Gov’t lays out adop­tion process

The Phnom Penh Post - - NATIONAL - Yon Sineat and Erin Han­d­ley

CAM­BO­DIA is aim­ing to bol­ster do­mes­tic adop­tions, de­spite a se­vere lack of so­cial work­ers needed to en­sure the safety of chil­dren in care, fol­low­ing the launch of an “ex­plana­tory note” on the prac­tice on Tues­day.

At a work­shop that con­tin­ued yes­ter­day, Justice Min­istry Sec­re­tary of State Chan Sotheavy said the note, which lays out the law and pro­ce­dures around adop­tions, will “make it eas­ier” for judges, lawyers and so­cial work­ers “when they en­force the law”.

Speak­ing at the work­shop, Unicef deputy rep­re­sen­ta­tive Natascha Pad­di­son s a i d “do­mes­tic adop­tion is cur­rently rarely used in an ap­pro­pri­ate way in Cam­bo­dia”.

“There are still not enough pro­fes­sional so­cial work­ers to mon­i­tor the al­ter­na­tive care sec­tor, to sup­port fam­i­lies, to sup­port chil­dren and to pro­vide the courts with qual­ity and timely ad­vice on the sit­u­a­tion of chil­dren who may be placed for adop­tion,” Pad­di­son said.

“In too many coun­tries, chil­dren are fos­tered or adopted into fam­i­lies that turn out to be abu­sive or un­able to ad­e­quately care for the chil­dren.”

While try­ing to in­crease do­mes­tic adop­tion, the govern­ment is also aim­ing to re­duce the num­ber of chil­dren in or­phan­ages by an am­bi­tious 30 per­cent by 2018.

The ex­plana­tory note fol­lows re­search by gen­der stud­ies aca­demic Ka­sumi Nak­a­gawa, who found that of 7,500 Cam­bo­di­ans sur­veyed, fewer than one in five thought a cou­ple should adopt if they could not have a child nat­u­rally.

Thirty per­cent said the cou­ple “can­not do any­thing”, while just over half said the cou­ple should see a doc­tor and get treat­ment.

“Adop­tion is a last re­sort and many pre­sented neg­a­tive opin­ions about adop­tion,” Nak­a­gawa said, say­ing the stigma of an “un­wanted child” could cre­ate fam­ily ten­sion.

Unicef spokesman Iman Morooka, how­ever, main­tained that “the is­sue is not that do­mes­tic adop­tion is prov­ing un­pop­u­lar but that there was a lack of clar­ity about the law on do­mes­tic adop­tion”, which the ex­plana­tory note sought to ad­dress.

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