Vietnam: Department of State Announcement on DIA

7/18/08

The U.S. Department of State has released the following statement on their website:

Prospective adoptive parents and adoption service providers should be aware that the Vietnamese Department of International Adoptions (DIA) suspended the acceptance of new adoption dossiers on July 1, 2008. The DIA will continue to process cases received prior to July 1, 2008. The bilateral adoption agreement, required by Vietnamese law to authorize adoptions between the United States and Vietnam, expires on September 1, 2008. Prospective adoptive parents who have been matched with a child (received a formal referral) by September 1 will be allowed to process their adoption to conclusion. Dossiers that have not received a referral by September 1 will be closed and returned to the adoption service provider.

According to the DIA, a referral occurs when DIA sends a letter to prospective adoptive parents informing them that both DIA and provincial authorities have agreed to the match of a specific child. Any case where this letter has been sent to the prospective adoptive parents (PAPs) before September 1 will be considered as having a referral and will be processed to completion. DIA has reported that there are more than 1,700 applications pending as of July 1, 2008. According to DIA estimates and prior adoption trends, it is likely that referrals will be completed before September 1 for approximately 50 percent of these applications. The U.S. Embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam, will process to conclusion all adoptions that meet the Government of Vietnam’s criteria and deadlines.

The United States is strongly committed to processing legitimate intercountry adoptions from Vietnam. We have indicated to the Vietnamese our interest in negotiating a new agreement. An important goal for the United States is that any new agreement must establish enforceable safeguards and a transparent process which ensures 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. It is not possible, at this time, to predict when a new bilateral adoption agreement may be negotiated and signed.

U.S. field investigations continue to reveal incidents of serious adoption irregularities, including forged or altered documentation, cash payment to birth mothers (for other than reasonable payments for necessary activities such as administrative, court, legal, translation, and/or medical services related to the adoption), coercion or deceit to induce the 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. During the month of June 2008, five children were reunited with their families after investigations by the U.S. Embassy in Vietnam revealed that the birth parents had not consented to their adoption. In July, Vietnamese media reported that police in the northern province of Nam Dinh arrested three people, including two communal health officials, for alleged child buying and creating fraudulent documentation purporting that these children had been deserted. These children had also been illegally offered for intercountry adoption; the investigation is ongoing. Vietnamese officials have informed the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi that similar investigations are occurring in other provinces.

Prospective adoptive parents who have a pending dossier with the Government of Vietnam 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 frequently uncover 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.

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. 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.

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