that temporary role at this time. Just as we do not feel it would be in a child’s best interest, due to our rural location and distance from hospitals and access to specialized care, to adopt a medically fragile child or one with certain special needs that we couldn’t meet.
The adoption process with South Korea is on the high end of international adoption fees. However, those fees speak to the level of care that the waiting children receive. The children are being loved on by trained foster families who very much feel that it is their calling to stand in the gap for these kids. (While this does add another loss to the equation, we pray that this will also benefit our child’s transition into our family.)
They receive routine medical care- including necessary surgeries or procedures for major medical issues. Meaning they don’t have to suffer through waiting until their adoption is finalized. The medical care provided is actually on par with the US. The children receive regular and thorough well checks, with necessary vaccines and testing.
Please, never refer to adoption as “buying a baby.” Social workers, translators, foster care support, medical care, counseling… all of these things cost money and enable a better quality of care for the children in their program.
What we’ve since learned about adoption in South Korea:
- Birth mothers do receive counseling, but if they decide to proceed with an adoption plan, attempts are made for the first six months for the child to be adopted domestically. Thus, the minimum age of a child you may be matched with will be 6mo+.
- Social drinking is very common, even during pregnancy. Our agency requires anyone hoping to adopt from South Korea be open to and prepared for at least some alcohol use during pregnancy.
- Most of the children that are adopted domestically are girls, because of the cultural emphasis on family bloodlines and importance of inheritance. As a result, more boys than girls need homes through international adoption. Our agency requires anyone hoping to adopt from South Korea be open to either gender; though they will allow you to specify as only be open to being matched with a boy because of the higher need.
Honestly, the reason we are adopting from South Korea is because we feel like that is where God has led us; but, again, it is so much more than just answering a call of obedience. It’s knowing that I have another son and God is moving mountains (or crossing oceans, as the case may be) to bring us together. With that brings an overwhelming tangible peace that I almost can’t put in to words.
This adoption process has opened my eyes to the world. It’s ironic to me that I moved to a small town to escape the world but instead received a clearer understanding of our need to be better global citizens. Sometimes we let our world view become so small that we forget that it’s not “one nation under God” but “all nations under God.” (Revelation 7:9)