DoD School Adoption Scandal

http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/opinon/2009/03/264_38745.html

Thanks to Sunny Jo and K@W for this piece and for the Korea Times for reporting it.

Truth Behind Adoptions at DoD Schools Here

By Kang Shin-who

Most international schools here are flooded with requests from parents who want to send their children there. In the process, some are willing to bypass or break regulations, and as a result many ineligible children are attending the schools according to parents and school officials.

Among the irregular practices used by the parents, who will do anything to gain admission, are document fabrication, the purchase of foreign citizenship and having their children adopted by foreign nationals, to name just a few.

It’s no secret that these irregular practices exist, but they’re difficult to spot, and operate essentially independently from the Korean education authorities.

Schools run by United States Department of Defense (DoD) here are said to be untouchable. However, some parents and school officials say that Korean parents have used adoption as a vehicle to get admission for their children. A few are suspected of having paid people working for the United States military here to “adopt” their children, which gives them access to the DoD schools.

However, officials questioned about these allegations showed little willingness to investigate them. Instead of looking to disclose the truth, schools and concerned American officials seem more concerned with protecting their reputation, if not covering the matter up.

When asked whether the United States Forces Korea (USFK) has investigated alleged misuse of adoption in the past, USFK spokesman Dave Palmer said, “You are trying to create a scandal and bad image for the USFK. It is a problem of Korean parents. If you have evidence, turn over your proof,” he shouted as if he scolding a junior soldier.

CID investigators were also contacted to determine if they were investigating any irregular adoption cases. They requested to be provided with sources, saying they didn’t have enough manpower. Instead they were asked to go and ask the schools about the number of adopted Korean children, despite their apparent lack of interest.

In an email to The Korea Times, Palmer said “I as always, will continue to provide factual information as quickly as I possibly can.” His follow-up missive, however, was far from cooperative. A day after this paper reported the adoption abuse allegation, Dec.9, Palmer said, “It is not appropriate for me to comment, I wasn’t even aware of the story until I saw it in the press,” contradicting a message in different email correspondence in which he stated “We are aware of similar allegations in the past, which have been investigated and found to be of little substance, with no truth to the rumors.”

At the same time, the superintendent of DoD Schools-Korea, which keeps track of all such data, also largely remained quiet on the issue. The school is claiming it has only four Korean students with “waiver” documents issued by Korea’s education ministry, but has not verified the documents with the ministry, which insists that it does not issue waivers.

DoD schools are essential facilities for the U.S. army.

As Palmer said, Korean parents may be mostly to blame for the problem, but that doesn’t mean the DoD schools can just blame them and sit on the allegations.

kswho@koreatimes.co.kr

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One Comment on “DoD School Adoption Scandal

  1. As a DoDDS teacher, I can see where it would be difficult to investigate. Some of these people who “adopt” the children have set up rooms for them in their house just in case investigators come by to check. I don’t know how they would be able to prove it. What is odd is when you need to call the child’s parents about an issue and the “parent” tells you to call their real “mom.” I know if my sister-in-law wanted her children to go to my school, I would be happy to adopt my niece and nephew.

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