Archive for January, 2008

January 2008

The Department of State warns potential adoptive parents and adoption service providers of the risk of initiating new adoptions from Vietnam at this time. The 2005 Memorandum of Agreement, required by Vietnamese law to authorize adoptions between the United States and Vietnam, expires on September 1, 2008. The United States is strongly committed to continuing intercountry adoptions from Vietnam if possible. Our primary concern is to ensure that the children and families involved in the adoption process are protected from exploitation. The Government of Vietnam shares this concern. Both countries acknowledge that more needs to be done.

Discussions about revision and renewal of the Agreement are a priority for both governments, but there is no certainty a new Agreement will be in place on September 1. In view of the processing time required in Vietnam from placement to the Giving and Receiving Ceremony, an adoption process begun now cannot be completed before the current Agreement expires. We do not know whether the Government of Vietnam will continue to process pending cases if the current Agreement expires before a new Agreement takes effect. Moreover, given concerns about the existing level of protection for children in Vietnam, it is unlikely that the Agreement can be renewed in its current form.

The United States Government stands ready to support Vietnam’s efforts to strengthen and improve accountability in its adoption system and to develop its capacity to regulate adoptions. In some cases, our background investigations have revealed evidence of irregularities, ranging from forged or altered documentation to cases where children have been offered for adoption without the apparent knowledge or consent of their birth parents.

In response to these problems, in November 2007, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service and the Department of State instituted new procedures to verify that children identified for placement meet the requirements of Vietnamese and U.S. law, before the child has been adopted under Vietnamese law. The Embassy strongly advises prospective adoptive parents not to travel to Vietnam until they have received notification from the Embassy that their case is ready for final processing and travel is appropriate. Parents should contact the Embassy immediately if anyone, including their adoption service provider, encourages them to travel to Vietnam prior to receiving this notification. The Embassy can work together with adoption service providers, Vietnam’s Department of International Adoptions, and local authorities to resolve issues such as the scheduling of a Giving and Receiving Ceremony.

We continue to urge Vietnam to comply with the terms of the 2005 Agreement and to establish a process that protects the interests of all parties involved in adoptions.

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Been a bit busy lately, but will hopefully be back to regular blogging soon.  In the meantime, Ethica has issued a statement on the recent DOS advisory…

The U.S. Department of State(DOS) has issued the following statement about adoptions from Vietnam.


At meetings with adoption service providers attended by Ethica personnel, DOS has noted that approximately 2000 people have indicated to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that they intend to adopt from Vietnam. Many agencies have stopped adding people to their waiting lists, but the lists are long—with many agencies reporting waits of 12-15 months to 2 years for a referral. In light of the long wait times, and the significant number of people in process, the Department felt it was wise to inform people who have not already begun an adoption from Vietnam that it was possible that a new Memorandum of Understanding(MOU) will not be concluded by the Sept. 1 deadline and that when a new MOU is concluded, it might be different from the one currently in place.

Ethica commends the Department for its openness about the process and the possibility of delays. We urge families who have not yet begun the process to seriously consider options in other countries.  Parents who have been awaiting referrals will each have to weigh the risks of accepting a referral in the months to come. No one can really make that decision for you—all anyone can do is provide the currently available information. The U.S. does not require an MOU; the Vietnamese government does. Thus, while the U.S. will certainly continue its processing past Sept. 1, 2008, it is impossible to predict what the Vietnamese government will do with cases in process when the MOU expires. Because it is impossible to predict, it is the responsible thing to do for the Department to make families aware of the possibility that cases not completed by September 1, 2008 could face significant delays. Families should be aware that no agency can promise you that you will receive a referral after September 1 (as some families have reported), or that a case in process is guaranteed to be completed.

Ethica urges agencies to support the DOS efforts toward improving and continuing adoptions from Vietnam during their interactions with Vietnamese officials. Presenting a united front on issues of ethics and transparency will assist the Department in reaching an agreement with Vietnam more quickly.

Additional information on this situation can be found here:

We will continue to keep everyone informed as things develop in the coming months.

Linh Song, MSW
Executive Director
Ethica, Inc.

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Thanks to Nguyen Thi Thanh Truc for passing this along.

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