Yesterday we heard from Therese at LSS that this COA/Hague thing may not be a problem after all. Maybe. Their social worker has reviewed our home study (finally! They've had it for one month!) and LSS's social worker will be contacting ours (who's been waiting patiently to hear from them for weeks!) next week. As I said, this "approval" of our home study agency is not for sure. I asked Megan, our social worker who did our home study, to contact me next week after she talks to LSS to help us decide where to go from here.
The bigger and more serious issue is LSS's license, or rather lack of it. This was an issue of some discussion on one of the Adoption Agency Research listserves yesterday. One person noted that LSS refers to themselves as "newly licensed" on their website and in a short article in the local paper noted that they were approved by the VN government to do adoptions. Of course, that's not true yet. Another poster on the listserv had emailed the U.S. Embassy and gotten a reply that there' s no such thing as "verbal approval." Either they have their license, or they don't yet.
Therese and LSS have always been very honest with me about this. I explain it to non-adoption types like this: Agencies have to jump through 30 hoops to become licensed; LSS has jumped through 29, maybe 29 1/2. And this last step is just taking longer than usual because of all the uncertainty around Vietnam adoption right now, as it's just opened up and already both of our governments are seeing some problems and trying to clamp down.
Last week the U.S. embassy changed their website to note that "no new applications for agency licenses are being accepted by Vietnam at this time." Of course, LSS (and several others) have already applied, so this doesn't apply to them. But it does signal some tightening of the licensing process. And now we've learned that a "31st step" has been added.
This is my concern: it is possible that LSS will unfairly get caught in a clamp down on not-yet-licensed agencies and either not get their license or not get it for quite a while. Already they have been telling me for over a month that it's coming "any day now." I believe they are being honest with me when they say that, but we are dealing with international governments here, and nothing is ever for sure.
At some point, your Dad and I have to draw a line in the sand and say, "If LSS doesn't have their license by this date," we're going elsewhere. I believe that date is sometime next week.