Thursday, February 14, 2008

Have a Heart - Support Ethica's "Operation Identity"

In honor of Valentine's Day, PEAR is asking the adoptive family community to support and assist in Ethica's Operation Identity: Cooperating to Protect the Identity of Vietnamese Orphans. Identifying information is extremely important to adopted persons, it is important to all persons. As adoptive parents and prospective adoptive parents, it is our duty to preserve and protect our child's identity. It is our duty to make sure that the choices we make in adopting a child, choosing a program, and choosing an agency, do not negatively impact our future children. As a gift of love to our children, we need to stand up for what is right, not what is quick or what is easy.

Please take a few moments to read the following (from Ethica's website), then visit the website to read a further detailed report. Contact your agency, or any agency you know that works in Vietnam and encourage them to participate in this program.

Happy Valentine's Day,

Gina Pollock
Interim President

"Operation Identity is a project designed to encourage the accurate identification of Vietnamese orphans and to prevent skyrocketing abandonment rates from impacting the future of adoptions from Vietnam.

The Problem:
The U.S. Embassy in Hanoi is reporting that 85% of all adoptions being filed at this time are for "abandoned" children. The Embassy believes that many of these abandonment cases are staged.

Ethica believes that other factors could be influencing the trend, and there is no clear evidence on why the trend is occurring.

The Effects:
There are two serious effects of this trend. Children are being deprived of their identifying information, and the high rate of abandonment in a country without a history of it could be a factor in whether adoption from Vietnam will continue.

The Initiative:
Operation Identity is designed to bring transparency to this situation, and to promote change that will protect the identifying information of children and future adoptions from Vietnam.

Agencies currently operating in Vietnam will be asked to confidentially provide statistics of the rate of abandonments for time periods before the closure of Vietnamese adoptions in 2002 and for the current time period; and from province to province. The database will go live next week.

Each agency working in Vietnam will be encouraged to speak with their overseas representatives, orphanage staff and provincial officials to discuss the need for children to have identifying information and the problems that high numbers of abandonments can cause.

The Desired Outcome:
Through cooperative reporting and concerted effort, the abandonment rate will start to decline.


1. Why do you need statistics?

Statistics are important to establish when the trend changed, and whether or not the changes are geographically limited to particular areas. Statistics also point to where efforts at change need to be targeted.

2. What is causing this trend?

We don't know. The Embassy believes there could be intentional erasure of identities to thwart investigations or to cover illegal activity. But there are other possibilities--the decision could be coming from local officials or orphanages who do not understand the importance of identifying information or who are looking for a simpler way to process cases.

3. Are you investigating agencies?

No! Ethica is not an investigative authority. The statistics reported on our site will not be linked to any particular agency or provider. The Embassy already has the agency by agency statistics--there is thus no need for us to collect statistics in order to "investigate" or harm any agency.

4. Why would abandonment rates impact future adoptions?

Officials become concerned when they cannot trace children's histories. A sudden rise in abandonments can signal that identities are being intentionally erased, perhaps to cover unethical activities or to stop successful investigations. When the U.S. government cannot conduct effective investigations into children's backgrounds, it can be difficult or impossible to determine which children are really "orphans" and concerns rise that visas could be given to trafficked or abducted children. This could lead to a decision to halt adoptions from that country until better practices emerge which provide transparency to the process.

5. What can I do to help?

Adoptive parents and supporters of adoption and adopted children can encourage agencies to cooperate in publishing statistics and take steps to change this practice. Agencies can participate and cooperate with others in finding ways to stop this disturbing trend."

Read a detailed discussion of this issue by visiting Ethica's website:

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