Gary Thaler thought he might finally get some answers Tuesday. The US Embassy had set an appointment with him to discuss the status of his adoption case, and he hoped the appointment would leave him with a US visa for his newly adopted daughter, Alaina, 20 months old.
But instead of answers—or a visa—Thaler, a carpenter from New York, got more questions.
“They’re just quizzing us to further their investigation,” he said.
Thaler’s and 11 other adoption cases are being investigated as part of a comprehensive US Immigration and Naturalization Service and US Embassy investigation into possible “systematic” baby trafficking in the Cambodian adoption process, an embassy official said Tuesday.
The US Embassy is not considering any new adoption cases during the investigation.
Thaler and parents in Cambodia involved in three other US adoption cases say the embassy set up separate Tuesday appointments with all of them to discuss the status of their cases.
Like Thaler, they all thought the meetings might mean an end to their stays in Cambodia. But it turned out the meetings were part of, and not an end to, the US investigation of adoptions here.
A US Embassy official said the parents’ “interpretations” of the documents and interactions of their adoptions is an “integral part of the investigation,” and that was the purpose of the interviews.
The parents say they were sworn in and asked for details of their adoptions: What was the orphanage like? How was your child passed over to you? How did you choose your facilitator?
At the end, they were told the investigation could last another week, maybe longer.
On Sept 3, the Asian Orphans Association fell under suspicion of child trafficking after a Tuol Kok district woman complained that she could not get her child back from an AOA facility. Scrutiny of the orphanage snowballed over the following two months. Seven of the 11 adoption cases under investigation are from the AOA.