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Notice: Update on Status of Intercountry Adoptions from Cambodia

The Royal Government of Cambodia is not processing intercountry adoptions with other countries at this time. The Department of State is still not able to issue Hague Certificates in adoptions from Cambodia. However, the Department continues its efforts to work with the Government of Cambodia to resume intercountry adoption.

In March 2015, Adoption Division Chief Trish Maskew and Special Assistant to the Special Advisor for Children’s Issues Kathy Sacco traveled to Cambodia and met with the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth (MOSVY) Inter-country Adoption Administration (ICAA); the Ministry of Justice (MOJ); a group of adoption receiving country representatives; and UNICEF to discuss Cambodia’s desire to memorialize understandings regarding how State Parties seek to process Convention cases.  Ms. Maskew and Ms. Sacco also participated in a multi-day, USAID-hosted Co-Creation Workshop, where 30 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) discussed broad issues related to child welfare, such as the efforts in place to support Cambodian families to care for their children at vulnerable times and find permanent placements for children if they are removed from the family. The Department of State raised the importance of maintaining intercountry adoption as a small but important part of the overall action plan for seeking permanency for Cambodia’s children. The workshop was part of Cambodia’s Family Care First initiative, rooted in the U.S. government’s Action Plan for Children in Adversity.  

During their meetings, the Cambodian Director of the Inter-country Adoption Administration shared Cambodia’s accomplishments completing laws and regulations related to intercountry adoption and requested the Department’s review of these regulations and proposed procedures. The ICAA noted that UNICEF has worked with MOSVY’s Child Welfare Department (CWD) to develop a child protection case management system and that the pilot of this system is now operating in five provinces.

The Department of State’s Special Advisor for Children’s Issues, Ambassador Susan Jacobs, led a discussion with multiple other receiving countries on intercountry adoptions and Cambodia during the the Fourth Special Commission of the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in respect of Intercountry Adoption (Special Commission), held June 8-12, 2015 in The Hague. The goal was to discuss how countries might collectively promote an intercountry adoption system that successfully protects the best interests of the child as Cambodia looks to begin processing Convention cases for the first time. At the meeting, several countries expressed interest in joining the United States in sending a letter to MOSVY to seek clarification on questions and areas of mutual interest regarding Cambodia’s law, regulations and procedures.

Ambassador Susan Jacobs met again with Cambodian adoption officials in Phnom Penh from October 7-11, 2015. During her visit, Ambassador Jacobs hand-delivered to MOSVY a joint letter endorsed by the Central Authorities of Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States, requesting clarification of Cambodia’s envisioned Convention adoption process. The Government of Cambodia’s response to the issues raised in the letter is necessary for the United States to fully understand several key issues, including the role that Cambodia seeks to take with regard to the supervision and monitoring of ASPs authorized by the Cambodian government.

As 2015 came to a close, Cambodia continued its efforts to improve its mechanisms for child welfare and protection, including more oversight over child care institutions by requiring all child care institutions to register with the Cambodian government by March 11, 2016.

The Department of State will continue to publish updates related to Cambodian intercountry adoptions on travel.state.gov. Please direct any questions related to this Notice or Cambodian adoptions by email to Adoption@state.gov.