What’s It Like to Adopt From South Korea? A Family’s Perspective

Kevin and Jo are no strangers to long processes and tough choices. They researched more than 20 adoption agencies before they chose WACAP and decided to adopt from Korea.

Last spring, they welcomed 2-year-old Kirby home.

If you’re considering adoption from Korea, Kevin and Jo offer their experience. Here, they reflect on their adoption process, considerations and frustrations along the way, and ultimately, the deep satisfaction they’ve found as a family.

Our WACAP Korea Experience

If you’re thinking of adopting through WACAP and considering adopting a child from Korea, you may wonder what the process is like. As a family that’s recently adopted from Korea, we’d love to share our story, but most of all, tell you to consider it, as well!

Parents with their son -- outdoors at playground

Our experience was phenomenal, but because it’s hard to capture in a blog post alone, I’ve focused on a few main areas:

1) Why we chose Korea; 2) What the experience was like; and 3) Our satisfaction now that we have had our wonderful son home with us for just over 13 months

(I should note that we are not writing this blog for any reason other than to inform potential future adoptive parents about the process, our experience, and the highs and lows of the process.)

Why We Chose Korea:

In selecting agencies and countries, we looked at over 22 different agencies before settling on WACAP. It was definitely the best fit for us, and we found each and every person we interacted with to not only be helpful, but genuinely interested in supporting us throughout the process.

As we weighed which country to focus on, a number of factors came into play: expected waiting time; information available about the child; whether children were in foster care vs. an orphanage in the country of origin; healthcare records and level of care; cost (although less a factor); and the process.

We found that the wait/timelines were accurate in terms of what was projected and shared with us. We got a ton of information about our son before his adoption, including regular photos and information following medical checkups that let us know how he was progressing. And we could see the care he was being given.

The only drawback of this was the difficulty of seeing our future son literally grow up in front of our eyes, knowing that we were always a few more months out.

The Experience:

Our experience was excellent, but I’d be lying if it also wasn’t trying.

Here’s what I’d tell any prospective adoptive parent about the process: It’s a like a remodel; the timing always takes longer than you want or hope.

We realized that there were no dates or times that were set in stone, but we made it a point to always turn our paperwork around to WACAP and Korea as fast as possible.

The hardest part was that—even when we were quick with our documents, which was the one element we could control—it seemed like if a timeline was supposed to take 2-4 weeks, it always was the latter.

So, if you’re hoping to adopt internationally, just know that timelines can vary in this way. Don’t just “hope for the best” in terms of timing – or your spirits may be challenged even more. The surest way to minimize pain through this process is to always plan for the longest period of time, and if something you’re waiting for comes in sooner, then enjoy the surprise.

As we moved through the process, we wished there had been one, comprehensive “check-list” of all the documents we’d need throughout the entire adoption. One frustration we had was that we’d find out what we’d need for each particular process, but then not find out what was needed for the next step until we got there. We realize this was the case because for some items, like the home study or documents requiring a notary, there were expiration dates connected to other timelines and processes.

(A tip: If you’re in the midst of the process, you can ask your case manager about the details up front, which may save you some hassle.)

We Couldn’t Be Happier or More Satisfied:

If there is one thing to take away from our experience, it is just that. We are extremely happy.

We were blessed with an extraordinary child. He received great love and care by his foster mom in Korea; he was well taken care of physically, emotionally and was healthy.

The foster family that took care of our son had done this many times before. And they knew what they were doing, as our son attached to us amazingly quickly. Also with their help, he was prepared for what can only be described as a truly traumatic, life-changing experience of leaving everything he knew in one country and culture and coming to ours in the United States.

Since our son has been in the U.S. with us, now going on about 13 months, we have found a support group on Facebook for Korean adoptees. And we have taken part in a group locally called KORAFF (the Korean Adoptee Family Foundation), which is for adopted Korean children in the Puget Sound Region, once again making ours, as well as our son’s transition to our culture and lives much easier.

We cannot speak highly enough about the Korea adoption program at WACAP and about our case manager, Beth, who didn’t just manage us through the process, but truly cared about us and looked out for us throughout the entire process. We feel blessed to have been a part of this program through WACAP.

Kevin and Jo Opdyke Wilhelm

We’re grateful to Kevin and Jo for sharing their experience.

If you would like to learn more about adoption from Korea, please contact us at wacap@wacap.org.

Related Post: “Five Reasons to Adopt from Korea


WACAP (World Association for Children and Parents) is one of the largest and most experienced international nonprofit adoption and child assistance agencies in the United States. Since 1976, we’ve placed over 10,000 children with loving adoptive parents and provided food, medical care and education to more than 200,000 children around the world.
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