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Pacific Stars and Stripes, Nov. 22, 1953

Legalities Snarl Adoption Plans

TOKYO, Nov. 21 (Pac. S&S)- An American soldier and a young Korean orphan today find themselves on a diplomatic merry-go-round that may not offer the brass ring until next June.

The soldier, Cpl. Robert Elvena, stationed at the Yokohama Ordnance Depot, has been trying for four months to get the orphan, Lee Jong Churl, 12, into Japan.  He wants to take the boy to the U.S. with him when he rotates next June, and then adopt him.

But the Japanese government so far has rejected Elvena's applications to have the youth admitted, claiming he cannot be allowed entry here until the government has proof he will not remain in Japan permanently.

The proof the Japanese want is a statement from the American Embassy that the boy will proceed to the States with Elvena. The embassy, however, will not write such a letter until it has assigned Lee an immigration quota number and Elvena does not want the embassy to assign the number because Lee would have to travel directly to the U.S. without stopping in Japan.

Boy May Travel Alone

The soldier would be eligible to take the Korean boy with him to his home in Philadelphia when he rotates. But, unless he can obtain a Japanese visa for Lee, the youngster will have to travel to his new home without his father-to-be.

Elvena meets with an American lawyer in Tokyo Monday in an attempt to find some solution to the diplomatic barrier.

The Philadelphia serviceman plans to adopt the youth, but not until he returns to the States. And he doesn't want the boy arriving in America alone.

Elvena was with the 45th Div. in Korea last year when he found Lee wandering homeless on Koje Island, south of Pusan and after a futile attempt to find Lee's family. He took the boy to live with him.

Places Boy in Orphanage

When Elvena transferred to Japan last July, he placed Lee in an orphanage.  Almost immediately after his arrival here, Elvena began making application for the youth's entry into the country.  Lee is still living in the orphanage, awaiting the time he will make the short hop to Japan and the reunion with Elvena - if such a move is permitted. If not the two will have to postpone their meeting until June when both arrive in Philadelphia.

By Pvt. Bob Myers



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