Law enforcement and human rights investigators say the adoption racket has operated for about a decade and is worth millions of dollars. Cambodian government figures show that, since 1995, around 2000 Cambodian infants have been adopted. Though no-one knows how many overseas adoptions were legitimate and how many involved buying and selling children, a 2003 report by the Dutch embassy in Bangkok concluded that child trafficking cases that have been exposed are ''the tip of the iceberg.''Read the whole thing to hear personal stories from birth families. Amazing how similar the stories are from country to country to country . . . .
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The adoption racket is driven by wealthy Westerners eager to acquire cute Asian infants, by unscrupulous adoption agents and orphanages ready to supply them at a price and by corrupt government officials willing to approve fabricated documents for bribes. In Cambodia, many children categorised as orphans actually have living
parents, and almost anyone with sufficient cash can buy a child.
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Adoption petitions and foreign visa applications routinely describe the children as abandoned, birth parents unknown. Yet in some cases they aren't abandoned and the birth family is known. Almost always a child's identity, birthplace and family background are falsified.
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Amid mounting evidence that Cambodian babies were being trafficked, the United States suspended the processing of adoptions from Cambodia in December 2001.By 2005, several European countries, including France, the United Kingdom and the
Netherlands, had put a freeze on Cambodian adoptions.
It hasn't stopped the shameful traffic. In spring 2005, posing as would-be adopters, my wife and I visited half-a-dozen well-known orphanages around Phnom Penh. We discovered that it is still shockingly easy to buy a baby. Who we were, where we came from and whether we had proper paperwork were not an issue. Mostly we were asked, "Do you want a boy or a girl?"
Still hoping for change
2 months ago