'Reversible Adoption' Sparks Int'l Outcry

      December 17, 2007 09:49

      A page of Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reporting that Raymond Poeteray (55), a Dutch vice consul in Hong Kong, and his wife last year abandoned a Korean girl they had adopted in 2000. /De Telegraaf

      The case of an eight-year old Korean girl who was adopted and later dumped by a Dutch diplomatic couple has caused an international outcry. Born in Daegu, Jade is now in danger of ending up a displaced orphan in Hong Kong, as her adoptive parents allegedly decided she did not "fit in" seven years after they adopted her as an infant.

      Jade was adopted at the age of four months in January 2000 by the Dutch diplomat, who was working in South Korea, and his wife. At the time, the woman reportedly believed she was infertile, but the couple have since had two children of their own. They moved to Hong Kong in July 2004 and early last year decided they did not want Jade any more and left her in the care of Hong Kong’s Social Welfare Department.

      Since then, Jade has been shunted from home to home, living sometimes at the home of a foreign missionary or at a welfare center. Since September, three people including a South Korean woman married to an American and a Hong Kong resident of North Korean descent have expressed interest in adopting Jade. But their wishes were frustrated due to complicated adoption requirements. Jade was for some reason not given Dutch citizenship by her adoptive parents, nor does she have residence rights in Hong Kong. She cannot speak Korean, only English and Cantonese.

      The case made international headlines when the Hong Kong and Dutch press published the story together with the names and photographs of Raymond Poeteray (55) and his wife. Dutch daily De Telegraaf said Jade had been discarded like "a piece of household rubbish.'" The South China Morning Post of Hong Kong on Saturday carried an interview with an Indonesian woman who worked as a nanny for Jade in Jakarta, where Poeteray was posted before coming to Hong Kong, in 2004. She said the couple treated Jade quite differently from their own children and the woman rarely hugged the girl.

      Hilbrand Westra, a coordinator for United Adoptees International Netherlands, said the Dutch government was now responsible for the girl's fate and welfare. Global Overseas Adoptees' Link (GOAL) urged both the South Korean and Dutch governments to conduct a thorough investigation, saying, "Children are not refundable. Adoption is a lifelong promise."

      The Poeterays have written to the Telegraaf in their defense. "After our daughter came to our family we found it was hard to make real contact with her... in 2004 Hong Kong medical specialists diagnosed that she suffered from fear of bonding in a severe form," they wrote. "Despite what was written in the media we are not trying to get rid of our daughter and have not formally given her up."

      But the Dutch Foreign Ministry last Friday temporarily recalled Poeteray, a vice consul at the Consulate General. A spokesman for the ministry said the matter was "a private and domestic matter" and there were no legal concerns. However, the decision was apparently triggered by to the glare of international media attention.

      Meanwhile, Korean residents in Hong Kong are furious. They are demanding the Poeterays tell the whole truth or the Dutch government apologize. They also urged the South Korean government to treat the matter as a diplomatic issue.

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