Vietnam ends US adoptions

2008-04-28 17:57
Hanoi - Vietnam is to end a baby adoption agreement with the United States after being accused of allowing corruption and baby-selling, officials said on Monday.

The agreement was being considered for renewal but the two sides remained far apart over revisions, said Vu Duc Long, director of Vietnam's International Adoption Agency. The agreement is due to expire September 1.

The decision was made after the US Embassy in Hanoi released a report earlier this month alleging pervasive corruption and baby-selling in Vietnam's adoption system.

The report lists cases in which infants were sold or birth mothers were pressured to give up their babies. In some other cases it describes brokers going to villages in search for babies who could be possibly put up for adoption.

Denied charges

It also says some American adoption agencies have been paying orphanage directors for referrals, and some others have bribed orphanage officials by taking them on shopping sprees and junkets to the United States in return for a flow of babies.

In an angry response, Vietnamese officials denied charges, calling the US side's allegations "unfair."

"They can say whatever they want, but we are not going to renew it," Long said.

In a letter sent to the US Embassy in Hanoi on April 25, Vietnam said it will stop taking adoption applications from American families after July 1, but will continue to process applications of families who are matched with babies before July 1.

The decision will also lead to the closure of 42 U. adoption agencies operating in Vietnam, Long said.

The US Embassy says it respects Hanoi's latest decision, but are confident about the accuracy of the report.

Baby boom

"The government of Vietnam has made their own decision, but we believe that our report speaks for itself," said US embassy's spokesperson, Angela Aggeler.

Vietnam suspended all adoptions with foreign countries in 2003 as part of its efforts to improve the legal system by centralising adoption to prevent rampant corruption. A bilateral agreement between the US and Vietnam was resumed in 2005.

Since then adoptions from Vietnam have boomed with more than 1 200 Vietnamese children being adopted by Americans over the 18 months ending March 31. In 2007 alone, Americans adopted 828 Vietnamese children.

- AP
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