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INS Suspends
Cambodian Adoptions   


Current Status November 2007  Reported from the Cambodian Press :

"Cambodia's long-awaited new legislation on inter-country adoption was yet to be drafted but was still expected to be passed by the end of next year, Cambodian media quoted a senior Foreign Affairs Ministry official as saying Thursday. Secretary of State for the Foreign Ministry Long Visalo made the promise to US Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Maura Harty...

"We are passing a law relating to adoptions but in drafting it we must consider all the benefits," the paper quoted Visalo as saying.

He said most importantly the law must be in line with other international and individual nations' legislation and ensure "the reasons behind the adoptions are beneficial to the children and not just the individual who comes to take them."

"Children are not some sort of goods to be sold at markets," the newspaper quoted him as saying.

June 2007:  From the State Dept. WebsiteSince 2001, the United States Government has consistently urged the Royal Government of Cambodia to amend its adoption laws and implement an effective, transparent child welfare system to protect children, birth parents and prospective adoptive parents.  Cambodia has begun this process with its accession to the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption in March 2007.  However, the U.S. Government continues to wait for Cambodia to take further steps towards Convention implementation as well as to make progress on updating its overall child welfare system.  The U.S. Government will continue to urge Cambodian officials to develop significant and much needed reforms that could eventually lay the groundwork for a resumption of intercountry adoptions between Cambodia and the United States. “

May 2007:  During its November 27-30 [2006] session, the Cambodian National Assembly approved Cambodia’s joining the Hague Adoption Convention.  The Convention was sent to the Cambodian Senate on December 7th for approval; it was also sent to the Council of Ministers for review.  This forward movement is in keeping with what Cambodian government officials had told Assistant Secretary Maura Harty and Children’s Issues Director, Ellen Conway, during their September visit to Phnom Penh in early December.  At the time they shared that ratification of the Convention is a high priority for the Cambodian government.  As of January 22nd, however, DOS is unaware of further progress in the Convention’s ratification by Cambodia.  DOS continues to impress upon Cambodian officials that the United States is willing to help Cambodia in implementing both adoption-related and broader child welfare reforms.  The latter are a necessary prerequisite to a possible future reopening of Cambodia for intercountry adoptions to the United States.  (information courtesy of JCICS: http://www.jcics.org/Cambodia.htm )

January 2006:  RathCare has created an online petition requesting that the United States Senate Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs require the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department to present a public report on actions they have taken to lift the ban on Cambodian adoptions by US citizens that has been in place since December 21,2001.  The url for the petition is: http://www.petitiononline.com/Cambodia/petition.html .
Please go and sign this petition right now.  And then pass it on to your friends and family.

December 2005:  The USAID funded survey of children in institutional care has been completed and the resulting database of information has been delivered to the Cambodian Government by the U.S. embassy.

April 2005:  Members of RathCare recently held a screening of the documentary "Compassion and Controversy" for members of congress as well as representatives of the Departments of State and Citizen and Immigration Services.   Following the screening, there was good dialogue between members of the panel and members of the audience, including congressional aides and reps of the DOS and CIS.   Later in the afternoon, RathCare met privately with members of the Children's Issues division of the State Department.  The following information came out of those meetings:
  • With the exception of a very small number (1-3) of cases still being processed that met the initial criteria laid out in October 2002, the Humanitarian Initiative/Pipeline/Task Force is now finished.
  • Until 6-8 months ago the focus was on dealing with those pipeline cases.  Only once most of those were tied up was the approach refined regarding the path to lifting the suspension.  This approach is based on capacity building in Cambodia, which includes the passing of new improved adoption legislation as well as training of staff, creating a structure of organization etc. 
  • Regarding the Unicef draft:
    • It is stalled in Cambodia's legislature right now because the Sam Rainsey party is boycotting the assembly, which means there are not enough representatives to have a quorum on anything and no new laws can be passed. 
    • It is the State Dept's position that the suspension will not be lifted until legislation is passed and put into action.  (But capacity building can happen in the meantime).
  • Currently an assessment of orphanages is being done:
    • At the request of the Cambodian government, funded by USAID, subcontracted to Holt Services. 
    • This is an assessment of all children in institutions in Cambodia. 
    • It will help to establish a registry of children in orphanages.   

RathCare is formulating an action plan based on this and other information gleaned from our meetings . If you would like to join us in continuing efforts to speed the lifting of the suspension, contact us at www.rathcare.org  or http://groups.yahoo.com/group/RathCareCoalition/. 

March 2005:  To address the overall child welfare needs in Cambodia, the U.S. Agency for International Development has recently contracted with Holt International Children’s Services, a non-governmental organization to conduct a survey of children in Cambodian institutions and orphanages.  This survey will provide a thorough assessment of orphans and displaced children currently living in orphanages and institutions throughout Cambodia .  This assessment will identify and document by institution, data critical to establishing an adequate child welfare infrastructure.

To Read News/Updates from 2004 Go to Archived Updates

Punishing the Innocent

  • This year there were 138 deaths per 1,000 live births among Cambodian children under the age of five.*

  • Leading causes of death in Cambodian children are malaria, dengue fever, acute respiratory infection, typhoid, tuberculosis and anemia. Poor hygiene, sanitation and care, poor quality of medicine and expensive treatment, which many cannot afford, affect the high mortality rate.+ 

  • Child malnutrition in Cambodia is significant, affecting over half of all children under five years of age. A national survey in 1996 showed that 53% of Cambodian children are malnourished, 17% severely. Malnutrition rates are highest in the rural population that makes up over 80% of the child population. + 

  • Estimates of the number of orphans in Cambodia range from 60,000 to over 200,000.

  • More than 35,000 boys and girls, live in the streets, or lived with very poor families. They are pressed into gangs, enticed and entrapped to a life of drug dependency, and petty crimes that usually spiral into criminality - 8.57% of them are now considered addicted to dangerous drugs. (National Authority for Combating Drug, 2002). 

  • The Report from International Labor Organization (ILO) for the year 2000 shows 672,000 children, between the age of 5 to 7 years old (16.5%), work in brick factories, wrought iron shops, on salt farms, at construction sites, in mountain quarries, as house servants or shining shoes, or work in transporting goods across Thailand's border. These jobs are labor intensive, and extremely dangerous as they lead to serious injuries, disability, and even death.


You can help the children of Cambodia today.  RATH CARE (Resume Adoptions Truthfully and Honestly, Cambodian Adoption Rescue Effort) is a coordinated effort to advocate for Cambodian adoptions.  Members actively participate in projects geared toward our goal of seeing the INS suspension lifted and ethical adoptions resumed in Cambodia.  If you would like to join our effort, enter your email address below.  

Subscribe to RathCareCoalition

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For more information about this situation see:

Transcripts of testimony given at the full committee hearing before the committee on International Relations on May 22, 2002:  

Representative William Delahunt's letter to Commissioner Ziglar on behalf of the children and prospective families.  Requires Adobe Acrobat

State Department Statement

USCIS (formerly INS) Listing of all Public Statements about the Suspension

RathCare Coalition Website

St. Petersburg Times article from May 26, 2002












(c) 2004 CambodiaAdoptionConnection.com