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Adopting from Korea - A Parent's Guide to Korean Adoption

Home contact site map agencies search site  

No need to rush. Finding the right
adoption agency takes time.

By this time, you've probably already narrowed the field down to a few programs. Now comes the time to identify and evaluate possible adoption agencies with international programs. But first, let's consider for a second what the adoption agency actually does.

What makes the Korean adoption process unique

Unlike other international programs, Korea requires that prospective adoptive parents use only those agencies specifically authorized to place children in their state of residence. Some agencies have direct programs that are authorized to place waiting children nationwide. Some local adoption agencies will partner with a direct service adoption agency. Make sure you understand what kind of program your prospective adoption agency has, how it works, and with whom.

I've compiled a list of all the authorized agencies by state, partner agency (if applicable), and its affiliated Korean adoption agency. (Let me know if the list needs updating.)

State-by-state index of US adoption agencies
with Korean adoption programs


Typical Adoption Agency Services
  • Reviews eligibility of prospective adoptive parents
  • Provides state-mandated home studies
  • Assists with paperwork preparation
  • Coordinate child assignments
  • Provide adoptive parenting programs
  • Provide state-mandated post-placement services

Many agencies also run waiting parent support groups and mentoring programs to help anxious and eager adoptive parents through the process. Take advantage of these, if you can. You'll also want to ask about post-adoption courses, events, workshops, and counseling services. The best agencies recognize that adoption doesn't end when your child joins your family.

How Do You Find Adoption Agencies?
(Some recommendations for those folks not adopting from Korea)

My best recommendation is to ask your friends and family members who have adopted internationally. Get the names of those agencies and look them up online or give them a call. Ask for their complete information kit. Then start reading.

If you don't personally know anyone who has adopted, join a few adoption e-groups - YahooGroups is a great place to start. (Take them with a grain of salt as agencies are known to monitor the lists.)

The hit Google or your favorite search engine. I recommend you try a few of them as each uses a different indexing system. You'll find you'll get somewhat different hits. Definitely worth trying.

For example, if Korea is your program, you could start your search with the following keywords: Korea/n Adoption, Asian Adoption, International Adoption, Overseas Adoption, Intercountry Adoption, one search phrase at a time. (For other international programs, just add the name of the country you're interested in.)

You might also want to check out the agency listings at National Council for Adoption , Child Welfare Information Gateway, and The Joint Council on International Children's Services from North America. I'd also check with your local chapter of Resolve and adoptive family organizations in your area for recommendations.

Bear in mind there are many excellent agencies with so-so websites. Conversely, there are many not-so-hot agencies with impressive websites. Same reasoning applies to those agencies with slick vs. homegrown information kits. Remember, it's your money and your family. Caveat Emptor!

Evaluating Agencies and Their Programs

Only you know what's best for your needs. Some people prefer large, extra-regional agencies with several international programs. Others prefer smaller agencies closer to home. But as you review agency literature, attend open houses, and speak with agency representatives, do keep these questions in mind:

  • Does the agency give you a realistic picture of what it can do, will do, within a given set of limitations? (Are they promising you the moon and feeding into your desire for a fast, effortless adoption?)
  • How old is the agency itself? How long has it been placing children from the country you're interested in?
  • What is the experience level of its staffers? Does the agency use contract or staff social workers?
  • Does the agency have direct links to its international counterparts (child welfare agencies and/or orphanages) or are intermediaries and facilitators used?
  • Is the agency accredited and licensed? Any recent complaints been filed against it?
  • Have they given a written schedule of fees? Are they fee for service? Are they asking for a large deposit or total fees upfront?
  • Are they forthcoming when you ask questions?
  • Can they give you recent references from families they've worked with?
  • Do they offer parent support and education services?

Whatever you do, get lots and lots of information from lots and lots of agencies. Check with your local Better Business Bureau. Ask about agencies on the email lists you've joined.

Affording Your Adoption - Tough but doable!

Unless you're independently wealthy (and who wouldn't want to be), adopting internationally isn't inexpensive. The least expensive program will run about $10,000. The most expensive could easily cost $45,000 or more. Don't be disheartened, though. There are many ways to make your adoption possible with a little creative thinking and some hard work. Keep in mind, too, that reputable agencies will use a "pay as you go" system. This means you pay for services as they are performed.

RUN AWAY from any agency that is asking for large sums upfront.

Upfront costs are application and home study fees (USCIS and state- and county-mandated paperwork are also paid upfront but not to your agency.) The bulk of your adoption fees will occur when you have accepted your child's referral. You don't have to have it all available in cash either. Financing an adoption through a home equity loan or special adoption loan through your bank is perfectly acceptable.

Before you do anything, check out Adoption Financing and More Adoption Financing. You'll find several leads to funding possibilities, including loans, grants and employer benefit programs. Here's a short list of some possibilities to get you thinking:

  • Take out a home-equity loan or a second mortgage on your house.
  • Ask your bank/credit union about their adoption loan programs.
  • Ask your employer if adoption subsidy assistance is offered - many of the larger corporations do. If they don't, ask them to consider establishing one.
  • Cut your spending to the bone.
  • Take a second job for awhile.
  • Have a garage sale.
  • Sell used books and other clutter on Amazon, Ebay, Craigslist and similar sites.
  • Make something, sell something.
  • Tell the relatives you don't need holiday gifts, you need cash :=)

Don't forget the Federal Adoption Tax Credit! Depending on your family's adjusted gross income, you may be eligible for a $12,150 (or portion thereof) credit on your federal tax return.

Roberta's Tip - Organize Your Expenses!

It's easy to fall into the trap of juggling credit cards and checkbooks when you're in the midst of the adoption process. What we did was use one checkbook and one credit card for all expenses to make our bookkeeping easier. So take a look at your current credit cards, which one offers you frequent flyer miles? Hotel benefits? Cash back and other sorts of benefits? Clear it from any other expenses and use that one.

In the end, my husband and I decided to go with a smaller regional adoption agency with an active Korea program.

Once you decide on your agency, you're really rolling now. Now let's look at the paperwork requirements and what you'll need to to.

Click here for a complete,
state-by-state index of US adoption agencies
placing Korean children!

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