Can you adopt a child from Cambodia? (5 Top Tips)

In this article, we will answer the following question: can you adopt a child from Cambodia? We will speak about the sad truth behind the adoptions from Cambodia, Guatemala and other countries. In the end, we will give you some tips on international adoptions.

Can you adopt a child from Cambodia?

You can not adopt a child from Cambodia since international adoptions from this country are not accepted at this time. In the UK, the USA, not even in the rest of Europe, it is legal to adopt children from countries such as Cambodia, Guatemala, Nepal, Haiti or Ethiopia. 

The reason for this is that most governments believe that these countries’ adoption systems have not safeguarded against corruption in the adoption process. While Cambodia has joined the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (the Hague Adoption Convention) on Aug. 1, 2007, it is still not considered safe to adopt from this country. 

To know which countries you can adopt from, visit adoption.state.gov website or ask at any adoption agency in your proximity. They will let you know what the laws are and if you can adopt overseas. 

Why you cannot adopt a child from Cambodia

You cannot adopt a child from Cambodia since it is believed to be the world’s largest baby trafficking market.  

In Cambodia, babies are bought from mothers for 150 euros and then sold to Westerners for 20,000. Part of the 20,000 euros for which a baby is sold goes in bribes, starting with local officials. The absence of a central civil registry in the country facilitates the action of traffickers.

The Children Relief Center is one of the 15 orphanages suspected of being part of an immense network that is in charge of guaranteeing the delivery of children on demand for a price that varies between 10,000 and 20,000 euros, depending on the speed of the process and the specific demands of future parents.

The business would not be complete without the participation of the highest institutions of the Cambodian state, whose mission is focused on the falsification of documents, and the work of recruitment groups that buy, steal or deceive babies from the villages poorest in the country or the slums of Phnom Penh.

Baby recruiters often go directly to hospital maternity wards to try to buy newborns from single mothers, prostitutes and beggars for prices ranging from a simple sack of rice to 150 euros. Traffickers perform medical tests on babies to make sure they are not carrying the HIV. If the mother refuses to accept the offer or discovers the deception, the method often turns to force and the child is kidnapped.

Papers are never a problem in Cambodia. The country lacks a centralized civil registry and each village must register newborns on hand-made and easily manipulated lists.

Corruption begins at the rural level, with the payment of small sums to local chiefs to sign documents ensuring that a certain child was abandoned in the village. From there, an organized bribery system buys wills and cleans up the history of stolen babies.

The final process includes the payment of sums of money to the heads of three departments that must authorize an adoption: the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Council of Ministers.

In the summer of 2001, a few months before the US imposed a moratorium on all adoptions made in Cambodia, an average of 100 Cambodian children were delivered to American couples each month. Besides, we should add the hundreds of annual adoptions destined for France, Germany, England and other countries. 

The US decision to suspend adoptions has done some harm to traffickers, who are now targeting countries that do not hinder them. If all Western governments suspend adoptions, truly orphaned children will lose all their options to start a new life. If they don’t, baby supermarkets will remain open, quite a dilemma.

Other “children markets”

Some 9.5 million children remain in orphanages in developing countries. China and Russia are today the main countries from which children arrive in the West, with Americans, Canadians and Spaniards leading the way. But the processes are not always transparent.

Guatemala. According to the researchers, some 40 gangs operate in the country that buy or kidnap children or hire mothers who rent the womb. They are sold abroad for up to $ 20,000. It is estimated that six children are abducted every day.

Romania. In 1989, 30 Romanian children were placed abroad for adoption; the following year, after the fall of Ceaucescu, more than 10,000. The irregularities observed have led countries such as the US to impose a moratorium on adoption from Romania and Cambodia.

India. Information published in the foreign press speak of children exchanged for televisions or sold for $ 20.

Albania. Several thousand minors were illegally removed from the country in 2002 for purposes such as prostitution and adoption, according to Human Rights Watch.

International adoption: a long and intense journey

If adopting a child outside our borders has always been a long, bureaucratic and expensive process, the truth is that this process is lengthening and complicating even more nowadays due to the modifications introduced by the main countries of origin of the children, Russia and China. 

Both have greatly hardened the conditions to adopt for ethical and legal reasons and, also, for national pride. Others, such as Morocco, Mali or Ethiopia, have directly banned them, alleging, among others, religious reasons.

The numbers are, of course, eloquent: international adoptions around the world have fallen from 45,299 in 2004 – the year of its peak – to 23,500 in 2011, due in part, experts say, to increased controls, but also because the number of helpless minors has decreased because economic conditions in their countries of origin have improved. 

So, although it is not impossible, today it is necessary to be more convinced than ever to start an international adoption process. The procedure varies depending on the country chosen and its legislation but, in general terms, we can say that you have to go through multiple stages that, in total, and on average, last three years and represent an estimated cost of at least twelve thousand euros.

Adopting abroad: first steps

The first and most important thing before starting the process to adopt abroad is to be sure of the step that you are going to take; bear in mind that the interest of the minor must always come first and not ours. And the more informed we are, the better. 

To do this, it is best to contact the competent services of your autonomous community: many have specific adoption services, or, apart from that, child protection services, where they will provide you with all the information you need.

Once decided, the next thing is to submit your application and the long list of documentation required by the regional administration so that you can open a file. Next, you must attend a preparation course. It is a program that includes group sessions with adoption applicants and expert professionals, whose objective is to help you make the decision.

Then comes one of the most important moments: choosing the country of origin of your child. Currently, the most required are Russia, China, Vietnam and Colombia, although this list varies from time to time depending on the obstacles or facilities that the issuing countries are imposing. 

In addition to your criteria, it is necessary to assess many aspects, such as empathy towards that country, the similarities with its culture and language; if you prefer that your child is similar to you physically or completely different (or perhaps this aspect is not relevant for you), or that you meet the specific requirements of the country. 

In general, a certain level of income is demanded, and that the couple is stable and healthy. Now, the demands have become more varied, especially those of the Chinese government, such as asking for a maximum body mass (to restrict adoption to obese people) or a certain level of education.

The waiting time and the cost of the processing (it is necessary to travel more than once to some countries, for example) are also very influential factors when deciding. In general, children over five years of age and those with some kind of disability or health problem are more easily adopted.

It should be remembered that although it is possible to choose a child who does not have a disability, it is not possible to decide on sex or age; however, it is recommended that you indicate your preferences in the adoption application.

Final thoughts

In this article, we answered the following question: can you adopt a child from Cambodia? We spoke about the sad truth behind the adoptions from Cambodia, Guatemala and other countries. In the end, we gave you some tips on international adoptions.

We do not want to make anyone sad with this article regarding adoptions in countries such as Cambodia. Our goal is to make one aware of the reality that happens in some countries and to remind you that if you are willing to adopt a child, you will do this the right way, even if it is also the harder and more time-consuming way.

If you have any questions or comments on the content, please let us know. 

FAQ on Can you adopt a child from Cambodia

Can you adopt from Cambodia?

No, currently it is not allowed to adopt from Cambodia. In the UK, the USA, not even in the rest of Europe, it is legal to adopt children from countries such as Cambodia, Guatemala, Nepal, Haiti or Ethiopia. 

How much does it cost to adopt a child from a foreign country?

The costs of adopting a child from a foreign country are in between  $20,000 and $40,000. Travel expenses, medical and psychological assessments are included in this price. 

What is the cheapest country to adopt from?

Some countries that are known to be the cheapest country to adopt from are Jamaica, Ethiopia, Ukraine and China. 

What benefits do adoptive parents get?

Adoptive parents can apply for benefits such as adoption allowance; adoption pay and leave; carer’s allowance; disability living allowance for the child; Adoption Support Fund.

Do you get money from the state if you adopt?

You can get money from the state if you adopt only if you are found eligible for financial benefits. The money you receive is for the child’s benefit – that is for the furniture in his room, his education and so on.

References

Hrw.org – Cambodia News Reports

bettercarenetwork.org – Cambodia’s Stolen Children

NYTimes – Where do babies come from?

ABCNews – Adoptions Gone Wrong in Cambodia

Brandeis.edu – Adoptions in Cambodia

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