Chosing An Agency|Ethics|The Process

Soapbox Time

The following was originally published at Mrs. Broccoli Guy in September 2006 and imported to this site in August 2012. At this time, adoptions between the US and Vietnam are not possible. However this advice is not limited to Vietnam, and may apply when a new agreement is signed.


I know I’ve blogged about this before but I feel a rant coming on and I just can’t hold it back any longer… I am so beyond FED UP with agencies that promise (and sometimes deliver) very very young babies, very fast referrals and insanely quick waits to travel and the PAPs who jump at the chance to sign up with these agencies, never stopping to consider HOW it is possible for said agency to have such ridiculously quick timeframes when nearly every other (ethical) agency has long waits to referral, and 4-6 months waits to travel and the children referred are generally 3-6 months old, at the youngest.

People, STOP and THINK. Yes, it sounds good to have a very quick referral. And it sounds wonderful to get a referral of a 6-8 week old baby. And wow what a miracle that your agency can get your travel approval in only one to two months! It sounds too good to be true! Wait! It is!! Read the Procedures for American Citizens Adopting an Orphan in Vietnam posted on the embassy website and then tell me you can think of an ethical and legal way to get a very young baby home super fast. The truth is you can’t. The only way agencies are able to make good on those promises is to break the rules. They pay extra “fees” or make big “donations” to orphanages, officials, anyone who will look the other way or rubber stamp their paperwork. Or they find other ways around the system.

Okay, so what if you argue that it’s in the child’s best interested to be adopted as young as possible so the ends justify the means? Well, I would argue that it is not in the child’s best interests when there is no (meaningful) search for birth families or efforts to preserve the family unit. Has anyone noticed most of these super young babies are “abandoned”? Yes, abandonments happen. But it’s also true that when a child is “abandoned” it does away with all that pesky relinquishment paperwork and extra time that might take. And even if the child is legitimately available for adoption, when agencies start paying extra fees (aka bribes) and cutting corners, that does two things: first, it punishes everyone working with an ethical agency because they get pushed to the end of the line while the fastlane agency’s cases are “expedited”. Second, when too many things start to look very suspicious, the US government has shown it is not afraid to just shut everything down. And then how many kids will find loving families?

Please. Please, if you are in the process of choosing an agency, or if you are working with an agency and they are making these kinds of incredible promises…please take a step back. Consider how it is they can deliver on those promises. Be willing to leave an agency or choose one with a longer timeline. I know it’s hard to wait. Believe me, no one knows better than I how hard waiting is. But twenty years from now, when your son or daughter asks about their adoption process, what do you think will matter to them: How fast the process was, or how ethical it was?

Christina Chronister

Christina has adopted two children from SE Asia in 2002 and 2006. Her experience adopting at the time of the U.S. shutdown in Cambodia was eye-opening and led to the creation of a parent-led advocacy group which successfully lobbied for the review and subsequent approval of hundreds of adoptions caught in the pipeline. Her involvement, which included meeting with State Department officials and working with members of Congress, did not end when all the pipeline cases were resolved. Rather it became clear that accountability was sadly lacking in adoptions around the world. The most vulnerable (and yet the most vital) parties in adoptions – children and families – were underrepresented at the table in nearly every discussion. In 2006 she co-founded Voices for Vietnam Adoption Integrity to continue to raise awareness of the need for ethical practices at every step of the adoption process. In 2018 Voices for Vietnam Adoption Integrity changed their name to Voices for Adoption Integrity, recognizing that the struggle is not limited to any one country or program.

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