Cambodia's baby-stealing problem, can it be solved?

posted Oct 4, 2012, 10:04 AM by Christina C.   [ updated Oct 4, 2012, 10:04 AM ]
From, via the Alaska Dispatch dated Sept. 19, 2012:
"It is unknown how many of the thousands of foreign parents who adopted Cambodian children between 1998 and 2009, when foreign adoptions were allowed, adopted an actual orphan.

Cambodia’s 2009 ban was an effort by the government to take time to better regulate the adoption process. Now, three years later, the ban is set to be lifted.

But questions remain: Has anything changed? Has the government made enough progress in managing adoptions? Or is Cambodia merely opening the door to hustlers once again?

Officials say new regulations are in place that meet the standards of the Hague Adoption Convention, which ensures that international adoptions are in the best interest of the child. The application process will be a lot stricter, they say, and only a certain number of children will be put up for international adoption each year."


"Come Jan. 1, 2013, director of Cambodia's Child Welfare Department, Oum Sophannara, told GlobalPost that the country will once again be open to applications from foreigners seeking to adopt a child — under stricter regulations that meet the standards of the Hague agreement.

Oum Sophannara said that only foreign couples can apply, and each partner must be at least 30 years old. They must also be 22 years older than the child.

But critics say the new law doesn’t go far enough. For example, it allows the adoption not only of orphans but also of children who are simply living in an orphanage. In a country where some families live on less than a few dollars per day, many poor parents decide to give their children to an orphanage, hoping to give them better access to food and education.

Out of 12,000 children currently living in orphanages, about 9,000 have at least one remaining parent, according to Cambodia's Ministry of Social Affairs."


"In 2009, Social Affairs Minister Ith Sam Heng said that a maximum would be set of 150 to 200 children adopted per year.

Friends International, an NGO that works with marginalized children, said that foreign adoption shouldn't become common practice. “International adoption should be the second-to-last resort before a child has to be placed in long-term residential care,” said Luke Gracie, manager of Friend’s International Partnership Program for the Protection of Children.

The US State Department’s special adviser on children’s issues said last year that recent adoption reforms in Cambodia could lead the US to lift its ban, but Sean McIntosh, spokesman for the US Embassy in Phnom Penh, said recently that the US would monitor the situation.

“The United States continues to support Cambodia's efforts to create a child welfare system and an inter-country adoption process that fulfills its obligations under the Hague Adoption Convention,” McIntosh said."