Thursday, October 22, 2009

DOS Notice: Vietnam

Vietnam Adoption Notice
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues

October 2009

Nearly all cases for which an official referral was issued before September 1, 2008, have now been processed to completion. The U.S. Embassy in Hanoi and Vietnamese officials are assisting families whose cases are still pending. Questions about these cases may be sent to

At this time, adoption service providers and prospective adoptive parents should not seek or accept new (or potential) adoption referrals from Vietnam. We will inform adoption service providers and prospective adoptive parents if/when we believe referrals from Vietnam can resume.

As a positive development, the Government of Vietnam recently circulated an initial draft of a proposed new adoption law. As drafted, the proposed legislation attempts to codify and coordinate domestic and intercountry adoption requirements and procedures. The draft itself represents a significant effort and could be a step towards Vietnam’s stated goal of becoming a Party to the Hague Adoption Convention. At this point, however, it is unclear whether the legislation would achieve this goal and when (or if) the Vietnamese legislature will formally consider it. If the legislation passes, it will take time to establish effective new procedures and regulations.

International and Vietnamese media sources have also reported that the Vietnamese Government concluded its investigation in one of several cases of adoption officials allegedly falsifying paperwork for the intercountry adoption of Vietnamese children. Reports indicate that all 16 officials from one province were found guilty of the abuse of power in their public services positions and were individually sentenced. The United States welcomes the more active role of Vietnamese officials in the monitoring of the local adoption process.
The United States remains in frequent contact with the government of Vietnam on adoption matters. Discussions have focused on the broad range of child welfare responsibilities encompassed by the Hague Adoption Convention, the principles underlying the Convention, and the practical requirements for implementing procedures that the Convention requires. Representatives from both countries agree that intercountry adoptions from Vietnam to the United States cannot resume until fundamental reforms are in place to ensure a transparent child welfare system that has the best interests of the children as its first priority, and that protects the fundamental rights of all parties.

The Governments of the United States and Vietnam are seriously concerned about the inconsistencies and deficiencies that led to a decision not to renew our previous bilateral agreement. Vietnamese criminal investigations and U.S. field reviews revealed evidence of child buying, including forged or altered documents, cash payment to birth mothers (for other than reasonable payments for necessary activities), coercion or deceit to induce birth parent(s) to release children to an orphanage, and children being offered for intercountry adoption without the knowledge or consent of their birth parents. Any effort to predict when the current situation will be replaced with a reliable, transparent intercountry adoption procedure is purely speculative.

In response to U.S. Government inquiries, the Government of Vietnam has reaffirmed that second referrals will be permitted only when the child originally referred for adoption has died. In light of ongoing police investigations and the Vietnamese Government’s current focus on revising its adoption laws and procedures, the U.S. Government accepts this decision on second referrals as final.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

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