A Dutch diplomat and his wife have given up a seven-year-old South Korean girl they adopted as a baby, saying they had failed to integrate her into their family, consulate officials in Hong Kong said Monday.
The couple, whose names were not released, made the move in the last few months, seven years after they adopted her, a South Korean consulate spokesman told AFP.
"They now have their own children. They decided it was difficult to raise her because of cultural shock. They said she's not willing to eat their food. That's one of the reasons. It's a strange reason," said the spokesman, who did not want to be named.
"She was raised from a very early age. It's a very uncommon case. It's a difficult situation for us to understand," he said, adding that the couple had adopted the child when the diplomat was working in South Korea.
On Monday, JoongAng Daily of South Korea said the diplomat's wife thought she was infertile when the couple adopted the Korean girl in 2000 but she got pregnant after moving to Hong Kong.
The Korean consulate spokesman said the girl has a Korean passport and was not naturalised as a citizen of her adoptive parents' country. Neither was she a Hong Kong resident.
He said the girl can speak English and Cantonese but not Korean. The Hong Kong government has found a school for her and is looking for a new home.
A spokeswoman for Hong Kong's social services department said she knew about the case but would not comment on it.
A spokesman for the Dutch consulate in Hong Kong said it was a personal matter.
"They got a very hard time with this. For the family involved, it's a very traumatic thing," he said, declining to comment further.
Over the weekend, the high-ranking diplomat told the South China Morning Post that his wife was seeking therapy following the decision.
"It's just a very terrible trauma that everyone's experiencing," he was quoted as saying. "I don't have anything to say to the public. It is something we have to deal with."
Susan So, director of Hong Kong Society for the Protection of Children, said it was not uncommon for parents to feel alienated to their adopted children and treat them as secondary after they have their own offspring.
"(Parents) should have known they are from different cultures. But some have difficulties in fully accepting them as their family members. They have problems in commitment," she said.
She said parents should have proper counselling before they decide to make an adoption.
"They should know they always run the risks when they adopt a child. Once you make a decision, it's a commitment. Otherwise, it's the children who suffer."