[Letter to the editor]Why can’t Korea take care of its kids?

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[Letter to the editor]Why can’t Korea take care of its kids?


Once again, the issue of Korean adoptions has attracted international attention in headlines across the world. This time, it is about the unfortunate plight of an 8-year-old Korean-born girl adopted at the age of 4 months by a Dutch diplomat and his wife while they were posted in Seoul in 2000, and the death of a 1-year-old girl adopted in the U.S. state of Indiana.
While the international media has focused on the dubious circumstances surrounding the decision by the Dutch family to hand Jade into the custody of Child Protection Services in Hong Kong, where they are currently stationed, the issue that ultimately needs addressing is the state of international adoptions out of South Korea today.
And in the case of 1-year-old Chung Hei-min or Chaeli, adopted in Indiana from Korea by the Kyrie family earlier this year, it is alleged that her adoptive mother, Rebecca, shook her to death, in what is commonly known as “shaken baby” syndrome.
What these incidents bring up is not necessarily the plight of one particular family or of one particular child. What questions come to mind are these: Why is South Korea still allowing its children to be adopted abroad? And, why is this unnecessary, outdated practice still so widely accepted as a viable option? It is not the responsibility of the Dutch government to rectify the matter or discipline its envoy over Jade. Nor is it necessarily the responsibility of Bethany Christian Services to know who may or may not be a suitable adoptive parent.
Ultimately it is the responsibility of the Korean government to make the necessary changes in social welfare policy that will ensure protection for its children so that they can stay with their own families in Korea instead of being sent abroad to be raised by foreigners in other countries.
It is time that Korea sign and ratify the Hague Convention on International Adoption, and truly protect its own children. Clearly, the cases of Jade and Chaeli show that being adopted into a Western family is not always a “better” alternative. It is time for Korea to act like a developed country that can take care of its own.
Kim Stoker, representative,
Adoptee Solidarity Korea, Seoul
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