an article from today’s Korea Herald:

Koreans adopted more babies than foreigners

For the first time, Koreans adopted more local infants than foreigners, according to government data released Wednesday.

Ministry of Health and Welfare data showed that the number of infants adopted in the country stood at 724 in the first half of this year, accounting for 59.2 percent of 1,223 adoptions.

This was a significant change for a nation that has so far been notorious for “exporting” babies.

Since 1958 when the government began compiling data on adoption, the overseas adoption demand has always remained greater than domestic demand, which was comparably sluggish at around 30 percent of total adoptions.

While more Koreans have embraced adoptions, the current dominance of local adopters is due mostly to a new government policy regarding adoption, effective Jan. 1, 2007.

The Health Ministry launched a set of comprehensive measures to promote domestic adoption. The most effective change is a restraint on overseas adoption under which overseas adopters may make adoptions only when a baby has failed to find a home here after five months. This restraint does not apply to Korean adopters.

“(The rise in domestic adoption) is temporary. Thanks to the implementation of the domestic adoption promotion measures, it’s safe to say there has been virtually no overseas adoption during the first five months of this year,” the ministry said.

According to the ministry, about 970 infants are waiting to be taken to Korean homes. This regulation of overseas adoptions has caused a 30 percent drop in the total volume of adoptions compared to the same period last year.

The government noted that it is highly likely for adoption demands from other countries to surge in the latter half of 2007 when babies born in the first half become eligible for overseas adoption.

Recent government statistics showed a gradual decline in both domestic and overseas adoption up until the end of 2006. Some 1,900 children were adopted overseas last year, while domestic adoption accounted for about 40 percent of total adoptions at 1,332.

Koreans also adopted only 12 disabled infants in sharp contrast with 713 adoptions of disabled babies made by foreigners last year.

By Ahn Hyo-lim