Top 10 Myths About Adopting from Korea

If you or someone you know has been considering adopting from Korea, you may have heard some common misconceptions about the adoption process. With this list of “Top 10 Myths About Adopting From Korea,” we hope to answer your questions as well as provide some useful insight into Holt’s Korea program.

Myth #1: Children waiting to be adopted live in orphanages.

Fact: Most of the children in Korea who are waiting to join adoptive families live with foster families, not in an orphanage. Only a very small percentage of children are in a care center — usually because they have medical conditions that require a greater level of care than foster families can provide at home. In   Holt-trained foster families, children find the stable environment and attentive, nurturing care that they need to grow, reach developmental milestones and develop the healthy emotional attachments that will help them transition more easily to a permanent adoptive family.

Myth #2: More girls need families through international adoption than boys.

Fact: Of the children in Korea who are waiting for adoptive families, 30% are girls and 70% are boys. Children adopted internationally are mostly boys 6-12 months at time of match and 18-30 months at time of placement.

Myth #3: Families can select their child’s gender.

Fact: Because so many boys in the Korea program need families, prospective parents may request a boy. However, families can’t specify a girl.

Myth #4: Sibling groups are “easier” to adopt.

Fact: For many parents who are researching adoption, there is a common misconception that sibling groups are urgently waiting for families. The majority of adoptions from Korea are in fact single child placements. Sometimes we see twins, but never sibling sets of children of differing ages. For families looking to adopt a sibling set, the Korea program isn’t the best fit. View our Colombia photolisting to learn more about siblings who are waiting for adoptive families!

Myth #5: “Special needs” means lifelong care.

Fact: Children who come home through international adoption from Korea typically have needs on the minor to moderate side of the spectrum. Although all children referred from Korea now have at least some health issues, their conditions are often so minor that many children are considered healthy once home. Common medical conditions include prematurity and related medical issues and delays, reported minor to moderate use of alcohol/tobacco during pregnancy, hospitalization shortly after birth for issues that are now resolved, heart murmur (often resolved), heart conditions not requiring surgery, low birth weight, minor to moderate developmental delays, skin conditions, plagiocephaly (often resolved), cryptorchidism and potentially hereditary family medical history. In addition, Korea has a very modern and sophisticated health care system, and children waiting for families receive excellent medical care. All children receive monthly well-baby visits, appropriate immunizations and routine tests.

Myth #6: There is little information available about my child.

Fact: Because all children adopted from Korea are directly relinquished by a birth parent, adoptive parents will receive quite a bit of information about their child’s birth family history. Holt Korea has excellent health records on each child, and documents the child’s progress while in care. Rather than relying solely on information in a report — which is sometimes the case with other programs — a prospective family can send medical questions to be answered by the child’s pediatrician in Korea. Foster families take children to the doctor as often as needed and well-baby exams are standard, all of which are passed along to the adoptive family as soon as possible. Some parents who have adopted previously from other countries have shared with Holt’s Korea staff that they are amazed by the frequency and accuracy of the medical information and new photos they receive during the adoption process.

Myth #7: Communication with my child’s foster family will end after my child comes home.

Fact: While sharing personal contact information via phone, email, social media, etc. is not advisable, Holt can help set up in-person foster family meetings in Korea if the family is traveling there, or in the United States if the foster mom happens to be there. The adoptee can be of any age to participate in a foster family meeting. Foster families truly appreciate updates after placement so we encourage the relationship through intermediary services via Holt and our partner agency.

Myth #8: Adoption from Korea takes a really, really long time.

Fact: When adopting from Korea, the average timeframe from the time of application to the time your child travels home is two years, which is fairly standard in comparison to other country programs. Several factors impact the timeframe, and each family’s journey will be unique, so we only provide averages based on recent experiences.

Myth #9: Korea program applicants face strict age limitations.

Fact: The Korea program now accepts older applicants! You and your spouse can proceed with the Korea process as long as your homestudy is approved before either of you turn 45. In addition, the Korean government may now grant age waivers to parents up to the age of 49 at the time of homestudy approval if they meet one of the following criteria:

  1.     Both applicants are Korean-American
  2.     At least one applicant is a Korean adoptee
  3.     The applicants have previously adopted a child from Korea

The Korea program is also a great choice for younger couples, as the minimum age to adopt from Korea is 25.

Myth #10: Korean adoption is limited to only a few states.

Fact: In the past, this program was limited to families living in certain states, but Korea recently expanded program eligibility — allowing us to place children in 48 states! Although the Korea program is not able to work with families in Alaska and Idaho, the program has evolved from only being able to work with a handful of states.

Hayley Demanett | Family Recruitment Intern

To learn more about Holt’s Korea program, visit our adoption page or email You can also view the waiting child photolisting or visit our website to request free adoption information.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *