For the past three weeks, a group of US adoptive parents has been caught in the middle of a Cambodian child-trafficking controversy. And while they are anxious to get their newly adopted children home, the parents say they are not blind to the ethical issues of trafficking.
Don Korta, a network administrator from the US state of Illinois, says the parents involved in all seven adoption cases being delayed while US officials investigate the Asian Orphans Association have agreed they don’t want any children who have been stolen from their mothers.
Korta said many adoptive parents feel like they have been robbed of biological children by circumstances such as infertility or the death of a child.
“We’ve all dealt with those kinds of issues, and we understand that, and that’s the last thing that any of us wants to do,” Korta said.
Korta speaks differently about cases of mothers selling their babies.
“If they’ll get cash up front for that child and then turn around three months later and change their minds, you know, that decision was made,” he says. “How good is it, really, to put a child back in that mother’s hands?”
Stuck in Cambodia while the US decides whether it will issue visas for the adopted children, the parents don’t know what to think of trafficking allegations against the AOA. They say they trusted intermediaries to make sure their adoptions were legitimate.
“We don’t have any idea [about child-trafficking allegations against the AOA]. We relied on our agencies, we relied on the Cambodian government, we relied on our facilitator. Everything else is just moot. We have the final decree, now we just need the visa to go home,” said John Fleming, who has adopted a 2-year-old.
A US Embassy official, speaking on condition of anonymity Wednesday, said that if the embassy verifies that a mother has sold a baby that later is offered for adoption, that is enough to deny the baby a visa.
In a second interview Thursday, the official said the US investigation is less concerned about individual mothers deciding to take money for their children, and more about “some kind of systematic trafficking of babies for profit, taking advantage of the poverty here.”
The official said that between mid-June and early Oct, the US Embassy processed just less than 100 adoption cases per month.