Government to launch special audit on Holt

By Lee Hyun-jeong
  • Published : Apr 9, 2014 - 20:57
  • Updated : Apr 9, 2014 - 20:57
The South Korean government vowed Wednesday to launch a special audit on an international adoption agency following rising public concerns over the safety of Korean adoptees in foreign countries.

“The government is planning to conduct a special inspection on Holt Children’s Services Inc. over its financial system and the legality of its operations,” the Health and Welfare Ministry said.

The move came after civic groups urged the state last month to improve the monitoring system for international adoptions following the death of a 3-year-old Korean adoptee in the United States. Madoc Hyun-su O’Callaghan was allegedly beaten to death by his adoptive father in February, only four months after he was adopted through Holt. The father was arrested and indicted last month on charges of first-degree murder and child abuse.

The ministry also said it would look into the commission fee system for overseas adoptions and set a limit.

Criticism was raised that some adoption agencies prefer overseas adoptions over local ones because of the higher commission fees. The agencies have been accused of being in the “adoption business” merely to gain commission fees, regardless of the security of adoptees.

Three adoptions agencies including Holt are said to have received commission of $9,000 to $14,000 per overseas adoptee as of 2011. In Hyun-su’s adoption, the agency reportedly received $17,000, local news outlets said.

In Hyun-su’s case, the ministry stressed that it has not found any violations by the two adoption agencies involved in the adoption. It also confirmed that Holt had looked for a local home for Hyun-su before sending him to American adoptive parents. Holt had also visited Hyun-su’s new home as part of after-management work, the ministry said.

As part of efforts to strengthen the monitoring system on overseas adoptees, the ministry drafted up a after-management guideline which requires adoption agencies to report on the status of adoptees every month in the first three months of adoption.

By Lee Hyun-jeong (