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News- Baby Selling in Vietnam reaches the point where even the US Embassy balks

Last Thursday, (April 24th) an AP story ‘went out on the wires’: AP Exclusive: US Alleges Baby Selling in Vietnam.

Adoption from Vietnam has of course had a long and troubled history, this latest step is only one of many in an ongoing saga.

US adoptions from Vietnam had previously been stopped between 2003 and 2006 due to evidence of unethical conduct. Adoptions resumed in 2006 under a under a 2005 bilateral document (the “Memorandum of Agreement” click link for PDF) seeking to ensure adoption was practiced ethically. The Agreement is set to expire Sept 1, 2008. Clearly, conditions did not improve, leading to the latest measures towards curtailing US adoptions from Vietnam.

Sadly, once adoptions reopened, far from a tentative approach with the history of abuses in mind, instead a ‘gold rush’ mentality, wherein getting what kids could be gotten while the doors were still open kicked in. Damn the abuses, full steam ahead. Thus creating the largest boom in Vietnam to US adoptions to date as potential adoptive couples try to get in under the wire.

Now as the evidence piles up showing that kids were obtained through all manner of underhanded and illegal means, PAPs (prospective adoptive parents) are anguishing that “their child” is going to be one of the many children behind the closed doors, and thus are screaming politically and clutching desperately the photographs their agencies provided them, as happens in each and every country wherein Americans strip mine pregnant womyn for their children only to have to doors closed on their efforts.

Quoting the AP story:

Vietnam has failed to police its adoption system, allowing corruption, fraud and baby-selling to flourish, the U.S. Embassy says in a new report obtained by The Associated Press.

The nine-page document describes brokers scouring villages for babies, hospitals selling infants whose mothers cannot pay their bills, and a grandmother giving away her grandchild — without telling the child’s mother.

The U.S. Embassy report is based on a review of hundreds of adoptions since they resumed in Vietnam in 2006.

…others have been flooding the system with cash to get babies for American parents, who pay up to $25,000 for an adoption.

With 42 U.S. adoption agencies licensed in Vietnam, the competition for babies is intense.

Some agencies have been paying orphanage directors $10,000 per referral, the report says, and some have taken orphanage directors on shopping sprees and junkets to the United States in return for a steady flow of babies.

“Adoption service providers have reported that cash and in-kind donations have been diverted by orphanage officials and used to finance personal property, private cars, jewelry, and in one case, a commercial real estate development,” the report says.

Aloisi gave the AP a list of 10 particularly egregious cases, including the grandmother who gave away her grandchild.

The mother, working in another province for several weeks, had left the baby with her mother-in-law. She returned to discover the baby had been given up for adoption. Eventually, she got the baby back after U.S. officials uncovered the ruse during investigations as part of the U.S, visa approval process.

In another case, a baby was allegedly taken by hospital officials and turned over for adoption because the mother couldn’t afford to pay her $750 hospital bill.

Hospital officials had inflated the bill, claiming the child had serious health problems. U.S. Embassy officials say they discovered the child was healthy. Again, the child was returned to its birth mother.

The report also says some orphanages have pressured birth mothers to give up their babies in return for about $450 — nearly a year’s salary for many.

U.S. Embassy officials began raising questions last year, after their routine investigations turned up widespread inconsistencies in adoption paperwork.

They also noticed a suspicious surge in the number of babies listed as abandoned on adoption papers. That makes it impossible to confirm the infants were genuine orphans, or that their parents had knowingly put them up for adoption, as required by U.S. law.

In adoptions before 2003, 20 percent were abandoned babies. Since they resumed under tighter rules, that has risen to 85 percent, the embassy report says.

U.S. officials believe paperwork problems and reports of abandoned infants have risen in part because corrupt adoption workers are trying to cover up baby-selling.

The AP piece is based on the US Embassy in Hanoi’s summary; Adopted Children Immigrant Visa Unit, Summary of Irregularities in Adoptions from Vietnam and the warning just issued- Warning Concerning Adoptions in Vietnam (dated April.) I would advise readers to take a few moments to read through these documents, they catalog a litany of unethical child procurement and outright selling.

The section in the summary, “Financial links between ASPs and Orphanages” for example, lays out the SYSTEM by which numbers of children available for adoption are generated. (ASPs, by the way, refer to Adoption Service Providers, not snakes. Or at least, not necessarily snakes.)

This paragraph in particular stood out to me:

According to DIA, orphanages are required to refer one child for foreign adoption for every x dollars donated by the ASP. Thus, if the ASP funds a $10,000 project and the per-child donation is set at $1000 per child, then the orphanage would be required to refer 10 children for intercountry adoption to the ASP. Should the orphanage not have 10 children who are qualified for intercountry adoption, then, according to DIA, the orphanage director is required to find the additional children to complete his side of the agreement. Two orphanage directors have confirmed to consular officers that they are feeling pressure to find more children for their orphanage to “compensate” ASPs for their donations.

The coercion is bedrock to parts of the SYSTEM.

In the Unlicensed Facilities portion we find all too familiar conditions:

In five provinces, the Embassy has discovered unlicensed, unregulated facilities that provide free room and board to pregnant women in return for their commitment to relinquish their children upon birth. None of these facilities openly advertises its services. Women learn of the facilities existence solely by word of mouth. While the facilities are open and the women are free to come and go as they please, they incur a debt for each night that they stay that they have to pay if they do not relinquish their child. Recent Vietnamese media reports of such facilities have revealed that women often live in squalor and in many cases are forced to labor during their stay. In several of these facilities, there is a policy that the birth mother cannot see her child after delivery, in order to prevent bonding. Women in these facilities report receiving up to 6 million Vietnam Dong as payment for their children. While the source of funding for these facilities is unclear, they appear to have close connections with nearby orphanages.

When the Embassy visited these facilities, we saw up to 20 women living in a single home. These women reported that orphanage officials came to the house in order to have them sign paperwork relinquishing their children. The women would then receive the promised payments. Often, the child is then taken to a nearby hospital or orphanage where a second set of paperwork is produced stating that the child was deserted. This is the paperwork that is submitted to the DIA and to the Embassy to support the claim that the child is an orphan.

The demand the pregnant womyn repay a maternity camp here in the States has often been made illegal, yet when done abroad/outsourced, PAPs don’t blink an eye. Far from refusing to deal with agencies that promote this kind of extortion, PAPs line up around the block to get a hold of any kids made available by such systems of coercion.

Lest anyone for one moment assume it’s merely the ASPs/agencies who do the dirty work, the section “Reports of Corruption in Adoption System” makes PAP direct involvment clear:

In addition, statements from adopting parents and ASP employees show that many ASPs ask adopting parents to pay cash donations to orphanage directors and staff. These payments are illegal according to the Vietnamese Ministry of Justice, but the Ministry acknowledges that they are widespread and that they are a key factor in the irregularities seen in the adoption system in Vietnam. Further, ASPs have reported that cash and in-kind donations have been diverted by orphanage officials and used to finance personal property, private cars, jewelry and, in one case, a commercial real estate development.

Yup, gained through illicit means or no, there are still plenty of PAPs and agencies who still want these kids; stolen, bought, or otherwise illegally gained, it appears to make no difference to the brokers and purchasers. All maintain personal deniability; OTHERS may do it, but not us, not me, not MY baby, when time after time, such assertions clearly cannot be proven.

By way of a partial round up of responses to the article and the Embassy documents from various blogs (as usual a link here does not by any stretch imply any form of Baby Love Child’s personal endorsement) here’s some further reading;

Ethnically Incorrect Daughter has a series of recent coverage, among her ongoing writings on Vietnamese adoption:

Vietnamese babies ’stolen for adoption in the West’

Warning concerning adoptions in Vietnam

US alleges baby-selling in Vietnam

Vietnamese Adoptions- DNA requirement

Parents for Ethical Adoption Reform:

UPDATE: Call to Action Vietnam- USCIS Warning

Voices for Vietnam Adoption Integrity

Summary of Irregularities in Adoptions in Vietnam

AP Exclusive: US alleges baby-selling in Vietnam

DNA Testing Update

Still Waiting for an Official Announcement

The Leaked DNA memo

Fleas Biting has:

US Embassy in Vietnam: Summary of Irregularities in Adoptions in Vietnam

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