May 08, 2018 10:06
Increasing numbers of foreigners are still adopting Korean babies even though the country is now among the world's richest economies and has an alarmingly low birthrate.
According to the U.S. State Department, Korea ranked third among countries from which Americans adopted babies last year with 276 infants.
First was China with 1,905, followed by Ethiopia with 313. Korea's ranking rose one notch from 2016 because adoptions from Congo and Ukraine declined.
Altogether 398 Korean were adopted by families from overseas last year, going to Australia, Canada, Norway and Sweden.
The reason is that Koreans are not only reluctant to have their own children but also stopped adopting. Only 465 babies were adopted by Korean families last year, down 14.5 percent from 2016.
"This is largely because family traditions based on blood ties still prevail and the adoption climate chilled last year because there were a lot of stories about bullying of adopted children," said Kim Won-deuk of the Korea Adoption Services.
Most prospective adoptive families in Korea prefer infant girls, with girls making up 65 percent of all children adopted here in 2016, most of them under 1 year old. As a result, many boys who found no adoptive families here were put up for adoption overseas.
A Ministry of Health and Welfare official said, "There's a bias that it's easier to bring up girls than boys and there'll be less trouble with the inheritance later."
But another reason for the decline is that courts set the bar for families to qualify for adoption very high and screening takes a long time due to a manpower shortage.
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