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Vietnam Adoption

An Overview

Adoption from Vietnam to the United States has a long and rather tumultuous history. In 1975, 2000 Vietnamese children were brought to the U.S. during Operation Babylift; these children are now adults. After a long hiatus, adoptions resumed in 1995 as relations with the U.S. were re-established. During its peak, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Vietnam was one of the top 10 sending countries to the U.S. By 2005, adoptions to the U.S. had ceased, as a new law was implemented, and resumed again in 2006 when a Memorandum of Agreement was reached between the two countries. Under that agreement, adoptions were conducted at the orphanage and province level, with national oversight, over the next two years.

However, in late April 2008, Vietnam announced it would end its adoption program with the U.S., in response to a report by the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi that alleged corruption within Vietnam's adoption program. The existing pact allowing adoptions between Vietnam and the U.S. was to expire on September 1, but in a letter to the embassy, Vietnam officials, who deny the allegations, said they would not renew the pact, and would no longer accept new applications from prospective adopters after July 1. Vietnam will continue to process applications for families matched with children before July 1, until the pact expires. (Read the report from the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi.) Adoption advocates are working to solve the problems of the Vietnam adoption program, but the Department of State has issued a warning to parents and adoption service providers not to initiate new adoption procedures at this time.

Most children adopted from Vietnam were adopted as infants, although special-needs, older child, and toddler adoptions are not uncommon. Children adopted from Vietnam are generally normal in health and development. Information is often provided and may include details about the child’s birth family and medical history.

Families who have adopted from Vietnam (and those in process) find support through a national organization with local chapters, Families with Children from Vietnam.

Fast Facts:

Number of Adoptions from Vietnam:

  • 2007: 626
  • 2006: 163
  • 2005: Not available
  • 2004: Not available
  • 2003: 382
  • 2002: 766
  • 2001: 737
  • 2000: 724

Profile of Children Adopted From Vietnam:
Source: INS Immigration Statistics
64% Female
57% under 1 year of age
37% 1 – 4 years of age

Estimated Cost: $20,000 to $30,000
Profile of Children:A few more girls than boys are adopted, thus the referral time for boys is usually shorter. In 2006, 57% were under 1 year of age. Age ranges from infant to older children (up to 15 years old); adoption of children with special needs is also possible.
Parent Ages:No upper or lower limit, but both parents should be a minimum of 20 years older than the child to be adopted. Some agencies may have other requirements.
Family Status: Singles and married couples may adopt.
Travel: One trip. Average stay approximately 14 to 21 days.
Timeline: Currently suspended.
Special Concerns
: According to the US Embassy in Hanoi, "Vietnamese law allows donations to orphanages and humanitarian projects, however, no payments may be made to any individual, agent, or entity as payment for the child or as an inducement to release the child."

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