An Evanston family will appear in federal court today as they try to keep a South Korean baby they adopted in June from being returned to her home country.
Sehwa Kim, now 7 months old, has spent most of her life with Jinshil and Christopher Duquet, who say they were misled by a Korean lawyer who provided them with bad information and documents for what they believed to be a legal private adoption.
Korean officials accuse the family of criminal action, saying they didn’t follow the country’s procedures for adoption, and question funds the family gave on behalf of the child to a shelter and the child’s birth mother.
The family believes their case is being used as a political pawn in what is really Korea’s objection to all U.S. adoptions.
After hearings this week in which the family tried to prove they are the legal guardians, a Cook County Circuit Court judge declared that they didn’t have standing. A federal judge today may order the child removed from the family’s custody.
The birth mother’s intention to put her baby up for adoption is not in dispute. She and the baby’s grandparents signed papers agreeing to renounce their parental rights so that the child could be adopted by the Duquets.
The number of international adoptions in South Korea and elsewhere has plummeted after years of growth. According to State Department data, almost 23,000 Americans in 2004 looked to other countries to build their families. By 2011, the figure had dwindled to 9,300 adoptions.
Read more about the family's struggle HERE