In The News

Cambodia moves to limit orphanage boom

posted Sep 8, 2011 10:52 AM by Christina C.

The Cambodian government on Thursday introduced guidelines aiming to better protect orphans and vulnerable children after childcare experts voiced alarm over an unregulated boom in orphanages.
The new standards emphasise that placing children in institutions should be "a last resort", after UNICEF said earlier this year that three quarters of the 12,000 children in Cambodia’s orphanages had at least one living parent.
"At all times, efforts should be made to keep children in families or community-based care, with residential care as a last resort and a temporary arrangement," the newly adopted Standards and Guidelines document states.

UNICEF’s Cambodia Representative Richard Bridle said the measures were an important step, but warned that the country needed to "build capacity and resources" to carry them out.

The UN agency had earlier expressed concern about the country’s poor and vulnerable children after learning that over the past six years, the number of orphanages in the impoverished nation has almost doubled to 269.

Only one in 10 of these are funded by the state, it found, while the rest rely on charitable donations to survive, including from tourists who are encouraged to visit orphanages, volunteer there or watch shows performed by the children.


Read the full article here.

Notice: Update of status of adoptions in Cambodia

posted Jun 6, 2011 5:37 PM by Christina C.

The Office of Children's Issues wishes to provide a further update for American Citizens interested in intercountry adoptions with Cambodia. Although Cambodia is a party to the Hague Adoption Convention, they are still working to establish the necessary internal child welfare structures to function as a Hague partner.

The Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation recently announced to all embassies with diplomatic and consular missions in Cambodia that the Cambodian Government has decided to delay the date that it will begin receiving adoption petitions until April 1, 2012. The delay provides additional time for Cambodia to implement all necessary prakas (regulations), add staff, and complete training necessary to meeting its obligations under the Hague Adoption Convention.

The Special Advisor for Children's Issues, Ambassador Susan Jacobs met with Cambodian officials in March 2011, and explained what protections must be in place from the U.S. perspective before we will be able to resume adoptions between our two countries. She also encouraged the Cambodian Government to finalize and implement procedures that will enable Cambodia to operate as a Hague Convention partner country.

The United States continues to support Cambodia's efforts to create a child welfare system and an intercountry adoption process that fulfills its obligations under the Hague Adoption Convention. We welcome Cambodia's efforts to fully implement its new law on intercountry adoption.

Updated information will be provided on as it becomes available.

Ban Will Remain on US Adoptions

posted Apr 20, 2011 12:37 PM by Christina C.

From Voice of America News: an interview with VOA Khmer, the ambassador said the US is not yet ready to allow its citizens to adopt Cambodians. She says the government has more work to do.

“They are definitely working in the right direction,” she said. “They are taking it very seriously, and they are anxious to do the right thing. So that is very, very promising.”

Cambodia passed an adoption law in December 2009. The law seeks to create an adoption process that complies with an international convention and ensures legitimate adoption. But so far, implementation of the law has fallen short.

The Ministry of Social Affairs says it is drafting the necessary instruments to make adoption safe. But the government needs international help to ensure they are properly written.

Jacobs said the law is just the beginning. More must be done to ensure adoptions are legitimate. For example, it is currently difficult to discern whether a child is truly an orphan, or a child whose parents are alive.

“So, they need to have a database that will have that information in it,” she said. “Right now, it’s my understanding that in Cambodia there is no system for formal relinquishment and that is something that will have to be in the new law.”

Marc Vergara, a spokesman for Unicef, said Cambodia is not ready.

“We believe that mechanisms in place are not positioned and the system in place is not adequate, and these still are not good enough at this stage to resume international adoption in Cambodia,” he said.

Cambodian officials are still working on improving the system. But for now, the US says it will not allow adoptions to resume. And it says there is no telling when that might happen.

US Maintains Ban on Cambodian Adoptions

posted Mar 29, 2011 12:44 PM by Christina C.   [ updated Mar 29, 2011 12:49 PM ]


A US envoy for children’s issues declined to lift a ban on US adoptions from Cambodia Friday, despite the 2009 passage of an adoption law, officials said.

The US banned adoptions from Cambodia in 2001, after allegations that mothers were being paid to give up their children to adoption agencies.

Susan Jacobs, the US Ambassador for Children’s Issues, told Cambodian officials the country had made improvements in children’s protection.

But after her two-day fact-finding mission, the US Embassy said in a statement, “The United States has not set a date for resumption of inter-country adoption with Cambodia.”

Cambodian officials say they expect to begin initiating a 2009 law in April this year to bring the country in line with international standards.

The law includes age requirement for prospective parents, between 30 to 45, and an age limit on a child of 18 years. It also includes requirements the adoptive parent is not a criminal and can care for the adopted.

“We aim to prevent human trafficking and child smuggling,” said Koy Kuong, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The law would ensure a child lives with its adopted family, he said, “with proper living, dignity and happiness.”

Cambodian government to investigate orphanages after UN concern

posted Mar 23, 2011 1:09 PM by Christina C.   [ updated Mar 23, 2011 1:13 PM ]

Phnom Penh - The Cambodian government has started inspecting hundreds of orphanages after the UN children's agency UNICEF said it was worried children were at risk, in part from 'volunteer tourism.'

Earlier this week UNICEF said there were now 269 orphanages in Cambodia, almost double the number in 2005. The number of orphans had also risen to nearly 12,000 from 5,751 over the same period.

But nearly three-quarters of 'orphans' still had at least one surviving parent, which raised questions as to why so many children were being institutionalized.

UNICEF country head Richard Bridle told the German Press Agency dpa that just 21 orphanages were state-funded. The rest were predominantly 'overseas funded and faith-based.'

'Overseas donors are the main funders of residential care,' Bridle said. 'Many residential care centres have begun to turn to tourism to attract funders, and in doing so, are putting children at risk.'

Bridle said that so-called volunteer tourism, where foreign nationals help out at orphanages for a few days or weeks at a time during their travels, was problematic.

'Even with the best intentions, tourists and volunteers, who make significant contributions towards orphanages, are funding a system that is contributing to the separation of children from their families,' he said.

Last week, the US special advisor for children's issues, Susan Jacobs, was in Cambodia to research whether the country's regulations were sufficiently stringent to allow inter-country adoptions to resume.

The US was among a number of Western nations that banned adoptions from Cambodia in 2001 after compelling evidence emerged that some children were being trafficked and sold to foreign parents.

Cambodia is looking to resume international adoptions in April under a new law that it says will accord with the Hague Adoption Convention.

Children’s Issues Ambassador To Visit Cambodia

posted Mar 15, 2011 11:39 AM by Christina C.   [ updated Mar 15, 2011 11:42 AM ]

Special Advisor for Children’s Issues Ambassador Susan Jacobs will visit Cambodia and Vietnam March 16 – 23 for meetings on intercountry adoptions.

In Cambodia, she will meet with government officials and non-governmental adoption stakeholders to discuss how the United States can work together with the Cambodian government to further support Cambodia’s efforts to fully implement a new law on intercountry adoption. Adoption from Cambodia was suspended in 2001.


Cambodia Eyes March 2011 ReOpening

posted Apr 6, 2010 11:34 AM by Christina C.   [ updated Apr 6, 2010 11:35 AM ]

The Phnom Penh Post reported March 30th Cambodian Social Affairs Minister Ith Sam Heng told members of a workshop earlier in the week authorities hope to have new regulations in place for Hague-compliant inter-country adoptions by the end of March 2011.
“The government will start to receive adoption proposals from ... other countries who want to adopt Cambodian children,” Ith Sam Heng said.  “We have one year – 12 months – to implement and enforce the inter-country adoption law.”

Despite the proposed timeline, it remains to be seen whether the law will be stringent enough to ensure compliance with the 1993 Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Inter-country Adoption, which sets strict terms on who should be eligible for international adoptions and how those adoptions should be regulated.

Though Cambodia has ratified the convention, countries including the US, Australia, France and Canada have effectively placed moratoriums on adopting children from Cambodia, citing concerns about the Kingdom’s ability to comply with the guidelines.

Rights groups have long raised allegations that adoptions in Cambodia have fuelled child trafficking.

State Department Update

posted Apr 6, 2010 11:25 AM by Christina C.   [ updated Apr 6, 2010 11:32 AM ]

 Adoption Notice

Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues

March 2010

On December 3, 2009, new legislation on intercountry adoption was signed into law in Cambodia.  The new law seeks to create a country-wide comprehensive child welfare system and an intercountry adoption process in compliance with the Hague Intercountry Adoption Convention (the Convention) to which Cambodia is a party.  This is an important first step in Cambodia's expressed commitment to reform its child welfare system and meet its treaty obligations under the Convention.  In order to be able to establish necessary regulations and standard procedures to implement the new Law on Intercountry Adoption, the Cambodian Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation has announced a temporary suspension of the receipt of all new intercountry adoption dossiers until March 2011.  This will not adversely affect any U.S cases since no new cases have been submitted in the last several years.

At this time, it is not possible to estimate when adoptions will resume between the United States and Cambodia.  In order to implement the new law in full, Cambodia will first need to establish the necessary government structures to support it, draft and finalize prakas (Ministerial orders/regulations), and determine and fill staffing and training needs.  Issues related to transparency in fees, procedural safeguards, determination of a child's eligibility for intercountry adoption, criminal penalties and the creation of a strategy to formalize and strengthen the domestic adoption system will all need to be addressed effectively.

The United States continues to support Cambodia's desire to create a child welfare system and an intercountry adoption process that fulfills its obligations under the Hague Intercountry Adoption Convention and welcomes Cambodia’s efforts to fully implement the new law on intercountry adoption. 

Updated information will be provided on as it becomes available. 

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