40 FAMILIES ALLOWED
TO ADOPT CHILDREN
Copyright 2002 www.usatoday.com
[ April 1st 2002 ]
American families are making preparations this
week to travel to Cambodia to finalize adoptions
there, the first invited by the U.S. government
to do so since an orphanage-by-orphanage probe
of baby trafficking began in late February.
which received notice late last week, represent
one-fifth of the roughly 200 families left in
a lurch when the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization
Service stopped issuing visas to orphans in the
Southeast Asian nation in December. The Cambodian
system is rife with allegations that many babies
have been stolen from or sold by their parents,
claims that INS officials say have merit.
and congressional pressure prompted the INS last
month to create a task force to examine and resolve
so-called "pipeline cases," those in which prospective
parents were already matched with children and
had passed several official steps on the Cambodian
side of the adoption process. Those families have
been receiving monthly photos of the children,
in some cases since July, and have been awaiting
the official invitation to come take custody.
final step in the process is known as a "visa
appointment," in which the parents are invited
to meet with U.S. Embassy officials who complete
the adoption by issuing the baby a visa. The 40
families notified last week will go to Cambodia
for that meeting, while the remaining families
continue to wait for similar word.
famous "pipeline" parents, Academy Award winners
Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton, were not
among this 40, an INS spokesman says. The couple
adopted a 7-month-old boy, Maddox, in early March
and had the boy brought to Africa to be with Jolie,
who is filming a movie there. Maddox is traveling
on a Cambodian passport and cannot enter the USA
until granted a visa appointment.
Bill Strassberger says the task force visited
about five of the 20 orphanages in which babies
are involved in pending adoptions and will move
on to about five a week for the next three weeks.