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Tracking the fee schedules

Tracking the fee schedules

The Dec 13 adoption case has highlighted the role that money plays in facilitating

foreign adoptions of Cambodian children.

Both Sar Kheng and Khieu Kanharith say the Government has never charged an adoption

fee, adding that no payments were made for the special approval in the Dec 13 case.

This might come as a surprise to clients of the American agencies who adopted prior

to the suspension and paid heavily for the non-existent fees.

Until then clients were told by the agencies that they must pay a $5,500 adoption

fee to the Government of Cambodia. The agencies directed their clients to wire that

sum of money to Cambodia within 48 hours of notification that a child was available

for adoption.

The adoption agencies have so far refused to explain how the $5,500 charged to their

clients was spent. But sources familiar with Cambodia's adoption business told the

Post that the $5,500 was used to "...expedite the Government paperwork process".

Information SIA and Hawaii International Child sent prospective clients stated that

on top of the $5,500 "Government fee" there was a $3,500 "orphanage

donation" fee that had to be paid before clients left Cambodia.

Galindo, who facilitates for both these agencies, told the Post last May that the

"orphanage donation" fees were actually optional and clients gave her discretion

on how their donation money was spent.

Officials at the Ministry of Social Affairs' Adoption Bureau - the department charged

with examining the dossiers and applications of foreigners wanting to adopt - said

they never reviewed the paperwork of the American agency clients. These applications

were handled at the Secretary of State level at the Ministries of Social Affairs,

Foreign Affairs, and Council of Ministers..

The price people pay adoption agencies is apparently well worth it in relation to

the amount of time and trouble encountered by people who attempt to adopt Cambodian

children independently. While independent adoptions come at a fraction of the cost

American agencies charge to expedite the process, potential adoptive parents routinely

spend several months in Cambodia waiting for their applications to move through the

bureaucracy.

But clients of the American agencies normally can claim their children and the requisite

Government approval in a matter of days.

Munith told the Post that the Council of Ministers would begin debating the latest

draft of the adoption law on December 20.

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