Informal translation from :
Published on 31/07/2008 No. 1872 Le Point
Adoption - The Rama Yade Plan
In a fortnight, Clémence Fournier, 25, will fly to Cambodia with a specific mission: to facilitate adoption of foreign orphans by French parents. Based on her experience in India, Madagascar and Cambodia, where she met Rama Yade, the French state secretary in charge of Human Rights, the young humanitarian´s profile fits the "job." She will be the first "international adoption volunteer." A squad of young "ambassadors", recruited on the model of the U.S. Peace Corps, will be present in twenty countries starting next year in order to make the link between adoptive families and local authorities and avoid excesses like Arche de Zoé ... Accompanied by Gérard Depardieu, the father of this program, Rama Yade announced the dispatch of these volunteers during a press conference at the Quai d'Orsay.
She is not the first to tackle this thorny issue. Three years ago, Jean-Pierre Raffarin pledged to double the number of foreign children adopted in France. To be followed by a vast reform and the opening with much fanfare of the French Agency for adoption (AFA). In 2007, the disastrous results of AFA broke out in broad daylight: -20% of international adoptions over the previous year, while Italy, that also mobilized on the subject, showed an increase of 9%. In this context, Jean-Marie Colombani, the former director of Le Monde, last March presented the government with a highly critical report on the state of the adoption in France.
Funded for more than 55% by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the establishment of this network of intercountry adoption volunteers in any case demonstrates the renewed interest of the Quai d'Orsay for a subject hitherto considered not a priority.
So Cambodia is the first of twenty countries this adoption squad will enter. Interesting choice, as most receiving countries stopped adoptions from Cambodia in 2003 following reporting of corruption, child trafficking and visa fraud.
But in 2005 a scandal broke out in France when the French government allowed private adoptions of French couples, despite the closure. The French organisation of adoptive parents rang the alarmbell titled ´When France forgets ethics in adoption´
In February this year, the French adoptive parent organisation wrote again a burning letter to Kouchner, cc Rama Yade, with the same message: again adoptions had been allowed from Cambodia in conflict with laws and procedures, that allow no French private adoptions, but only through adoption agencies or the French Adoption Agency (AFA).
So, are these adoption volunteers going to work for AFA, or for the adoption agencies?
Apart from the French, also the Italians are adopting from Cambodia. The US and most European receiving countries still do not allow adoptions from Cambodia. The UK reviewed the situation in Cambodia in April this year and came to the conclusion that (full text here):
adoption legislation, practice and procedure in Cambodia remain insufficient to ensure the proper protection of children and their families; lifting the suspension at the current time would expose Cambodian children and their families to an increased risk of improper practices that are contrary to the principles of the Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect of Intercountry Adoption (the Hague Convention) and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
This is the environment the young French will need to find adoptable children...