The US-Vietnamese Adoption Program was resumed last year. There were three important aspects to this new program, now called the Special Adoption Program:
First, the Program allows adoption of only three types of children: Children with medical conditions such as HIV and children with disabilities, Children at least five years of age, up to 15 years old, Children in biological sibling groups or two or more, with at least one of the siblings under 16 years of age.
Second, the children will be chosen by the Vietnamese government. That means that the Vietnamese government agencies will provide the prospective adopting parents with information about one or more children who are eligible for adoption. The parents can choose one of the children, or decline to choose any.
Third, there are only two adoption agencies in the US who can take part in the Special Adoption Program. They are Dillon International and Holt International Children’s Services. Only these two agencies can work directly with the Vietnamese authorities in the processing of adoption cases.
Recently, Vietnam’s central adoption authority, the Ministry of Justice’s Department of Adoptions (MOJ/DA), has clarified certain aspects of the Adoption program. According to MOJ/DA, healthy children who live outside of orphanages currently do not qualify for the Special Adoption Program, even if they are aged five or older or are in biological sibling groups and even if they are in some way related to a prospective adoptive parent.
Children who are eligible for adoption are put on “List 2”. Only children on List 2, who are officially documented as special needs, aged five or older, and in biological sibling groups are eligible for adoption. Only provincial Departments of Justice are authorized to register children for “List 2” and those children must be residents of government child care facilities.
Children who are not registered on “List 2”, but who have disabilities or life threatening diseases, and children with HIV/AIDS, may be eligible for inter-country adoption. First the MOJ/DA makes a determination that the prospective adoptive parents are eligible to adopt. If approved, the MOJ/DA will then send a request to the provincial Department of Justice to determine whether the identified child is eligible for inter-country adoption. The child’s guardian must submit documentation verifying the medical condition of the child as well as go through the full legal relinquishment process in Vietnam.
U.S. prospective adoptive parents who wish to adopt a Vietnamese child must work through either of the two U.S. adoption providers that have been licensed by the Vietnamese Government to operate the Special Adoption Program in Vietnam.
International adoptions are a very in-depth process. They are not as simple as filing an I-130 for your relatives. Adoptions require a Home Study in the US to determine the suitability of the parents. There are several pages of questions that are used to determine the parents’ social, moral, medical and financial background. An immigration services provider can be of help in completing these items for the Home Study.
The adoption procedures could take two or three years and could cost between $20,000 to $30,000.
We understand and sympathize with the Vietnamese and US governments’ attempt to provide good homes to children who are often forgotten. Most parents are looking for infants or very young children in good health. By the time children reach five years of age, they may be less flexible in adapting to a new family and may be influenced by the loss of their original family. And, adopting a child with special needs means that the adopting parents must be very special themselves.
Although it is definitely a challenge to bring an older child or a disabled child into a family, the rewards to both the parents and the adopted child can be great. The Special Adoption Program is indeed a special program for special parents.---------------------------------------------------
Q.1. Many Vietnamese in the US would like to adopt a niece or nephew from Vietnam in order to provide the child with a better life. Can this be done?
A.1. The child can only be adopted within the categories that have been established: five years of age or older, or with special needs, or as siblings (2 or more), one of which must be under 16 years of age. AND, the child must be located and presented for adoption by the Vietnamese government. Finally, the child must be living in a Vietnamese government child care facility.
Q.2. If I know about a child under the age of five, can I start the adoption procedure now because the child will be five years old by the time the process is complete?
A.2. The Vietnamese government will only present children for adoption who are at least five years of age.
Q.3. Who can adopt?
A.3. Under Vietnamese law, prospective adoptive parents must be at least 20 years older than the child to be adopted. Vietnamese law permits adoption by both single persons and married couples, but not by gay or transgender persons.