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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ban on US adoptions to end with new year

Ban on US adoptions to end with new year


Brad Pitt carries adopted Cambodian son Maddox as Angelina Jolie carries adopted daughter Zahara in Mumbai in 2006. Photograph: Reuters

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday officially announced that a ban on adoptions to the United States will be lifted on January 1.

In 2001, the US, United Kingdom, Canada, France and Australia suspended adoption petitions citing the scant regulations in place. Cambodia later instituted a ban of its own on all foreign adoptions in 2009, passing a law that placed severe limitations on who was permitted to adopt in-country.

The announcement came following a meeting between Secretary of State Long Visalo and Ambassador Susan Jacobs, a US special adviser for children’s issues, who has been visiting regional nations this week.

“We made the law according to The Hague Adoption Convention, and we are thinking about the future of Cambodian children, as they will be able to receive a good education after being adopted,” said Visalo. “We are not allowing them to be abandoned.”

A quota of 100 to 200 children per year will be enforced, said Visalo, with the aim of preventing the exploitation and trafficking of children, and only children younger than 8 will be permitted to be adopted.

Visalo declined to comment on whether the ban will be lifted for all countries or only for the US.

Ith Sam Heng, minister of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation said that the Cambodian government is still working to establish the necessary child welfare institutions in order to expand adoptions to other countries.

Am Sam Ath, a technical supervisor for rights group Licadho, said that he supported the new policy, but has concerns over its potential loopholes.

“We have remaining concerns over the issue of inter-country adoption, because there were many problems in the past related to exploitation and the trafficking of children,” said Sam Ath.

To contact the reporter on this story: Vong Sokheng at



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