Dutch diplomat says family treatment of adopted daughter is misrepresented

Date: 
2007-12-13

The Associated Press

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands: A Dutch diplomat vilified in the Asian press and accused of having "returned" his South Korean-born daughter seven years after adopting her as an infant, said his family's situation has been misrepresented.

In a statement published by Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, Raymond Poeteray — a Hong Kong-based Consul — said his daughter was "very sick," and suffers from a "severe form of fear of emotional attachment."

"In contrast to what has been written, we don't want to be rid of our daughter and there's no suggestion we would disown her, right up until today. We are (her) parents and we feel responsible for her well-being and we always will."

She had been handed over to social services in Hong Kong on the advice of doctors. "Although the specialists think now that (she) may not be returned to us, we continue to hope," he wrote.

The story of the Poeteray family caused outrage in the Netherlands, Hong Kong and South Korea after the South Korean consulate said the family was abandoning the girl because she had trouble adapting to their culture — an idea that seemed strange because the girl was adopted at the age of 4 months.

Initial media reports suggested the couple had adopted the girl when they thought they could not have their own natural children, but they later conceived a son.

However, the couple also has an older son of their own.

The family firmly denied that they had treated the girl any differently than their own children, but had difficulty in communicating with her from the start.

"We tried intensive family therapy to find a cure. To our great disappointment, things didn't get better, they got worse and the rest of the family began to suffer immensely from that," he wrote in a letter signed by him and his wife, Meta.

"In mid-2006, on the advice of known medical specialists, professionals from the adoption organization 'Mother's Choice' and the social services of Hong Kong, it was decided that in (her) interest she should be placed in a separate house and we would not be allowed to have any contact with her. The therapy for our family and our daughter continues to this day."

Poeteray also said that the girl speaks Dutch, and that while it was true she had never been naturalized as a Dutch citizen, that was an oversight amid larger medical concerns over the girl.

An official at the South Korean consulate in Hong Kong said on Wednesday that the child also speaks English and Chinese — without specifying which Chinese language.

"We will do our very best to find a solution by which (she) too can find happiness in her life," Poeteray wrote.

The letter concluded by asking the media to leave the family alone.

"This is indeed a private matter, for which we as parents bear the responsibility. ... the publicity itself is already painful enough, but what's worse is, it doesn't help us find a solution for our problems."

The couple were returning to the Netherlands on Thursday for further discussion with the Dutch Foreign Ministry over the incident.

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