UPDATE: Excerpts from the second embassy statement here.
The latest statement from the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi says that those with referrals before September 1 will be allowed to complete their adoptions, which may include us. However, it warns of "irregularities" in Vietnam adoptions. I know of at least one familiy who has chosen to pull out and go to another country after the USCIS investigation discovered that their referred baby had been unethically obtained from her birthfamily (orphanage officials shook the birthparents down for money, then forced the illiterate couple to sign relinguishment papers.) If we do ever get a referral, we will be asking lots of questions (I pray for a child who is relinguished, not abandoned) and will be patient while USCIS conducts its investigation.
Here is the statement, also posted on their website here.
Adopted Children Immigrant Visa Unit
Warning Concerning Adoptions in Vietnam
The Department of State continues to urge prospective adoptive parents and adoption service providers not to initiate 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. In addition, recent field investigations have revealed incidents of serious adoption irregularities, including forged or altered documentation, mothers paid, coerced or tricked into releasing their children, and children offered for adoption without the knowledge or consent of their birth parents.
The United States is strongly committed to processing legitimate 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 to address deficiencies in the current system.
On April 25, the Government of Vietnam announced that it will allow adoption to be completed in cases where prospective adoptive parents have been matched with a child and received an official referral prior to September 1, 2008. It further stated that in accordance with Vietnamese law, the DIA will suspend the acceptance of new dossiers on July 1, 2008. On September 1, 2008 any dossier that has not received a referral will be closed and returned to the Adoption Service Provider. 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.
Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that documents relating to adoptions in Vietnam, such as birth certificates, abandonment reports, relinquishment agreements, and investigative reports are generally issued by orphanage directors, local People’s Committees, Provincial Departments and the Department for International Adoptions (DIA). The facts asserted in these documents are not verified by the issuing officials. Attempts by U.S. officials to verify the accuracy of these documents have routinely uncovered evidence of fraudulent or inaccurate information. Therefore, documents issued by the authorities listed above, and any other documents containing information not verified by the issuing authority, cannot be considered adequate evidence of the facts claimed. They may be used in conjunction with primary and contemporaneous secondary evidence, or must be independently verified by U.S. officials in Vietnam, before they can be considered valid for immigration purposes. (http://travel.state.gov/visa/frvi/reciprocity/reciprocity_3705.html)
Consular officers have routinely completed field verifications of orphan status in over 35 provinces in Vietnam. However, in some cases, Vietnamese officials have prevented the U.S. Government from conducting independent field inquiries into the status of children identified in I-600 petitions. Embassy outreach, as well as support from adoption agency officials, have thus far allowed independent investigations to resume in some areas that were previously impeded. We continue robust efforts to resolve this issue. Unfortunately, it is impossible to predict when we can complete the field inquiries in areas which are still closed to our staff.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service and the Department of State have instituted 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. Information about these procedures is available from USCIS or through their website http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis. 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.