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Adoption by Transgenders?

Posted June. 12, 2007 04:50,   


Ha Ri-soo, a newly wed transgender entertainer, expressed her will to “adopt four children,” causing a heated debate on the right to adoption by transgenders. Mixed reactions are posted on bulletin boards of portal sites.

The Dong-A Ilbo found that some transgender couples have unofficially adopted children in Korea. The country’s transgender population is estimated at 1,200 to 4,500. But none of them have adopted a child through an official channel.

Opposition from Adoption Agencies-

Adoption by transgender couples is totally legal in Korea. There are no regulations on sexual orientation in the qualifications for adoptive parents. Also, a single can adopt a child, as the government eased regulations on adoption last year in an attempt to facilitate domestic adoption.

However, all of some 20 domestic adoption agencies that the Dong-A Ilbo talked to said, “Transgender couples have difficulty adopting a child, even if their qualifications are perfect.” They added that they can offer explanations about qualifications to inquiring transgender couples but cannot agree on their adoption.

An adoption agency official said, “Agencies look for ‘ordinary families’ where adoptees can live a normal life just like other children, rather than ‘special families.’ Some might call it prejudice, but it is true that transgendered or same-sex parents are not ordinary parents.”

A Potential Hot-Button Issue-

Experts offer mixed reactions to the opposition from adoption agencies.

On condition of anonymity, some psychiatrists shared the agencies’ stance, saying, “Adoption by transgendered parents is not just about the human rights of sexual minorities, but about the human rights of adopted children.”

However, pediatric psychiatry professor Kim Boong-nyun at Seoul National University argues, “Transgender parents who are eager to have a child and ready to love them could be better than those (non-transgender parents) who do not qualify as good parents, using violence on children and neglecting them.”

Amid heated debate, the country’s sexual minorities, including transgenders, are increasingly seeking protection of their social and legal rights, including the right to have children and a family.

The Democratic Labor Party plans to include the submission of bill about protecting homosexuals’ right to marriage, adoption, and having a family, and the establishment of basic plans for human rights protection for sexual minorities in its presidential election pledge, which could lead to a more heated debate.