Older Child Adoption from Korea

27 Jan

I’ve received many emails and messages asking about our adoption. You see, it’s a tad bit different from the typical international Korean adoption.  Korean adoption is known for A: referring babies who B: live in foster care who C: sadly recently come home as toddlers.  Our Cora is A: going on 5 years old B: living in an orphanage and C: will likely start Kindergarten next year.

How did you get matched with an older child?

How did you find a child available for adoption in an orphanage?

How did you find a healthy older child in Korea?  I didn’t think that was possible.

I thought I would post a blog that answers all of these questions. Hopefully this will be helpful to you if you are looking for more info on older child adoption in Korea.

How did we get matched with an older child?

Cora has been on the WIC list for years (and years and years). She was listed with our agency and another agency that works with our Korean agency. Sometimes, from what I’ve heard, they co-list some of the harder to place children who have been waiting for a long time. Our agency (message me if you want to know which one) had 4 “older girls” on their list and I do believe all but one has been matched.  Our Cora, miss Sarah and miss Avah.  The three girls all live in the same orphanage in Seoul.

How did you find a child available for adoption in an orphanage?

It is true that most children up for adoption in Korea live with foster families.  Sometimes they start in an agencies reception center and when there is room with a foster family, they will be transferred there.  It’s almost certain that if you are adopting from Korea, your child will have spent time living in a family setting.  This was the course of action for Cora, and she spent 10 days with a family until they realized that due to her birth complications, she was better off with more medical care.  So, after a stay in the hospital, she was sent to the orphanage she lives in now.  The orphanage is considered a special needs orphanage and they provide children with more medical care and therapies right in the orphanage. Speech, physical, occupational, etc….all right there.

It is more common for people adopting a WIC child (waiting international child) with the big agency in Korea (starts with an H) to be placed in their amazing orphanage for special needs kids.  (This is not Cora’s orphanage.) The word “special needs” is misleading, however, I must state.  And there are many reasons why the word is used.  Some people are scared out of adoption because of the term special needs.  How many “special needs” kids do you know in the US?  Like truly SPECIAL NEEDS.  Here, we don’t label like that. We have kids! Period! Kids! Not “healthy vs. special needs”.

I believe that if the children are not placed for adoption by the time they are 3 years old, they are transferred out of the home, into an orphanage.  Many times, the age 3 is the cut off for their chance at adoption.  There has been a flux of “older children” (3+) coming home, however. And when I say flux, I mean I have heard of 6 children recently, including Cora. Obviously I just have the small sampling from my online Korean community. There could be more. Where were these kids? Listed on agencies WIC listing! Available the whole time.  Though older child adoption from Korea is rare, there ARE children waiting on WIC lists waiting for their families to find them.

Because the Korean adoption process is typically baby referrals, I hardly gave a second thought to the older children on my agency’s WIC list because who adopts older child from Korea? Not many! ha! If I had started looking right when we got on the waiting list for a baby, she would have come home months ago because there was not the EP shortage then.  God’s timing, just have to remind myself.

How did you find a healthy, older child in Korea? I didn’t think that was possible?

Well, what’s healthy?  Cora is not considered a “healthy child” even though she shows no signs of being anything other than a healthy, normal, SMART pre-schooler.  But, she was a preemie and she had preemie complications and will then always have that label of being special needs in her file.  How many families do you know who had premature children?  Would you consider them all “special needs”?  Of course not.

The blessing of adopting “older” is that we see where all of those complications played out. Where some hung around, most others have completely gone away.  But when you see her file, it goes back all the way to those complications and I won’t lie, it wasn’t easy to see the hard beginning of Cora’s start in life.  (OH how I wish we were there, then.) I can see how people might have been afraid at the early prognosis, but we were looking at 4 YEAR old Cora, not 4 day old Cora.  4 day old Cora was the beginning key, but 4 YEAR old Cora showed us that all that was going on with four DAY old Cora wasn’t necessarily going to play any part in her life after her initial beginnings.

But my advice to you if you are looking at older child adoption in Korea is to try to decipher what is important NOW.  Not necessarily what was important years ago. Does that make sense?  What milestones are they meeting?  What labels and diagnosis were eliminated over time?  What is still a diagnosis? etc…put the puzzle together piece by piece until it is fully together.  Don’t pick the scary corners of the puzzle and stop then because you might just miss the beautiful picture of the child once you’ve done your homework.

Cora was a puzzle, that’s for sure! One of those big ones that take concentration and a steady mind to complete.  It was a puzzle that we needed help putting together. Help by doctors, therapists, teachers, friends, family, but WOW, once we put it together, how glad we were that we didn’t stop at the corners.

Now when we look at her file and see her beginnings, we see them with a different light.  They are the beginnings of our daughter and her strength and determination for life.  She’s perfect! It’s not scary anymore.

If you are looking into older child adoption from Korea:

My advice is to call all of the agencies to see A: if they place in your state (Korea has funny laws about that) and B: if they have older children listed with their agency and C: get ready for an amazing puzzle.  It might be one you can do alone, but you will likely need help.  That’s OK! Older child adoption IS a possibility, though, there are not many children listed over the age of 3.  Even over the age of 2.  There is apparently a new law that may take effect in July of 2013 that will make it easier for older children in Korea to be adopted, so we continue to pray for this children.



2 Responses to “Older Child Adoption from Korea”

  1. Aimee January 28, 2012 at 3:44 pm #

    I just blogged about this very thing, with part II coming. So glad to see more waiting children coming home.

  2. Donnie Thompson April 3, 2018 at 7:40 pm #

    I am interested in adopting an older child from Korea. Could you please let me know what agency you worked with?

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