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Child Permanency in Vietnam: Intercountry Adoption Must Continue to Play a Role

December 23, 2008
Child Permanency in Vietnam: Intercountry Adoption Must Continue to Play a Role
For the past 33 years intercountry adoption has played a critical role in ensuring the right of Vietnamese children to a safe, permanent, and loving family.  The Vietnamese have done so in realizing that every child needs a family in which to grow and thrive.  Joint Council commends Vietnam for their efforts to provide a family for every child.  During this timeframe, Vietnam has, at times, however found the need to close intercountry adoptions to the U.S. and other countries.  The most recent closure to the U.S. occurred on September 1, 2008.
Across this 30-plus year history, there have been isolated reports of abuse within the Vietnamese intercountry adoption system.  Last year, there was a concerted effort among all stakeholders to stop such abuse in order to continue ethical and safe adoptions to the United States. As part of this effort the Vietnamese government arrested persons accused of child buying and announced a desire to become party to the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoptions.  In the United States, Congressional Representatives advocated for a new agreement to ensure ethical adoptions would continue while protecting the rights of Vietnamese children.  Joint Council, along with our Member Organizations, implemented Standards of Practice and launched A Child's Rights Campaign for Vietnam to promote transparency in international adoption while maintaining it as a viable permanency solution. 
Despite our collective efforts, the Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. and Vietnam expired this Fall and all intercountry adoptions to the U.S. ceased in September 2008.  Although there was disappointment that an understanding could not be met, there was hope that a new agreement would soon be reached.  Both the U.S. and Vietnam showed a commitment to negotiating a new bilateral agreement and Vietnam showed interest in transitioning into a Hague-compliant system. While the U.S. Department of State has reached out to their Vietnamese counterparts, no face-to-face negotiations have taken place. 
Currently, there is no indication of when or if an agreement will be reached.
Child welfare professionals working in Vietnam are continually reporting a rising number of orphans placed in local institutions.  Similarly, birth families surrendering their children continue to request that they be placed for adoption.  Many orphanages are quickly becoming overcrowded, and supplies are depleting rapidly. 
As each day passes with no progress toward a new agreement, the vulnerable children of Vietnam are increasingly placed at risk.  It is for this reason that Joint Council strongly supports the efforts of U.S. Senators Mary Landrieu and Norm Coleman in requesting that Congressional representatives sign a letter intended for Nguyen Tan Dung, the Prime Minister of Vietnam.  This letter will encourage Vietnam's continued participation in negotiations related to a new bilateral agreement on intercountry adoption.  The letter will express Congressional support for the continuation of intercountry adoption and will emphasize the importance of Vietnam's transition to a Hague-compliant system and signing a new bilateral treaty.  Joint Council feels that this letter is vital in spurring negotiations so that intercountry adoption can again provide another option for hope to the vulnerable children of Vietnam.
Joint Council urges you to please join us in ensuring that hope is alive for every Vietnamese child.  Please take a moment and contact your Senators and Congressmen during our Call to Action on January 5th, 6th, and 7th.  Doing so will help ensure that  ethical intercountry adoptions continue to play a part in every Vietnamese child's right to a safe, permanent, and loving family.  Take a moment, and take a stand for the vulnerable children of Vietnam.

2008 Dec 23