Voices for Vietnam Adoption Integrity has learned from multiple sources that an agency that has no legal authority to place children from Vietnam has been advertising “Waiting Children” through a secret Facebook group with nearly 100 members. When questioned about these children, the agency representative responded that they were “partnering” with Alliance For Children, the third and most recent agency to be licensed in Vietnam.
On Saturday, August 29th, Sue Chabler Macklis, Adoption Consultant and Case Manager for Adoptions International Incorporated out of Dallas TX posted photos of a six year old girl, as well as a pair of sisters, all from Vietnam, on the Adoptions International Secret Group on Facebook. When members of the group asked how the agency had these children’s pictures, Macklis and AII founder and Executive Director Jody Hall responded that they were “partnering” with Alliance for Children. When questioned about whether such partnering was allowed under the new process in Vietnam, neither responded and their comments were deleted. It also appeared that several members of the group were banned.
Screen Captures of posts made on a secret group for Adoptions International. Faces and names were blurred to protect the innocent.
Only three American agencies are currently authorized to provide adoption services in Vietnam. Those agencies are Holt International, Dillon International, and Alliance for Children. They were authorized under a strict program with very specific requirements and may only place children who meet specific guidelines. It was hoped that if this limited program were successful and remained free of fraud and illegal activity, a wider program may be introduced in the future. Unauthorized agencies “partnering” with the authorized agencies to place children is not allowed under the guidelines of the current program.
The US State Department details the requirements and steps involved in adopting from Vietnam here. The first step outlined is to choose an accredited agency.
Only accredited or approved adoption services providers may act as the primary provider in your case. The primary adoption service provider is responsible for ensuring that all adoption services in the case are done in accordance with the Hague Adoption Convention and U.S. laws and regulations.
Some “partnering” agencies will say that they are just assisting the accredited agency and so therefore it is allowed. However, the State Department further clarifies the role of the agency:
The accredited and authorized U.S. adoption service provider facilitates the adoption on behalf of the prospective adoptive parents, including assembling the application dossier for submission to MOJ/DA, providing logistical support for prospective adoptive parents and their adopted child(ren), and providing post-adoption reports to MOJ/DA. The adoption service provider is also responsible for fully informing prospective adoptive parents about the child’s medical condition, if applicable, so that they can make an informed decision about the adoption.
Clearly, there is no room for another agency in this description. Some families may wish to believe that working with a smaller, more local, or more “personal” agency is worth the risk of deceiving both the Vietnamese and American authorities. If the partner agency’s name is not on any of the legal paperwork, who will know? The question is, why take that risk? Especially when the State Department very clearly states:
The United States will not process intercountry adoptions from Vietnam that fall outside the parameters of the Special Adoption Program.
This is a new and very fragile program and we would hate to see anything hinder the families and children who have taken steps in good faith to carefully follow all of the adoption guidelines. Please do not seek out agencies who are not authorized to facilitate an adoption from Vietnam. In addition, if you learn of agencies who are looking to skirt the rules, or of authorized agencies taking on such “partnerships” we would encourage you to document (via screen capture or other means) all evidence and then pass it along to us or to the State Department. (One means is via the State Department’s Hague Convention webpage. Halfway down the page is a link for submitting complaints.) We thank all of the people who contacted us with information about the activity on this Facebook page. Our best hope for this program is for families to hold ALL agencies accountable and insist on only the most ethical standards.
For more information on the practice and dangers of Partnering, also known as using an “Umbrella” agency, please see this post written before the last shutdown in 2007: Umbrellaing – An Overview.