There are many Americans who would like to provide a loving home to orphan Cambodian children, so the issue of inter-country adoptions between the United States and Cambodia is one that I have followed closely since even before my arrival in Cambodia. The need is clearly great, and as a father, it pulls at my heartstrings to know that there are so many children in this world who grow up without a loving family. I have met with many Cambodians and Americans to discuss this important issue, and it is heartening to me that in every instance those involved are concerned first and foremost with protecting the interest of the children. Everyone agrees that in order to keep these vulnerable children safe from predators and trafficking, we must work together to ensure that each individual child will be safely and legally cared for.
When inter-country adoptions were previously allowed in Cambodia, there were numerous challenges that made it difficult to ensure the safety and welfare of the children involved. Issues such as legal custody by living parents and difficulties in obtaining birth records made it very problematic to process inter-country adoptions. Cambodia is to be commended for recognizing these problems and for suspending such adoptions in 2009, which highlighted its commitment to prioritizing the wellbeing of children. Since 2009, the Cambodian government has focused considerable effort on reforming the Cambodian adoption system. The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation (MOSAVY) has made notable progress toward implementing a comprehensive child welfare program, and in August, the government announced plans to resume inter-country adoptions in January 2013.
The U.S. government continues to support strongly Cambodia’s efforts to create a child welfare system and inter-country adoption process that fulfills the country’s obligations under the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, and we are reviewing if it will be possible to resume inter-country adoptions between the United States and Cambodia in January. The U.S. Special Advisor for Children’s Issues, Ambassador Susan Jacobs, met with Cambodian officials in 2011 and earlier this year to discuss protections that must be in place before inter-country adoptions between our two countries can resume. Ambassador Jacobs will return to Cambodia this week to review developments since her last visit and to discuss how the United States can continue to support Cambodia in this regard.
I welcome the opportunity to continue working with the Cambodian government in its efforts to implement a model child welfare system, so that when inter-country adoptions do resume between our two countries, we can all be sure that the health, safety, and wellbeing of the children come first.
For the latest information on inter-country adoption, we encourage you to check our website at http://cambodia.usembassy.gov/intl_adoption2.html