Sunday, October 25, 2009

New law for foreign adoptions

PHNOM PENH, Oct. 24 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia's National Assembly on Friday approved a new law for foreign adoptions, setting up criteria for children to be adopted, the eligibility of potential adoptive parents and the procedures for legal adoptions by families living overseas, local newspaper the Phnom Penh Post reported on Saturday.

All 72 parliamentarians in attendance voted to pass the two final chapters of the law after about one hour of debate, it said. Debate on the lO-chapter draft law began on Wednesday.

The law is aimed at ensuring that Cambodian children adopted by foreign parents, "grow up in a family environment, a happy environment, with love and understanding in order to develop fully."

For a child to be adopted by foreigners, he or she must be younger than 8 years old, except in the cases of special needs. The children must be living in an orphanage, under the care of the Social Affairs Ministry, or have poor or disabled parents, the law said.

Moreover, under the law, adoptive parents must be between 30 and 45 years old, and should have, at the most, one other child, who must be younger than 22 years old.

According to statistics presented by Ith Sam Heng, minister of social affairs, more than 20,000 Cambodian children live in state-run orphanages, and about 130,000 live in private facilities. He added that adoptive parents in the U.S. alone took home 1,415 Cambodian children between 1998 and 2003, although the U.S. government officially suspended adoptions in 2001 over fraud concerns.

And Britain cut off Cambodian adoptions in 2004, while France implemented a temporary ban between 2003 and 2006. Australians are also forbidden from adopting, as the two countries have never signed an agreement on adoption.

Ith Sam Heng was quoted by the Post as saying that the law would be "seriously implemented," adding that he had not heard of any bad things happening to Cambodian children after being adopted abroad.

He said a delegation from the ministry had already visited adoptive families in Canada, France, Italy and the U.S. Some foreign parents had also written annual reports to the government describing the conditions of the children, including photos, about health and education, he added.

Editor: Anne Tang

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