Copyright 2002 Business Wire

[ March 13th 2002 ]

The U.S. Embassy hasn't approved Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton's adoption of a Cambodian baby, which means the Hollywood couple can't take the infant to the United States immediately. Jolie took custody of the 7 1/2-month-old boy in Africa, where she's shooting her next film. Her husband, Thornton, is in the United States. It's unclear who brought the baby to Jolie.

U.S. Ambassador Kent Wiedemann told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the baby, named Maddox, is traveling on a Cambodian passport and does not have a U.S. visa, "and thereby would not be permitted into the U.S." The U.S. government banned adoption of Cambodian babies by Americans in December following reports that illegal networks were buying infants from destitute mothers and selling them to orphanages for adoption. But applications made before December are still being processed on a case-by-case basis to make sure the children are genuine orphans, Wiedemann said.

Maddox's case is among the "hundreds of others in the pipeline, so to say, and we haven't gotten to the point of adjudicating it," he said, adding that it would take anywhere between a "couple of weeks to a couple of months."

In a statement released Tuesday, Jolie, 26, and Thornton, 46, said they met the child while visiting a Cambodian orphanage last November. He officially became their son Monday after approval by Cambodian authorities. "I'm certain Thornton and Jolie both know that... they must complete the proper procedures in accordance with U.S. law before bringing the child into the U.S.," Wiedemann said. He said the actors "are not getting special treatment. It wouldn't be fair to the other families who've applied to adopt there."

Some preliminary work has been done on Maddox's case, Wiedemann said, and there's no reason to believe that he was "a trafficked child." He said the couple would need to return to the U.S. Embassy in Cambodia with the boy to complete the adoption under U.S. laws.

Jolie, who won a supporting-actress Oscar in 2000 for her role in "Girl, Interrupted," was in Cambodia last year filming the action movie "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider." The couple said they'll raise the baby in Cambodia and the United States, and also will give him a Cambodian name.

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