How pathetic can one get, a program that is to help the settlement of young Vietnamese children to give them a better future has to end after corruption was exposed.
The Embassy found officials lining pockets by duping Vietnamese mothers into giving up infants for a free room. Babies born are kidnapped and stolen from their parents and effectively sold to families in the US and elsewhere. The dubious and greedy act has killed off an adoption scheme following exposure of the corruption involved.
The two-year-old adoption agreement between the US and Vietnam expired after each side failed to resolve disagreements over the programme. The scheme is to be suspended indefinitely, and up to 1,700 US couples with adoption applications in the pipeline are likely to be disappointed.
But the Vietnamese authorities pledged to continue processing adoptions for parents already matched with orphans.
The adoption plan began in 2006. A previous programme was stopped in 2003 because of fraud and corruption. Despite stronger safeguards the Vietnamese authorities were unable to police the new scheme and stamp out the irregularities.
An investigation by the US embassy in Hanoi, unveiled in April, revealed a host of ways whereby corrupt district officials were subverting the rules and duping illiterate and impoverished parents so as to make themselves big profits.
The six-month investigation of 300 cases unearthed disturbing situations, including hospitals sending babies to orphanages for overseas adoption in the wake of parents being unable to pay medical bills for the birth. Health officials also got financial inducements. In one case a grandmother sent a baby girl for adoption without the knowledge of the parents, though in that instance the baby was reunited with her mother.
“In five provinces,” the report said, “the embassy has discovered unlicensed, unregulated facilities that provide free room and board to pregnant women in return for their commitment to relinquish their children on birth. Women … report receiving up to 6m Vietnam Dong [£195] as payment for their children.”
Parents were often persuaded by health officials or orphanage staff to leave their babies and invariably were told, wrongly, their offspring would visit then return and stay permanently at the age of 11 or 12. Most were unaware that they would never see their child again.
To assure children’s eligibility for adoption, corrupt orphanage directors, with the aid of police or district officials, fraudulently produced papers indicating that babies had been “deserted”, meaning abandoned by the parents.
Several US adoption agencies were told that to get their licences they had to fund tours to the US for government officials, including “shopping sprees”. Agencies also reported that cash and in-kind donations were diverted to fund orphanage officials’ private purchases, including cars and jewellery, and in one case a “real estate development”.
Last year 828 Vietnamese children were adopted and taken to the US. In Britain the number amounted to about 10 a year. The figure for US adoptions was set to top that of last year before the Vietnamese government halted all new applications in the wake of the investigation.
This is human nature at its worst, human beings exploiting others human beings for their own gains. Officials and the Health personnel taken advantage of those they are supposed to help. The literate taken advantage of the illietrate, the rich and power exploiting the poor and the powerless. Because of the wanton behavior of these officials this program was brought to a halt – it is doubtful if the pending cases would be allowed to proceed. What about the other poor children if the whole program is scrapped. Is the Mighty Dollars so powerful that is can blind men to forsake young children’s future just to line their own pockets?
May good sense prevail and may compassion open the hearts of the corrupt officials.