Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Vietnam Program Update

For those of you involved in Vietnam adoptions, this is old news and you can skip this post. This one is more for friends and family who may wonder why I bite my bottom lip and blink away tears when they ask me how our adoption is going.

The news isn't exactly hopeful right now. Instead of talking about it, I'll just post the recent statement from the USDoS and let you read it for yourself:

Warning Concerning Adoptions in Vietnam
January 2008

The Department of State warns potential adoptive parents and adoption service providers of the risk of initiating new adoptions from Vietnam at this time. The 2005 Memorandum of Agreement, required by Vietnamese law to authorize adoptions between the United States and Vietnam, expires on September 1, 2008. The United States is strongly committed to continuing intercountry adoptions from Vietnam if possible. Our primary concern is to ensure that the children and families involved in the adoption process are protected from exploitation. The Government of Vietnam shares this concern. Both countries acknowledge that more needs to be done. Discussions about revision and renewal of the Agreement are a priority for both governments, but there is no certainty a new Agreement will be in place on September 1. In view of the processing time required in Vietnam from placement to the Giving and Receiving Ceremony, an adoption process begun now cannot be completed before the current Agreement expires. We do not know whether the Government of Vietnam will continue to process pending cases if the current Agreement expires before a new Agreement takes effect. Moreover, given concerns about the existing level of protection for children in Vietnam, it is unlikely that the Agreement can be renewed in its current form.
The United States Government stands ready to support Vietnam’s efforts to strengthen and improve accountability in its adoption system and to develop its capacity to regulate adoptions. In some cases, our background investigations have revealed evidence of irregularities, ranging from forged or altered documentation to cases where children have been offered for adoption without the apparent knowledge or consent of their birth parents. In response to these problems, in November 2007, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service and the Department of State instituted new procedures to verify that children identified for placement meet the requirements of Vietnamese and U.S. law, before the child has been adopted under Vietnamese law. The Embassy strongly advises prospective adoptive parents not to travel to Vietnam until they have received notification from the Embassy that their case is ready for final processing and travel is appropriate. Parents should contact the Embassy immediately if anyone, including their adoption service provider, encourages them to travel to Vietnam prior to receiving this notification. The Embassy can work together with adoption service providers, Vietnam’s Department of International Adoptions, and local authorities to resolve issues such as the scheduling of a Giving and Receiving Ceremony. We continue to urge Vietnam to comply with the terms of the 2005 Agreement and to establish a process that protects the interests of all parties involved in adoptions.

The above statement can be found here:

They followed that with this FAQ sheet:

1. Q:
What are the problems with the present Agreement that warrant a renegotiation of the MOU between the two countries at this point in time?
GVN has not complied with specific terms of our 2005 bilateral Agreement on adoptions which both parties agreed were essential to a process that is transparent and protects the rights of infants and families.
2. Q: Does the USG want to end all intercountry adoptions from Vietnam?
The USG does not want to end adoptions from Vietnam.
Instead, we hope that this renegotiation process will result in concrete steps towards establishing a more transparent adoption process with the safeguards necessary to protect children, birth parents, and adoptive parents.
Field investigations by USG personnel have revealed evidence of fraud which undermine the reliability of the adoption process in Vietnam.
This evidence requires us to scrutinize individual cases carefully to verify whether the children involved are actually eligible for adoption under Vietnamese and U.S. law.
3. Q: Why is the U.S. Government issuing this warning?
Vietnamese law, not U.S. law, requires a Memorandum of Agreement. The current Agreement expires on September 1.
We hope that a new Agreement can be finalized before that date.
We cannot predict, however, whether this will be the case and want prospective parents to be aware of that risk.

4. Q: What steps has the USG undertaken to address concerns about fraud and baby-selling while it is negotiating a new MOA with the Vietnamese government?
The USG has instituted the Orphan First program, under which the USG conducts field investigations to verify the child is eligible for a U.S. visa before the adoption is finalized in Vietnam.
Orphan First allows us to address questions of fraud before the adoption is finalized and spare American parents the pain of learning that an adopted child is not eligible for an immigrant visa.
5. Q: What is the USG doing about the families whose cases have been issued Notices of Intent to Deny (NOIDs)?
The USG is doing everything in its power to complete these cases quickly.
We know that the period of review of adoption cases is difficult for families, but the U.S. government has a responsibility to ensure that any irregularities in these orphan adoption cases do not undermine the validity of the petition or visa application.
6. Q: What is the current status of the NOIDs?
Specific questions about NOIDs should be addressed to USCIS, which has responsibility for this process.
Further, out of respect for the privacy of individual families, we cannot discuss individual cases.
7. Q: What is the USG’s goal regarding intercountry adoptions from Vietnam?
Our goal for Vietnam and for all countires is an intercountry adoption process solidly based on the standards set by the Hague Adoption Convention.
We have strongly urged the GVN to accede to the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, to promptly draft Hague compliant adoption legislation and implementing regulations, and to develop a child welfare infrastructure that will bring Vietnam into conformity with Hague Standards.

That came from here:

Also- another blogger, Tracy, has done the work of explaining all this and giving her take on it, as well as providing some additional links. You can read it here. She has saved me the time and trouble. Thanks, Tracy! I'm being a lazy blogger, I guess. Or a depressed one.

If you have a question about what the DoS statements mean- just leave me a comment or email me and I'll do my best to answer... But maybe not today- OK? I just don't want to think or talk about the whole mess right this second.

The fact that our agency has not received referrals yet for the first batch of dossiers that were submitted last May, just makes the whole thing seem scarier somehow, and the future of our adoption even more uncertain. We knew lots of uncertainty would be involved when we signed on with a pioneer program and we prepared ourselves for that, but we weren't expecting those uncertainties to include the possible shut-down of the country program we chose. As I've already told you guys, there aren't many other countries we qualify for, so we are really wondering what will happen next. I know you will naturally want to ask, "So, what are you guys gonna do?" Good question. Excellent question. We'll let you know when we have an answer to it. I don't think anyone really knows for sure how this whole thing will play out. I'm definitely down in the dumps about all this right now and I'm concerned, BUT I'm not losing faith or hope yet. Just because things don't look good, doesn't mean they can't still turn around. There's still time. It's not over til the fat lady sings, right? And you guys know I don't sing.

And thank you very much to those who left comments on yesterday's prayer request for my friend, and to those who prayed for her. Please keep those prayers coming! I appreciate it and I know she does, too.


Miles' Mama said...

I love your outlook on all of this--we can't give up hope! We have to keep praying that everything will work out in the end. It will. It has to!

Keith and Kelly said...

Thanks for sharing. We are DTV 10/1/07, and are feeling similar. It's no hard to hear this kind of news, and stay hopeful and full of faith. But, our God is good and He is taking care of out little ones even now. Blessings to you and your family, Kelly

LaLa said...

Hey...heading over to Tracy's blog...thanks for "breaking it down" for me : )

We too are trying to remain positive but it is so difficult sometimes

Mama to Annslee JiaNa (a Qicun honey) and waiting for our little one from Vietnam!