AMSTERDAM (AP) — A Dutch lesbian couple have gone into hiding with their foster son after the boy's biological parents said on television in Turkey that they object to the pair taking care of their child.
The matter is threatening to overshadow an official visit by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the Netherlands next week. Lodewijk Asscher, the Dutch vice prime minister, told reporters Friday that the issue is an internal Dutch matter and that political interference from Turkey is "inappropriate."
The 9-year-old boy identified by his first name, Yunus, was removed from his biological parents' care — in the Netherlands — while he was still a baby, and eventually placed in the care of the lesbian couple, who live in The Hague.
His biological mother, Nurgul Azeroglu, appeared on a Turkish television program earlier this month and called on Erdogan to intervene in the case. She acknowledged having accidentally dropped the child from a poorly fastened carrying bag once — apparently part of the reason he was removed from her care.
Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad reported that two other children were also to be taken away from the family in 2008, but they then traveled to Turkey to prevent that from happening.
Prominent Turkish politicians have recently spoken out against children of Turkish ancestry being raised by Christians, homosexuals, or others whose values are rejected by their biological parents.
Asscher praised the foster parents for taking on a "child in danger" and defended Dutch social service policies.
"The selection of a foster family in the Netherlands is a careful process," he said. "We don't choose foster parents on the basis of race or heritage, but on whether a child is in good hands with them."
Child social services in The Hague said there was no specific threat against Yunus or his foster parents, but he has been kept home from school as a precaution since the interview aired.
The Hague Youth Services Agency has decided it is better for Yunus and his foster parents "to stay at another address for a time, partly in connection with the visit of the prime minister next week," spokeswoman Tanja van Dijk said in a telephone interview with national broadcaster NOS . "For safety, and also because of the quiet that both Yunus and his foster parents of course now need."
Asscher, who repeated several times at his weekly news conference that Yunus had been "in danger" before he was taken into foster care, said it is "exceptionally sad" that the boy and his foster family are now in hiding.
"It's not right. People who are willing to take care of somebody else's child deserve our admiration," he said.
Associated Press reporter Suzan Fraser contributed to this story from Ankara.