To learn about the adoption process and current projected timelines, every adopting family should attend a free pre-adoption information meeting at AAC. If you live out of state, a meeting can be arranged by phone.
Generally, children available for adoption from Korea are 8 – 12 months old at referral, and as of January 2017, about 2 years old when they travel home. It typically takes about 2 years to complete the adoption process.
When you have decided to embark on your adoption journey, AAC will mail you a formal application packet. Review all of the information enclosed in the packet and be sure to ask any questions you may have! The first documents to submit to AAC are the Formal Application and the following signed disclosures and agreements:
- · Understanding of Fees
- · Parent Requirement Disclosure Checklist
- · Disclosure of Criminal History or Child Abuse
- · Adoption Service Plan
- · Policies and Procedures
- · Acknowledgement of Risks
- · Risks and Waiver of Liability
The following fees must be submitted with these documents:
- · Application fee $250.00
- · AAC Agency Phase 1 $3,000.00
For families living in Colorado, AAC must act as your home study agency, as well as the placing agency. Home study and adoption training fees will be due with your application:
- · Home Study $2,000.00
- · Adoption Core Training $300.00
Second-time adopting families will not need to repeat Core Training, and their home study may be updated (if the original study is less than 3 years old) for a reduced fee. See Understanding of Fees Statement for details.
Out-of-state families will need to employ the services of a local Hague-accredited agency for their home study and post-adoption services. The local agency may provide adoption training classes, or training can be accomplished online. All families must comply with their local state’s adoption training requirement, including a minimum of 12 hours of Hague-approved adoption education.
Korea requires adopting parents to undergo a psychological evaluation. The psychological evaluation must be performed by a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist of your choice. This evaluation should be done during the home study process, and the provider’s opinion cited in the home study.
*Please note- For families residing in states outside Colorado, AAC is required to seek special permission from our partner agency in Korea, Eastern Social Welfare Society (ESWS), to move forward with an adoption process. Out-of-state families begin the process by submitting the Permission Abstract, Deposit Contract, Acknowledgement of Risk, a family photo and $1,000 deposit in earnest. If for some reason ESWS were to deny your application, the deposit money will be refunded to you. If ESWS grants permission, the deposit money will be applied to the AAC’s Agency Fee Phase 1. If you decide to withdraw from adopting after pre-approval has been received, the deposit is not refundable. Permission from ESWS can take up to 3 weeks to receive. The formal application and remaining Agency Phase 1 fee ($2,250.00) must be submitted to AAC within one week from receiving pre-approval.
Completing your file with AAC and completing your home study should be accomplished concurrently. All of the documentation needed for your dossier for Korea will also be needed for your home study. So while it may look like a mountain of paperwork, take comfort in knowing it is doing double-duty for you!
USCIS- Immigration Approval, part 1~ I-600A
Upon receiving your completed home study, AAC will prepare and file your I-600A with USCIS for immigration purposes. The filing fee is $945, which includes the fingerprinting fee for 2 adults. (Additional adult household members will require a Supplement 1 added to the I-600A and an additional $85 fingerprint fee.) A few weeks after submission of your I-600A application, USCIS will mail you a fingerprint appointment notice. Please take the appointment notice to the designated location at the designated date and time to have your fingerprints processed. Several weeks later, you will receive your approval notice in the mail. Please email or fax this notice to AAC. The I-600A approval process typically takes 8 – 12 weeks.
Beginning in 2016, AAC will send the family’s dossier (original home study, a copy of the family’s application, supporting documents and family photos) to ESWS. ESWS will then match the family with a child based on the recommendation contained in the home study and the family’s medical condition checklist. ESWS will send the child’s referral to AAC, and AAC will forward the referral to the family. The family will review the child’s information with their physician and social worker, and then inform AAC of their intention to accept or decline the referral. You are under no obligation to accept the referral brought to you for review, and there is no penalty if you choose to decline a referral.
Or~ You may identify a Waiting Child listed on AAC’s website. If after thoroughly reviewing the child’s file with a physician and social worker you decide that you would like to move forward with that child’s adoption, AAC will email out-of-state families the Special Permission Forms. Be aware that if you commit to a waiting child’s adoption, it is of the upmost importance to complete your home study and dossier in less than 3 months!
When you have accepted a child for adoption, AAC will prepare the legal assignment paperwork. These documents will be sent to ESWS and will officially match you with your child. Colorado families may come to the AAC office to sign the required documents. The assignment packet will be sent via FedEx overnight to out-of-state families.
The AAC Agency Phase 2 fee, post-adoption fees, and Korea adoption fees are due at assignment. This amount ranges from $23,950 to $25,150 depending on state residency.
Waiting to Bring Your Child Home
The timeline to bring your child home depends on approval processes from U.S. Immigration (USCIS), the Korean Central Government Authority (The Ministry of Health and Welfare “MOHW”) and the Korean Family Court.
USCIS- Immigration Approval, part 2~ I-600
After your assignment documents have been sent to ESWS, AAC will file your I-600 application with USCIS. The I-600A approved you as a family. The I-600 will approve the specific child that you will adopt. No additional fees are due with this filing.
The USCIS National Benefits Center (NBC) will review the I-600 application for completeness and compliance with the Universal Accreditation Act. After the NBC completes its review, the case will be sent to the USCIS Field Office in Seoul (USCIS Seoul) to complete the approval after receipt of the final adoption order from the Seoul Family Court. When the NBC transfers the case to USCIS Seoul, the NBC will notify families in a letter of transfer that explains the next steps. Please send a copy of this notice to AAC.
Emigration Permission from the Ministry of Health and Welfare
Korea’s Central Government Authority, the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW), controls the issuance of the child’s emigration permission (EP). ESWS submits the children’s EP paperwork to the MOHW roughly in the order in which their acceptance paperwork arrived. This submission is made when requested by the MOHW and the timeline for EP submission and approval is unpredictable. Submission of the EP paperwork to the MOHW is the first step in the child’s exit process. Approval from the MOHW typically takes 2 – 6 months to complete.
Adoption Approval by the Korean Family Court in Seoul
When the MOHW approves the EP, the case is then reviewed by the Korean Family Court in Seoul for final adoption approval.
ESWS typically submits the paperwork to the court within one week of receiving the EP approval. The case is then assigned to a judge and the judge will set a hearing date. The timeframe from submission of the paperwork to the court hearing date is typically 2-4 months.
Both adoptive parents must attend the court hearing in Seoul. The court approval process takes a minimum of 3-6 weeks; however, delays in the court approval can occur. We strongly recommend parents make 2 trips to Korea, returning to bring their child home after the court’s final approval is issued.
Traveling to Korea for Court Appearance
Parents typically receive 3-6 weeks’ notice of their court hearing date in order to make their travel plans to Korea. You will need to arrive in Korea at least 3 business days before the court date, and you may leave Korea the day after your court appearance. While in Korea, you will visit your child and complete additional court paperwork and the child’s visa application at ESWS. ESWS will arrange your transportation to court and provide a translator for you.
Traveling to Korea for Visa Appointment
When the court has issued final approval of the adoption, ESWS and USCIS Seoul will be notified. ESWS will notify AAC and send us potential dates for your child’s visa interview. You will be able to make your travel arrangements based on available visa interview dates.
ESWS will arrange the child’s visa interview with the U.S. Embassy. At least one parent must accompany the child to the visa interview. The child is free to travel home after the visa is issued. Please allow at least 24 hours after the visa interview to leave country.
In total, Korea’s exit process typically takes 6 – 8 months to complete. As of January 1 2017, we estimate the time your child will have permission to travel home could take 12-18 months from the time your official acceptance documents arrived in Korea. This is only an estimate, and timelines are unpredictable!
Your child will enter the U.S. with an IR-3 visa as a U.S. citizen. USCIS will mail your child’s Certificate of Citizenship to your home in 2-4 months.
Validation of Foreign Adoption in a U.S. Court
Korean adoptions are finalized in Korea and validated in court in the United States. This step provides U.S. documentation of the adoption, a legal name change for the child, and a state issued certificate of foreign birth for the child. AAC will collect court filing fees and file the court paperwork for families living in Colorado. Out-of-state families should seek guidance from their home study agency regarding validation in their state.
The first year after the placement of an adopted child is very important for the adjustment of the child and the family. Korea requires one year of post-adoption follow-up. Four reports are required from the social worker. We also ask families to write letters and send photos for your child’s foster family during this time.
Throughout the year, AAC hosts family gatherings to promote involvement with the adoption community and encourage life-long friendships!