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Evanston Couple Korean Adoption Fight Ends As Family Forced To Give Up 'Unlawfully' Adopted Baby

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An Evanston couple must give up baby Sewah after losing their against the South Korean government battle to keep her. (WGN)
An Evanston couple must give up baby Sewah after losing their against the South Korean government battle to keep her. (WGN)

A Chicagoland couple who thought they had legally and privately adopted a baby girl from South Korea has learned they must give up the 9-month-old by Wednesday.

After a bitter battle with the South Korean government, Evanston couple Jinshil (herself a South Korean native) and Christopher Duquet have lost their bid to keep baby Sehwa after they were accused of flouting South Korean adoption laws, reports the Tribune.

The couple, who has one adopted daughter from South Korea already, said they were burned by bad legal advice from a South Korean attorney, reports CBS Chicago. It was only when they arrived back home did they find the baby's documents were invalid.

The frustrating and bitter battle has made headlines overseas as Korean officials accused the Duquets of trying to illegally adopt one of their own; critics, meanwhile, say the country is just embarrassed by the number of foreign adoptions, according to the Christian Science Monitor.

In South Korea, there is a stigma attached to adoption and the unwed mothers who give up their children. In 2008, Kim Dong-won, who at the time oversaw adoptions for the Ministry of Health, told the New York Times:

“We would like to rid ourselves of the international stigma or disgrace of being a baby-exporting country. It’s embarrassing.”

Sean Hayes, a longtime attorney in Seoul agreed, telling CSM, “The biggest issue is [that] Korea is not able to get most of the babies who are eligible for adoption into loving homes locally. That makes Korea look bad.”

As the baby's birth mother and grandparents do not want the child back, WGN reports baby Sewah will be placed with a Korean family and not in an orphanage.

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