The Supreme Court's first ruling came out to the effect that grandparents can adopt grandchildren who have raised them since they were young. Even if the biological parents are alive, they can adopt them as children if raising their grandchildren is more in line with the child's welfare.
The Supreme Court's en banc (judge Kim Jae-hyung) reversed the lower court's decision on the 23rd to disapprove adoption in an appeal filed by A in a lawsuit for permission to adopt minors and sent the case back to the Ulsan Family Court. A's daughter, B, gave birth to C when she was in high school. B reported his marriage just before childbirth, but soon after C was born, he divorced by agreement. Later, when C was seven months old, he left his child at his parents' house, saying, "I can't raise my child."
C grew up knowing his maternal grandparents as biological parents, and his title was also called "Mom and Dad." A requested general adoption of C, fearing that his grandson would be shocked when he entered elementary school and that spending his school days without his parents would be disadvantageous. C's biological parents also agreed to adopt.
However, the distirct and appellate courts dismissed A's claim. The court judged, "It causes serious confusion in family order and kinship, with grandparents becoming parents and mothers becoming sisters." The Supreme Court, which received the case after A's re-appeal, referred it to the en banc, and eventually ruled that "grandparents can be allowed to adopt grandchildren if they meet the welfare of their children." Ten people gave the opinion in a plenary session involving 13 Supreme Court Justices, including the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
The court said, "When determining whether the family court will allow minors to adopt, the priority should be to consider 'whether they are suitable for the welfare of their children to be adopted'." The civil law does not prohibit the adoption of blood relatives except for survival, he added. "It cannot be considered that it is impossible or inconsistent with the meaning and nature of adoption for grandparents to adopt grandchildren and establish parent-child relationships."
According to the Supreme Court ruling, similar adoption applications are expected to increase in the future.