Washington International Law Journal


Over the past two decades an enormous increase in intercountry adoptions has prompted international concern over the victimization of children, birth parents, and adoptive families. Recently, the United States has closely scrutinized babytrafficking in Cambodia. Reports of widespread buying, selling, and stealing of Cambodian infants for international adoption prompted the United States to place a moratorium on adoptions from Cambodia on December 21, 2001. In addition, the international community has drafted treaties such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child ("CRC") and the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption ("Hague Convention") to normalize and systematize the process of international adoptions. After ratifying the Hague Convention, the United States enacted the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 ("IAA"). This Comment argues that current U.S. and Cambodian initiatives to stem the rise of fraudulent adoptions from Cambodia are ineffective. Although Cambodia has ratified the CRC, it has not made significant efforts to implement its provisions. International treaties, such as the Hague Convention, which are designed to prevent black-market activities and protect children, do not provide the Cambodian government with adequate incentives or logistical and financial support and are thus unlikely to be adopted. The IAA, once implemented, will not apply to adoptions from Cambodia because Cambodia is not a signatory to the Hague Convention. Moreover, the Immigration and Naturalization Service ("INS") ban on adoptions from Cambodia temporarily masks, but will not cure, the black-market trade of infants from that country. The INS may prevent baby-trafficking for the duration of the moratorium, but without substantive changes to the adoption process in Cambodia, the moratorium does little to protect genuine orphans or future baby-trafficking victims. Instead, programs aimed at improving specific areas of the foreign adoption process, such as a national registry of adopted and adoptable Cambodian children and implementation of the "Adjudicate Orphan Status First" Pilot Program, are more likely to succeed in protecting parents and children from becoming victims of the black-market trade in children.

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