South Korea

Adopting a child from South Korea

Who can adopt?

Who can adopt? Who can’t adopt?
Married couples Same sex couples
Single family (in exceptional circumstances) De facto couples
Single people

Please note: South Korea has advised they will not be accepting new applications from Australian prospective adoptive parents in 2024.

Children you can adopt from South Korea

The majority of children in need of intercountry adoption from South Korea are:

  • between the ages of six to 18 months
  • have special needs, ranging from minor to complex and in some cases multiple needs

For premature babies, couples without children cannot choose the sex of the child and the psychosocial assessment must mention that the couple wishes to adopt a premature baby.

Prospective adoptive parents wishing to adopt from South Korea should be open, able and willing to adopt a child with special needs.

Specific eligibility criteria to adopt from South Korea

If you’re interested in adopting a child from South Korea, you need to meet the eligibility criteria of your state or territory central authority. You will also need to meet the following criteria:


  • you must have been married for 3 years
  • you can’t be single
  • you can’t be a same sex
  • you can’t be a de facto couple
  • you can’t have more than five children, including the child/ren to be adopted


Both you and your partner need to be:

  • 25 years of age or older and not older than 45 years of age
  • exceptions are granted by the Minister of Health and Welfare if the Minister determines that the circumstances of parents are adequate to rear an adoptive child in a sound manner (e.g., when the parents are both Korean nationals or willing to adopt a disabled child with special measures to protect him / her.)
  • granted special permission if you’re aged between 45 and 50 at the time your home study is completed and are:
    • of Korean descent (either you or your partner)
    • an adoptee (either you or your partner)
    • an adoptive parent of a Korean child


  • You and your partner must have sufficient wealth


  • You and your partner must not have a record of any crime, such as child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault or drug use or a history of alcohol and substance dependence


Psychological testing

  • you and your partner will need to undergo an objective assessment and projective assessment from a psychologist


  • you need to have control of your condition and provide your latest HbA1c test and information about obesity, hypertension and dyslipidaemia


  • you can’t have had a seizure in the last 5 years

Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis)

  • your condition must be stable and you can’t have been admitted to hospital for the condition

Arthritis or chronic back, neck, muscular or joint pain

  • you shouldn’t need analgesics regularly nor have a physical disability. You can’t have been hospitalised for the condition in the past 5 years


  • you must have finished cancer treatment over 5 years ago, without relapse, and shouldn’t have a physical disability

Hearing or vision impairment

  • you should be able to go about your daily routine with or without hearing aids or glasses
  • you cannot apply if you have a severe hearing impairment, social blindness or are unable to drive due to vision impairment

Mental health

  • if you suffer any mental illness, you must have held the same job for at least 2 years and never attempted suicide. You will require a letter from your GP and may need further psychological testing
  • you can’t apply if you have schizophrenia
  • if you have severe depression you can only apply if it hasn’t resulted in hospitalisation and has been under control for at least 5 years
  • if you have bipolar you will only be considered if your condition is mild and well controlled with or without medication, and you follow your GP’s advice


  • you should only have a mild form with no vital organ involvement. You may need to provide a letter from your GP

Coronary artery disease, hypertension, dyslipidaemia

  • your condition must be under control and you must follow a sensible diet and exercise program
  • you can’t smoke and you must follow your GP’s advice

Hepatitis B and C

  • you must have a normal liver function test


  • you must have a BMI of less than 30

Other conditions

  • you can’t apply if you:
    • are HIV+
    • have had an organ transplant
    • have myasthenia gravis
    • have chronic liver disease
    • have neurofibromatosis or multiple sclerosis
    • have 2 or more mild to moderate medical conditions
  • other medical conditions will be assessed on a case-by-case basis

Your citizenship

  • at least one of you must be an Australian citizen


  • you can’t apply if you practice a religion that doesn’t allow blood transfusions, unless you’re prepared to sign a statement consenting to blood transfusions

Number of children in your family

  • you can’t have more than 5 dependent children (including your adopted child)

Criminal record

  • you need to supply your criminal record check

Character references

  • you need to provide 3 written references from neighbours, co-workers or friends, which need to include:
    • name, date and signature of the referee
    • stamp and signature from your state and territory central authority

Waiting times

In recent years, there has been a significant decline of children in need of intercountry adoption from South Korea. As a result, adoption agency, Eastern Social Welfare Society (ESWS) has informed Australia that they are not currently accepting new adoption applications. For prospective adoptive parents wishing to adopt from South Korea, please continue to work with your state and territory Central Authority and monitor our website as we continue to seek updates from ESWS. For prospective adoptive parents whose application has been accepted by ESWS, the waiting time is between 12 and 24 months from when ESWS accepts your file.

Cost of adopting a child from South Korea

The estimated fee is US$19,500.

Other fees

On top of state and territory central authority fees, there are other expenses such as:

  • translation fees
  • travel and accommodation costs
  • incidentals

Travel to South Korea

You will need to travel twice to meet your child:

  1. First trip to South Korea
    a. prospective adoptive parents/family have two meetings with matched child
    b. initial court hearing
  2. Second trip to South Korea
    a. final court hearing
    b. completion of visa process and family travel back to Australia with adopted child

The time between the hearings can be between four and seven weeks. If you have children, they are encouraged to travel with you.

You will be able to take your adopted child home with you after the final court hearing.

After the adoption

All adoptions completed in South Korea are recognised when coming back to Australia.

Under South Korea’s Special Adoption Act, your state or territory central authority will complete post-adoption supervision for a year.

You may also need to complete post-placement reports for your state or territory central authority.

South Korea facilitates ongoing (non-identifying) exchanges between adoptees and their birth families. South Korea will keep information about your adopted child to be passed on to birth families if they request the information.

Immigration and citizenship for your child

Once you have the adoption certificate, your child is eligible to apply for Australian citizenship. The application usually takes 10 days to process. You can then apply for an Australian passport so they can travel back to Australia with you.

Your child could also travel back to Australia with you on an adoption visa (subclass 102). When you enter Australia, you will then need to apply for ‘citizenship by conferral’, as soon as possible.

Hague Convention information

South Korea will attempt to place a child within a family in South Korea before deciding if a child can be placed for intercountry adoption.

The adoption agency responsible for facilitating intercountry adoption in South Korea is the Eastern Social Welfare Society.

More information