Vietnam: Intentions to Introduce New Adoption Legislation Halts Intercountry Adoption

5/1/09

U.S. citizens are not able to register a new adoption in Vietnam at this time. The Government of Vietnam has stated its intention to introduce new adoption legislation and to institute reforms in the adoption process, and has indicated that the anticipated new legislation and implementing regulations may take effect in 2011. Establishing new procedures and ensuring that they are effective will take additional time. Adoption service providers and prospective adoptive parents should not seek or accept new referrals from Vietnam at this time.

On October 15, 2008, the Governments of Vietnam and the United States jointly announced that intercountry adoptions were suspended until a new bilateral agreement is reached or Vietnam accedes to the Hague Adoption Convention. (Vietnamese law requires that a bilateral agreement or international convention must be in place; a previous agreement between Vietnam and the United States expired September 1, 2008.) This decision is based on evidence of significant irregularities, fraud concerns, and the lack of sufficient legal safeguards in Vietnam’s current adoption process.

Nearly all adoptions for which an official referral had been 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 hanoiadoptions@state.gov.

The Governments of the United States and Vietnam are seriously concerned about the inconsistencies and deficiencies that led to a mutual 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 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. Vietnamese criminal investigations into certain intercountry adoptions are still on-going as of May 2009.

The United States continues to meet regularly with Vietnamese officials to discuss intercountry adoption. Talks in Hanoi and Washington, D.C. have focused on the broad range of child welfare responsibilities encompassed by the Convention, the principles underlying the Hague Adoption Convention, and the practical requirements for implementing procedures that the Convention requires. During these meetings, representatives from both countries acknowledged 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 which protects the fundamental rights of all parties.

The United States welcomes action by the Government of Vietnam to investigate and prosecute individuals responsible for illegal activities related to intercountry adoptions. The United States also strongly supports Vietnam’s efforts to establish a comprehensive child welfare system that includes the option of intercountry adoption for children when family preservation or domestic alternatives are not possible. At this time it is not known when Vietnam will implement reforms sufficient to address the problems which led to the current halt in intercountry adoptions to the United States.

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