Korea urged to strengthen monitoring of adoptees

By Lee Hyun-jeong
  • Published : Mar 4, 2014 - 20:43
  • Updated : Mar 4, 2014 - 20:43
Civic groups on Tuesday called on the South Korean government to overhaul the monitoring system for Korean adoptees sent overseas following the death of a Korean child adopted by U.S. parents.

The move came after a 3-year-old boy was allegedly killed by his adoptive father in February, only three months after he was adopted in Montgomery County, Maryland. The father soon faces trial on charges of first-degree murder and child abuse.

Six advocacy groups asked the Ministry of Health and Welfare to look into the monitoring system for international adoptions and to introduce possible preventive measures. They asked the ministry to publicly respond no later than next Wednesday.

The groups include Save the Children and the International Child Rights Center.

“The government has said before that it would ensure children’s rights as much as possible to live in their home country and to take responsibility for their safety and human rights if they are adopted to foreign countries,” civic members said.

“We would like to ask whether the government provided adequate support for the boy to have him adopted in his home country and whether it monitored the work agreement between adoption centers.”

Civic groups pointed out that adoption to other countries is currently not being monitored by the state while local adoption is strictly regulated.

The ministry is obligated to respond to complaints or questions within 14 days from the day they are received.

The Korean public was outraged after U.S. media reported that Madoc Hyun-su O’Callaghan died of a skull fracture and multiple blunt force injuries, allegedly inflicted by his father.

While the father claimed that the toddler slipped in the shower and hit his shoulder in the bathtub, doctors suspected child abuse as the boy had hemorrhaging in the brain, according to U.S. news outlets. Contusions were also found all over the toddler’s body, they added.

The boy was brought to the U.S. in October last year by 36-year-old former intelligence official Brian Patrick O’Callaghan, who worked in the Korea division of the NSA, and his wife. The couple was aware that Hyun-su had developmental delays, a local news outlet reported. They have a 7-year-old biological son.

By Lee Hyun-jeong (