exposing the dark side of adoption
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Couple gives up girl, 7, adopted here as a baby


HONG KONG - A high-ranking Dutch diplomat and his wife, who adopted a 4-month-old Korean girl in 2000 when he was posted in Korea, gave up the child last year, officials here said.

Now, officials here are looking for someone to take care of the school-age child.

The girl, Jade, is still a Korean citizen because the adoptive parents, whose names were not released, never applied to give her Dutch citizenship, according to an official at the Hong Kong Social Welfare Department.

She doesn’t speak any Korean. She speaks only English and Cantonese, according to people close to her.

And she doesn’t have Hong Kong residency status, either.

The Hong Kong Social Welfare Department, where the Dutch diplomat left Jade in September last year, has had responsibility for her ever since, the official said.

Jade has been in Hong Kong’s foster care system, according to Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post.

The paper also reported that the diplomat, who has a senior management role at a European consulate in the city, said “the adoption had gone wrong,” without any further explanation.

“It’s just a very terrible trauma that everyone’s experiencing,” he told the paper. “I don’t have anything to say to the public. It is something we have to live with.”

The diplomat’s wife thought she was infertile when the couple adopted the Korean girl in 2000, the official said. After they moved to Hong Kong, the wife got pregnant. They now have two children of their own.

The story has fueled anger among the Korean immigrant community in Hong Kong, which criticized the diplomat couple for “irre-sponsibly renouncing their custody of a child who’d been with them more than six years after delaying the naturalization process in Netherlands for years.”

A couple of potential families in Hong Kong showed interest in the adoption, but are struggling to complete the adoption process because of the strict legal qualifications here, Koreans familiar with the incident said.

The Korean Consulate in Hong Kong said it is aware of the situation.

“We could send her back to a Korean orphanage, but she’s been away from Korea for so long, and it would be very difficult for her to readapt in Korea,” said Jeong Byeong-bae, a consul of the South Korean consulate in Hong Kong. “So it is for the best under the circumstances to find a Korean family in Hong Kong.”

By Choi Hyung-kyu JoongAng Ilbo/ Lee Yang-kyoung Staff Reporter [enational@joongang.co.kr]

2007 Dec 10