International Law Now Weighted Against Orphans

A Cambodian orphan faces huge odds against finding parents, whether from Cambodia or another nation. Not only do the children compete with thousands of other orphans for the attention of helpful adults, but parentless children also are up against the law of foreign countries that may limit the number of children that can be adopted, or sometimes bar their adoption altogether.

Australia does not allow its citizens to adopt in Cambodia, since the two nations have never signed an agreement on the issue. It’s unlikely that will change anytime soon, an Australian embassy official said, because Cambodia is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“We’re really quite tough on the basis that we only want children who are really or­phans,” the official said. “The Australian government wants to be certain that the children that are being adopted by Australians are orphans, and are not trafficked.”

Australian couples can circumvent their country’s restrictions if they live with the child for two years in the child’s home country.

Great Britain also does not allow adoptions from Cambodia, according to an official at the British embassy in Phnom Penh. The em­bassy source could not explain how the government orphanage on Monivong Boulevard reported one child going to Great Britain in the past year.

A German Embassy official said citizens from his country adopted two children here in the past two years.

Even those nations that allow adoptions have limited resources and can’t process adoptions quickly.

The French Embassy suspended adoptions here in early December after overwhelming demand from French couples buried the embassy staff in paperwork, an embassy official said. The official said the French also had concerns about the baby trafficking investigations by US officials, and took a cautious approach to ensure the children going to France had not been trafficked.



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