Chosing An Agency|Ethics|Experiences|Tools & Resources

When Adoptions in Vietnam Begin Again…. Part 1

The following post comes to us from a new Guest Blogger, Tina, who adopted from Vietnam before the last shutdown. Thank you Tina, for stepping forward to share your experience and insight!

When Adoptions in Vietnam Begin Again…. Part 1

All of us share the sincere hope that the new system in Vietnam adoptions will safeguard the rights of children and birth families. No one wants to see history repeated. The stakes are too high.

As an adoptive parent, I feel compelled to write this post and get involved in VVAI. When my husband and I started our adoption process in 2006, we knew very little about the history of adoptions in Vietnam. Over time, I’ve become better educated and increasingly worried about adoptions resuming without assurances of real change. In talking about my concerns to someone in the adoption field, this person said to me that it is better to get children moving in the adoption pipeline and risk a case of fraud, than to do nothing and let children languish in Vietnamese orphanages. But, how can that be at all acceptable? There has to be a way to make adoption a viable option to children who are truly in need of families – without the risk that any one child could be that “case of fraud.”

Wouldn’t it be lovely if we had a system that absolutely guarantees ethical adoptions? Well, we don’t have a magic process. We have standards of practice, but what we really need are educated, informed, proactive people who are vigilant in upholding the standards and actively working to prevent adoption fraud. We need adoption agency leaders with integrity.

So what can we do as concerned people, adoptive parents and prospective adoptive parents of Vietnamese children?

We can be informed, educated consumers of adoption services. We need to do thorough research and/or refresh our memories about the past problems with Vietnam adoptions. Please read this informative and compelling piece by Christina: A Plea.

The following is a “must-read” list for anyone concerned about ethical adoptions in Vietnam:

1. Any and all books on Vietnam and the history of adoptions in Vietnam, including The Life We Were Given: Operation BabyLift, International Adoption and the Children of War in Vietnam by Dana Sachs; and In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam by Robert McNamara.

2. The Report on Vietnam by The Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, and make note of the agencies that previously encountered problems obtaining US government approvals for adopted children’s visas.

3. The Baby Business by E.J. Graff, and The Lie We Love by Graff online at The Lie We Love, also by Graff.

4. Read each and every post and readers’ comments on this website: Voices for Vietnam Adoption Integrity (VVAI). Start with the oldest posts first, and make sure you read this one by Jena, Ten Things Everyone Should Ask Any Agency Before Choosing Them.

5. The US Embassy in Vietnam’s website and archives on adoptions from 2007-2012. Also, read the Vietnam information, alerts and notices posted on the US State Department’s adoption website.

When Vietnam adoptions reopen, we can weigh the pros and cons of working with a small adoption agency versus a large, stable, well-established agency. We can expect that adoption agency directors are fully informed about the past problems with Vietnam adoptions. We can expect agencies to articulate their well-conceived, detailed plan to safeguard the rights of vulnerable children and their birth parents. We can interview agency directors and staff and hold them accountable to high ethical standards and full transparency.

What are your thoughts? What else can we do as concerned people, adoptive parents and prospective adoptive parents?

Part 2 of this post will outline a series of questions to use when interviewing an adoption agency.

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.

One Comment

  1. If Vietnam holds to what they are saying and only licenses 2 agencies and it remains only a special needs and/or older child program as the new plan states, I do not see as much risk for corruption. My biggest fear with this new system is will it actually work. It seems very long, and overly complicated. Like we have gone to the other extreme. When you are dealing with special needs and older kids time is of the essence.

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