Putting the Well-being of Children First, a Shared Commitment

posted Feb 21, 2013, 5:38 PM by Christina C.
From his January 13, 2013 Ask The Ambassador column on the Cambodia Herald, Ambassador William E. Todd writes,
"In August 2012, the government of Cambodia announced plans to resume inter-country adoptions at the start of this year, following the guidelines agreed upon in the Hague Convention, which states that, “the child, for the full and harmonious development of his or her personality, should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding…”

Ideally, we believe the best place for a child is with his or her parents, or with extended family members. If this is not possible, however, we believe adoptions should be available to ensure children have an opportunity to grow up in a family setting. Since 2008, the United States has worked within the framework of the Hague Convention whenever considering any inter-country adoption. We do this to safeguard the interests of children, birth parents, and adoptive parents.

When inter-country adoptions previously were allowed in Cambodia, there were several challenges that made it very difficult to proceed with confidence. Those challenges included determining legal custody of children and the verification of birth records. In light of these problems, we stopped accepting new adoption cases in 2004. Cambodia also recognized these problems, and I commend the government for implementing its own suspension of such adoptions in 2009. This highlights our shared commitment of ensuring the well-being of children.
Since 2009, the U.S. government has strongly supported Cambodia’s efforts to develop an adoption process that meets the requirements of the Hague Convention. The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation (MOSAVY) has also focused considerable effort on this issue. I’m very happy to say that significant progress has been made.

You have probably heard, however, that the U.S. has determined that it will not begin to accept applications for new adoptions at this time. This decision follows a careful review of the current state of readiness to again begin adoptions. This review highlighted the substantial progress made, but also pointed out the work that needs to be done before adoptions between our two countries can resume. Key elements that remain outstanding include: criteria for determining that children are eligible; establishment of a case management system to track children; additional training with staff; and criteria for adoption agencies.

The United States continues to work closely with the ministries to ensure that the well-being of Cambodian children remains a top priority, and we look forward to welcoming a delegation of Cambodian officials to the United States later this year to work directly with our adoption authority in Washington, DC. Our hand-in-hand efforts will, without doubt, ensure Cambodia is able to implement a model system, so that when inter-country adoptions do resume between our two countries, we can all be sure that the health, safety, and well-being of the children continue to come first."
For the latest information from the Embassy on adoptions, go to http://cambodia.usembassy.gov/intl_adoption2.html