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Cablegate: Adoption Fraud Summary - Vietnam

VZCZCXRO3619
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHHI #0422/01 1021000
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 111000Z APR 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7597
RUEPICA/USCIS WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEHPNH/NVC PORTSMOUTH
RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH 4572
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 6301
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 08 HANOI 000422

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR CA/FPP CA/VO, CA/OCS/CI AND EAP/MLS; DEPT ALSO PASS TO KCC
POSTS FOR FRAUD PREVENTION MANAGERS
NVC FOR FPU/LARRY GRUBB
BANGKOK FOR USCIS

UNCLASSIFIED

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CVIS CPAS CMGT KFRD ASEC VM
SUBJECT: ADOPTION FRAUD SUMMARY - VIETNAM

REF: (A)05 State 205073 (B)06 State 151145 (C) Hanoi 005, (D) Hanoi
007, (E) Hanoi 026, (F) Hanoi 027, (G) Hanoi 79, (H) Hanoi 106 (I)
Hanoi 113 (J) Hanoi 117 (K) Hanoi 132 (L) Hanoi 226 (M) Hanoi 291,
(N) Hanoi 323, (O) Hanoi 331, (P) Hanoi 343, (Q) Hanoi 347, (R)
Hanoi 351 (S) 2007 Hanoi 1299 (T) 2007 Hanoi 1465 (U) 2007 Hanoi
1820 (V) 2007 Hanoi 1834 (W) 2007 Hanoi 1843 (X) 2007 Hanoi 1856 (Y)
2007 Hanoi 1893 (A) 2007 Hanoi 1912 (AA) 2007 Hanoi 1928 (AB) 2007
Hanoi 1977 (AC) 2007 Hanoi 1979 (AD) 2007 Hanoi 2082 (AE) 2007 Hanoi
2109 (AF) 2007 Hanoi 2118

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1. Summary : Adoption related fraud in Vietnam is a large and
growing problem. The combination of a decentralized administrative
system, a legal framework that lacks procedures for oversight and
accountability, and an unregulated donation system have combined to
produce an adoption system rife with fraud and child selling. In
interviews with consular officers, 75% of parents have stated that
they received payment from the orphanage in exchange for placing
their child in the orphanage. On average this payment was six
million Vietnamese Dong, which is the equivalent of 11 months salary
at minimum wage in Vietnam. Throughout Vietnam, officials at
orphanages connected with international adoptions report that the
number of deserted children has increased by up to 1700% since 2005,
the year that the adoption agreement with the United States was
signed. Vietnamese officials have told the Embassy that "these
desertions would not occur if the United States stopped issuing
visas for the adoption of Vietnamese children." Embassy
investigations have uncovered multiple cases of children being
offered for international adoption without their birth parents
consent, after the birth parents failed to pay hospital bills for
the children. Despite the documented abuses, the Department of
International Adoption has acknowledged that it has not taken any
action, criminal or administrative, against any individual or
organization for any violation of Vietnamese law or regulation
concerning adoption. End Summary

----------------------
Country Fraud Profile
----------------------

2. Vietnam is considered to be a high risk country for immigration
fraud according to the Department of State. Fraudulent documents
are routinely submitted by Vietnamese applicants in both
non-immigrant and immigrant visa applications. These include both
documents that have been fabricated outright and official documents
issued improperly or based on incorrect information. Birth
certificates, household registry documents, and marriage
certificates can easily be purchased from corrupt local government
officials or brokers. Marriage fraud, in order to obtain
immigration benefits, is common and has resulted in multiple arrests
in the United States. Vietnam ranks 123 out of 180 countries on
Transparency International's 2007 Corruption Index , with 1 being
the least corrupt.

--------------------------------------------- -----
Adoption Legislation and Administrative Structure
--------------------------------------------- -----

3. International adoption in Vietnam is regulated by two decrees:
Decree 68/2002 and Decree 69/2006. These decrees divide
responsibility for adoption between the Department of International
Adoption (DIA) in the Ministry of Justice, and the Ministry of
Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) at the national level.
Most of the actual administration of adoptions, however, is handled
at the provincial or district level, with minimal oversight from DIA
or MOLISA. For example, the matching of children and adoptive
parents is the responsibility of the district-level Department of
Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs. In reality, it is often
delegated to the orphanage director. If DIA feels that a child is
not eligible for international adoption, they can request the office
that made the match review the file, but they cannot block the match
or prevent the completion of a full and final adoption.

4. The definition of an adoptable orphan is provided in Decree
68/2002 Article 44, which states that a child cannot be released for
adoption without "the written voluntary agreement of the father
and/or mother of that child." The decree lists only three
exceptions to this rule. The first is if both parents are deceased;
the second is if the child "has been abandoned or left at a medical
establishment;" and the third is if "the child's parents have lost
their civil act capacity" [sic]. Decree 69/2006 clarifies that the
orphanage or People's Committee must prove that a child is covered
by one of these exceptions. Otherwise, the child is still

HANOI 00000422 002.8 OF 008


considered to be under its parents' custody, and their consent is
required prior to any adoption being authorized. Decree 68/2002 and
Decree 69/2006 also establish that in the case of a child who has
been abandoned or left at a medical facility, a 30 day search must
be made for the birth parents, and in all cases a separate 30 day
search must be made for domestic adoptive parents. These searches
are conducted by the orphanage or local People's Committee.

----------------------------------
Links between ASPs and Orphanages
----------------------------------

5. Vietnamese law requires that an Adoption Service Provider (ASP)
sign a donation agreement with an orphanage before the ASP can
arrange adoptions from the orphanage. These agreements are
generally kept secret by the ASP. However, several orphanage
directors have told the Embassy that they will actively bargain with
multiple ASPs, and will only work with the ASP that offers them the
highest donation per child referred. While, in theory, these
donations are a mechanism to assist in the care of the children at
the orphanage, in practice they can have a distorting effect on the
adoption system.

6. Orphanage directors in four provinces have reported to the
Embassy that there is a strong financial incentive for them to
maximize the number of children available for foreign adoption in
their centers. The donation provided per child (available for
international adoption) can be up to 10 times the standard
government funding. Hospital and social workers have reported that
orphanage directors offer them financial incentives for each child
sent to their orphanage. There is also a disincentive to provide
care to children who are not available for international adoption.
In many developing countries, including Vietnam, a large number of
children living in orphanages are children "in care," or children
whose families have temporarily placed them in an orphanage due to
difficult times but hope to regain custody of their children in the
future. Nevertheless, orphanages (some privately run) have been
established exclusively to serve the needs of children destined for
international adoption.

7. As a result of the autonomy given to orphanage directors by
MOLISA, individual orphanage directors, in conjunction with
representatives of their sponsoring ASP, have broad latitude in
determining how donations will be made, what the amount will be, and
whether applications from prospective domestic adoptive parents will
be processed. For example, one orphanage in Hanoi, which is
entirely funded by an American ASP, submits expense reports and
receipts to the ASP on a monthly basis. The ASP then transfers
funds to reimburse the orphanage for its expenses. The number of
infants in this orphanage has remained steady for the past three
years. The orphanage is clean, well stocked with medicine and has
an RN on duty. This orphanage prioritizes reuniting children with
their biological parents, and processes equal numbers of domestic
and international adoptions. By contrast, another Hanoi orphanage
receives most of its funding on a per internationally adoptable
child basis and the payment is made in cash directly to the
orphanage director. This orphanage has seen the number of infants
in its care increase by over 2000% in the past year, but it has not
made significant increases in staff and does not have an RN. MOLISA
recently investigated this orphanage when unsanitary conditions led
to the deaths of several infants in its care. This orphanage has
never processed a domestic adoption.

8. According to the DIA, the donation system is further complicated
when ASPs make a donation in kind or finance a project for the
orphanage rather than paying a cash donation. According to DIA,
this is because the orphanage is 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 international adoption to the ASP. Should the
orphanage not have 10 children who are qualified for international
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. These
arrangements result in orphanages that are focused on finding
children for foreign families, rather than providing the best
possible care to children in need.

9. Another distorting effect of the donation system is that it

HANOI 00000422 003.8 OF 008


undermines protections in Vietnamese law which requires a 30 day
search for birth parents and/or domestic adoptive parents as
described above. Since, in most cases, the ASP has a close
relationship with the orphanage, the ASP rep is informed as soon as
a potentially adoptable child enters the orphanage. This frequently
results in the issuance of a "soft referral," where adopting parents
are notified that they have been matched with a child before the
completion of the two consecutive 30 day search periods listed
above. The DIA has stated that such pre-referrals are illegal.
Nonetheless, in over 40 documented cases, DIA has taken no action to
punish or prevent the issuance of soft referrals, noting that all
they can do is to inform provincial or district officials of the law
and request their compliance.

10. The problem of soft referrals is compounded by the donation
system. Local officials throughout Vietnam have reported that they
have never received any calls in response to ads run seeking the
birth parents of a deserted child. In fact, officials at the
Ministry of Justice acknowledge that such advertisements are
ineffective as many families in these provinces have no access to TV
or radio and are often illiterate. Vietnamese social workers also
note that if a child is abandoned, the birth family is most likely
to reclaim the child 3-6 months after the abandonment. However, the
ads are run only one week after the abandonment, further decreasing
their effectiveness. Further, provincial officials have stated that
the advertisements are made in a manner that significantly decreases
the likelihood that they will be heard or seen by the birth
families. Investigations by the Embassy have also confirmed that
the ads are not effective. In 6 cases where investigations by the
Embassy have located the birth family of allegedly deserted
children, the birth families said that they never heard or saw any
ads seeking the parents of the child.

11. The search for domestic adoptive parents, is, by design,
ineffective. Orphanage directors in two provinces have confirmed to
the Embassy that while they receive applications from families
interested in domestic adoption, they do not process these
applications. The reason that applications by Vietnamese families
to adopt Vietnamese children are not processed is because the
orphanages will receive a donation from an ASP if the baby is
adopted internationally, while they will not receive these funds if
the child is adopted domestically. Another orphanage director
stated that he would need "permission" from the ASP funding his
orphanage in order to release a child for domestic adoption, noting
that the monthly support payments the ASP made for the children gave
the ASP the "authority" to decide the child's future.

-----------------------
Types of Adoption Cases
-----------------------

12. Under US Immigration law, Vietnamese children can be adopted if
they are orphans due to the whereabouts of their birth parents being
unknown (desertion) or if one or both birth parents have permanently
relinquished custody of their child to the orphanage, (termed
"abandonment" by US Immigration law, but commonly referred to as
relinquishment). Prior to the suspension of adoption in 2002, 80%
of cases were relinquishments, and 20% were abandonments. Since the
Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) went into effect in 2005, those
figures have flipped with over 85% of the cases involving
desertions. Orphanages not involved in international adoption,
however, have reported to the Embassy that they have not seen any
increase in the number of deserted children, and the vast majority
of children in these facilities are children in care. For example,
in the Hanoi orphanage previously mentioned, only 4 of 29 children
(2 with special needs) were available for international adoption -
the agreement that this orphanage has with the American ASP is not
based on cash in kind for referrals. Post has received multiple,
credible reports from orphanage officials and Americans connected
with ASPs that facilitators are deliberately staging fraudulent
desertions to conceal the identity of the birth parents. According
to these individuals, this phenomenon is a byproduct of the 2002
shutdown, which occurred as a result of United States Citizenship
and Immigration Services (USCIS) interviews in which many birth
parents told the agency that they had sold their children or that
their children had been released for adoption without their
knowledge or consent.

---------------
Relinquishments
---------------


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13. Cases where one or both birth parents have permanently
relinquished their child to an orphanage account for 15% of cases
filed under the Orphan First program. In interviews with consular
officers, 75% of parents have stated that they received payment from
the orphanage in exchange for placing their child in the orphanage.
On average this payment was six million Vietnamese Dong, which is
the equivalent of 11 months salary at minimum wage in Vietnam. Many
of these families cited these payments as the primary reason for
placing their child in an orphanage. The majority of these parents
also state that they had not considered placing their child in an
orphanage until a health care worker or orphanage official suggested
to them that they should do so and informed them that they would
receive a payment for doing so. Many of these parents also report
that orphanage officials told them that the child will visit home
frequently, will return home after they reach a certain age (often
11 or 12), or will send remittance payments from the United States.
In these cases, the majority of birth parents have said they do not
consent to the adoption if any of these conditions are not kept.

14. The Ministry of Labor Invalids and Social Affairs has stated
that the payments described above are unauthorized and not funded by
government sources. The Ministry of Justice has likewise confirmed
that such payments are illegal under Vietnamese law. MOLISA has
stated, however, that there are absolutely no regulations on how
orphanage directors can spend the money given to them by ASPs and
that orphanage directors can give this money to anyone they wish, as
long as the recipient did not have to take any action, such as
relinquishing a child, in order to receive the "gift." Accordingly,
while MOLISA can confirm that the reported payments from orphanage
officials to biological parents must have come from ASP funds, they
do not have the ability to take action or to investigate reports of
child buying.

----------
Desertions
----------
15. Throughout Vietnam, officials at orphanages connected with
international adoptions report that the number of deserted children
has increased by up to 1700% since 2005, the year that the adoption
agreement with the United States was signed. Officials at
orphanages not connected with international adoption, however, have
not seen an increase in desertions. A statistical review of child
desertions reveals a series of facilities that have an unexplained
high rate of child desertions. For example, one small medical
clinic in Hanoi, which reported an average of 50 live births per
year, had a desertion rate of 8%, while a nearby hospital, with an
average of 3,600 live births per year, had a desertion rate of
0.005%. Since there is no difference in the cost of delivery or
maternity care at the two facilities, this discrepancy can not be
explained by cost or other economic data.

16. When Embassy officials spoke with officials at these two
institutions, other significant discrepancies appeared. In the
hospital, the desertion of a child was recorded, as required by
Vietnamese law, in the mother's medical record. Hospital staff was
familiar with the number of desertions and the children were
referred for domestic adoption. By contrast, at the clinic, the
desertions were not recorded in the main medical log. Instead they
were only recorded in a private log kept in a locked safe to which
only the director had access. The nurses at the facility all gave
sworn statements that no child had ever been deserted at the clinic,
yet the director had signed paperwork purportedly documenting
multiple desertions. These children were all offered for
international adoption.

17. Provincial records also document this unusual pattern of
"desertion pockets." For example, in Tuyen Quang province in 2007
there were 77 cases of child desertion. Of these, 76 occurred at
one particular orphanage. The director of this orphanage told the
Embassy that before he signed an agreement with an American ASP in
April 2006, the orphanage was home to 10 children, most of whom had
been relinquished. By January 2007, the orphanage was home to 23
children, of whom fifty percent had been deserted. By January 2008,
the orphanage was home to 70 infants, with over 90% of them having
been deserted. The orphanage director attributed the growth in the
number of children and the number of desertions to the fact that the
orphanage was receiving funding from the American ASP. The
orphanage guards also confirmed that desertions were extremely rare
before 2006, but now they find five infants per month on average.

18. In one province in northern Vietnam province, the director of
the largest hospital in the province acknowledged that since 2005

HANOI 00000422 005.8 OF 008


his hospital had an unusually high rate of desertions. He told the
Embassy that "these desertions would not occur if the US stopped
issuing visas for the adoption of Vietnamese children." In another
province, an ASP official complained to USCIS that because the
average processing time for I-600 petitions has increased from 10
days to 45, the number of referrals his agency could receive had
decreased. He said that there were children ready to be adopted,
but the orphanage could not accept them until the current cases were
processed. Given that the majority of children in this province
have purportedly been deserted, the comment raises serious questions
about actual origin of these children, since the orphanage should
not be able to schedule desertions.

19. In other cases, individuals report finding children in a field
or by the side of the road. Often the individual who purportedly
found the child (child finder) is a police officer, a village
official or a member of their immediate family. This results in a
very close relationship between the child finder and the officials
certifying their reports. Embassy investigations have shown that
many of these reports are fraudulent. These include cases in which
those individuals, who only months or weeks before had signed
statements claiming to have found a deserted child, told consular
officers that they had never in their lives found a deserted child.
In one case, the child finder could not remember finding a child,
even though the purported event had happened the day before. In
another case, the child finder stated that the police told her if
she did not sign a fraudulent statement claiming that she had found
a child in 2007, they would arrest her for kidnapping in connection
with a child finder statement that she signed in 2006.

20. In over 10 cases, Embassy investigations have discovered the
identity of the birth mother in cases where a child was purportedly
deserted. In all of these cases, the birth mother was known to
orphanage or hospital officials, but these institutions decided to
fraudulently document the case as a desertion. In some cases, this
was to conceal payments to the birth family. In others, children
were declared to be deserted with unknown parents after the birth
parents failed to pay outstanding hospital bills.

21. The following cases highlight the effects of fraudulent
documentation and corruption in desertion cases. According to
official Vietnamese documentation the child was born at Hospital X
and then the birth mother left the hospital and was untraceable. An
Embassy investigation showed that the child was born by C-section at
a different hospital. The child was pre-mature and had significant
respiratory problems and thus was transferred to Hospital X. Based
on information from the hospital director, the Embassy located and
interviewed the birth mother, who stated that she had visited her
son at the hospital several times, but that the hospital director
would not let her hold the child until she paid a 12 million Vietnam
Dong hospital bill. She stated that she applied to have the bill
reduced due to her low income, but the director refused to consider
the application. Additionally, she stated that she had been told
that her child would require lifelong treatment for water on the
brain and that, as a result, her son had been transferred to
Orphanage Y for care. She was shocked to hear that the medical
report from the U.S. panel physician stated that the child was
healthy. After considerable pressure from the U.S. Mission, this
adoption was canceled and the child is now back with its birth
parents.

----------
Safehouses
----------

22. In five provinces, the Embassy has discovered "safehouses" for
pregnant women. These are 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, and women learn of the
homes 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 at the safehouse 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. Investigations by consular officers have revealed
allegations of possible abuse by safehouse staff against the female
residents. In several of the safehouses, 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

HANOI 00000422 006.8 OF 008


source of funding for these safehouses is unclear, they appear to
have close connections with nearby orphanages whose operating costs
are exclusively funded by donations from ASPs.

23. When the Embassy visited these safehouses, 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.

------------------------------------------
Vietnamese Documents - Issuance Procedures
------------------------------------------

24. Documents relating to adoptions in Vietnam are generally issued
by orphanage directors, local People's Committees, Provincial
Departments and the Department for International Adoptions (DIA).
These officials do not independently verify the facts asserted in
these documents. Further, verifications conducted by U.S. officials
in a significant number of cases have uncovered evidence that while
these documents have been validly issued, they are based on
fraudulent information. As a result, these documents are of
questionable veracity and thus cannot be considered reliable for
immigration purposes. These documents cannot and should not be
regarded as conclusive proof of the facts they purport to certify
because of the potential for fraud or error in their issuance.
Fraud or mistake may reasonably be suspected in any case where the
facts cited in the document are contradicted by other evidence.

25. In cases involving the desertion of a child, local officials
usually issue birth certificates and reports of abandonment at the
request of orphanage or hospital officials without speaking to the
individuals involved. For example, the People's Committee in one
southern province told the Embassy that they issue whatever
documents a local midwife requests without verifying the accuracy of
the statements. This is done to "help her with her business with
the orphanage." In a different province, village officials issued
an official statement that a birth mother was single, even though
their own registry book showed she was married and had four
children. Further, MOLISA has confirmed that for deserted children
a birth certificate can be issued showing the date and time of
desertion as the date and time of birth and listing the birth
parents as unknown, even if the true facts have been previously
recorded in official documents.

26. The Embassy has received credible reports that some ASPs pay
$10,000 per referred child to local facilitators. According to one
of these facilitators, a significant portion of this money goes to
the orphanage director, who is responsible for finding children.
The facilitator and orphanage director then work together to create
a false advertisement claiming that the child was abandoned,
regardless of the child's true origins. This ad is then used to
obtain the necessary paperwork from local officials and DIA. The
facilitator noted that as long as the right fee is paid, no one
tries to verify the facts of the case, and the documents are issued
with no questions asked.

27. Fraudulent police reports have also been submitted to the
Embassy in connection with adoption cases. For example, in one
adoption case the original file stated that the birth mother was
unknown. However, hospital records revealed the mother's name and
address. When the Embassy requested an explanation as to why DIA
approved the adoption case without a police search for the
biological mother as required by Vietnamese law, DIA blamed the
omission of the birthmother search report on the village police and
provided a document dated March 21, 2007, stating that a police
check had been done and they could not find the birth mother.
However, the police officer who purportedly did the check stated he
had not actually done a physical search, and that the date on the
document was inaccurate. He stated that "about 20 days ago" the
police chief in another village visited his office with a prepared
backdated report about the search and asked him to sign, which he
did.

--------------------------------------------- -
Vietnamese Documents - Verification Procedures
--------------------------------------------- -


HANOI 00000422 007.6 OF 008


28. Once a child has been matched with a prospective adoptive
parent, the provincial level Department of Justice conducts a review
of the file to ensure that it contains the proper documents required
by Vietnamese law. According to provincial Department of Justice
officials, in all cases the review consists of physically verifying
that the child is in the orphanage and verifying that each required
document is signed, sealed and in the file. There is no requirement
to verify the accuracy of the information contained in the file.
Further, there is no requirement to verify that a birth parent
intended to relinquish their child or to verify the circumstances of
a child's desertion. According to DIA, even if this review were to
uncover any discrepancies, DIA and provincial Department of Justice
officials are prohibited from conducting an independent review of
the facts or speaking directly with the witnesses in the case.
Instead, they are required by Article 45 of Decree 68/2002 to return
the case to the official who prepared the original report. If this
individual recertifies that his original report is correct, then the
case is allowed to proceed.

29. As a result of this limited authority, DIA has informed the
Embassy that it does not conduct field verification of adoptions in
Vietnam. Indeed, DIA's explicit position is that, as long as the
appropriate papers have been signed by the correct officials, DIA
will certify that the adoption complies with Vietnamese law.
Further, it should be noted that DIA has stated that it does not
actually have the authority to declare an adoption illegal, revoke a
Giving and Receiving Ceremony, or cancel a referral. The lack of
verification and accountability regulations in Vietnamese adoption
law creates a situation where an unscrupulous orphanage director or
local official who fabricates a "desertion" or "relinquishment." is
also the only official who can investigate the alleged fraud in the
case.

30. A provincial Department of Justice official told the Embassy of
cases where under Vietnamese law children had been matched with
American adopting families and the cases were referred to her office
for verification. In one case, hospital records stated that the
birth mother had registered at the hospital under an assumed name
and then died shortly after the birth. The child was listed as
deserted. However, the DOJ official found a reference in the
hospital file that the woman's family had come to the hospital to
claim her body. As a result the official contacted the family, who
stated that the hospital had transferred the child to the orphanage
without their consent and that the orphanage had denied them
visitation rights. The family has now been reunited with the child,
who is being raised by its maternal grandparents. However, she
noted that under Vietnamese law no one had technically done anything
wrong in separating this child from his family, and that the
adoption would normally have been allowed to be completed had it not
been for this particular official's independent decision to go a
step further then required by Vietnamese law. Only her personal
interest in the case and her ability to persuade other local
officials to do the right thing prevented this child from being
permanently separated from its family.

----------------------------------------
Reports of Corruption in Adoption System
----------------------------------------

31. The Embassy has received credible reports from current and
former employees of ASPs working in Vietnam regarding corruption in
the adoption system. These begin with the licensing procedures.
Several ASPs have reported that they were told they had to fund
tours to the United States for DIA and other government officials in
order to receive their licenses. One described taking a Vietnamese
delegation to a large U.S. shopping mall and then using his credit
card to pay for all of their purchases. Others have reported being
asked for cash payments in order to obtain provincial licenses.

32. 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.

--------------------------------------------- --
Official Response to Reports of Irregularities

HANOI 00000422 008.6 OF 008


--------------------------------------------- --

33. The DIA has acknowledged that it has not taken any action,
criminal or administrative, against any individual or organization
for any violation of Vietnamese law or regulation concerning
adoption, despite its being made aware of the information developed
regarding fraud. They have also stated that they have taken no
action to address concerns or allegations of wrongdoing submitted to
them by individuals, ASPs or the U.S. Embassy. To the contrary, DIA
has stated that it is in the "humanitarian" interest of the
Government of Vietnam to ensure that every proposed adoption is
completed as quickly as possible. They note that the ASPs have made
a donation for the child, and thus, even if they had the authority
to revoke a referral or an adoption, they would not do so because
they could not break their contract with the ASP.

34. In fact, DIA has acknowledged that when it receives reports
from the Embassy regarding fraud in adoption cases, they meet with
the ASP or local facilitators to develop a strategy to refute the
Embassy's evidence. Frequently this consists of a second
investigation where child-finders are notified in advance that they
will be re-interviewed in front of the People's Committee and
reminded that they had previously signed statements saying they
could be punished if the original statements they gave to the
People's Committee were untrue. Under this pressure, child-finders
have recanted the statements they had made to consular officials.

35. In other cases, birth mothers from rural provinces who had told
the Embassy they did not agree to relinquish their children were
summoned to Hanoi at their own expense and ordered to appear before
DIA to sign new relinquishment papers. In another case, after an
Embassy investigation determined that hospital officials had
fraudulently declared a child deserted and concealed the identity of
the birth mother, the ASP contacted the birth mother and obtained a
certificate of relinquishment signed by her. Upon further
questioning of both the birth mother and the ASP official, the
Embassy learned that the ASP took the birth mother to the police
station and told her that if she signed the paperwork she would
receive 200,000 dong and would be allowed to see her son. The birth
mother, who is illiterate, signed the paperwork even though she did
not know what it said because she wanted to see her son.

36. When ASP employees have given statements to the Embassy
detailing corruption in Vietnamese adoptions, they have been
pressured by DIA and local officials in an effort to recant these
statements. In one case an American citizen left Vietnam after
local officials made it clear she would be arrested for reporting an
orphanage director's misuse of ASP donations.

MICHALAK

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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