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SPECIAL REGIONAL CONSIDERATIONS - KOREA


HISTORY OF INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION

South Korea holds an important place in the history of international adoption in the United States. A couple from Oregon, Harry and Bertha Holt, decided to adopt some of the biracial children left behind by American servicemen after the Korean War. Told that there was no legal mechanism to accomplish this, they rallied enormous support and were able to persuade Congress just two months later to pass the 1955 Bill for Relief of Certain War Orphans.

Eventually the Holts adopted eight Amerasian children and founded the Holt agency, which continues to work actively in the region (and elsewhere). Korean adoptions thus paved the way for tens of thousands of international adoptions. The large influx of "obviously adopted" Korean children in the 1970-80s led to many changes in adoption practice, including more openness, recognition of the importance of maintaining cultural ties to the country of origin, and the acceptability of transracial adoption.

South Korea was the major sending country of children to the U.S. until 1995 (except for 1991, when it was briefly displaced by Romania). Over 141,000 children have been adopted from South Korea by American families since 1955.

 

From THE HANDBOOK OF INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION MEDICINE by Laurie C. Miller. © 2004 by Oxford University Press, Inc. Used by Permission.

 

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