Draft law promotes adoptions by locals

The draft law on adoption will encourage more Vietnamese people to adopt orphaned children, currently numbering about 200,000, the National Assembly’s Standing Committee heard at its session in Ha Noi yesterday.

September 17, 2009 / Vietnam news

According to a report prepared by Deputy Minister of Justice Dinh Trung Tung, the biggest difference between the draft law and existing adoption laws is the specific encouragement for domestic adoptions.

Tung said 20,000 children had been adopted over the past five years, only 13,000 of whom were adopted by domestic families. The rest were adopted by foreigners.

During that time there were shortcomings and overlaps in the regulating legal documents, hindering their effectiveness in real life circumstances.

Tung said the draft law makers consulted the basic principles of the Hague Convention and took ideas from various ministries and agencies to come up with their draft version of the law.

The draft law consists of six chapters with 57 articles. Included are stipulations regarding specific regulations on domestic adoption, procedures, stopping adoptions, and the responsibilities of agencies and organisations regarding adoption.

Draft Article 15 regulates that orphanages or other centres involved in raising children are responsible for trying to find domestic adoptive parents for children within 30 days of their arrival at the organisation. If they fail to find a domestic family to adopt the child within the 30 days, they should send the name of the child and relevant documents to the Ministry of Justice for publication on its national website. If no interest is shown by domestic families to adopt the child after 30 days, the opportunity will open up to foreigners.

This regulation does not apply to children with disabilities, HIV/AIDS, victims of Agent Orange/dioxin or with other serious diseases.

The draft law also stipulates that domestic citizens who would like to adopt a child may register with their local Justice Department or the Ministry of Justice.

According to Tung, new draft rules have been included for introducing children to potential adoptive parents from other countries. For example, Draft Articles 36 and 41 regulate that only the Ministry of Justice may introduce children to prospective parents, which is expected to prevent any malpractice by orphanages.

At the debate, some deputies suggested new regulations regarding the role of orphanages in working with foreigners on adoption cases.

Chairman of the Legal Committee Nguyen Van Thuan said some orphanages were involved in too many activities at one time, including taking in homeless children, accepting foreign donations and introducing children to foreigners.

"This results in a lack of objectivity," he said.

Thuan also disagreed with the solution that some activities would be undertaken by the Adoption Department under the Ministry of Justice.

"It’s not suitable with the ministry’s State management role. It would do better to work as a guard keeper in this situation.

"Introducing children to foreigners should be the role of social organisations," he argued.

Tung said foreigners should only be allowed to adopt Vietnamese children as a last resort.

"Within the next 15-20 years, as the country develops, adoption will primarily stay in the country," he said.

"In the long term, we’ll put an end to organisations introducing homeless children to foreigners."

However, Chairman of the Committee for Culture, Education, Youth and Children Dao Trong Thi suggested there should be a method to ensure the best conditions for the child.

"I think the most important factor is to find families with the best conditions for children, and there should be criteria to assess that," he said, objecting to the proposed draft law regulation that prioritises domestic families.

Thi also said the law should clarify how children would be encouraged to express their own wishes.

Chair person of the Committee for Social Affairs Truong Thi Mai said there should not be a regulation against adoption of children who are handicapped, have HIV/AIDS and Agent Orange/dioxin victims.

"If we do that, I’m afraid there will be people who take advantage of the rule and will refuse to care for disadvantaged children," she said.

Mai also proposed the draft law should include the time frame when children must be told they are adoptees. Some foreign countries regulate that they must be told when they reach adulthood at age 18, but in others it’s not disclosed until their parents die.

Council of Nationalities Chairman K’sor Phuoc said there should be a regulation spelling out the rights of adopted children, especially when they are with their foreign families. For example, the children should have the right to either renounce or keep their Vietnamese nationality.

NA Chairman Nguyen Phu Trong said there were still many cases that see parents adopting children without fulfilling legal formalities.

He suggested the writers add a rule about this to the draft law. — VNS


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