Sean Hayes in the Christian Science Monitor on Korean Adoptions

I was quoted in today’s issue of the Christian Science Monitor in an adoption law matter that we are assisting on, in a drastically reduced cost capacity, as part of what we believe are our pro bono obligations to Korean society.

I fear that this adoption law case may reach all the way to the Korean Constitutional and Supreme courts. The case, I believe, is caused, simply, by misplaced nationalism.  I, also, hope for Korea to be able to adopt most of its children locally, but the reality is that the nation is still not at the stage where this is possible.  Maybe it will, not, ever be at a stage – most countries are not.  Koreans, overwhelming, do not want to adopt children – the number of local adoptions has not significantly increased over the past decade.  This should not be embarrassing – it is just a reality.  Hey – I don’t want to adopt a child and either does the majority of Americans I know.

It should not be embarrassing to Korea for the nation to have orphans, but it should be embarrassing for Korea to choose national interests over the welfare of children.  Yes, it is, according to the vast majority of experts on adoptions, better for a child to have a loving family overseas than to live in an orphanage or like facility in Korea.  Yes, some overseas adoptions don’t work out.  However, some Korean parents don’t work out.

The adoption law in Korea is clear.

Under the Civil Act a “private adoption” is possible.  The MHW seems to be trying to make sure that no private adoptions occur if Korean children will be sent overseas.  If the government believes that this should be the case – it should revise the law to specifically say this.

We are hoping the cases by the MHW don’t succeed for the benefit of Korea orphans.  Success will, simply, be eliminating the rights of mothers to determine a child’s destiny, will lead to more children in orphanages in Korea and will lead to more questions about the transparency of the Korean justice system.

Koreans, simply, should not be embarrassed that Korean is one of the largest “exporters of children.”  This is a trivial thing and should not affect the national psyche.  I am proud of Korea and the Korean retired judges, retired prosecutors and attorneys that I work with are, also, proud of Korea and we are not embarrassed over Korea being placed in this category.

Lets try to think what is best for the children and try to ignore the view of the few crackpots that believe that sending Korean children overseas is “child abuse.”  The argument is so peculiar that it is not even worth discussing.
South Korea tries to recall a US adoption

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.
By Donald Kirk, Correspondent
The Christian Science Monitor
January 23, 2013
Sean Hayes may be contacted at:

Sean Hayes is co-chair of the Korea Practice Team at IPG Legal. He is the only non-Korean to have worked as an attorney for the Korean court system (Constitutional Court of Korea) and one of the first non-Koreans to be a regular member of a Korean law faculty.

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