Korea Adoption Program
In South Korea today, the Korean government is trying to promote incountry
adoption of children needing adoptive homes. Every effort is made to place these children in their country
before intercountry placement is sought. However, adoption is not widely accepted in the
Korean culture; and it may be many years before enough Korean homes will be available for
these children. To fulfill the need of loving homes for the infants whose best interests
would be served through intercountry adoption and to assure legal and social safeguards,
Dillon Southwest (DSW) has made a contractual agreement with
Eastern Social Welfare Society (ESWS) in Korea.
ESWS was founded by Dr. Kim, Duk Whang in 1972 and works directly
with DSW to help children in need of nurturing families find adoptive homes.
Children available for placement through Dillon Southwest's Korean program are
both infant boys and girls. Dillon Southwest's Gender Selection Policy states that
families with no children or female children cannot request only a female child. Refer to
our Gender Selection Policy for more details.
Normally, Dillon Southwest is only able to place Korean-born children with
families in Arizona and California.
Exceptions to this rule may be made for special circumstances or children with special needs.
Before coming to the US, the children are cared for by Eastern Social Welfare Society, a
Korean non-profit social service agency based in Seoul. Children in this program are extremely
fortunate to be in the care of dedicated foster mothers in Korea. Most foster mothers have
worked for ESWS for years and enjoy caring for the infants before they leave for their new
adoptive homes. During the time the children are in Korea, they receive regular medical care,
immunizations and social services from the ESWS staff.
The Korean social workers identify the children whose best interest will be served through
intercountry adoption. Legal custody is obtained through the Korean courts by ESWS when the
children are orphaned, abandoned or relinquished by a parent for adoption. Permanent custody
is given to ESWS in Korea. This custody is transferred to DSW at the time a child is referred
here for placement. DSW is the agent authorized to give the final consent for adoption in the
United States to the adoptive parents.
Most of the children placed by DSW are infants and are intaken at birth and placed in
foster care. These infants may be twelve to fifteen months old by the time they reach their
adoptive family in the United States. Most of the children are full Korean. Rarely are
siblings available, however when they are, they are placed with the same family;
otherwise, only one child at a time is placed with a family.
Adoptive families are not required to travel to Korea. Children can be brought to the US by escorts.
Guidelines for parents adopting Korean children are established by governmental and
social service agencies in both Korea and the US.
They include, but are not limited to the following:
Children are placed with couples who have been married for at least three years.
Adoptive parents must be in good physical and mental health.
Parents must be over 25 and under 43 years of age at the time of application.
Applicants must be within 30% of normal body weight for their height. Check your weight on
the Korean weight chart.
There may be no more than four other children in the adoptive home.
Conventional medical care, including immunizations, must be given to the adopted child.
Normally, we only place Korean-born children in Arizona, or on a
case-by-case basis in California. An exception to this rule may be made for
special circumstances or for children with special needs.
Generally, adoptions from Korea have been taking twelve to eighteen months from the time that the family's
completed application is received by DSW until the arrival of the child. An approximate timeline for
the processing is:
Pre-application: It may take up to three weeks for the pre-application form to be reviewed.
Application: It may take up to three to four weeks for an application to be reviewed.
Home Study and Arizona Certification Process: Once the application is accepted, and a signed contract has been received from the family, the home study is begun. The time involved in the home study process varies, but the study is normally completed within 90 days.
When a family has had a home study approved by the Adoption Committee, and, in Arizona, has been certified by the Juvenile Court, information on a child may be presented to them. The time involved at this stage depends largely on the availability of children and the number of families who are resources for those children. The time from completion of the home study until the arrival of a child can take from twelve to twenty four months.
Korean Emigration Process: Once signed acceptance forms are received by the Korean staff, application is made for permission from the Korean government for the child's emigration and Korean Travel Certificate. This procedure can take between nine and fifteen months.
The Home Study: Once a completed application has been accepted by our agency, we will do a home study and evaluation of the Arizona family, as required by Korean government regulations and Arizona law. Because Korea requires "direct service" for any Arizona placement, any other agency's home study is not acceptable. If a family has a completed home study from another agency, and is currently certified for adoption, Dillon Southwest will update their study to meet the requirements of the Korean Adoption Program.
For families who reside outside of Arizona, a local agency will complete the home study under the guidance of Dillon Southwest.
Families in Arizona, and normally California, are required to attend an adoption education program covering adoption in general,
international adoption in particular, and facets of adopting children
from other cultures.
Selection of a family for a child: When a family's home study has been completed, the family is eligible to be selected for a child. It must be understood that the selection process is not on a "first come, first served" basis. DSW considers a particular child and then selects the family who can best meet the child's needs.
Caseworker presents child's papers: When a family has been selected for a child, the caseworker will present the information on the child to the family and counsel them in their decision. Information presented includes the child's Initial Social History, health history and photographs.
Family's acceptance of child: After a mutual agreement has been reached on a specific child, the family is to sign, before a notary public, numerous papers that are returned to DSW. DSW will then send the Korean acceptance papers to ESWS.
Emigration permission and Korean Travel Certificate: Once ESWS receives the acceptance papers, the process of applying to the Korean government for emigration permission, a Korean travel certificate, and applying to the US Embassy for a visa can begin. When this process actually begins is dependent upon the Korean government.
Relative Immigrant Visa Petition: Concurrently, the family applies to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for their approval of the family and child, and for the admission of the child into the United States. This is done by filing the I-600 form and other necessary documents with USCIS.
When approved by USCIS, the family will receive a Notice of Approval of Relative Immigrant Visa Petition from the
USCIS. Petition approval does not mean that the child's visa has been issued, but rather that the family has been approved by
USCIS. Upon this approval and the issuance of the Korean travel certificate, the child's visa will be issued. Plans are then made for the child's flight to the US.
Flight arrangements: Families need to travel to Korea to escort their child home. In rare cases, escorting may be available if approved by ESWS.
Post-Placement: Children who are adopted from Korea finalize their adoption in the state in which their adoptive parents reside, not in Korea.
Families residing in Arizona will work with DSW to fulfill the post
placement requirements of ESWS. If you live in California, your local
home study/post-placement agency will work with your family to fulfill the
post-placement requirements of ESWS and DSW. DSW staff, however, is
always available to provide support services throughout the process to any
of our families, regardless of state of residency.
Finalization of the Adoption: In Arizona, approximately nine months after the child arrives, the adoption is finalized in the juvenile court in the county where the child and family reside.
Upon finalization of the adoption, the child automatically becomes a citizen. However, it is imperative that the adoptive parents apply to USCIS for a Certificate of Citizenship.
A dossier is not needed for an adoption from Korea. However, the following documents must accompany the applications:
Three copies of American birth certificates for both husband and wife. If not an American-born citizen, proof of naturalization, i.e., date, certificate number and where issued, must be included. Copies of naturalization papers must be clearly marked COPY.
An original certified copy must be presented to DSW for authentication
purposes and will be returned upon verification.
Three copies of the couple's marriage certificate. An original
certified copy must be presented to DSW for authentication purposes and will
be returned upon verification.
Two copies of the divorce decree if either is divorced. An original
certified copy must be presented to DSW for authentication purposes and will
be returned upon verification.
One copy of an American birth certificate(s)
for any child(ren) of yours. We will accept an application with
uncertified copies of documents. However, an original certified copy
must be presented to DSW for authentication purposes before a family's home
study can be sent to the Juvenile Court.
Evidence supporting education level attained as stated on your application--copy of diploma, transcript, etc.
One original letter from the employers of both husband and wife, if both plan to continue working, stating length of employment, salary, position and the security of the position. If you are self-employed, or feel obtaining this letter will be a problem, please call us.
Original statements from the family's bank or savings institution stating current balance in savings account. Also include original statements showing IRA's, other retirement accounts, stocks, etc.
Color photographs, (a) at least two of the wife and husband together, as well as any children (b) several of the home inside and outside. These photographs
are important because they will accompany your documents to Korea, so they should be appropriately representative of your home and family.
Medical reports - one original and three copies for husband and wife. These medical reports must be current within six months of the date of application. Please be sure that all lab tests have been done and that they are also current within six months of the date of application. Two blank medical forms will be included with your application packet.
If there are children in the family, a Children's Medical form should be completed for each child.
A letter from your health insurance company stating that an adopted child will be covered by your policy at the time of placement and identifying any enrollment procedures required. (Form enclosed with application.)
Since this letter may take time to obtain, it may be submitted later than the remainder of the application.
If there has been a previous adoption, include a copy of finalization papers unless placement was made by DSW.
If either husband or wife has relinquished a child, we require a statement regarding the reasons for this decision.
If children of either applicant are not living in the applicant family's home, we require information regarding child support and the quality of the past and present relationship with these children. If the children reside nearby, it will be necessary for us to meet them. If they reside out of state, it will be necessary for us to talk to them by telephone.
A letter of recommendation from the applicant family's clergy is helpful but not required.
Three photocopies of the application must be included with the original application.
The non-refundable application fee.
An 8-10 page autobiography including significant life experiences from husband and wife. Please send the originals and three photocopies of each. An autobiography outline will be enclosed with the application packet.
The original and three photocopies of the financial statement (form enclosed with the application) must be included.
The original and three photocopies of the "infertility questionnaire" form must be included. (This form is included with the application.)
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (known as the USCIS and formerly known as INS) requires families adopting internationally to submit their form I-864 (Affidavit of Support) and supporting materials,
including your most recent income tax return, in order for their child to receive his/her visa. The visa is issued by American Embassy personnel and gives the child permission to enter the US. For Korean adoptions, the staff of ESWS will submit the I-864 form and supporting materials to the American Embassy for any child that they are placing. The Affidavit of Support is intended to prove to
USCIS officials that families who "sponsor" a person coming to the US from a foreign country will be financially responsible for that person until he/she is naturalized.
Since the I-864 form is only current for six months from signature, it will be given to you upon acceptance of a child.
Upon acceptance of a child, your most recent pay stub, along with your tax return information and the I-864 form will be sent to Korea in order for ESWS to obtain a visa once your child's passport is issued.
When you accept a referral, in order to comply with the US Government requirements, the following items will need to be submitted with the
The following items must be submitted upon acceptance of a
Completed I-864 form
Proof of current employment or self-employment.
(Pay stub for most recent pay period. Please keep your most recent pay stub in an accessible place so that it is readily available to you upon acceptance of a child.)
NOTE: All application materials will remain with DSW in the event an application is withdrawn or denied. We suggest you retain a copy of all materials submitted with your application for your records.
Please complete the I-600A form and gather all supporting documents. In Arizona, when a family is completing their home study, they will be asked to submit the I-600A and supporting documents to Dillon Southwest. Those documents, along with the home study once it has been certified by the court, will be submitted to USCIS by Dillon Southwest. For information on filing the I-600A form, click here.
Families do not need to travel to Korea to pick up their child. The child may be escorted to the US. However, for families who wish to travel, ESWS is always pleased to have families act as an escort for their child.
Fees and Expenses
Click on a link below to download the list of fees and expenses for the Korean Adoption Program. Every effort is made to avoid changes in the fee structure while a family
is in process; however, the agency may find it necessary to pass on cost increases from time to time.
Korean Program fees for Arizona families.
Korean Program fees for California families.
How to Begin
DSW invites you to call the agency at (480) 945-2221 to ask questions and
discuss the program in detail.
Our agency schedules orientation meetings and group education workshops
every 6 to 8 weeks. Please call the agency if you would like to be invited to an
You may also ask specific questions or request additional
information by filling out our .
Visit our How Do I Begin page.