Justice ministry seeking to change law to permit singles to adopt children

Sep 07, 2021, 09:00 am

print page small font big font

facebook share

tweet share

AsiaToday reporter Kim Hyun-goo

The Ministry of Justice is pushing to revise a law to permit a single person to legally adopt a child, as single-person households are the dominant type of household in South Korea. Amid public concerns about adoption due to child abuse cases, including the Jeong-in case, experts point out that the courts need to strengthen the adoption process. 

The ministry’s task force, aimed at making policies friendlier toward single-person households, has announced Monday that it will seek to amend the Civil Code so that an unmarried person can adopt a child if conditions are met.

The domestic adoption system is divided into the adoption regulated by the Act on Special Case Concerning Adoption and the other regulated by the Civil Code. Under the current Act on Special Case Concerning Adoption, a single person is permitted to adopt a child.

Under the Civil Code, only a married couple can legally adopt a child by mutual consent. This is based on the reason that if a single adoptive parent had to take care of a child alone, there was a greater possibility that it would be at a disadvantage in child fostering compared to a family with both parents. 

The justice ministry aims to delete the clause mandating that an adoption can be done by a married couple to open up the possibility of single-parent adoption. In 2013, the Constitutional Court ruled that the current adoption system was constitutional, but five judges at the time judged it as unconstitutional. However, it did not reach the quorum of 6 judges for the decision to be unconstitutional.

The ministry’s decision came after taking consideration that “there are many single people who can raise a child as well as a married couple and adoptive parents can become single again at some point of their lives following a divorce or the death of a spouse,” the statement said. Besides, it believes that the parenting ability and environment can be appropriately evaluated by considering various circumstances in the adoption approval process of the Family Court.

Besides, the ministry’s task force pointed out that the current adoption system can only consolidate social prejudice against a certain type of family. 

However, some point out that if regulations are relaxed in a situation where child abuse by adoptees has become a social problem, such as the Jeong-in case, there may be insufficient measures to respond to this. Experts say that a thorough family investigation of adoptees is necessary during the adoption process.

“I understand the public concerns, but it is not the matter whether adoptees are singles or not,” said Jung Ik-joong, a social welfare professor at Ewha Womans University. “Currently, there are few people in the Family Court who can conduct family investigations. In the process of granting adoption by the Family Court, it is necessary to strengthen family investigations. That is, the plan of how to protect and care for the adopted child.”

#justice ministry #adoption #single parent 
Copyright by Asiatoday