According to KBS (Korean Broadcasting System), a South Korean Court has ordered the Holt Children Services adoption agency “to pay compensation to a South Korean adoptee who was illegally sent overseas despite having biological parents in the country.
The Seoul Central District Court on Tuesday sided with the plaintiff, 48-year-old Adam Crapser, born Shin Song-hyuk, ordering the agency to pay 100 million won, or 75-thousand U.S. dollars, plus delayed interest.
The court did not, however, acknowledge the government’s liability for compensation, dismissing that portion of the lawsuit.”
According to the AP (Associated Press), “In reading out the verdict, Judge Park Jun-min did not elaborate on why the court refused to hold the government accountable. Crapser’s lawyers said they will review the full version of the ruling, which the court didn’t immediately release, before deciding whether to appeal.
‘We want to express our very serious regret,’ said Kim Soo-jung, one of Crapser’s lawyers.
‘The (government) knew that children procured for adoptions were not being (properly) protected, that their human rights were being violated — they should have done something about it, but they didn’t. … It seems that the court simply saw the government as a monitoring institution, and not as an actor that directly committed illegal acts.'”
Further, according to the AP, “It remains to be seen whether Crapser’s case inspires more lawsuits by adoptees, who are becoming more vocal with their criticism of past South Korean corruption in adoption practices, which caused a huge but unknown number of wrongful family separations and stymied thousands from reconnecting with their roots.“
The Court will apparently release more information tomorrow, and both Holt Children’s Services and Crapser may appeal today’s ruling.
While this may not have been the ruling that Adam Crapser hoped for in terms of government liability, the court case does now create a precedent of sorts for other adoptees.
As the AP article states, “Tuesday’s verdict came months after hundreds of Korean adoptees from Europe and North America asked South Korea’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate their adoption circumstances. They say their status and identities were laundered to facilitate marred adoptions.
The commission has opened investigations of dozens of those applications and may take more cases in the coming months, as it proceeds with the most far-reaching inquiry into South Korea’s foreign adoptions yet.
The commission’s potential findings could allow more adoptees to launch legal actions against agencies or the government, which would otherwise be difficult because South Korean civil courts put the burden of proof entirely on plaintiffs, who often lack information and resources.”
The action by the South Korean Truth and Reconciliation Commission, combined with this court case, could hold huge ramifications for international adoptees from Korea and from other countries. Around the globe, especially in Western Europe, international adoptees are mobilizing to demand more information about their adoptions, and, as in the case of Adam Crapser, to hold adoption agencies and governments liable and accountable for “wrongful family separations” and for the inability to find their families and learn their own histories.