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Friday27 November 2015

Adopting from Korea

Korea Lerner-DSCF0018Families Needed!

Eligible families who live in the Northeast and Florida may apply to adopt toddler-aged children. New Jersey families should contact us for more information.

  • Korea is a non-Hague Convention Country at present
  • Foreign Provider is Holt Children’s Services (HCS)


korea-mapSouth Korea, officially known as the Republic of Korea, is home to nearly
49 million residents. The country is highly homogeneous. The official language is Korean, but English is often taught in junior and senior high schools. Christian religions and Buddhism are widely practiced.

WHFC has helped place more than 4,300 children from Korea. Holt Children’s Services (HCS), the oldest and largest placement agency in Korea, has been our partner for 40 years.


The following applicants are eligible for the WHFC Korea Adoption Program. Please note that eligibility requirements for adoptive parents are usually determined by adoption officials in the child’s birth country, not WHFC.

Married Heterosexual Couples Age 25-45

  • No more than a 10-year age difference between spouses
  • Married 3 years or more
  • No more than 2 divorces each
  • No more than 4 children already in the home

The approved Home Study Report must be completed before the applicants’ 45th birthday.

Eligibility is Expanded for Applicants Who Meet the Following Criteria:

Up to age 50 for families who meet one of the following criteria:

  • Both spouses are Korean-American
  • At least one spouse is a Korean adoptee
  • The family has already adopted from Korea

The approved Home Study Report must be completed before the applicants’ 50th birthday.

Please note that the above criteria are not all-inclusive; all international programs require proof of financial stability and have additional restrictions with respect to criminal history, physical and mental health. Contact us at Korea@whfc.org for more information.

Children Who Need Families

Toddler-aged boys and girls are placed through international adoption. Because families in Korea who adopt often have a preference for baby girls, more boys are in need of international adoptive families. Children are cared for by Holt-approved foster parents or in the Holt Reception Center, a small, modern, well-equipped facility with a high caretaker-to-child ratio. Children receive excellent medical care.

Children placed through international adoption are voluntarily relinquished by their birth parent(s), who have made an adoption plan for them. Most children are 8-10 months of age at time of referral and 20-24 months old at time of arrival.

Although we do not expect to be assigned waiting children from Korea, adopting a waiting child can be a wonderful option for some families! If you are open to a school-aged child, a sibling group with a school-aged child, or a child with an identified medical need, you can review waiting child profiles from any WHFC program up until the time you accept a referral from Korea. Most families who request a match are home with their child in under one year. Eligibility requirements are generally flexible, and photos and medical information can be reviewed prior to match. Adoption subsidies are often available.

Information You Can Expect to Receive

You will receive photos, detailed medical information and a family history report on your child. Families receive medical updates and photos on a regular basis during the period between referral and travel. Children are tested for Hepatitis B and HIV before leaving Korea.

Estimated Wait Times for a Referral

Most applicants receive their child’s referral in under 12 months after their dossier is submitted.

Travel Requirements and Experience

Two trips of approximately one week each are required to bring your child home. You will most likely travel 12-15 months after receiving your child’s referral. Travel may be expedited slightly for families of Korean heritage. Both parents are required to travel for the first trip, and at least one parent is required to travel for the second trip. Accommodations in Seoul are modern and comfortable, and English is widely spoken.

Program Cost

Please download our information packet for a comprehensive list of fees and other important information on all WHFC adoption programs.

How to Get Started

Families who are considering applying to the Korea program are required to engage with their local Korean community to access language and cultural resources and to foster ongoing ties to the Korean community. Families should contact Betsey Barrett, Korea Program Manager, to discuss further. You can reach her at (781) 419-0338 or bbarrett@whfc.org.

WHFC Korea Program Staff

The WHFC Korea Program is coordinated by Betsey Barrett, a master’s level social worker. She began with WHFC as a birth parent counselor and has been working with our Korea program for nearly 20 years. Betsey also handles post-adoption search and homeland travel inquiries for Korea. She has made many trips to Korea and has a wonderful working relationship with our partners at Holt Children’s Services in Korea.

Betsey Barrett
Program Manager


Learn More!


View Our Other Work in Korea:


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