King Laments Adoptions

King Norodom Sihanouk said Sunday he is saddened by the foreign adoption of Cambo­dians, lamenting over the poverty here that drives parents to give up their children.

Calling himself an “incorrigible nationalist,” King Sihanouk took aim, particularly, at Cambodian parents who sell their children for overseas adoption.

“I give a lot of importance to our national dignity,” the King wrote in a letter posted on his Web site. “We lose this dignity if we sell our children to foreigners, no matter how good [the foreigners’] intentions.”

The King said though adopted Cam­bodian children can be offered a better life in the US or Eu­rope, “I do not like to see our children, although very poor, to be ‘given’ to foreigners to be ‘adopted’ by them.”

He added that he does not like to receive letters from foreigners, appealing for his help in obtaining approval from the government to adopt Cambodian children.

In recent weeks, the high-profile case of Lauryn Galindo, an adoption agent facing charges in the US for allegedly using false visas for Cambodian children, has highlighted the problems involv­ed with foreign adoptions from Cambodia.

Galindo, who surrendered to US authorities on Jan 8, has ar­ranged for the adoption of hundreds of Cambodian children, including the son of US actress Angelina Jolie. Galindo is scheduled to be arraigned in a US court Thursday, according to a report from The Associated Press.

Kek Galabru, founder of local human rights NGO Licadho, on Sun­day said the selling of Cambo­dian children for foreign adoption is a serious problem, though she did not know how widespread it is.

“The problem is serious be­cause we cannot be sure whether it is an abandoned baby or an orphan,” she said, adding there is currently no legal framework to monitor the adoption process.

Licadho’s director, Naly Pilorge, said Monday she was pleased the King has taken an interest in the issue.

Before the US government suspended adoptions in December 2001, about 100 Cambodian children were adopted by US couples each month, Pilorge said.


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