Adoption Advocate Answers Your Questions

"20/20's" Elizabeth Vargas recently reported on an international adoption scandal stemming from the adoption of children from Cambodia. In her report, Vargas spoke with Trish Maskew, president and chief executive officer of Ethica: A Voice for Ethical Adoption, who advocates better regulation of both domestic and international adoption. received hundreds of questions from viewers interested in adoption and in helping the Cambodian orphans featured in "20/20's" story. Below is a selection of questions and Maskew's answers. For more information about adoption issues, visit Ethicanet on the Web at

Terry of Alpharetta, Ga., writes:

I saw the "20/20" special and would like to help the orphanage that was shown. Is there a way to send donation directly to them and communicate directly to them?

Trish Maskew


The orphanage profiled was in Siem Reap, home of the famous Angkor Wat. We are unaware of any formal programs for donations to Siem Reap at this time. After conferring with Judi Mosley, featured on the show, we agreed to accept donations here at Ethica for the Siem Reap orphanage. Ethica is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization and all donations are fully tax-deductible. You can donate by check or through PayPal. Instructions are available at

We'd also recommend two other organizations that viewers may wish to consider.

The Tabitha Foundation (, operated by U.S. parents of Cambodian children, builds houses and digs wells to keep birth families intact, and also provides school supplies and other needed items to the children of Cambodia.

The No Child Left Out organization ( has a rice program for Cambodian orphanages.

Karen of Brighton, Mass. writes:

I am the parent of an 11-year-old Chinese girl whom I adopted in 1995 from the Hunan Province, when she was 13 months old. I have never had any reason to think that there is anything amiss with adoptions from China. Do you know any differently? Thank you very much.

Trish Maskew


No, to our knowledge, allegations of solicitation and trafficking have not arisen in connection with Chinese adoptions. China's adoption system is different from Cambodia's in many ways. Perhaps the greatest difference is that China has an adoption system that is centrally run through the Chinese government, under strict regulation. The Chinese have developed a system which removes the financial incentives for solicitation and trafficking in children. This centrally operated adoption system is, in many ways, a model system for other countries. It does, however, require a significant governmental infrastructure that countries such as Cambodia do not have.

One thing that the Chinese children and Cambodian children do have in common is the lack of information on their birth families and origins. Most children in China are anonymously abandoned and have no identifying information.

B. Grace of Seattle writes: Could you please point out any good sources (other than yourself, of course) where we could research more about the potential problems and issues with foreign adoption agencies? Thank you.

Trish Maskew

Dear B. Grace,

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