Canadian couples hoping to adopt Cambodian children moved a step closer to achieving their dreams this week as officials from Quebec province met with officials in Phnom Penh to discuss the viability of a bilateral adoption arrangement.
Facing mounting international pressure amid reports of child trafficking and corruption, Cambodia banned inter-country adoptions in 2011, just two years after passing a law regulating the practice.
The Social Affairs Ministry has since 2012 repeatedly announced plans to lift the ban, only to backtrack each time, citing the need for stricter regulations and stronger safeguards.
The Quebec delegation, led by the provincial government’s secretary for international adoption, Josee-Anne Goupil, met with Socials Affairs Minister Vong Sauth on Tuesday as part of a fact-finding mission to Cambodia, according to ministry spokesman Toch Channy.
During the meeting, the minister asked the visiting officials to assess the well-being of Cambodian children previously adopted by Canadian parents and said that a Cambodian delegation would travel to Quebec to do the same, Mr. Channy said.
The spokesman said more than 100 Cambodian children were adopted across Canada before 2009. He did not say how many of those children were living in Quebec, which was originally a French colony.
Neither the Canadian consulate in Phnom Penh nor the Canadian Embassy in Bangkok responded to requests for comment.
The Social Affairs Ministry said it had made a number of reforms that have equipped it to properly implement the 2009 Adoption Law and had signed preliminary agreements with Italy and Malta that would allow adoption through accredited agencies once the law meets international standards.
In June, the ministry signed an adoption agreement with the Catalan regional government in Spain, only for the Spanish Embassy in Bangkok to declare the deal worthless without approval from the national government in Madrid.
(Additional reporting by Sonia Kohlbacher)