While visiting Vietnam this week, Senator Mary Landrieu said she is hopeful that adoptions between the U.S. and Vietnam will be able to restart soon. According to the Associated Press:
Senators and adoption lobby groups have been urging Vietnam to pass stronger laws and better monitor the process so that adoptions can resume. A leading advocate, Sen. Mary Landrieu, said Vietnam now has safeguards in place to resume adoptions, including a central authority overseeing the process.
“The government of Vietnam seems to be willing to restart, and there are just some final details to be worked out with the government of the United States,” the Democrat from Louisiana told reporters late Wednesday in Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital. “We hope that it will be in the near future.”
Not all parties involved are as optimistic, however.
A U.N.-commissioned report into adoptions in Vietnam in 2009 said the demand from prospective parents, most of them in the United States, had essentially created a supply of young babies. Cash payments by adoption agencies to orphanages led them to seek out children for adoption abroad, often without proper checks into their background or their family circumstances.
“The availability of children who are adoptable abroad corresponds more to the existence of foreign prospective adopters than to the actual needs of abandoned and orphaned children,” the report said.
Senator Landrieu’s response?
“There is always going to be a possibility of something going wrong, but just because one or two or three or a handful of cases is not handled right, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have an opportunity for kids to have families,”
While we share Senator Landrieu’s hope that stronger laws and better monitoring will result in a safeguarded system, we believe the rights and needs of all children are paramount; any number of mishandled cases is too many. And sadly, too often where “one, two, three or a handful” of cases are found to be mishandled, there may many other cases that slip by. We should never push for expediency when children and families are involved – we must insist on every case being handled right. While some in the American adoption community seem to be overly concerned with the numbers of intercountry adoptions, we hope the authorities involved will focus their concern on protecting children’s rights and identities, as well as the rights of their families. If we want to see intercountry adoptions with Vietnam restarted with a system healthy enough to remain open, we can not settle for less.