Director's Blog

Important message about Cambodian adoptions

Important information about Asia’s Hope and the resumption of International Adoptions from Cambodia

Many of you may have heard the news that Cambodia has agreed to resume international adoptions and rescind the ban on such adoptions that has been in place since 2009 (http://bit.ly/W2uja4). I’ve already heard from supporters, partners and board members who want to know if Asia’s Hope is planning to make any of its children available for adoption.

The short answer is “no.” But the reasoning behind that answer is considerably more nuanced. I’d like to take the time to lay out some of our thoughts on the matter so you can help us field these questions when they come your way.

First of all, I want to be clear that as an adoptive father of three Asian children, I am wholeheartedly in support of international adoption in cases where orphaned children have no feasible options for long-term success in their country of origin. I’m thankful for all the people who worked hard to care for my children despite limited resources, and for the agencies and organizations who allowed Kori and I to bring Chien, Pak and Xiu Dan into our family. I strenuously reject many popular broadside criticisms of international adoption and find some of the generalizations about the motivations of birth families, agencies and adoptive families to be personally as well as professionally offensive and uniformed.

All this having been said, I also acknowledge that international adoption in general — and Cambodian adoption specifically — comes with ethical, economic and practical baggage that would introduce the potential for multiple negative outcomes for Asia’s Hope and few if any benefits.

Finances and Funding

One of the biggest threats to any organization dedicated to the rescuing, raising and restoring orphaned children is the introduction of a profit motive into the funding model.

Almost every documented instance of corruption or deception in the world of orphan care or adoption has occurred because someone — an agency employee, a facilitator, a birth-family member or a government official — knows that there is big money involved in international adoptions, and that there’s a potential to benefit financially by gaming the system.

As it stands, Asia’s Hope is financially stable, is accountable and transparent, operates debt free, and lives within its means. Because our funding model provides generously for our kids and staff, no one in our organization is incentivized by the potential to profit from our processes, either in the identification and intake of children or in the facilitation of an adoption to a Western country.

Our family based model

Each Asia’s Hope children’s home is based on a family, rather than an institutional model. Asia’s Hope hires a full-time mom and dad for each home. These parents live at the home and raise their own biological children alongside the Asia’s Hope kids. When orphaned children are brought into the home, they are treated not as patients or boarders. They’re considered brothers and sisters, sons and daughters.

Because we work so hard to foster a real family environment for each child in our care, we’re extremely hesitant to consider introducing factors into our organization that would threaten family cohesion. By “adopting out” kids from our homes, they would cease to be families, and would function as waystations, where kids would be passing in and out, and where our staff would be temporary caretakers, not parents. Even if we maintained our high staff-to-child ratio, our homes would surely take on institutional qualities to which we are adamantly opposed.

Furthermore, we would inevitably create multiple classes of children within our homes: those who are likely to be adopted, those who hope they will be adopted before they reach the 8-year old age limit, and those who know that they have no chance of being adopted. This would erode existing sibling bonds that are essential for each child’s current and future wellbeing.

Other considerations

By opening Asia’s Hope to international adoptions, we would forever enshrine a negative perception among our kids that we’re working so actively to dispel — that ‘escape’ to the West is the ultimate goal for a Cambodian kid. Fundamental to our model is the fervent belief that we are preparing our children to thrive in Cambodia as adults, and that they represent hope for Cambodia’s future.

Finally, we recognize that entering into the business of international adoptions would fundamentally alter our excellent relationship with the government of the Kingdom of Cambodia, and with other NGOs operating in the country, and would open us to bureaucratic interference, competition for resources and potential for fraud at a level heretofore unimaginable.

Conclusion

We at Asia’s Hope do not believe that we offer the only model of care for orphans, much less the only solution for the problems facing orphaned and destitute children. We are, however, convinced that we are called and equipped to continue on our current path and to continually invest in innovating and improving our existing funding and care models which have proved so beneficial to our kids and staff. We will, therefore, not be entering into the world of international adoption, and we will continue to raise all of our children in the families they’ve grown to love and depend upon.

Please feel free to contact me directly via phone 614.804.6233 or email john@asiashope.org with your questions or comments.