In The News
Excerpt from "Foster Families Lost On The Path To Parenthood" in the July 25, 2015 edition of the Phnom Penh Post.
The Royal Government of Cambodia is not processing intercountry adoptions with other countries at this time. The Department of State is still not able to issue Hague Certificates in adoptions from Cambodia. However, the Department continues its efforts to work with the Government of Cambodia to resume intercountry adoption.
In March 2015, Adoption Division Chief Trish Maskew and Special Assistant to the Special Advisor for Children’s Issues Kathy Sacco traveled to Cambodia and met with the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth (MOSVY) Inter-country Adoption Administration (ICAA); the Ministry of Justice (MOJ); a group of adoption receiving country representatives; and UNICEF to discuss Cambodia’s desire to memorialize understandings regarding how State Parties seek to process Convention cases. Ms. Maskew and Ms. Sacco also participated in a multi-day, USAID-hosted Co-Creation Workshop, where 30 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) discussed broad issues related to child welfare, such as the efforts in place to support Cambodian families to care for their children at vulnerable times and find permanent placements for children if they are removed from the family. The Department of State raised the importance of maintaining intercountry adoption as a small but important part of the overall action plan for seeking permanency for Cambodia’s children. The workshop was part of Cambodia’s Family Care First initiative, rooted in the U.S. government’s Action Plan for Children in Adversity.
Read the full update here.
From the Phnom Penh Post March 3, 2015:
In a statement issued on Monday, the ministry opened the application process for international adoption agencies, as only adoption agencies accredited by receiving countries and licensed by the ministry are allowed to provide inter-country adoption services in Cambodia.
Though the ban on such adoptions was officially lifted in January 2013, Cambodia, lacking an adequate framework, still has not processed any.
Monday’s move is the most recent step in a long, drawn-out attempt to bring order to a process that has, due to weak laws and lax enforcement, been plagued with allegations of human trafficking.
Rithyroath, however, explained that the country wouldn’t be ready to commence adoptions until the ICAA, with the help of UNICEF and other partners, develops a procedure for adoptions within the country – which is expected to be finalised by the end of March – and strengthens its case-management system.
“These checks and balances should ensure that … domestic options have indeed been exhausted and that an inter-country adoption does not result in improper financial gain for those involved; to assess the proposed adopting parents and … be certain that they can care for the child,” UNICEF communication chief Denise Shepherd-Johnson said.
The US, which initiated a case management training program for local officials in 2014, said yesterday in a statement that it has yet to re-up its agreement with Cambodia, but is working to “ensure that when inter-country adoptions to the US do resume, they are ethical, transparent, and in the best interests of each adopted child”.
According to Rithyroath, the first wave of inter-country adoptions will focus on children with special needs, because “maybe the international adoptive parents can help them by giving them better lives in countries with better health systems”.
To read the full article, click HERE.
From the Cambodia Daily, March 3, 2015:
On Tuesday, the Ministry of Social Affairs said in a statement that a series of reforms had equipped it to properly implement the Adoption Law it enacted in 2009, as well as the Hague Adoption Convention signed two years earlier.
“[The ministry] has now opened for duly registered Adoption Agencies in partner countries to apply…for authorization for them to operate inter-country adoption in the Kingdom of Cambodia,” the statement says, adding that the first steps toward an open adoption system would be tentative.
“Cambodia will start…with a small number of children with special needs and this process will start only after all local adoption options are exhausted,” it says.
But according to Roeun Rithyroath, deputy director-general of the Ministry of Social Affairs’ inter-country adoption authority, Italy is already back on board.
“Italy is the first country that signed an agreement with Cambodia at the end of 2014…and their adoption authority is coming to Cambodia in April for further discussions,” he said, adding that other countries could also be confident that problems such as corruption had been fixed, as prospective foreign adopters now needed to pay a flat $5,000 fee per child.
“We banned child adoption so we had better legal regulations. We wanted to stop a culture of money under the table—‘tea money’—and find good parents,” Mr. Rithyroath said. “We will find the real orphans.”
While the government is confident that new safeguards will protect the adoption process from abuse, the cautious tone of the Social Affairs Ministry’s statement anticipated more muted responses than Italy’s.
“Much work remains to be done,” said Denise Shepherd-Johnson, chief of communications for Unicef Cambodia.
Read the full article HERE.
In a column written for the Cambodia Herald on March 9, 2014, the U.S. Ambassador discussed the recent progress between the U.S. and Cambodia toward restarting inter-country adoptions. After summarizing recent meetings and plans, Ambassador Todd emphasized that more work needs to be done before the U.S. ban can be lifted.
Read the full column here.
From the Phnom Penh Post, February 13, 2014: Officials to head to US for adoption training
Read the full article here: http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/officials-head-us-adoption-training
From the Phnom Penh Post, February 27, 2014: Path toward adoptions progressing
Read the full article here: http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/path-toward-adoptions-progressing
Posted on the Office of Children's Issues website, dated February 18, 2014:
In a media note released January 7, 2014, the State Department announced that Special Advisor Susan Jacobs will be traveling to Cambodia to discuss adoptions.
Ambassador Jacobs will be posting updates from the region on twitter: https://twitter.com/ChildrensIssues
In an article from the Washington Post today, Cambodia's Deputy Social Affairs Minister Nim Thoth declared his government's intention to restart international adoptions in 2014.
Unicef received the news with guarded enthusiasm:
While the U.S. government spokesman was less optimistic:
If you are an American hoping to adopt from Cambodia, we urge you not to contract with any agency at this time. It is unclear when or if the U.S. will agree to reopen adoptions. Furthermore, the new system may allow only a handful of agencies to facilitate adoptions. Protect your heart and your finances and wait until all the structures are in place.