Friday, November 02, 2007

Statement from the U.S. Embassy on Vietnam Adoptions

For privacy reasons, the US Embassy in Hanoi can not discuss specific cases or comment on specific agencies. However, the Embassy believes it is important for people to have accurate information about the current situation in Vietnam and have kindly sent us this statement to share with our readers:

In recent months, the Embassy and USCIS have seen an increase in the number of irregularities appearing in orphan petitions and visa applications in Vietnam. This has resulted in a similar increase in the issuance of Notices of Intent to Deny.

We recognize that a decision to deny a petition is an extremely undesirable outcome for adopting parents and for children, who themselves may be the victims of unscrupulous agents. For this reason, we urge adoptive parents to be extremely diligent in reviewing qualifications and standards before selecting an adoption service provider. Unfortunately, as news stories and blogs often reveal, the glowing report of an adoptive parent who successfully “brought home” a child cannot be taken as evidence that the adoption was ethical or fully legal.

We at the Embassy have a legal responsibility to ensure the integrity of the adoption process when that process is part of the request for an immigrant visa. Moreover, we have an ethical responsibility to ensure that international adoptions include adequate safeguards for the rights of the children, birth parents, and adoptive parents throughout this process.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Intercountry adoptions signed by the U.S. and Vietnam in 2005 was the beginning of a step towards an intercountry adoption program that would meet international standards such as those established by the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoptions. That convention contains a number or protections and safeguards currently lacking in Vietnam. For that reason, we are urging the Government of Vietnam to push forward with its efforts to become a Hague partner.

The MOU was designed to increase transparency and reduce corruption, and came after a period when adoptions had been suspended in Vietnam because of significant problems involving corruption and “Baby buying.”

The ongoing number of irregularities that we are currently seeing strongly indicates that the adoption process in Vietnam still lacks sufficient oversight and regulation. Specifically there is insufficient control of the so-called child finders and an inadequate regulation of the fees paid to individuals and institutions. Despite its stated intention to do so, Vietnam has yet to publish a schedule of fees. We are extremely concerned by reports of significant increases in the number of abandoned children since 2005, especially in the provinces of Phu Tho and Thai Nguyen.

We continue to encourage the DIA to work with provincial authorities in Vietnam to improve the integrity of the adoption system. We recognize there may be legitimate questions concerning the DIA authority in these cases. Whatever the cause, to date we have seen little remedial action to address the problems. Even more important, we have seen little if any action to identify and prosecute those responsible for fraudulently documenting the abandonment of children, offering monetary inducements to families for relinquishing children, and offering children for international adoption without the consent of the birth parents.

We strongly endorse international adoption as an important option for Vietnamese children who do not have permanent families. We are deeply concerned, however, by confirmed cases of child selling, and by evidence that children are being released for adoption without the consent of the birth parents.

We are continuing to work with the Government of Vietnam to find ways to strengthen and improve accountability in the adoption system. We continue to urge Vietnam to pass a new, responsible, comprehensive law regulating adoptions, one that puts in place a process that protects the interests of all parties involved in and adoption and one that meets the standards of the Hague Convention. We look forward to the day when both of our countries are full participants in that convention.

1 comment:

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