Jade, 7: Victim of our disposable culture Photo: de Telegraaf
I noted the story a few days ago about the Dutch diplomat and his wife who kicked Jade, their adopted 7-year-old Korean daughter, out of their home after claiming she didn’t “fit in” with their lifestyle. Via reader Rand M. and the ROKDrop blog, there is a follow-up at the Times of London with more heart-rending, blood pressure-raising details about the little girl’s neglect and abandonment by the two selfish beasts:
A diplomat accused of “dumping” his adopted daughter flew home yesterday after triggering a row about the ethics of Europeans adopting Asian children.
Jade, a seven-year-old of South Korean origin, is the focus of an escalating dispute across two continents. At the age of four months she was adopted by a Dutch consular officer based in Hong Kong, Raymond Poeteray, and his wife Meta. But the couple have now surrendered Jade to the Hong Kong social welfare department for readoption, reportedly because the child could not adapt to Dutch culture.
The revelation has sparked protests amid claims that the couple were treating the child as if she were an unwanted present. She had been discarded like “a piece of household rubbish”, said the Dutch daily De Telegraaf.
The couple blamed the girl for her inability to “bond.” But the little girl’s caretakers–babysitters hired by the couple–tell the real truth:
Dutch newspapers tracked down a former babysitter yesterday who took care of Jade when she was a baby in Indonesia. She too was bemused by the fate of the little girl whom she remembers as a quiet but normal child. “I took care of her in the evenings, while an Indonesian woman was with her in the daytime,” she told De Telegraaf. “But Meta did not treat as her real daughter.”
The Hong Kong authorities are searching for new adoptive parents. Jade speaks Cantonese and English and, despite the claims that she could not communicate with her parents, some Dutch.
Another nanny spoke up:
A nanny who cared for an adopted Korean girl given up by a senior Dutch diplomat and his family claims the girl was not treated like a normal daughter, a news report said Friday.
She was rarely in her mother’s arms and always in the care of someone else, according to a former Indonesian maid quoted in South China Morning Post Friday.
The woman, who has requested not to be named, worked for the Dutch vice-consul Raymond Poeteray and his wife Meta in Hong Kong and when the family was based in Jakarta in 2002.
She said she thought it strange that the girl, now eight, was so quiet.
‘They did not treat her the same way as the son. There was not the love there,’ the maid told The Post.
Dutch citizens are outraged and embarrassed–and the Dutch and Korean blogospheres have lit up over the incident:
Online chatrooms have hosted hundreds of comments about the case, most of which condemned the actions of a public servant paid to represent his country. “Of course a child that has been given away for adoption is going to have a fear of emotional bonding!” said Anna, from Lelystad, on the De Telegraaf website.
Another said: “What would they have done if their own children had been sick? Would they have given them away? This man is sick himself – can’t he be given away?”
The Dutch Foreign Ministry, embarrassed by the international fuss, has recalled the diplomat for consultations but is standing by him. Many Dutch bloggers, however, argue that he has committed an offence against natural justice and that he should resign from the diplomatic service.
One blogger found a reference to a party that the Poeterays held in January 2005 in which one grateful guest thanked the diplomat, “his lovely wife Meta and young son Jamie”. There was no mention of Jade, suggesting that she was not fully accepted as a member of the family.
The hostility is in part because the case has stoked up lingering suspicions about the commitment of Europeans to adopted Asian children. Two years ago an Irish couple caused outrage in Asia when they returned a child to an Indonesian orphanage, saying that she did not fit in.
Brit Sung Kyung Kim prints a statement from a global Korean adoption group that includes a line worth repeating:
“A child is not a returnable product: Adoption is a lifelong commitment.”