Adoption agency offers family search services

“On June 29, one year ago, the National Assembly passed the revision of the Special Adoption Law, which gave more rights to adoptees, better protection to birth mothers, and greater protection of children’s rights. The law will enter into full force on Aug. 5.

What changes are taking effect next week? It is not possible to give a definitive because the Ministry of Health and Welfare is still finalizing the decree and ordinance for the law application.

However, from the draft published in March, it can be noted that the Korea Central Adoption Resources, which is currently promoting adoption and providing post-adoption services, will have a new name: Korea Adoption Services. Along with its new name, KAS will also take on new responsibilities. For example, it will keep a central database of adoptees’ records and provide birth family search services even to those who have no known adoption agency, with the goal of building a cooperative system among adoption agencies. Compared to adoption agencies, KAS will become more powerful because it will be able to request collaboration from governmental offices as well as from the agencies themselves.

Concerning access to records, which many adoptees regard as paramount, it will be possible to request and receive records via mail, fax, or the Internet (probably an online form). Adoptees will also be able to receive information in electronic format as long it is not too burdensome for the agency to produce it.

A fee covering the cost of disclosure and delivery can be charged on the requesting adoptee; however, some adoptees are concerned that, unlike with other social insurances, no upper limit has been set.

In addition, the new law (decree) requires adoption agencies to respond to adoptee requests within 15 days. If during that time the agencies cannot receive personal information disclosure approval from birth parents, the decree permits an extension of 30 days, in which case the agency must send an explanatory statement to the applicant. However, if the biological parents are deceased, or if the information is needed for medical purpose, the adoptee can still receive personal details of his or her biological parents.

Another key point is the preservation of files. Adoption records will have to be kept permanently but it’s unclear who has this duty, KAS or the adoption agencies. The final version of the decree and ordinance might bring an answer.

Of other general changes, it should be mentioned that both domestic and international adoption will have to be formally approved by a family court.

According to the law, biological parents will receive sufficient counseling services from adoption agency before giving consent for adoption. They also can give their consent for adoption as early as one week after the birth of the baby.

Lastly, the law will require social workers practicing in the adoption field to follow continuous training.

Again, all the points mentioned in this article might be not fully accurate, since the final version of the ordinance and decree has not yet been made public by the Ministry of Health and Welfare. Therefore everyone interested in the changes brought by the application of the Special Adoption Law revision should check after Aug. 5 for full details.”

By Marc Champod

Marc Champod is currently studying social welfare at Seoul National University as a master’s student. He had worked for many years in the field of pension and benefits in Switzerland before coming to Korea to study the Korean social welfare system on a Korean governmental scholarship. ― Ed.

Article en français sur son blog :Changements apportés par la mise en œuvre de la révision de la loi spéciale sur l’adoption