South Korea has taken up a fight for the return of a baby it charges was adopted illegally by a US family. Critics say Korea is just embarrassed by the number of foreign adoptions.
The bitter legal struggle of an American couple to adopt a Korean baby is touching on nationalist and ethnic sensitivities in South Korea.
The couple, Christopher and Jinshil Duquet, wait at home in Evanston, Ill., to see if they can keep the baby they have nurtured almost from her birth seven months ago while lawyers,
officials, and judges consider a landmark case that seems to revolve around national pride as well as Korean law.
The Korean birth mother, all sides agree, approves of the adoption, as she did when the baby was born. Nor does anyone doubt that Mr. and Mrs. Duquet, who already have an adopted Korean daughter, now 10, have the resources to provide a loving home.
Korean authorities charge, however, that the baby was adopted illegally. The Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare says the case is a matter of basic principle that tests the power of the government to control adoptions. Attorneys for the Duquet family say the issue is a matter of letting national pride – a deep-seated sense of shame in a newly wealthy nation over the adoption of hundreds of babies every year by foreigners – affect the interests of children who might not otherwise fin
“We’re bringing criminal charges against the people related to this case,” says Lee Kyung-hee, director of child welfare at the ministry. “The baby girl is a Korean citizen and must have the opportunity to be adopted in Korea first.”