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Vietnam Tightens Adoption Controls

July 22, 2002

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HANOI, Vietnam (AP) _ Vietnam has introduced a new decree which tightens controls over foreign adoptions of Vietnamese children in an attempt to halt fraud and child trafficking, an official said Monday.

Under the new decree, which takes effect from January 2, all adoptions must be approved by a special foreign adoption agency in the Ministry of Justice, the ministry official said.

Children may be adopted only by foreigners from countries that have bilateral adoption agreements with Vietnam, she said.

Currently, only France has an adoption agreement with Vietnam. Several other countries are negotiating similar deals, the official said.

The new decree, obtained Monday by The Associated Press, says the ministry’s foreign adoption agency will decide on foreigners’ applications within four months.

If an application is approved, the adoptive parents can then travel to Vietnam to receive their child, thereby reducing the need for long visits, the official said. Previously, prospective parents often had to visit several times or wait for extended periods while their applications were being processed.

More than 10,000 Vietnamese children have been adopted by foreigners since Communist Vietnam began opening up to the outside world in the mid 1980s, with a third going to France, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The new decree, replacing a decree issued in 1994, allows foreign private agencies and domestic agencies run by either the Communist Party-controlled Women’s Union or Red Cross to facilitate adoptions, the ministry official said.

Previously, many prospective adoptive parents went directly to private adoption brokers but reports of abuses prompted the government last year to issue a temporary ban on the involvement of private agencies in adoptions.

About two dozen people, including some government officials, have been jailed in the past two years for soliciting children from unwed mothers and poor families and falsifying documents for hundreds of children sold to brokers for foreign adoption, according to local news reports.

Vietnamese newspapers have accused some foreign adoption agencies of illegally trafficking hundreds of Vietnamese children over the past six years.

Update hourly