West to fund adoption reforms

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France and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) will finance a new United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) program to help Vietnam create regulations that comply with international adoption standards.

In 2008, inter-nation adoptions were suspended between the US and Vietnam.

In January this year, however, the Ministry of Justice introduced new laws pertaining to child adoption that stated that foreign adoptive parents would "only be permitted where no alternative family for a child can be found in Vietnam."

The move was hailed as a step toward Vietnam's accession to the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption.

Developed in close cooperation with Vietnam's Ministry of Justice and other relevant authorities, the "Strengthening legislation and monitoring systems for child adoption" program will improve the legal and regulatory framework to better protect children without parental care by developing and implementing national legislation and policies on domestic and inter-country adoption.

Adoption is one of the main forms of alternative care available for children in need of special protection in Vietnam, including orphaned, abandoned and relinquished children as well as children afflicted with disabilities, HIV and AIDS.

With US$700,000 from the French National Committee for UNICEF and $300,000 from USAID, the program will extend through 2013 and will support Vietnam's ratification of the Hague Convention on adoption.

The program will develop a national monitoring system, conduct a comprehensive assessment on the root causes of child abandonment and relinquishment, and build the capacity of policymakers, welfare, and enforcement personnel to better protect children.

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