Vietnam is once again open for American families wishing to adopt children with special needs, children who are at least five years old, and those who are in a biological sibling group. It’s a far cry from Operation Babylift in 1975, which was a mass evacuation of children from South Vietnam to the United States and a few other countries at the end of the Vietnam War, or the thousands of babies adopted by American couples from orphanages in Da Nang and elsewhere during the preceding years in the midst of the war, but it’s a cautious first step after the six-year ban that began in 2008.
On September 16, Vietnam’s Ministry of Justice provided licenses to two U.S. agencies, Dillon International and Holt International Children’s Services, to operate this new intercountry adoption program between Vietnam and the United States.
When the adoption ban took effect in 2008, there were implications of baby-selling and children being offered for adoption without consent by the birth parents. A U.N. Commission report issued in 2009 confirmed these improprieties.
To remedy these issues, Vietnam has taken important steps, including entering into The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention) in February 2012, and has been working since to implement and comply with Convention standards.
The Hague Adoption Convention is an international treaty that provides important safeguards to protect the best interests of children, birth parents, and adoptive parents who are involved in intercountry adoptions, and compliance with its standards is essentially now a necessity for countries wishing to enter into intercountry adoption agreements with the United States.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of State determined that it could enter into this new Special Adoption Program with Vietnam based on the positive steps the country has taken to implement the provisions of the Convention. If it works well, perhaps there could be an expansion of the program at some point in the future.