World / US and Canada

US to restart limited adoption program in Vietnam

(Agencies) Updated: 2014-09-12 14:37

HANOI - Vietnam and the United States will soon resume limited inter-country adoptions, the US Embassy said Friday, six years after a ban was imposed because of allegations of widespread baby-selling and children offered without the consent of their birth parents.

The US Embassy said under the new agreement, Americans will be able to adopt children with special needs and those over 5 years of age.

It said adoptions would resume "soon" once the Vietnam government announces which US -based adoption service providers are authorized to represent American parents.

Prior to the ban in 2008, Vietnam was a popular destination for Americans wanting to adopt children. But the popularity led to concerns within the US Embassy that the demand had led to an unregulated industry supplying young, healthy babies to prospective parents, raising profound ethical questions.

The adoptions were arranged by American companies, who contracted local representatives to source the babies.

In 2009, a UN-commissioned report into adoptions in Vietnam in 2009 confirmed those allegations. It said cash payments by adoption agencies to orphanages led them to seek out children for adoption, often without proper checks into their background or their family circumstances.

American senators and international adoption lobby groups have been urging Vietnam to pass stronger laws and better monitor the process so that adoptions can resume. The US Embassy said the agreement was a "success in the bilateral relationship between the United States and Vietnam."

There is limited demand among prospective adoptive parents for older children and those with special needs, meaning monitoring is much easier. A delegation of American senators who visited Vietnam last year said allowing for special needs adoptions would be seen as a first step to resuming all adoptions.

Demand for inter-country adoptions has risen in recent years. For singles wanting a child, or couples unable or unwilling to conceive, the idea of adopting a foreign baby from an orphanage in a poor country is attractive. But programs in several developing countries, such as Haiti and Guatemala, have been beset by scandals and allegations of baby-selling.

In September 2012, officials from Ireland and Vietnam signed an agreement to restart adoptions, which were halted in 2009.

Partly as a result of fears over baby-selling scandals, the number of international adoptions has fallen to its lowest point in 15 years, according to annual statistics compiled by Peter Selman, an expert on international adoptions at Britain's Newcastle University.

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