Vietnam adoption procedures treat children as ‘commodities’

October 31, 2010 8:00 PM EDT
The disclosure emerged in internal US State Department documents which reveal a network of people, from adoption agency representatives, orphanage directors, hospital administrators right through to government officials and local police, were profiting by paying for children, as well as coercing and defrauding natural parents into giving up their children for adoption.

The documents, from 2007 and 2008, show in some cases, children were simply stolen from their families to sell them to unsuspecting American couples. Throughout hundreds of pages of material, US officials – including the country’s ambassador to Vietnam, Michael W Michalak, and Assistant Secretary of State Maura Harty – express their growing concerns over adoption practices in Vietnam. 

Following these concerns, which included evidence of “baby farming” and “baby selling”, the USA eventually decided not to renew its bilateral agreement with Vietnam in September 2008. 

Ireland followed suit in May of 2009. 

It is understood the Irish Embassy in Vietnam had also expressed “serious concerns” as to adoption practices in the country. 

The US documents also show US adoption agencies’ contracts with provincial authorities for “humanitarian donations” was putting pressure on the adoption system to meet the growing need to provide children for adoption. Ireland has adopted more than 600 children from the south-east Asian country between 2002 and 2008. 

The new Adoption Act, which comes into force today, will finally complete Ireland’s ratification of the Hague Convention on inter-country adoption. 

Irish people approved to adopt from abroad will only be able to adopt children from a Hague Convention country or from a country with which Ireland has a bilateral agreement. However, anybody who has a declaration of suitability to adopt before the November 1 will be allowed to proceed with a non-Hague country.