Dear President Moon: Stop the Madness

Saying he will become the "president of all people," President Moon Jae-In of the Republic of Korea has invited the Korean people to send him their policy ideas. Whether this effort to throw open the doors of government will have any real effect on South Korean policy remains to be seen. But, at a bare minimum, it offers people an opportunity to voice to their hopes and fears to President Moon in more than tweets or sound bytes.

I am adding my voice, for two reasons. First, as an American adoptive parent with an interest in U.S.-ROK relations, I am compelled to call out the injustice of intercountry adoptee deportation. I also believe voices like mine - neither Korean by ethnicity nor Korean by citizenship - support adoptees seeking an end to adoption from Korea.

My letter follows and will be sent with a Korean translation to President Moon's transition committee. If you would like to send your thoughts, direct them to
Congratulations on your election to lead the people of the Republic of Korea as President.

Although I am not an ethnic Korean, I am the adoptive parent of two Korean children, both adopted as infants in 1989 and 1991. I am deeply interested in issues of Korean law and diplomacy that have the potential to touch my children and other Korean overseas adoptees, including intersecting U.S. issues.

One such concern is the U.S. practice of deporting intercountry adoptees who, due to the failures of their adoptive parents and adoption agencies, lack U.S. citizenship. Years of effort to amend U.S. laws (including the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, or CCA 2000) to grant citizenship to all intercountry adoptees, retroactively and regardless of their age, have failed. Many continue to learn as adults that they lack this legal protection. Those who run afoul of other laws have been deported to their home countries, including Korea. As the recent suicide of Phillip Clay in Korea demonstrates, such deportations can have tragic outcomes.

Since the United States has demonstrated little leadership in resolving this situation, I urge your government to refuse entry into Korea to deported adoptees and to instruct your government to make adoptee deportation and repatriation a diplomatic concern with the United States. I also urge Korea to cease placing children for adoption here, as American promises of “forever families” for Korea’s children are not genuine.

Thank you for your consideration. I wish you the greatest success in your presidency, and send good wishes and blessings to you and the people of the Republic of Korea.


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