The US Congress has approved a bill which aims to make it possible for Americans to adopt orphaned North Korean children. The measure was passed by the House in September and by the Senate last week.
The North Korea Refugee Adoption Act instructs the US State Department to devise a comprehensive strategy to facilitate the adoption of North Korean children by US citizens.
US Republican lawmaker Ileana Ros Lehtinen, a key backer of the bill, said late last year that the legislation aims to “provide loving families for some of the world’s most endangered children.”
Supporters of the measure said many North Korean children become orphaned or stateless when their families flee with them to China or other neighboring nations, and that the youngsters often are left without the proper care. But many children who remain in North Korea fare no better, Ros Lehtinen said.
“We are all too keenly all aware of the extreme repression, malnutrition, and poverty suffered by so many inside North Korea today. Those threats often take the greatest toll on children,” the Republican lawmaker said.
Any efforts to facilitate adoptions, Ros Lehtinen said, would ensure that the North Korean adoptees are genuine orphans, and not victims of child trafficking.
The United States is home to the largest ethnic Korean population outside of Northeast Asia, with nearly two million Americans of Korean descent.