This is so disheartening and infuriating. Several times I’ve expressed concerns about adoptions from Vietnam. I was hoping to be wrong, but the baby market again rears its ugly head. It’s sad to think that some adoptive parents are unwittingly benefiting from what amounts to nothing less than child trafficking.
I’ve heard some of the arguments. “They’re better off anyway.” “There is no proof that _____ wasn’t adopted under unethical circumstances.” All I can say in reply is, “Yeah, you tell yourself that if it helps you sleep at night.”
It’s not that I believe all children adopted from Vietnam involved unethical practices, but really, how do you know? Adoptive parents are part of the first line of defense here. Anyone looking to adopt from Vietnam should be very concerned by this news. Even with a high level of safeguards in place, there is no 100% guarantee that a child was not obtained unethically. What little they have in place now leaves a huge crack through which heaven only knows how many children are slipping.
I’m happy to see the US is aware of the problem and is taking measures, but there’s only so much they can do from this end. The rest is up to the Vietnamese government. I hope they do something soon.
Adopted Children Immigrant Visa Unit
Announcement Regarding Adoption In Vietnam, November 2007
In recent months, US Embassy Hanoi and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Ho Chi Minh City have seen an increase in the number of irregularities appearing in orphan petitions and visa applications in Vietnam. This has resulted in a similar increase in the issuance of Notices of Intent to Deny.
The ongoing number of irregularities that we are currently seeing strongly indicates that the adoption process in Vietnam still lacks sufficient oversight and regulation. Specifically there is insufficient control of the so-called child finders and an inadequate regulation of the fees paid to individuals and institutions. Despite its stated intention to do so, Vietnam has yet to publish a schedule of fees. We are extremely concerned by reports of significant increases in the number of abandoned children since 2005, especially in the provinces of Phu Tho and Thai Nguyen.
We recognize that a decision to deny a petition is an extremely undesirable outcome for adopting parents and for children, who themselves may be the victims of unscrupulous agents. For this reason, we urge adoptive parents to be extremely diligent in reviewing qualifications and standards before selecting an adoption service provider. Unfortunately, as news stories and blogs often reveal, the glowing report of an adoptive parent who successfully “brought home” a child cannot be taken as evidence that the adoption was ethical or fully legal.
We at the Embassy have a legal responsibility to ensure the integrity of the adoption process when that process is part of the request for an immigrant visa. Moreover, we have an ethical responsibility to ensure that international adoptions include adequate safeguards for the rights of the children, birth parents, and adoptive parents throughout this process.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Intercountry adoptions signed by the U.S. and Vietnam in 2005 was the beginning of a step towards an intercountry adoption program that would meet international standards such as those established by the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoptions. That convention contains a number or protections and safeguards currently lacking in Vietnam. For that reason, we are urging the Government of Vietnam to push forward with its efforts to become a Hague partner.
The MOU was designed to increase transparency and reduce corruption, and came after a period when adoptions had been suspended in Vietnam because of significant problems involving corruption and “Baby buying.”
We continue to encourage the DIA to work with provincial authorities in Vietnam to improve the integrity of the adoption system. We recognize there may be legitimate questions concerning the DIA authority in these cases. Whatever the cause, to date we have seen little remedial action to address the problems. Even more important, we have seen little if any action to identify and prosecute those responsible for fraudulently documenting the abandonment of children, offering monetary inducements to families for relinquishing children, and offering children for international adoption without the consent of the birth parents.
We strongly endorse international adoption as an important option for Vietnamese children who do not have permanent families. We are deeply concerned, however, by confirmed cases of child selling, and by evidence that children are being released for adoption without the consent of the birth parents.
We are continuing to work with the Government of Vietnam to find ways to strengthen and improve accountability in the adoption system. We continue to urge Vietnam to pass a new, responsible, comprehensive law regulating adoptions, one that puts in place a process that protects the interests of all parties involved in and adoption and one that meets the standards of the Hague Convention. We look forward to the day when both of our countries are full participants in that convention.