HANOI, Vietnam – Vietnam is ending a baby adoption agreement with the United States after being accused of allowing corruption and baby-selling, officials said Monday.
The agreement was being considered for renewal but the two sides remained far apart over revisions, said Vu Duc Long, director of Vietnam’s International Adoption Agency. The agreement expires on Sep. 1.
The decision not to renew the pact was made after the U.S. embassy in Hanoi released a report earlier this month alleging pervasive corruption and baby-selling in Vietnam’s adoption system.
The allegations were “unfair,” Long said. “They can say whatever they want, but we are not going to renew it.”
In a letter sent to the U.S. embassy in Hanoi on April 25, Vietnam said it will stop taking adoption applications from American families after July 1, but will continue to process applications of families who are matched with babies before July 1 until the agreement expires.
The decision will also lead to the closure of 42 U.S. adoption agencies operating in Vietnam, Long said.
The U.S. suspended all adoptions from Vietnam in 2003, also over concerns about corruption. A bilateral agreement between the two countries was resumed in 2006.
Since then adoptions from Vietnam have boomed with more than 1,200 Vietnamese children being adopted by Americans over the 18 months ending March 31. In 2007 alone, Americans adopted 828 Vietnamese children.
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Adopted Children Immigrant Visa Unit
Summary of Irregularities in Adoptions in Vietnam
On October 25, 2007 in response to “growing concerns about irregularities in the methods used to identify children for adoption in Vietnam and the resulting difficulties in classifying those children as orphans,” USCIS required that I-600 petitions be filed in Ho Chi Minh City, with the processing of these petitions to be completed before prospective adoptive parents travel to Vietnam. These procedures enable USCIS to determine whether a child qualifies as an orphan, as defined by the Immigration and Nationality Act. In the six months since this program was instituted, US officials in Vietnam have investigated over 300 I-600 petitions. This report presents a summary of our findings.
Country Fraud Profile
Vietnam is considered to be a high risk country for immigration fraud according to the Department of State. Fraudulent documents are routinely submitted by Vietnamese applicants in both non-immigrant and immigrant visa applications. These include both documents that have been fabricated outright and official documents issued improperly or based on incorrect information. Birth certificates, household registry documents, and marriage certificates can easily be purchased from corrupt local government officials or brokers. Marriage fraud, in order to obtain immigration benefits, is common and has resulted in multiple arrests in the United States.
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A senior government official Saturday rejected a US embassy report criticizing the Vietnamese adoption system.
Vu Duc Long, director of the Justice Ministry’s Department of International Adoptions, said the allegations in the US Embassy report were “groundless” and “unreliable.”
US authorities “did not cooperate with their Vietnamese counterparts in its investigation,” Long said.
The report, released Friday, claimed the Vietnamese adoption system was riddled with corruption and fraud.
The report, written after a review of hundreds of adoptions by US citizens since 2006, said there was evidence of baby-selling in Vietnam.
The two countries agreed to resume the practice of inter-country adoptions in 2006.
In the 18-month period ending March 31, Americans – including actress Angelina Jolie – adopted more than 1,200 Vietnamese children.
A bilateral agreement on adoptions, which was signed in 2005, will expire on September 1.
Long said the US would use the report as a reason for not extending the adoption agreement.
The Associated Press (AP) quoted Long as saying bribery of orphanage officials may occur but serious offenses such as baby-selling or kidnapping were not a problem.
US adoption agencies active in Vietnam told AP that most adoptions in the country were ethical.
Already, the US embassy’s concerns “have left scores of Vietnamese adoptions in limbo,” the AP report said.