Despite a falling birth rate here, many Korean children are still finding their home abroad, a report found Sunday.
Of the total 2,439 children adopted in 2009, 1,125 were sent abroad, slightly down from 1,250 in 2008, the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs said.
Adoptions have declined here along with the country’s falling birth rate.
Over the past 10 years, the number of domestic adoptions has decreased from 1,726 in 1999 to 1,314 in 2009, while that of international adoptions has almost halved from 2,409 in 1999.
However, the ratio of international adoption still remains high despite the government’s efforts to encourage domestic adoption.
Korea has sent more than 200,000 children abroad since the 1950-53 Korean War. In 2009, Korea was the fourth-largest “baby-exporting country” to the United States after China, Ethiopia and Rwanda, the U.S. State Department reported.
As reasons for hesitating to adopt a child, according to the institute, 32.1 percent of Koreans surveyed said that they are not sure whether they can love and raise the adopted child like their biological one, while 29.5 percent cited the nation’s family system based on blood ties.
Parents also pointed out financial difficulties (11.9 percent) and social prejudice toward adopted people (11.4 percent), the institute said.
Due to the still prevalent belief that a son carries on a family line, girls younger than three were most favored for adoption, while boys, older children and those with disabilities were less preferred.
Most parents who have adopted a child also said that a child’s health, gender and age were their priority to consider.
“International adoption indicates a decline in young population, with the nation’s birth rate falling. It is a dishonor in the international community, which reflects our society’s evasion of responsibility for baby birth and child care,” said Kim Yoo-kyoung, fellow researcher and author of the report.
“Children adopted abroad are more likely to experience identity crisis and a sense of loss. Due to various conflicts coming from the feelings, they could have difficulty adapting themselves to their adopted family, friends and community.”
Kim stressed that follow-up monitoring, which is currently conducted for six months after adoption, should be extended to cover the adolescent period of the child. She also suggested that government measures be made to help older or handicapped children find a family.