Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Families confident of visas

Families confident of visas

Families confident of visas

Three families seeking US visas for children adopted in October are still confident

visas will be granted soon, but said earlier hopes they would be home for Christmas

have disappeared.

"That's simply not going to happen," said Kim Edmonds-Woulfe. "Not

unless a rabbit is pulled out of a hat. We tried to get hold of people at INS in

Bangkok, but it appears they have gone home and forgotten about us."

"I think it is a shame they could not find it within them [to look at the paperwork],"

she continued. "The three families submitted our responses December 17, and

they told me they haven't looked at them yet."

The families' responses were to a "notice of intent to deny" issued by

the US Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) after an INS investigation concluded

documentation proving the children were orphans was suspect.

The INS began its investigation after allegations of baby trafficking were raised

against the Asian Orphans' Association (AOA), the Phnom Penh orphanage from where

the families adopted.

"They've reached certain conclusions about those documents but we feel our responses

will satisfy them," said Jeff Fleming of the INS notices.

"There was nothing about baby trafficking or baby stealing [in the INS report].

We're extremely confident that whatever the INS wants to know [about the documents]

we can prove it. There's no solid case against issuing our visas. If we thought we

couldn't answer those queries then we'd already be gone," added Greg Sferes,

44 of Maine.

The INS told Edmonds-Woulfe her paperwork had been "forwarded to the international

affairs office in Washington DC, and there would be no information until the person

in Bangkok is back from holiday around January 8".

She has decided to head home for two weeks "to spend Christmas with my eight-year-old

son, but I will be back in two weeks to continue the fight".

All agreed that they would continue to fight any ruling that did not allow them to

return to the United States with the children.

"We're not even considering losing this. It's not going to happen. I'm here

with her forever. I bonded with her the minute I met her so, unless a real birth

mother comes forward, it's just not going to happen," said Sferes.

The only circumstance under which the families are prepared to give up the child

they adopted is if the birth mother comes forward, but at this stage they believe

that is unlikely.

"With all this publicity if there were women out there looking for these babies

then they would have come forward by now," said Edmonds-Woulfe.

All said AOA director Puth Serey retained their confidence and the questions over

their paperwork would be easily answered. Edmonds-Woulfe said the decision by the

appeals court December 20 against AOA keeping custody of ten babies and two children

did not change their opinion of Serey.

The case has generated worldwide media attention from CNN, the New York Times and

London Sunday Times. The US current affairs program 20/20 screened a one-hour program

on the families' plight December 19.

International adoption from Cambodia has long been subject to accusations of bribery

and child trafficking. Currently there are two child trafficking investigations under

way against AOA and a third investigation on staff from a separate institution, the

Khmer American Orphans' Association.


  • Massive stingrays may live in Mekong’s deep pools

    US scientists have suggested that unexplored deep pools in the Mekong River in an area of Stung Treng could potentially be home to significant populations of giant freshwater stingrays, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish species. This comes as a fisherman hooked a 180

  • CCC team off on US business trip

    The Kingdom’s leading economists and private sector representatives have called on the US to renew its tax preferential status for Cambodian exports, as a Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) delegation departed for a weeklong business visit to the US, where they will meet with

  • PM takes time to meet, greet Cambodians living in the US

    After landing in the US ahead of the ASEAN-US Special Summit, Prime Minister Hun Sen was received by over 1,000 Cambodian-Americans including political analysts who welcomed him with greetings, fist bumps and selfies. Hun Sen also met with analyst Mak Hoeun, who had allegedly spoken ill

  • Khmer cinema classics back on big screen for free at WB Arena’s outdoor movies series

    On a recent Saturday evening at WB Arena, Bunsong was enjoying a tasty BBQ meal with his family after work on the long tables that had been arranged out in front of the restaurant as they watched a Khmer action movie on a big outdoor

  • PM heads to Washington for ASEAN-US special summit

    Regional and international issues and how to bring the ASEAN-US partnership to another level will be discussed at length as Prime Minister Hun Sen and his ministers arrive in Washington, DC, for a special summit on May 12-13. During the trip, Hun Sen and ASEAN

  • National Assembly refutes EU resolution

    The National Assembly (NA) has hit back at a European Parliament resolution condemning the political and human rights situation in Cambodia, calling it another display of the Parliament’s “double standards”. Key points of the resolution include a warning that the Parliament could exclude the