| May 11 Designated as Adoption Day|
By Bae Keun-min
Adoption Day will be observed on May 11 each year as part of efforts to help abandoned children find new families without being adopted overseas.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) said Tuesday that it will commemorate the day from next year and designate the week following the day as ``Adoption Week.''
During the week, a variety of promotional events will take place to encourage Korean people to adopt.
``We have chosen to establish Adoption Day in May as it is the month of the family,'' a MOHW official said. The date of the 11th signifies ``one adoptee for one family,'' he added.
The day has been devised to promote domestic adoption as South Korea has had one of the highest rates of overseas adoptions since the Korean War in the 1950s.
Last year, a total of 2,258 children were sent to families in other countries, while 1,641 found new homes here.
Although domestic adoptions increased from 1,564 children in 2003, the figure has never come close to the number of children adopted overseas.
Domestic adoptions have remained in the 1,500-1,800 range, while external adoptions have surpassed the 2,200 mark for the past five years.
However, the outflow has been steadily decreasing, the MOHW said.
The government has been waging campaigns and revising regulations to encourage adoption, including scrapping any mark indicating that a family has an adoptee on the family registry document.
The National Assembly passed a revision to the civil law early this month to keep up with changes in society's concept of the family by removing the distinction between adopted and biological children in the document of the Confucian family registry system, called ``hojok.''
``As the adoption reference in the registry document has made people hesitate about adopting, we expect the nullification will contribute to rises in adoption,'' the official said.
The amendment will be implemented from January 2008. The government is preparing a new individual registry system to replace the current patriarchal family registry system for the next three years.
The MOHW also plans to reduce the one-year grace period to six months, in which a family can withdraw their adoption of a child.
``In order to activate domestic adoption, the results of adoption agencies will be evaluated twice a year,'' the official said. ``With the evaluation, we will continue mapping out measures to promote adoption.''
A total of 23 adoption agencies were in operation as of 2003, of which 19 local were locally based.
The government also considers providing incentives to parents who adopt, including a two-week vacation for them when their new child arrives.
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