Bill would fix Ga. law that leaves adoption of Korean babies in limbo

Date: 1985-12-21

The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution
Author: MOSS, MICHAEL; Michael Moss Staff Writer STAFF

A bill has been drafted to fix a Georgia state law that has left the adoption of Korean-born babies by metro Atlanta parents in legal limbo.

The legislation would amend the adoption code to exempt Korean babies from needing the usual documentation showing the natural parents gave up their child.

At least a dozen couples in metro Atlanta have had their adoption approvals put on hold because Korean law does not require such documentation. Parents and judges alike expressed relief at the prospect of a legislative resolution.

"I feel like everything is going to work out OK," said Midge Miller, who with her husband John is seeking to adopt 8-month-old Marjorie, who arrived here from Korea in August lacking a signed consent from her natural mother.

"I think it could resolve this," Fulton County Superior Court Judge Osgood Williams said of the bill to be introduced by State Rep. Paul Bolster (D-Fulton County).

The bill's prospects for passage were assessed as good by the acting chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, state Rep. Charles Thomas (D-Temple).

"It seems like a reasonable change. I don't see any problem with (the bill) right now," said Thomas, whose panel last week was briefed on the Bolster bill.

The approval of Korean baby adoptions came to a halt this autumn after Williams and other judges in metro Atlanta learned of an opinion by Attorney General Mike Bowers that state law requires foreign-born babies to have their parents' signed consent.

Failure to require documentation protecting the rights of natural parents "would condone the practice of the sale or kidnapping of foreign children," Bowers wrote on Aug. 27 to a Gwinnett County judge who requested an opinion on state law.

The issue of kidnapping was strongly contested by adoption agencies and adoption attorneys, who said the Korean government takes great care to prevent the black-marketeering of children. But they conceded that Korean law does not meet Georgia's code, and efforts were launched to amend state law.

Bolster's bill was patterned after an Ohio state statute that exempts foreign-born babies from needing a parent's signature if their paper work meets the approval of the federal Immigration and Naturalization Service, and if the laws of their original country are followed, according to Bob Durden, an Atlanta area attorney who helped write the bill.

Durden said he has a dozen Korean baby adoption cases now pending. Bolster said he became concerned about the issue through knowing two families who were trying to adopt Korean babies. "They've been quite worried," Bolster said of his friends.

"This would add a fifth,"said Durden, who said he worked with Bowers' staff i n designing the bill.

Adoptive parents had expressed anguish over having the final approvals of their cases held up. But several said they viewed it as a mere technicality, convinced their children were legitimately given up by their Korean parents.

"That's why we chose this agency, (because) everything was above board," said Mrs. Miller, who obtained Marjorie through Children's Services International Inc., a specialist in Korean baby adoptions.

"Oh yes, she's mine," Mrs. Miller said of her feelings about Marjorie, who has learned to crawl under her first Christmas tree. "Of course, I'd like to have everything finalized."

Caption:
Photo: Midge Miller and her husband are seeking to adopt 8-month-old Marjorie, who arrived in Atlanta from Korea in August lacking a signed consent from her natural mother/ BILLY DOWNS

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