No special treatment?

According to this blog (citing the People article), Katherine Heigl and her husband began the paperwork for their daughter's adoption "shortly after their December 2007 wedding."

Susan Cox, well-known spokesperson for Korean adoptees and VP of Holt International Adoption Agency refuted claims that the star received "special treatment." According to this blogger, "Cox said that Heigl and Kelley did not get special treatment and the
adoption was done according to good social work practices of putting
the child's needs first."

I would respectfully disagree. As an social worker at an agency doing home studies, prospective parents home studies were postponed until after 1 year of any big life event, including a marriage, divorce, birth of a child, death of a close loved one. From what I understood (not having done home studies for international adoption) the marriage requirement for Korea is 3 years.

1) I hope that the social workers working with Heigl and Kelly actually followed protocol (but I'm guessing that didn't happen and they DID get special treatment; and

2) putting the best needs of the child first would mean placing that child with a couple that met the required protocol for adoption. I'm sure there were plenty of other families who were ready and had been waiting longer.

Author: JaeRan

Assistant professor at UW Tacoma, writer, and researcher.

11 thoughts

  1. Korean Adoption Requirements:
    MARRIAGE REQUIREMENTS: Married couples must have been married at least three years. Single individuals are not eligible to adopt a child from South Korea.

  2. btw, i can’t find my reference but i believe more than half of all korean children who are adopted are categorized as “special needs. the category includes being born premature and minor-correctable physical deformities, so it’s a broad category.
    i bring this up b/c i read that heigl noted the child has special needs. in the case of special needs, i believe korea does sometimes make some exceptions to their rules.

  3. We adopted a waiting child from Korea, and while we didn’t need waivers, I do know that they do give waivers (age, family size, probably length of marriage) to match waiting children with families.
    Also I wonder if the fact that Heigl’s sister is a Korean adoptee was taken into consideration.
    Our process only took six months from submitting our application to traveling to Korea, so I know a fast timeline is possible for waiting child families without special treatment.

  4. I guess I’m just wondering why they wouldn’t want the most stable and skilled person to adopt a special needs child. A person who has only been married a year hardly knows if their marriage is stable enough to handle a special needs child. Speaking as someone who has been married over 20 years myself, and having a child who is clinically “special needs” – not just one who had a correctable medical condition – and how difficult it would have been. As a social worker in adoptions, it is highly unlikely I would have approved someone married less than a year to adopt a special needs child – there would have to be some really, really really great skill they’d have had to have.

  5. I am Korean. I have relatives in Korea who knew the President of Holt. My cousin took it upon himself to speak with him. Contact other than through the agencies is not allowed. Holt USA found out about this and threatened to cut off our adoption.
    Umm, special treatment, anyone??

  6. My husband and I certainly wouldn’t fit the homestudy marriage rule… we married exactly one day before we dropped off our application, and a few weeks before we started foster licensing classes. We’d been living together for 6 years before that. Of course it took more than a year to actual placement, but theoretically we could have been placed before then.
    Our agency worked with a lot of gay and lesbian couples, which is another reason they didn’t have any sort of strict marriage/divorce rule.

  7. That’s interesting, atlasien. The public agency I worked at also worked with a lot of gay and lesbian couples. There was no strict marriage/divorce “rule” per se, but there was a standard “rule” (I guess that’s what you’d call it) about any major life changes. So, a marriage would fall into that but so would a lot of things. These were people who were going through our adoption program. Those who were doing foster to adopt were with another part of our agency (through the foster care program) and did their licensing through the foster care department. In our agency they were separate departments.
    It shows how different states and counties are from one another in their procedures.

  8. It does seem like some requirements are more flexible than others. When we applied to the China program, we weren’t eligible to adopt a SN baby, because they didn’t allow first-time parents to adopt through the SN program. However, since that time (our Log-In Date is Dec 2006) they’ve been encouraging a lot of people to switch to the SN program, including childless couples, apparently, because of the relative shortage of non-SN babies.
    (We switched to domestic open adoption instead, and adopted a SN baby here…who is Chinese-American, in one of life’s odd twists.)
    I haven’t heard of Korea waiving their rules, but I’m not too up on that program–I just have the impression that it’s pretty strict about who can adopt. So I agree that it’s odd they’d let newlyweds adopt, especially a SN baby (if she has what we’d consider SN here).

  9. Well, we were not granted a marriage waiver (we were three months shy of being married three years) when we were unofficially matched with our son. We requested one and were flat out told no. Our son was a waiting/special needs child whose file many other families reviewed before us. We had to wait those additional months before official acceptance was sent to Seoul. It does make you wonder.

  10. I am curious about some of these comments. Sort of like atlasien said, I was in a stable relationship for 6 years before becoming legally married. Does that make any difference? I have not followed anything about Heigl, but the comments about marriage as a “major life event” do somewhat make it sound as though a partner relationship magically begins on the day of government-sanctioned marriage, and you somehow cannot be sure until that point that it’s a real or permanent relationship. Is it seen this way often in adoption?

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