I have read the articles you have published recently regarding adoption in Cambodia.
I am writing to shed a different light on the subject. I imagine that the public
may read your articles as factual reporting and may believe your assertions are conclusive
even though no proper process of research and investigation or proceeding in any
court of law has occurred.
I am not an expert on Cambodian adoption. I was only a visitor in Cambodia for two
months. However, I can tell you my own experience, and I think the experience of
individuals should be weighed against the generalities and unproven allegations made
in your articles.
I came to Cambodia on May 9 of this year to adopt my daughter. My facilitator was
Lauryn Galindo. The orphanage where my child was residing was Cham Chao (Women and
Orphan Vocational Center).
My experience with Seattle International Adoption, Lauryn Galindo and the orphanage
at Cham Chao, where my daughter was living, was outstanding. I found the fees to
be reasonable, very low by comparison to the fee we paid in connection with our adoptive
child from the US. The personnel were friendly, supportive, understanding, patient
When I arrived in Cambodia, I went directly from the airport to the orphanage at
Cham Chao. I was impressed immediately by the ratio of personnel to children. There
appeared to be a nanny for each of the babies. The children were being carried, fed
and carefully tended. Despite the primitive facilities, loving nannies seemed to
be doing the best they could, and the children were showered with attention.
I traveled to Sihanoukville to visit the orphanage there for the "graduates"
of Cham Chao. These toddlers also appeared to be receiving good care. They were rocked
and held, carefully fed and even potty-trained. The atmosphere was that of a small
summer camp for young children.
At these orphanages, I saw at least as many boys as girls, if not more boys. I saw
a baby who was hooked up to an intravenous feeding tube who was being treated for
dehydration and tuberculosis, a child who was blind in one eye, and a number of children
who were being treated for a variety of illnesses.
An orphanage with many boys and a number of children who are ill, undernourished
and malformed is not likely to be "buying" its babies, as your articles
asserted. As I understand it, Americans usually want to adopt "perfect"
babies, and the demand is far greater for girls than for boys.
I understand that a new and better orphanage near Phnom Penh is under construction,
a project of the Sharing Foundation, an organization established to help to care
for Cambodia's children.
I was told that plans are under consideration to use the Women and Orphan Vocational
Center at Cham Chao as a place to counsel mothers who are considering abandoning
their children for adoption. The idea is to encourage Cambodian mothers to keep their
children and to provide them with vocational training to help them to learn marketable
skills in order to support themselves and their children.
I learned that orphanage donation money from the adoptive families pays for food,
salaries for care givers, clothing for the children and many of the costs of these
orphanages. I know that a great deal of money is spent by Lauryn Galindo from the
orphanage donation funds on the support of the orphanages at Cham Chao, Sihanoukville,
Kampong Speu, and Siem Reap. Many of the children in these orphanages are not going
to be placed for adoption, because their health is not sufficient or they are over
the age of eight.
I personally witnessed the expenditure of money received by Lauryn Galindo. The money
my husband wired to Cambodia as a voluntary donation was put into a cashier's check
and donated for the construction of a public school. I got to go along on a shopping
trip with Dr Nancy Hendrie, an associate of Lauryn's and the founder of the Sharing
Foundation. Twenty-one big cloth bags of rice, strings of dried "hot dogs"
and rack after rack of various kinds of dried fish were purchased for the orphanage
at Siem Reap.
While in Cambodia, I met a number of people who had received financial aid from Lauryn
Galindo. One such young man, Peaou, told me that he was very grateful to Lauryn Galindo,
because he lost his parents during Pol Pot time and she helped him when no one else
would. He told me that Ms Galindo paid for his education and gave him a job. He is
now employed at the orphanage at Sihanoukville and is still attending college in
the town. Others received an education in dentistry, and money for their children's
operation and medical care.
The real treat for me was watching the adoptive parents the day they received their
children. A tiny baby suffering from severe malnourishment was being rocked and fed
special formula by her new daddy, the father of two older adopted Cambodian boys
waiting back in the US for their new sister.
A number of the little girls and boys I had seen at the orphanage in Sihanoukville
were dressed in new clothes, little sandals, holding a toy in one hand and their
new mommy or daddy's hand in the other. The parents appeared to be filled with love
and pride. The little ones I had come to know at Sihanoukville seemed truly happy
to be welcomed into their new families.
I believe that the orphanage conditions were good by comparison with those in many
countries and that this is largely because of the orphanage donation money provided
by the adoptive parents and the efforts of many wonderful individuals. Nevertheless,
it was graphically clear to me that a future with loving parents, good medical care,
bedtime stories, a quality education and the promise of rewarding life is a far better
option for these children.
In your crusade against bad practices, I believe you have made harmful errors and
exercised media "spin" to the detriment of a truly beneficial practice
From what I understand, this is the work of someone who is new to Cambodia and somewhat
inexperienced and certainly not a qualified or certified investigator. It appears
that the report is garnered from unsubstantiated anecdotes and the unproven word
of a few individuals who may have their own questionable reasons for telling such
The harm you may have done is immeasurable in terms of human life. Children may have
died in orphanages due to delays precipitated by your reports; certainly, they have
been detained in orphanages.
Some of these children have weaknesses due to illness or malnutrition, dangerous
birth conditions, etc. Time lost in getting these children to their adoptive families
who can give them the care, food and medical attention they need can cost them their
As an example, while on vacation recently, I happened to meet the honorary consul
to the Thai Embassy from the midwestern US. She inquired about my beautiful daughter,
and I told her about my daughter's Cambodian origins.
This woman told me that a friend of hers was trying to adopt a baby from Thailand
who has Downs Syndrome. She said the adoption had been aborted due to some negative
articles regarding adoption published in Cambodia, because the article mentions an
organization that was involved with this child's placement.
Her friend was very eager to adopt this baby, since she has special training in the
area of special needs children. It is highly unusual for anyone to seek to adopt
a child afflicted with Downs Syndrome, and there may not be another opportunity for
It makes me sad to think how your article may have adversely impacted this baby's
future, such that he faces spending the rest of his life in an institution in Thailand
without the love of a family and superior medical care he might have had.
I encourage you to do some more balanced reporting and cast a bright light on the
positive work being accomplished in adoption both in the government and in the private