Cablegate: Vietnam Adoptions - Dcm Meeting with Vu Duc Long

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Vietnam Adoptions - DCM Meeting With Vu Duc Long

REF: A) Hanoi 2138, B) Hanoi 2159, C) Boswell-Savage email
(August 7, 2004, subject: RE: Talking Points - DCM call on
Mr. Long)

1. (U) Summary. On August 9, 2004 Deputy Chief of Mission
John Boardman met with Mr. Vu Duc Long of the Department of
International Adoptions at the Ministry of Justice to
further clarify the content of the diplomatic note ref A.
Director Long explained that because adoptions concern
fundamental human rights, the Vietnamese system requires
that an agreement touching upon it be framed as a treaty.
However, due to differences in how the GVN and USG define
"treaty", it will be possible to sign a document with the
accepted title, if it has "the content of a treaty." To
have "the content of a treaty", the GVN insists that such an
agreement form new "binding obligations", chiefly the
creation of a centralized USG agency to verify Prospective
Adoptive Parent (PAP) application dossiers and Adoption
Service Provider (ASP) licenses and activities. If the USG
cannot provide such centralized oversight, the GVN asks for
a central authority to serve as a point of contact to assist
with these verifications at the state and local level. When
asked to clarify what the GVN is seeking in terms of
"humanitarian support", Long sidestepped into an awkward
explanation that the ASPs must help support the orphanages
from which they adopt. He was unable specify what such
support entailed, other than to say that it should be
"reasonable", and that ASPs will need to have "good
relations" to adopt in Vietnam. Finally, Long confirmed
that the adoption of children with special needs, as with
applications made by 'friends of Vietnam', could currently
be considered on a case-by-case basis. End Summary.


2. (U) On August 9, 2004 Deputy Chief of Mission John
Boardman met with Mr. Vu Duc Long of the Department of
International Adoptions at the Ministry of Justice to
further clarify the content of the diplomatic note ref A.
After DCM Boardman and Director Long reiterated the
importance of restarting American adoptions in Vietnam, Long
indicated that with hard work from both sides, substantial
deliverables may be ready for A/S Harty's visit to Vietnam
in October. Long also assumed that A/S Harty would want to
meet with other officials, suggesting that he does not see
adoptions as being the primary cause of her visit to


3. (U) Long and the DCM went immediately to the central
question of why a treaty is required. Long explained that
the Vietnamese system recognizes four categories of
international agreements: state-state, government-
government, ministry-ministry, and those conferred by the
Supreme Court or other agencies. In Vietnam, because
adoption concerns the central rights of human beings, it
must be legislated at the state level. In the Vietnamese
system "treaty" is the proper name for agreements between

4. (U) Understanding that the USG has a different
understanding of the term treaty and does not intent to sign
a document bearing that title, Long agreed that a document
with the current title could satisfy the requirement for a
treaty if it were signed by a high-level USG official and
had "the content of a treaty".

5. (U) When questioned by the DCM on what was meant by "the
content of a treaty", Long replied that it must place new
binding obligations and rights upon its signatories. The
"binding obligations" sought by the GVN seem to be
obligations regarding oversight of ASPs and the applications
of PAPs. See paras 7 and 8.

6. (U) When pressed further on why Decree 68 mandates a
treaty, Long acknowledged that because there had been no
central regulation of the adoptions process in Vietnam prior
to Decree 68, there had been "problems". To correct these
prior deficiencies, Long asserted that Decree 68 raises
adoptions to the highest (State) level and requires a
central authority to regulate adoptions.

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

7. (U) Long then focused on the importance of being able to
verify the lawfulness and authenticity of application
dossiers submitted by PAPs, the licensing and activities of
ASPs, and the identity and dossiers of orphans. The GVN
would like to establish clear responsibilities for these
matters, with the USG responsible for verifying PAP
application dossiers and ASP licensing, and the GVN
responsible for verifying the dossiers of orphans.

8. (U) The DCM replied that the USG could not perform
federal oversight of ASPs as licensing of ASPs and adoptions
are both governed at the state level in the U.S.. The USG
does not have the authority to determine whether or not an
ASP could operate in Vietnam. He suggested that the
authority to issue or revoke a license to operate lies with
the GVN. Long in turn suggested that a federal central
authority serve as a point of contact for the GVN so that it
could "discuss" the history and lawfulness of a PAPs'
dossier or an ASPs' license and activities without needing
to refer to each of the 50 states. This request was
repeated throughout the meeting. Long also reiterated that
in order to be licensed to operate in Vietnam, ASPs must
have prior experience in Asia and "good relationships" in

9. The DCM attempted to focus the conversation on the
prevention of fraud in the aspects for which the GVN would
like to take responsibility. He asked about practices for
licensing or revoking the licenses of ASPs. He asked about
verification that an orphan is truly an orphan and that
there was no exchange of funds. In response to all of these
questions, Long made unclear statements that the Vietnamese
system would be stronger than the Chinese system and
repeatedly turned the questions back to USG oversight over
ASPs and PAPs.


10. (U) Following on, Long again raised the GVN desire to
eliminate the need for consular legalization of documents.
He explained that if the GVN were assured that the ASP was
legally licensed and the application dossier was complete
and lawful, there would be no need for further `consular
legalization' (meaning authentication) of documents.


11. (U) As requested in ref C, DCM then pressed for
clarification of what the GVN is seeking in terms of
"humanitarian support". Long then launched into an
impassioned explanation that if foreign parents wish to
adopt healthy children, then the foreign ASPs handling their
adoptions must provide support to the local orphanages to
ensure the health of the children. He could not name an
amount or specify language to include in the document,
saying only that the amount should be "reasonable". He did,
though, push further to suggest that ASPs will need to have
"good relations" with the orphanages if they expect to have
children referred to their PAPs, and made a clear link
between those "good relations" and the humanitarian support


12. (U) Mission did not broach the subject of a pilot
program, but did verify that special needs children are
currently eligible for adoption. Long said that adoption of
special needs children would be reviewed on a case-by-case
basis. In a seeming attempt to appear to be accommodating,
Long also offered that adoptions applications from diplomats
and friends of helpful U.S. Senators would be considered as
special cases. Conoff replied firmly that the USG would not
encourage such special exceptions to the law.


13. (U) When raised by the DCM, Long insisted he had no
concerns regarding the citizenship of children adopted under
this agreement. He simply stated that Vietnamese children
must maintain their citizenship until given the choice at
age 18, and that as the USG allows for dual citizenship, the
issue was "not a problem".


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