Various reports today from the
tell of the awful predicament of a South Korean baby and her adoptive parents. US
At the centre of this intercountry adoption gone wrong is Baby Sehwa. Born in
in June 2012, she started living with her adoptive parents - Jinshil and Christopher Duquet - within days of her birth. South Korea
The Duquets – both
US nationals – then sought to bring Sehwa into the USA and to their home in . Chicago
It was when Jinshil Duquet tried to enter the
with the baby that authorities at O'Hare International Airport found she lacked the required paperwork for an adoption. US
Proceedings were then brought involving the South Korean government and US Department of Justice, running in parallel in both the local and federal courts. The adoptive parents were accused of circumventing South Korean adoption laws. For their part, the Duquets said they relied on bad legal advice and thought they were participating in a lawful private adoption.
Sehwa’s fate was sealed by the Duquets’ failure to observe South Korean law, which requires placement of a child through a licensed adoption agency. Jinshil Duquet, a
South Korea native who moved to the US as a child, told the court she had learned about the baby through a pastor with ties to her family. She contacted immigration lawyers in US , who put her in touch with a South Korean lawyer who said he could arrange for a private adoption. The Duquets had earlier adopted an older daughter from Chicago by going through an agency but were told they were too old under South Korean law to follow the same procedures again. South Korea
The Duquets argued unsuccessfully that, despite their mistakes, it was in Sehwa's best interests to remain with them as she had done for the first nine months of her life.
Sehwa is due to travel back to
tomorrow. South Korea
Her case provides a stark demonstration of what can go wrong in transnational adoption cases, and (when they do) how potentially catastrophic the consequences for the adopters and child.
Failure to be aware of this complex interaction might have unexpected and disastrous consequences.