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Monday, November 18, 2013

The current state of Vietnam adoption program

Dear Nancy,
I know you have two children adopted from Vietnam.  In 2009 Vietnam closed their doors for international adoption in attempts to fix the problems they were having with inappropriate adoption practices that were questionable.  We are currently in the process of adopting from China but would like to add one more child to our family through adoption.  I have an Aunt which is Vietnamese and would like to adopt a child from her country.  Do you know if Vietnam has any plans to open their adoption program whether it be NSN or SN?
Enough room in my heart for one more place at our table

Dear Room in my Heart,

We've been asked many times about the status of Vietnam's adoption program. I think folks are more familiar with China's adoption program and how things slowed down to next to nothing and in turn the special needs program in China grew.  We are overwhelmingly grateful that China no longer has a surplus of abandoned baby girls literally lying in wait.  My heart is with the families that still wait to adopt a Chinese daughter.  But always the eternal optimist, I am thankful that China's adoption program has evolved and now places more and more special needs children.  This is good indeed.

But folks don't really know much about Vietnam's adoption program and where it currently stands.

Maybe a bit of history about Vietnam's adoption program is a good place to start.

Vietnam's adoption program has been on and off again with the United States for over a decade.  It has a pattern of opening, becoming rife with suspicions of child trafficking and "baby laundering," and lots of evidence that it's actually going on, and ultimately the United States shuts the program down to it's citizens.  A few years will pass, safeguards put in place, and the program re-opens only to be closed down again a few years later.  When people from a very wealthy country like the United States start distributing large sums of money in a very poor country like Vietnam, especially in inconsistent regulations, corruption manifests and multiplies.   And so it was with the Vietnam-United States adoption program.  Today the program remains suspended to United States citizens.  Room in my Heart, Vietnam did not close adoption but rather the US closed adoption to US citizens.  The program has remained open to other countries and is currently open to Canadian citizens.

Enter stage left - The Hague Convention
"The Hague" is an international agreement that works to protect children and safeguard international adoptions.  Many countries have adopted The Hague, like the Unites States, China, Rwanda, Philippines and many others.  The Hague makes sure that all sides are playing with the same rules, rules that protect the children.  Understandably, the United States is a pretty big fan of the Hague Convention.  But it wasn't until 2011 that Vietnam ratified The Hague Convention.  It's a huge step in the right direction!  But now Vietnam is left to figure out how to implement The Hague.

In July of this year, Vietnam announced that it would be accepting applications from US adoption agencies for a very limited special needs program in the future, defining as "special needs as defined by Vietnamese law, children older than five, and children in biological sibling groups of two or more in Vietnam."  and that it will only approve 2 US agencies.  This progress suggests that Vietnam is inching closer to opening a program and will start with a special needs program.  Many think this program will start in 2014 but that's just a guess.

And that's where things currently stand.




Children still entering and growing in orphanages without families

Room in my Heart, if you are still interested in adopting from Vietnam I want to say that Vietnam's adoption program was very different from China's program.  Even though both countries are now members of the Hague Convention, I can only image that the two programs will still be very different in the future.  Very unlike China's program, adopting in Vietnam was very fluid and ever changing and this led to an amazing amount of unknowns and angst.  There is still no word about what additional requirements Vietnam may require for families like family size, gender requests, family income requirements... Personally we found the medical reports in Vietnam even more unreliable than China's.  There are no projected start dates and nobody knows which US agencies will be participating.  There has been no discussion yet about the fees involved with the program or what ages of children will be available in the non-special needs program or how long adoption from Vietnam would take. What there is is a LOT of unknowns.  Just to put things in perspective, there have been rumors that the Vietnam-US adoptions will resume in the next 12-18 months, and these rumors have been circulated since the program closed in 2008.

I hope you find all the information you need to make a decision about your next adoption, Room in my Heart and that this could help a bit.  Keep researching and ask lots questions.  And congratulations about being so close you your new child waiting for you in China!


Not that I know nothin' 'bout nothin', but the Q&A is here so ask away Dear Abby style, and I'll be posting Q&A 1-2 times per month.   If you'd like, leave your blog address, and I'll link the post back to your blog.


  1. :( I hope they open international adoptions here as well. Curently only Romanian citzens living abroad are allowed to adopt Romanian orphans. And even if you live here it is VERY difficult to adopt. Too many children live in orphanages but the law is not helping them at all. Even if they are abandoned and their families don't want to know anything about them and refuse to raise them, they are labeled as nonadoptable and need their birth mother aproval to be adopted. WHAT?!! That is so stupid!! There was a massive campaign here not long ago trying to change the stupid law. They changed it but somehow, they always get lost in paperwork and poor children and parents still suffer so much because of that. Many families are raising children as foster parents and live with the fear that they will not be able to adopt them.

  2. Nancy, I found this information helpful and detailed. Having a son from Vietnam our hearts are with the many children who need the love of a family. And with the birth families who want the option of adoption planning for their children. When we visited two years ago there were so many children in the orphanage who need a family. Definitely a topic near and dear to our hearts!
    Here is the link to Adoption Integrity: Hope you and yours are well!


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