U.S. Department of State 1995: International Adoption -

Vietnam Bureau of Consular Affairs

VIETNAM ADOPTIONS MICROLOG TEXT

On November 30, 1994, the Ministry of Justice assumed responsibility for adoptions in Vietnam. Prospective adoptive parents are required to submit their applications directly to the Ministry of Justice office in the province where the child resides. The decree also limited the role of adoption agencies to preclude their acting as agents for adoptive parents. The new law states that only consular or diplomatic offices are authorized to submit applications on behalf of the adoptive parents. U.S. law prevents officers of the Department of State from acting as agents, attorneys or in a fiduciary capacity on behalf of U.S. citizens in private legal matters such as adoptions. The U.S. Embassy will is currently discussing this requirement with the Government of Vietnam in order to work out acceptable alternatives. Vietnamese adoption law mandates that both prospective adoptive parents must travel to Vietnam for the giving and receiving ceremony. Exceptions to this rule may be considered by the Vietnamese only if someone is seriously or suddenly ill. While this may take up to 30 days, in practice passports for the children and exit visas have been issued in 5 to 10 days. Since the U.S. Embassy does not issue immigrant visas, adoptive parents must take their new child to the American Embassy in Bangkok to apply for an immigrant visa through the Orderly Departure Program. This will require obtaining a Thai visa in Hanoi which will require about 2 days. For detailed information on adoption procedures for Vietnam, please send an 8 1/2" by 11" self addressed stamped envelope with $3.00 in postage to: Vietnamese Adoptions, Office of Children's Issues, Room 4811, Department of State, Washingto D.C., 20520-4818. ADOPTIONS IN VIETNAM **************************************************************** DISCLAIMER: THE INFORMATION IN THIS CIRCULAR RELATING TO THE LEGAL REQUIREMENTS OF SPECIFIC FOREIGN COUNTRIES IS PROVIDED FOR GENERAL INFORMATION ONLY. QUESTIONS INVOLVING INTERPRETATION OF SPECIFIC FOREIGN LAWS SHOULD BE ADDRESSED TO FOREIGN COUNSEL. **************************************************************** REGULATIONS U.S. citizens may legally adopt in Vietnam. All U.S. adoptions must be initially submitted to the adopted child's home province. In cases where the adopting parents have not yet identified a child for adoption, the adoption request must be submitted directly to the Ministry of Justice in Hanoi. The Ministry will assist in locating a suitable child and then refer the case to the Judiciary Service of that child's home province. Both the provincial Public Security Bureau and the provincial People's Committee must also review and approve the adoption following its review by the Judiciary Service. Final approval is issued by the People's Committee. The child is formally handed over to the adopting parents or agency in a ceremony at the provincial Judiciary Service office, in accordance with the Vietnamese Office of the President's November 20, 1994 Decree Regarding Procedures for Marriages, Adoptions and Patronage for Vietnamese Children by Foreign Nationals. U.S. citizens can adopt children from orphanages, from hospitals or from private individuals. According to the Vietnamese "Law on Marriage and the Family," adoptive parents must be at least 20 years older than the children they wish to adopt. Children up to and including the age of 15 can be adopted. If over nine years of age, a child must consent in writing to his or her adoption. Children can be adopted if they are orphaned, abandoned, or disabled. Vietnamese law does not define "orphaned" or "abandoned." Children with two living parents are sometimes placed in orphanages by families who claim not to have the economic wherewithal to support their offspring. The decision to accept such children rests chiefly with the orphangae director, and often depends whether space is available in the orphanage. There are currently ten U.S. adoption agencies operating in Vietnam (see attachment 1). U.S. citizens are not required by Vietnamese law to work through an adoption agency, but the Vietnamese government encourages it, and post also recommends it. Prior to the promulgation of the Noverber 20, 1994 decree on adoption, an agency would contribute to the support of an orphanage or orphanages, which are controlled by the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA). In exchange for this support, the agency could place children from that orphanage. Under the new decree, an agency or prospective adoptive parent can adopt children from any orphanage which has adoptable children. DOCUMENTATION Vietnamese documents are not generally reliable, and regulations regarding civil documentation are frequently honored in the breach. Births are to be registered in 30 days, but often are not, especially in the countryside. Late registration is legal. Births are supposed to be registered with the local People's Committee. The birth certificate format is standardized (attachment 2), but non-standard "birth certificates" made by the orphanages themselves are sometimes submitted with orphan cases (attachment 3). These are inevitabllly late-registered. All abandoned children are supposed to have their births registered by the local People's Committee. Death cerificate format is not standardized. Generally, any prn be adopted if they are orphaned, abandoned, or disabled. Vietnamese law does not define "orphaned" or "abandoned." Children with two living parents are sometimes placed in orphanages by families who claim not to have the economic wherewithal to support their offspring. The decision to accept such children rests chiefly with the orphangae director, and often depends whether space is available in the orphanage. There are currently ten U.S. adoption agencies operating in Vietnam (see attachment 1). U.S. citizens are not required by Vietnamese law to work through an adoption agency, but the Vietnamese government encourages it, and post also recommends it. Prior to the promulgation of the Noverber 20, 1994 decree on adoption, an agency would contribute to the support of an orphanage or orphanages, which are controlled by the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA). In exchange for this support, the agency could place children from that orphanage. Under the new decree, an agency or prospective adoptive parent can adopt children from any orphanage which has adoptable children. DOCUMENTATION Vietnamese documents are not generally reliable, and regulations regarding civil documentation are frequently honored in the breach. Births are to be registered in 30 days, but often are not, especially in the countryside. Late registration is legal. Births are supposed to be registered with the local People's Committee. The birth certificate format is standardized (attachment 2), but non-standard "birth certificates" made by the orphanages themselves are sometimes submitted with orphan cases (attachment 3). These are inevitabllly late-registered. All abandoned children are supposed to have their births registered by the local People's Committee. Death cerificate format is not standardized. Generally, any pre-printed form is acceptable, and any death certificate should be on such a form (attachment 4). At a minimum, the death certificate should contain the name of the deceased, cause of death, date of death, and the deceased's date of birth or age at death. Vietnamese death certificates are unusually vague about cause of death, "sickness" and "disease" being the two most common causes given. All deaths are to be registered within 24 hours with the local People's Committee. Late registration is legal. Document fraud is endemic in Vietnam. A document may be "legal" i.e. have the correct format, but contain false information. With the exception of birth certificates, the format of official documents varies widely from province to province. PROCEDURE When an adoption agency receives a request from a client, the agency contacts an orphanage (generally the orphanage it supports) to locate children of the right age, sex, etc. When a child is identified, the agency asks the client if the child is acceptable. If so, the agency asks the orphanage to release the child for foreign adoption. If one was not already on file, the orphanage obtains an unconditional release for foreign adoption from the child's parent or guardian. Every parent or guardian must relinquish custody of the child for him or her to be placed in an orphanage, but such releases do not always specify that the child can be released for foreign adoption. For this reason, a second release is sometimes necessary. The orphanage director then signs a document stating that the orphanage consents to release the child, either to the adoptive parents or their agents (attachment 5). The adoptive parents' names should be specified in the Vietnamese version of this document. Once the provincial People's Committee approves the adoption, the child is formally relinquished in a "giving and receiveing" ceremony held at the provincial Judisciary Service attended by at least one of the adopting parents, and by representatives of the orphanage, the People's Committee and the Judiciary Service. After the agency or adopting parents have obtained all the documents required for the adoption, the case is presented to the provincial Judiciary Service. The Judiciary Service coordinates with the local Public Security Bureau (police) to review the application. The Public Security Bureau must investigate the adoption within 30 days from the date of the initial request from the Judiciary Service. This limit can be exteded 15 days if additional investigation is required. Following its review of the case, the Judiciary Service gives the completed paperwork to the provincial People's Committee for review, together with its recommendation. The People's Committee decides within 60 days to accept or reject the application for adoption. If further investigation of the case is needed, the People's Committee can extend its decision an additional 30 days. If the People's Committee approves the adoption, the Judiciary Service arranges the formal "giving and receiveing" ceremony. A "Giving and Receiving" document signed by the People's Committee is issued and the adoption is recorded in an adoption registration book. Before the Vietnamese government's November 1994 approval of new procedures for adoptions, MOLISA had coordinating and oversight responsibility for foreign adoptions. Although MOLISA no longer plays a direct role in adoptions, adoption cases approved before March 1995 may still bear MOLISA, rather than the provincial Department of Justice, approval. MOLISA-approved adoptions will usually have an additional document, the "Letter of Commitment" (attachment 6), commonly referred to as the """MOLISA letter". Ite-printed form is acceptable, and any death certificate should be on such a form (attachment 4). At a minimum, the death certificate should contain the name of the deceased, cause of death, date of death, and the deceased's date of birth or age at death. Vietnamese death certificates are unusually vague about cause of death, "sickness" and "disease" being the two most common causes given. All deaths are to be registered within 24 hours with the local People's Committee. Late registration is legal. Document fraud is endemic in Vietnam. A document may be "legal" i.e. have the correct format, but contain false information. With the exception of birth certificates, the format of official documents varies widely from province to province. PROCEDURE When an adoption agency receives a request from a client, the agency contacts an orphanage (generally the orphanage it supports) to locate children of the right age, sex, etc. When a child is identified, the agency asks the client if the child is acceptable. If so, the agency asks the orphanage to release the child for foreign adoption. If one was not already on file, the orphanage obtains an unconditional release for foreign adoption from the child's parent or guardian. Every parent or guardian must relinquish custody of the child for him or her to be placed in an orphanage, but such releases do not always specify that the child can be released for foreign adoption. For this reason, a second release is sometimes necessary. The orphanage director then signs a document stating that the orphanage consents to release the child, either to the adoptive parents or their agents (attachment 5). The adoptive parents' names should be specified in the Vietnamese version of this document. Once the provincial People's Committee approves the adoption, the child is formally relinquished in a "giving and receiveing" ceremony held at the provincial Judisciary Service attended by at least one of the adopting parents, and by representatives of the orphanage, the People's Committee and the Judiciary Service. After the agency or adopting parents have obtained all the documents required for the adoption, the case is presented to the provincial Judiciary Service. The Judiciary Service coordinates with the local Public Security Bureau (police) to review the application. The Public Security Bureau must investigate the adoption within 30 days from the date of the initial request from the Judiciary Service. This limit can be exteded 15 days if additional investigation is required. Following its review of the case, the Judiciary Service gives the completed paperwork to the provincial People's Committee for review, together with its recommendation. The People's Committee decides within 60 days to accept or reject the application for adoption. If further investigation of the case is needed, the People's Committee can extend its decision an additional 30 days. If the People's Committee approves the adoption, the Judiciary Service arranges the formal "giving and receiveing" ceremony. A "Giving and Receiving" document signed by the People's Committee is issued and the adoption is recorded in an adoption registration book. Before the Vietnamese government's November 1994 approval of new procedures for adoptions, MOLISA had coordinating and oversight responsibility for foreign adoptions. Although MOLISA no longer plays a direct role in adoptions, adoption cases approved before March 1995 may still bear MOLISA, rather than the provincial Department of Justice, approval. MOLISA-approved adoptions will usually have an additional document, the "Letter of Commitment" (attachment 6), commonly referred to as the """MOLISA letter". It will usually be signed by Nghiem Xuan Tue, a Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Labor and the Director of the Office of Intercountry Adoption, or by Le Thien Huong, Tue's conterpart in Ho Chi Minh City. At a minimum, the following Vietnamese documents should accompany an I-600 petition: - Child's birth certificate (preferably in standard format, signed by People's Committe representative). - Death certificate(s) of parent(s), on a pre-printed form and signed by a People's Committee representative. - Release from sole or surviving parent or guardian. - Release signed by orphanage director consenting to the child's adoption and specifying the adoptive parents. The orphanage director's signature on the Giving and Receiving document is acceptable in lieu of this. - An explanation of how the child became an orphan. In the case of children abandoned at or shortly after birth, this can often be satisfied with a combination of hospital and orphanage records. Vietnamese orphan cases have been processed since February 8, 1994 by the consular officers of the Orderly Departure Program (ODP) in Bangkok. When the adopter or adoption agency informs ODP that a case is complete, ODP reviews the file. If other documents are needed or there are other problems with the case, ODP takes appropriate action. If everything is complete, ODP faxes a Letter of Confirmation (LOC) to the agency, informing them that they can bring the child to Bangkok for his or her medical exam and interview at the U.S. Embassy. If the chld is found qualified, a visa is issued that day. All IR-4 interviews are conducted in Bangkok. However, in the future, when Vietnamese IV operations move permanently to Vietnam, interviews will be conducted there. The elapsed time between file completion and visa issuance is generally about a week to two weeks. ISSUES Vietnam has a rapidly-growing population and a per capita income of about $200 a year. Either out of greed or with the intent of securing them a better economic future, families may be tempted to release their children inappropriately for adoption. Because the United States has no diplomatic or consular relations with Vietnam, ODP officers have no consular immunity and so are not permitted to undertake field investigations in Vietnam. The Vietnamese appear to have a more elastic definition than do we of what constitutes an "orphaned" or "abandoned" child. Children are sometimes relinquished to orphaages by two living, healthy parents who claim they are not economically able to care for the child. For the reasons stated above, such assertions cannot be investigated. With the November 30, 1994 Presidential Decree, the adoption process has become decentralized. ODP expects adoption standards and documentation will vary widely from province to province. We will continue to follow the adoption process in Vietnam and learn how the new procedures will be implemented. in a "giving and receiveing" ceremony held at the provincial Judisciary Service attended by at least one of the adopting parents, and by representatives of the orphanage, the People's Committee and the Judiciary Service. After the agency or adopting parents have obtained all the documents required for the adoption, the case is presented to the provincial Judiciary Service. The Judiciary Service coordinates with the local Public Security Bureau (police) to review the application. The Public Security Bureau must investigate the adoption within 30 days from the date of the initial request from the Judiciary Service. This limit can be exteded 15 days if additional investigation is required. Following its review of the case, the Judiciary Service gives the completed paperwork to the provincial People's Committee for review, together with its recommendation. The People's Committee decides within 60 days to accept or reject the application for adoption. If further investigation of the case is needed, the People's Committee can extend its decision an additional 30 days. If the People's Committee approves the adoption, the Judiciary Service arranges the formal "giving and receiveing" ceremony. A "Giving and Receiving" document signed by the People's Committee is issued and the adoption is recorded in an adoption registration book. Before the Vietnamese government's November 1994 approval of new procedures for adoptions, MOLISA had coordinating and oversight responsibility for foreign adoptions. Although MOLISA no longer plays a direct role in adoptions, adoption cases approved before March 1995 may still bear MOLISA, rather than the provincial Department of Justice, approval. MOLISA-approved adoptions will usually have an additional document, the "Letter of Commitment" (attachment 6), commonly referred to as the """MOLISA letter". It will usually be signed by Nghiem Xuan Tue, a Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Labor and the Director of the Office of Intercountry Adoption, or by Le Thien Huong, Tue's conterpart in Ho Chi Minh City. At a minimum, the following Vietnamese documents should accompany an I-600 petition: - Child's birth certificate (preferably in standard format, signed by People's Committe representative). - Death certificate(s) of parent(s), on a pre-printed form and signed by a People's Committee representative. - Release from sole or surviving parent or guardian. - Release signed by orphanage director consenting to the child's adoption and specifying the adoptive parents. The orphanage director's signature on the Giving and Receiving document is acceptable in lieu of this. - An explanation of how the child became an orphan. In the case of children abandoned at or shortly after birth, this can often be satisfied with a combination of hospital and orphanage records. Vietnamese orphan cases have been processed since February 8, 1994 by the consular officers of the Orderly Departure Program (ODP) in Bangkok. When the adopter or adoption agency informs ODP that a case is complete, ODP reviews the file. If other documents are needed or there are other problems with the case, ODP takes appropriate action. If everything is complete, ODP faxes a Letter of Confirmation (LOC) to the agency, informing them that they can bring the child to Bangkok for his or her medical exam and interview at the U.S. Embassy. If the chld is found qualified, a visa is issued that day. All IR-4 interviews are conducted in Bangkok. However, in the future, when Vietnamese IV operations move permanently to Vietnam, interviews will be conducted there. The elapsed time between file completion and visa issuance is generally about a week to two weeks. ISSUES Vietnam has a rapidly-growing population and a per capita income of about $200 a year. Either out of greed or with the intent of securing them a better economic future, families may be tempted to release their children inappropriately for adoption. Because the United States has no diplomatic or consular relations with Vietnam, ODP officers have no consular immunity and so are not permitted to undertake field investigations in Vietnam. The Vietnamese appear to have a more elastic definition than do we of what constitutes an "orphaned" or "abandoned" child. Children are sometimes relinquished to orphaages by two living, healthy parents who claim they are not economically able to care for the child. For the reasons stated above, such assertions cannot be investigated. With the November 30, 1994 Presidential Decree, the adoption process has become decentralized. ODP expects adoption standards and documentation will vary widely from province to province. We will continue to follow the adoption process in Vietnam and learn how the new procedures will be implemented. will usually be signed by Nghiem Xuan Tue, a Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Labor and the Director of the Office of Intercountry Adoption, or by Le Thien Huong, Tue's conterpart in Ho Chi Minh City. At a minimum, the following Vietnamese documents should accompany an I-600 petition: - Child's birth certificate (preferably in standard format, signed by People's Committe representative). - Death certificate(s) of parent(s), on a pre-printed form and signed by a People's Committee representative. - Release from sole or surviving parent or guardian. - Release signed by orphanage director consenting to the child's adoption and specifying the adoptive parents. The orphanage director's signature on the Giving and Receiving document is acceptable in lieu of this. - An explanation of how the child became an orphan. In the case of children abandoned at or shortly after birth, this can often be satisfied with a combination of hospital and orphanage records. Vietnamese orphan cases have been processed since February 8, 1994 by the consular officers of the Orderly Departure Program (ODP) in Bangkok. When the adopter or adoption agency informs ODP that a case is complete, ODP reviews the file. If other documents are needed or there are other problems with the case, ODP takes appropriate action. If everything is complete, ODP faxes a Letter of Confirmation (LOC) to the agency, informing them that they can bring the child to Bangkok for his or her medical exam and interview at the U.S. Embassy. If the chld is found qualified, a visa is issued that day. All IR-4 interviews are conducted in Bangkok. However, in the future, when Vietnamese IV operations move permanently to Vietnam, interviews will be conducted there. The elapsed time between file completion and visa issuance is generally about a week to two weeks. ISSUES Vietnam has a rapidly-growing population and a per capita income of about $200 a year. Either out of greed or with the intent of securing them a better economic future, families may be tempted to release their children inappropriately for adoption. Because the United States has no diplomatic or consular relations with Vietnam, ODP officers have no consular immunity and so are not permitted to undertake field investigations in Vietnam. The Vietnamese appear to have a more elastic definition than do we of what constitutes an "orphaned" or "abandoned" child. Children are sometimes relinquished to orphaages by two living, healthy parents who claim they are not economically able to care for the child. For the reasons stated above, such assertions cannot be investigated. With the November 30, 1994 Presidential Decree, the adoption process has become decentralized. ODP expects adoption standards and documentation will vary widely from province to province. We will continue to follow the adoption process in Vietnam and learn how the new procedures will be implemented. le completion and visa issuance is generally about a week to two weeks. ISSUES Vietnam has a rapidly-growing population and a per capita income of about $200 a year. Either out of greed or with the intent of securing them a better economic future, families may be tempted to release their children inappropriately for adoption. Because the United States has no diplomatic or consular relations with Vietnam, ODP officers have no consular immunity and so are not permitted to undertake field investigations in Vietnam. The Vietnamese appear to have a more elastic definition than do we of what constitutes an "orphaned" or "abandoned" child. Children are sometimes relinquished to orphaages by two living, healthy parents who claim they are not economically able to care for the child. For the reasons stated above, such assertions cannot be investigated. With the November 30, 1994 Presidential Decree, the adoption process has become decentralized. ODP expects adoption standards and documentation will vary widely from province to province. We will continue to follow the adoption process in Vietnam and learn how the new procedures will be implemented. .

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