Korea passes law to change adoption policy

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Korea passes law to change adoption policy

Korea has just passed historic legislation that is likely to change the way adoption in the country is practiced.

The bill to amend the country’s Special Act Relating to the Promotion and Procedure of Adoption, which was sponsored by Democratic Party Representative Choi Young-hee, passed Wednesday with 188 yeas, no nays and four abstentions.

The bill was drafted by a coalition of adoptees, single mothers and public interest groups, including Koroot, Dandelions, Adoptee Solidarity Korea, Truth and Reconciliation for the Adoption Community of Korea, Gong-gam Public Interest Lawyers Group and the Unwed Mothers & Families Association.

Although Korea has revised its adoption law several times, this is the first time adoptees and single mothers have been included in the process.

The revised law is expected to shift adoption policy from “adoption promotion” to “family preservation.”

According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the revised law will be renamed the Special Adoption Law, to remove the emphasis on promotion.

The new law will also expand rights for single mothers and adoptees. Under the law, adoptees will gain greater access to birth records and women will have a seven-day period to deliberate on whether to keep or relinquish their child. Korea currently has no such limitation.

The law also strengthens oversight of adoption procedures; makes birth registration mandatory, to guard against secret adoptions; and brings Korea into line with international standards for the care of children.

The bill’s passage puts Korea on a path to ratify the Hague Convention on intercountry adoption, which Korea has signed but not yet ratified. Opposition to the bill came from adoption agencies and prospective adoptive parents, who were concerned the law would discourage adoption.

Korea is one of the top five countries sending children for adoption, along with China, Ethiopia, Russia and Ukraine. More than 200,000 children have been adopted overseas since the 1950s, when Korea began sending children overseas in the aftermath of the Korean War. Today, around 90 percent of those adopted from Korea are the children of single mothers.

“The revised law focuses on children’s welfare and it is significant that adoptees participated in drafting the bill,” Choi said. “But this shouldn’t be the final step in reforming adoption policy in Korea. In order to decrease international adoption, the Ministry of Health and Welfare should take responsibility for mapping out a five-year plan.”

By Yim Seung-hye [sharon@joongang.co.kr]

한글 관련 기사 [연합]

“아이 포기 숙고하세요”…입양숙려제 도입

국내입양 우선 추진. 중앙입양원 설립

앞으로는 아기가 출생한 지 일주일이 지나야 친부모가 입양에 동의할 수 있는 '입양숙려제'가 도입된다.

또 입양 아동에 관한 정보가 통합 관리돼 추후 입양아가 친부모를 찾기가 한결 수월해진다.

30일 국회에 따르면 입양아의 권리를 강화한 '입양특례법'이 전날 본회의를 통과, 내년 7월부터 시행된다.

기존 '입양촉진 및 절차에 관한 특례법'을 전면 손질한 이 법은 '입양의 동의는 아동의 출생일부터 일주일이 지난 후에 이뤄져야 한다'고 명시했다.

미혼모가 출산 전 심리적으로 불안한 상태에서 아기의 입양에 쉽게 동의하는 현상을 조금이라도 줄여보자는 취지다.

이 법은 또 금전ㆍ재산상 아무런 대가가 없어야 입양 동의 효력이 발생하도록 하는 한편 국가 및 지방자치단체에 대해서도 입양 의뢰된 아동의 양부모를 최대한 국내에서 찾아보고 그래도 못 찾았을 때에만 국외 입양을 추진해야 한다는 조항을 신설했다.

특히 입양 아동의 가족 정보를 통합 관리하는 '중앙입양원'을 설립, 친부모를 찾으려는 입양아에게 필요한 정보를 제공하도록 했다.

중앙입양원은 친부모가 정보 공개에 동의하지 않더라도 인적사항을 제외한 나머지 정보는 입양아에게 알려줄 의무를 지게 된다.

이와 함께 입양인의 자격 요건도 강화, 아동학대ㆍ가정폭력ㆍ성폭력ㆍ마약 등의 범죄나 알코올 등 약물중독 경력이 있는 사람에 대해서는 입양을 불허하도록 하는 한편 입양허가 기관을 가정법원으로 일원화했다.

민주당 최영희 의원은 "입양특례법은 입양 당사자들의 의견을 적극적으로 반영해 아동복리를 최우선으로 했다는데 의미가 크다"고 밝혔다.

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