U.S. alleges baby-selling, corruption in adoptions from Vietnam

American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam

 Ho Chin Mihn City Chapter

Hanoi, 25 Apr 2008. A new report by the U.S. Embassy in Vietnam says fraud is pervasive in the Vietnamese international adoption system.

A nine-page report released by the embassy charges that some Vietnamese orphanages pay parents to put their children up for adoption so the orphanages can obtain donations from foreign adoption agencies.

Americans, including actress Angelina Jolie, adopted more than 1,200 Vietnamese children over the 18 months ending Mar 31, 2008.

Many people involved in Vietnamese adoptions strictly adhere to adoption laws, U.S. officials say.

But others have been flooding the system with cash to get babies for American parents, who pay up to US$ 25,000 for an adoption.

The US report says adoption fraud stems partly from a requirement under Vietnamese law that foreign adoption service providers (ASPs) must provide funding to a Vietnamese orphanage in order to receive adoption referrals from that orphanage. Agreements between orphanages and ASPs require the orphanage to refer a set proportion of children for adoption in exchange for donations from the foreign ASP.

The competition for babies is intense, and some adoption service providers have been paying orphanage directors US$ 10,000 per referral, the report says, and some have taken orphanage directors on shopping sprees and junkets to the United States in return for a steady flow of babies.

The head of Vietnam’s Department of International Adoptions, Vu Duc Long, categorically denies the charges.

Vietnam’s top adoption official called the concerns “groundless.” Bribery of orphanage officials may occur, but serious offenses such as baby-selling or kidnapping are not a problem, he said..

“I’m shocked and deeply troubled by the worst of the worst cases,” said Jonathan Aloisi, deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi.

“The report that we produced on these adoption irregularities here in Vietnam is the result of months and months of investigations into hundreds of these adoption cases. And we have worked very, very hard to ensure that the findings are accurate. Because these are children. They’re not commodities,” said an Embassy spokesperson.

The U.S. suspended all adoptions from Vietnam in 2003 over concerns about corruption. Adoptions resumed in 2006 under a bilateral agreement intended to ensure they were above board.

That agreement expires Sept. 1, and many adoption agency officials believe the Vietnam program will be suspended again.

Read more …

Corruption Halts Vietnam Adoptions by Americans, ABC News, May 15, 2008

U.S. alleges baby-selling, corruption in adoptions from Vietnam, International Herald Tribune, 25 Apr 2008.

US finds fraud in Vietnam adoptions, Voice of America, 25 Apr 2008.

Vietnam’s adoption system “corrupted,” US Embassy says, Taipei Times, 26 Apr 2008.

US alleges baby selling in Vietnam, Time, 24 Apr 2008.

Summary of Irregularities in Adoptions in Vietnam, U.S. Embassy, Hanoi, Vietnam. Adopted Children Immigrant Visa Unit, 25 Apr 2008. “On October 25, 2007 in response to “growing concerns about irregularities in the methods used to identify children for adoption in Vietnam and the resulting difficulties in classifying those children as orphans,” the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) required that I-600 Forms (Petition to Classify an Orphan as an Immediate Relative) be filed in Ho Chi Minh City, with the processing of these petitions to be completed before prospective adoptive parents travel to Vietnam. These procedures enable USCIS to determine whether a child qualifies as an orphan, as defined by the Immigration and Nationality Act. In the six months since this program was instituted, US officials in Vietnam have investigated over 300 such petitions. This report presents a summary of findings.”

Warning Concerning Adoptions in Vietnam, April 2008. 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.

Irresponsible?, Voices for Vietnam Adoption Integrity, 20 Oct 2007. The reality is it can be very hard to play by American rules in Vietnam. And unfortunately, it seems many agencies do not even try.

Some comments by the Voices for Vietnam Adoption Integrity on “Summary of Irregularities in Adoptions in Vietnam” On Apr 25, 2008, the US Embassy, Hanoi released a summary of irregularities in adoptions in Vietnam that is the longest and most thorough, to date. Likewise they have also released a Warning Concerning Adoptions in Vietnam (see above).

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