Friday, August 22, 2008


Last week, VNS news asked for comments on a question that they had posed. "Is foreign adoption good for Vietnamese orphans?

The commentary was interesting.

Here is the link. Here are the comments.

Philippe Neyroud, Swiss, HCM City:

According to the UN Child Rights Convention, signed by almost all the countries in the world, the interest of the child is the main point on which public policies must be focused. And it appears very clearly that some countries don’t have sufficient laws or structures to prevent private adoption, which may be child trafficking and this is unfortunately a reality that occurs every day. The best way to prevent child trafficking is to have laws that don’t allow private structures to propose children for adoption. It’s the State authority’s responsibility to protect children and to give them the best chance to grow up healthy and receive an education in their own country. For instance, in the United States of America, one of the only countries not to have signed this international convention, you can now go online and make your best offer to buy a child; each of these "products", mostly from Haiti, is shown with a picture and a fact sheet, the same as if you were buying a car or computer online.

A second key point is for policies on adoption is that international adoption should only be considered after any kind of local or national solution has failed. This means that an abandoned child, for instance, must be taken care of by relatives, or by community members, or by another family in the country. If all these options are exhausted, only then should international adoption be considered, according to the relevant national and international laws.

This option is a good one during humanitarian crises or in war zones. This was the fact when the tsunami hit Thailand and Sri Lanka. Several days later you could easily buy a child, supposedly orphan and abandoned, without any proof. It happened also in Somalia, which was affected by the Darfur crisis, when a supposed French NGO called "Arche de Zoe" tried to take 103 alleged orphans to France. It was lucky that this attempt failed and was stopped by the local police.

I don’t know the details of the situation in Viet Nam, but I know that a lot of children are abandoned by their often young mother after birth. Both specialised NGOs, national or international ones, and local communities and regional and national authorities, have to work closely together to preserve the interests of the child. This doesn’t mean that being adopted from abroad will lead to misfortune, but a child from Viet Nam will always have a better chance to grow up in their homeland.

I would end with a short story concerning a close friend of mine, who was adopted in by a Swiss family from South Korea in the early 70’s. She is now going through a painful personal process, trying to recover her roots. This may also happen to Vietnamese children who are detached from their roots.

Graham Bassatt, British, London, UK

The thorny subject of foreign child adoption rears its head again.

Looking at it from the outside, I can never see the need for it. The child might well be better off abroad (in the short term) but is that always going to be the case? Surely it is better to try and care for that child in the country that it was born in so that it maintains, at the very least, a grasp on its roots.

And at what point does the subject of foreign adoption first get aired?>Birth or later? And by whom? And to whose real benefit is it anyway? The State, the adoptive parents or the child? Does the child even get to have a say?If only more attention was given to the needs of the child by first trying adoption/foster care locally, paid for by the state, such foreign adoptions would be a rare event.It would be interesting though to hear from children who have been through this process and who are old enough now to know how they view their life. And of course, it begs the ultimate question.>Was their life enhanced by foreign adoption? If the answer is ‘Yes’, my comments above and indeed what you and I think is irrelevant. If the answer is ‘No’, maybe it’s time for a rethink

Thomas Yoshida, American, HCM City:

It has been said that adopting a child is an act of charity. I am not a firm believer in this idea.There are cases where celebrities adopt children from poor nations and this appears to be an act of charity because the adoptive parents have means to provide a "good life" for an orphan. I believe that these cases are acts of humanity and not charity.

Statistics indicate that infertility and childlessness are the main reasons that couples seek to adopt children who are not related to them. Parents who adopt children are willing to invest more time with their adoptive child and many want to enrich their child’s life to make up for the lack of biological ties and extra challenges that adopted orphans children have had or will have. These parents have hopes and dreams that the children will fill a "void" in their lives and want to create and build a happy family environment for themselves as well as their adopted child. Although adoptions are never always successful, both for the parents or adopted children, I believe that adoptions help the parents and adopted children in the great majority of cases.

Is adoption human trafficking? Does foreign adoptions have to be examined more to avoid negative consequences and ensure the best conditions for the children? Certainly! I can’t speak for other nations but in the USA, anyone hoping to adopt children undergoes thorough scrutiny of economic, moral and criminal records, employment conditions, physical and mental health and recommendations from responsible people in their communities. These records are submitted to a Vietnamese adopting agency. In Viet Nam, it is illegal for individuals to directly deal with or contact anyone to arrange an adoption and it must be done through the adoption agencies licensed by the Government. The purpose of this is to ensure no corruption in the process.

The question of whether it is of the best interest for a child, to be adopted or remain in orphanages needs further discussion. I am sure that the adoption agencies would endorse orphanages and adoptions but would like to know more. Is it possible that the Viet Nam News could run some articles with input from adoption agencies, government agencies and if possible orphans who have grown to adulthood in orphanages in Viet Nam. I would like to know what the statistics of adoptions by Vietnamese couples are. I suspect it might be low. Orphans that have family relations in Viet Nam are probably usually adopted by family and relatives. Is it better for orphans to be raised in orphanages which depend on public support and charity and be faced with the prospects of uncertainty than to be adopted by foreigners who desire to have a child to fill a void in their lives? This is not to say that orphanages are not run well in Viet Nam and that children in orphanages have not been successful in life, but they face some stigmas in Viet Nam without parents or relatives. I am told that unhappy Vietnamese couples with children don’t divorce because they fear that it would affect the marriage prospects of their children. Do Vietnamese parents have a concern when their child wants to marry an orphan?

Tony Vanderwal, Canada:

There has to be a way to ensure adopted kids will be looked after by their adoptive families, and this may have to include follow-up checks on adoptive families.I know this is not a simple task. But I know there are many couples in the world who want to have a child but can’t, and to find people interested and willing to do this is hard. It would have to be either a church group or Global Aid group who would finance such a programme.

It is not simple, but a lot more could be done for these children to make sure they stay safe. I don’t have all the answers by any means, but I feel sure we could do much better as I don’t think the Government has devoted enough time or people for it. God loves children and it is our task to protect them.

Phuong Lien, Vietnamese, Thai Binh Province:

Pax Thien – is that name familiar to you? If you’re a Vietnamese, the answer should be "Yes". The adopted child of Hollywood star – Angelina Jolie – has changed his look from that of a Vietnamese orphan boy to a little international "star".

However, excepting children like Pax, there are a lot of unlucky ones who are illegally or legally brought from their homeland in a kind of trade.

When I was a little girl, the most frightening thing for kids was to be "traded to China". Sounds ridiculous, but it’s sad to say this still occurs today.

There is, therefore, no argument as to whether the government should protect Vietnamese children from improper adoption. Tighter laws are needed to be applied to make sure that any children would find a good home, no matter where their adoptive parents are from.

Le Huong, Vietnamese, Ha Noi:

There are two sides to every coin and child adoption has both pros and cons. The problem is how we can take advantage of child adoption while decreasing the drawbacks.

The biggest advantage is related to living standards, education, medical services and so on. Lets look at the fundamental reason why parents decide to put their child up for adoption. The basic one is that they want their child to have a better future, better living conditions, as they do not have the ability to give this to their child because they are too poor. Another reason is the child is a legitimate orphan with no parents. Most foreigners who come to Viet Nam to adopt are from developed countries where they have good education systems, good health care services and social benefits that definitely provide a good enough place for a child to live in comparison with a developing country. In terms of spiritual well being, living away from your homeland is not easy. This can only be solved if they are lucky enough to have a good family that cares for them. Take the example of Pax Thien. We can say he is lucky, but it is an example of the benefits of being an adopted child.

The disadvantages are related to spirit, the child may not easily get used to their new environment as well as their new parents. In addition, the management mechanism in Viet Nam may not be good enough to manage this issue. Authorities should be responsible for finding a good home for adopted children. They need to make sure adoptive parents are financially secure as well as being moral people. In order to do that, it is necessary to identify all the information beforehand. Create a network and improve the legal system, and the most important thing is taking responsibility. Responsibility for what we do and responsibility for the future of adopted children.

Nguyen Anh Duc, Vietnamese, Ha Noi:

In my opinion, the original motivation for adoption is good. It’s the solution for couples who do not have children or for people who want to raise unlucky children to give them a better life. Through adoption, they may find themselves as new members of a family. For those reasons, adoption needs to be supported by society .

However, there have been a lot of cases where children are falsely put up for overseas adoption. If it is not for the above purposes, and this type of adoption may be terrible for the children. No one knows how the adopted children will be treated abroad, especially when they are too small to protect themselves and it is very difficult to save them.

Therefore, in order to avoid this, the monitoring and control of adoption needs to be carried out very carefully. When executing an adoption application, we have to carefully verify the adoptive parents’ motivations and situation to ensure that the children will be treated well. After the adoption, we also need to keep contact with the adoptive parents regularly to know how the adoption is progressing. In addition, adoptions should be selectively carried out by the departments that have the capability to control the process effectively. Only this way can we ensure a good future for adopted children.

Kum Seng Fong, HCM City:
I would say that there are some advantages in having foreign foster parents. But the situation must be monitored carefully by the authorities to ensure babies are not sold for profit.

Child adoption could be considered for large and poor families with many children who find it difficult to bring them up and educate them well, these include families in poor income groups from rural areas.Adopted children should be prioritised for childless couples who have been married for many years and who long to have children. — VNS

So what do you think?

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