Cambodia's long-awaited resumption of international adoptions will soon take another tenuous step forward with a US State Department program that will see local adoption officials flown to the United States for training.
The initiative, pegged an “informational visitor’s program”, follows on the heels of a January visit by US Special Adviser for Children’s Issues Susan Jacobs to Cambodia, a State Department official told the Post.
“The program would afford them the opportunity to learn about US child welfare, adoption and case management best practices while fostering enhanced Cambodian interagency coordination and cooperation on adoption,” the State Department official said, adding that US officials were hopeful the program would begin in the first half of this year.
US embassy spokesman Sean McIntosh confirmed yesterday that the program was in “the early planning stages”.
Reung Rithiroth, chief of adoption administration at the Ministry of Social Affairs, said yesterday that while an official invitation has yet to be received, the program is expected to take flight in late April.
“She [Ambassador Jacobs] promised to take Cambodian officials to train in the US, probably from about five government ministries, with one or two officials from each ministry,” Rithiroth said yesterday, adding that a public seminar would take place on February 26 and provide an update detailing the Kingdom’s progress towards resuming adoptions.
While the freeze on adoptions – put in place in 2009 with the passage of the Inter-Country Adoption Law – was lifted in January, the country has yet to begin accepting or processing applications for adoptions.
In response to questions on the Kingdom’s timetable, national adoption officials said a new approach was being formulated.
“We anticipate that this progressive approach will look first to Cambodia’s state-run institutions and may possibly target children with special needs,” the State Department official said.
The US is among a group of countries that placed their own bans on the adoption of Cambodian children in 2001, citing the scant regulations in place.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CHEANG SOKHA
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