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Corruption in international adoptions

NEW!
  Orphaned or Stolen?
 
The U.S. State Dept.
  investigates adoption
  from Nepal, 2006-2008

"Anatomy of an Adoption Crisis," ForeignPolicy.com, September 12, 2010

"The Baby Business," Democracy Journal, Summer 2010

"The Lie We Love," Foreign Policy magazine, Nov./Dec. 2008

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Map of Vietnam in the public domain, courtesy Waerth. Image of woman and child by Lorena Molinari.

By province: references to adoption problems

By province: References
  to adoption problems


The Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism requested (under the Freedom of Information Act) all documents related to State Department discussions 2007-2008 about possible fraud, corruption, and baby buying or selling in U.S. adoptions from Vietnam. In response, we received hundreds of pages of documents, all of which can be found here.

Within the documents, we found numerous references to particular provinces. Below is a list of all provinces that we found mentioned, with links to their respective documents. However, please note that a great deal of information in these document was redacted, including, in some cases, the references to provinces themselves. Because of these redactions, we do not know whether more provinces were in fact discussed in these documents.

This list also notes the adoption agencies that Vietnam licensed to work in that province as of June 11, 2007, according to Vietnam Voices for Adoption Integrity, which states it took the information from the U.S. Department of State’s Hanoi Embassy's website.

If you have information about agencies that were working in provinces not listed here, please let us know.

Thai Nguyen Nam Dihn Ha Noi Can Tho
Phu Tho Ha Tay An Giang Quang Nam
Binh Tuan Thua Thien-Hue Thanh Hoa Ninh Binh
Ho Chi Minh Kien Giang Quang Ninh Ben Tre


Thai NguyenThai Nguyen, Vietnam

Agencies in province, June 11, 2007:

“The last investigation team in this province went to Hospital A, the site of most abandonments in the province…. When they arrived at the appointed time, they found the chief of police in the director’s office. The police chief explained that… they were not allowed in Thai Nguyen province, and asked them to leave.”

• Investigation Memorandum 7-31-07

“On July 20 and 21 we conducted 5 investigations in Thai Nguyen province…”

• Renewed US concerns about Vietnamese adoptions leave American parents in limbo

“The embassy statement… describes a suspicious surge in reports of abandoned babies after U.S. adoptions resumed, especially in the rural provinces of Thai Nguyen and Phu Tho.”

• Adoption OI #005-08CA

“… since the American ASPs pulled out of Thai Nguyen, there has been a sharp increase in the number of domestic adoptions in that province.”

• Adoption OI #006-08CA

“The last investigation team in this province went to Hospital A, the site of most abandonments in the province… they were told that only the director could discuss adoption cases. Accordingly they requested a meeting with the director. When they arrived at the appointed time, they found the chief of police in the director’s office. The police chief explained… they were not allowed in Thai Nguyen province and asked them to leave.”

• Adoption OI #013-08CA

“Today we received from DIA a copy of a letter sent from DOJ Thai Nguyen… The letter is quite clear in stating that officials in the province have been instructed not to discuss adoption cases with the Embassy…”

“… they state that any information from private citizens in Thai Nguyen that is collected without a local government official present is considered ‘not objective and incorrect’.”

• Adoption OI #013-08CA

“There are currently 11 blocked investigations in Thai Nguyen. All of these cases involve children deserted at medical facilities in the province, primarily Thai Nguyen Hospital A.”

• 10 Disturbing Cases

“The child finder and his wife both told a consular investigating team that they had never found a child and that the story in the child finder statement was a lie.”

• Warning Two

“As of April 8, 2008 the following provinces do not allow U.S. officials to conduct independent field inquiries: An Giang, Binh Thanh, Thua Thien Hue, Phu Tho, Quang Nam, Ninh Binh, Thai Nguyen and Thanh Hoa. In addition U.S. officials have not been allowed to conduct independent [field] inquiries at Tu Du hospital in Ho Chi Minh City.”

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Nam DinhNam Dinh, Vietnam

Agencies in province, June 11, 2007:

“…concerns over a recent spike in adoptions from a specific orphanage located in that province.”

• Consular Activity Update - July 2007 

“On July 9 and 10, we conducted a familiarization visit to Nam Dinh province due to concerns over a recent spike in adoptions from a specific orphanage located in that province… the trip resulted in a report and  cable.”

• Adoption OI #002-08CA

“… an investigation team was able to successfully complete 1-604 investigations in Nam Dinh province. Accordingly the province is no longer considered blocked.”

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Ha NoiHa Noi, Vietnam

Agencies in province, June 11, 2007:

“A neighbor describes the house as ‘a place where children are bought and sold’.”
• Consular Activity Update - July 2007

“On July 26 and 27 we conducted 2 investigations in Hanoi. One case revealed that false information was provided on a child relinquishment document at a local hospital.”

• O-I #169-07

"Abuses include baby buying and farming, as documented in Hanoi cables over the past months."

• Vietnam Adoptions - Backdating Investigations

“…the miraculous arrival of over 30 infant girls at Hanoi Center 1 within five months of… opening… for international adoption is not an atypical trend in Vietnam."

• Adoptions: Warehousing of “Abandoned” Children Leads to Overcrowding and Even Deaths; Exposes Abuse in the System

“The recent deaths of eight infants from a Hanoi orphanage highlights the sometimes tragic costs of overcrowding we are seeing in child welfare facilities throughout Vietnam.”

• 10 Disturbing Cases

“A neighbor describes the house as ‘a place where children are bought and sold’.”

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Can ThoCan Tho, Vietnam

Agencies in province, June 11, 2007:

“The director of the hospital refused to assist the [investigating] team and prevented them from speaking to hospital officials.”

• No: 533/07

“… the External Relations Office has taken steps to prevent the Consulate’s officer from fulfilling his mission by collecting information at the Can Tho Children’s Hospital.”

• Adoption OI # 009-08CA

“The investigating team arrived at the Children’s Hospital to verify two desertion cases. The director of the hospital refused to assist the team and prevented them from speaking to hospital officials.”

• 10 Disturbing Cases

“The orphanage director admitted that he never met the birth mother.”

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Phu ThoPhu Tho, Vietnam

Agencies in province, June 11, 2007:

“A two-day investigation led to troubling new information: financial inducements offered to birth mothers, birth mothers unaware their children are to be adopted by foreign parents, and … financial and psychological tactics to prevent birth mothers from reneging on their promises to relinquish."
• Vietnam Adoption Fraud: No Going Back: Birth Mothers Unaware Children Up For International Adoption

“… the embassy was able to peek behind the curtain of fake abandonments and speak with birth mothers directly. A two-day investigation led to troubling new information: financial inducements offered to birth mothers, birth mothers unaware their children are to be adopted by foreign parents, and the use of financial and psychological tactics to prevent birth mothers from reneging on their promises to relinquish."

• DIA Ambassador Response 11-8-07

“Long stated that DIA would investigate the cases of child buying found by Post in Phu Tho…”

“Dao stated that the Embassy should not focus on Phu Tho, as there were problems in other provinces.”

• Vietnam Temporarily Suspends Adoptions From Phu Tho Province

“The Department of International Adoptions, Ministry of Justice of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam temporarily suspended the referral of new adoption dossiers by U.S. citizens to Phu Tho province due to recent problems with the paperwork of some Vietnamese children.”

"…The DIA has indicated to post that the suspension is a sign of their displeasure with the Embassy's public statement and field investigations… they will continue to allow citizens of other countries to adopt in Phu Tho. This is because these countries are less 'troublesome'."

“allegations of child trafficking in the province”

• Renewed US concerns about Vietnamese adoptions leave American parents in limbo 

“The embassy statement… describes a suspicious surge in reports of abandoned babies after U.S. adoptions resumed, especially in the rural provinces of Thai Nguyen and Phu Tho.”

• Adoption OI #006-08CA

“During the last investigation in this province, the team went to a medical center to speak with a child finder… Upon arrival, they were physically blocked from entering by local police officers who told them they were illegally in the province … The Vice Chairman of the People’s Committee… order[ed] them to leave the province immediately.”

• Adoption OI #010-08CA

“Phu Tho delays meetings”

• Adoption OI #014-08CA

“Vinh stated that the request for meetings will be granted, he just didn’t know when.”

• 10 Disturbing Cases

“The consular section investigated two relinquishment cases from this village… It was never made clear to the birth mothers that they were relinquishing their children for foreign adoption.”

“According to the child [finder] statement, the child finder was watching TV at her house, when she heard dogs barking. Going to the porch she found two infants. When the consular team visited the house, they discovered that the house had no electricity and no TV.”

• Warning Two

“As of April 8, 2008 the following provinces do not allow U.S. officials to conduct independent field inquiries: An Giang, Binh Thanh, Thuah Thien Hue, Phu Tho, Quang Nam, Ninh Binh, Thai Nguyen, and Thanh Hoa. In addition, U.S. officials have not been allowed to conduct independent field inquiries at Tu Du hospital in Ho Chi Minh City.”

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Ha TayHa Tay, Vietnam

Agencies in province, June 11, 2007:

  • Harrah’s International Mission: Now closed
“The wife of an orphanage director (herself an employee of the orphanage) was named as the leader of an infant trafficking ring in Ha Tay province.”
• Baby Buying: Selling Infants to China Sparks Outrage; Some Tactics Similar to Those Uncovered in American Adoptions

“Over the past week, major Vietnamese media outlets have highlighted the cases of four individuals arrested for smuggling newborn infants to China… One was an investigative report on a local baby-selling ring in Ha Tay province… citing the collusion of orphanage officials, local officials, medical staff, and possibly high-level officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”

“The wife of an orphanage director (herself an employee of the orphanage) was named as the leader of an infant trafficking ring in Ha Tay province…”

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An GiangAn Giang, Vietnam

Agencies in province:

“As of April 8, 2008 the following provinces do not allow U.S. officials to conduct independent field inquiries: An Giang…”
• Adoption OI #003-08CA

“…we have been able to complete investigations in An Giang province, and the province is no longer considered as blocked.”

• Warning Two

“As of April 8, 2008 the following provinces do not allow U.S. officials to conduct independent field inquiries: An Giang, Binh Thanh, Thuah Thien Hue, Phu Tho, Quang Nam, Ninh Binh, Thai Nguyen, and Thanh Hoa. In addition, U.S. officials have not been allowed to conduct independent field inquiries at Tu Du hospital in Ho Chi Minh City.”

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Quang NamQuang Nam, Vietnam

Agencies in province:

“The director physically blocked the team from entering, prohibited the team from speaking to Orphanage Employees.”
• Adoption OI #003-08CA

“Unfortunately, we were blocked from completing investigations in Quang Nam province…”

• Adoption OI #006-08CA

“The last investigation in this province was on March 21, 2008. The investigating team originally went to Tam Ky Center for Orphan Children, where the director physically blocked the team from entering, prohibited the team from speaking to Orphanage Employees and told them they could only return with permission from Provincial DOJ.”

• Adoption OI #013-08CA

“On March 21, investigations were blocked in Quang Nam province as a result of two orphanage directors and the provincial Department of Justice denying the investigating team access any case specific records.”

• 10 Disturbing Cases

“The guard… burned the logbook and created a new one, with an entry that showed that a child had been deserted on the date in question.”

• Warning Two

“As of April 8, 2008 the following provinces do not allow U.S. officials to conduct independent field inquiries: An Giang, Binh Thanh, Thuah Thien Hue, Phu Tho, Quang Nam, Ninh Binh, Thai Nguyen, and Thanh Hoa. In addition, U.S. officials have not been allowed to conduct independent field inquiries at Tu Du hospital in Ho Chi Minh City.”

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Binh Tuan / Binh Thuan / Binh ThanhBinh Thuan, Vietnam

Agencies in province: 

“…fraud is wide-spread amongst provincial-level officials—and may reach higher still.”
• Adoption OI #005-08CA

“… there has been a long history of problems in this province.”

“Fraud concerns in Binh Tuan are high, and there is serious concern that fraud is widespread amongst provincial-level officials—and may reach higher still.”

• Adoption OI #006-08CA

“During the last investigation in Binh Tuan, we discovered that the local police had visited all of the witnesses/child finders, told them what to say and told them to report their meetings… this was not an isolated incident…”

• Warning Two 

“As of April 8, 2008 the following provinces do not allow U.S. officials to conduct independent field inquiries: An Giang, Binh Thanh, Thuah Thien Hue, Phu Tho, Quang Nam, Ninh Binh, Thai Nguyen, and Thanh Hoa. In addition, U.S. officials have not been allowed to conduct independent field inquiries at Tu Du hospital in Ho Chi Minh City.”

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Thua Thien-HueThua Thien Hue, Vietnam

Agencies in province:

“...we received a diplomatic note… objecting to the investigation and forbidding us from conducting further investigations in the province.”
• Adoption OI #006-08CA 

“The last investigation in Thua Thien Hue was in the fall of 2007 and resulted in the issuance of a NOID. Shortly after the investigation, we received a diplomatic note… objecting to the investigation and forbidding us from conducting further investigations in the province.”

• Warning Two 

“As of April 8, 2008 the following provinces do not allow U.S. officials to conduct independent field inquiries: An Giang, Binh Thanh, Thuah Thien Hue, Phu Tho, Quang Nam, Ninh Binh, Thai Nguyen, and Thanh Hoa. In addition, U.S. officials have not been allowed to conduct independent field inquiries at Tu Du hospital in Ho Chi Minh City.”

• Adoption OI #015-08CA

“…the investigating team arrived at the orphanage to review the cases of two children purportedly deserted there. Initially the director was cordial to the team, and permitted them to tour the facility. In the middle of the tour, however, the director returned and apologetically told the team that… the police and People’s Committee had ordered him to have the team leave the orphanage immediately.”

• Adoption OI #016-08CA

“Post today formally requested meetings with provincial officials in Thanh Hoa and Thua Thien Hue to discuss blocked investigations in those provinces.”

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Thanh HoaThan Hoa, Vietnam

Agencies in province:

“…shortly after the interview began the police arrived and ordered the [U.S. investigative] team to leave the province.”
• Adoption OI #006-08CA

“While the last investigation team in this province was speaking with the orphanage director, two police officials arrived and told the team that they were illegally in Thanh Hoa province. After this, the team traveled to a different district and began to interview a child finder, shortly after the interview began the police arrived and ordered the team to leave the province.”

• Warning Two 

“As of April 8, 2008 the following provinces do not allow U.S. officials to conduct independent field inquiries: An Giang, Binh Thanh, Thuah Thien Hue, Phu Tho, Quang Nam, Ninh Binh, Thai Nguyen, and Thanh Hoa. In addition, U.S. officials have not been allowed to conduct independent field inquiries at Tu Du hospital in Ho Chi Minh City.”

• Adoption OI #016-08CA

“Post today formally requested meetings with provincial officials in Thanh Hoa and Thua Thien Hue to discuss blocked investigations in those provinces.”

• 6 Vietnamese Arrested for Allegedly Trying to Sell 2 Newborn Babies in China

“A… Chinese woman asked someone to buy an infant in Thanh Hoa Province on May 7.”

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Ninh BinhNinh Binh, Vietnam

Agencies in province:

“When the team arrived … the director then told the team that they were not welcome at the orphanage.”
• Adoption OI # 009-08CA

“Today an Embassy team was blocked in Ninh Binh province. When the team arrived at the orphanage, where we have conducted successful investigations in the past… the director then told the team that they were not welcome at the orphanage…”

• Warning Two 

“As of April 8, 2008 the following provinces do not allow U.S. officials to conduct independent field inquiries: An Giang, Binh Thanh, Thuah Thien Hue, Phu Tho, Quang Nam, Ninh Binh, Thai Nguyen, and Thanh Hoa. In addition, U.S. officials have not been allowed to conduct independent field inquiries at Tu Du hospital in Ho Chi Minh City.”

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Ho Chi MinhHo Chi Minh, Vietnam

Agencies in province: 

“…attempts to secure cooperation from Tu Du Hospital have led to bureaucratic run arounds.”
• Adoption OI #013-08CA

“Previous attempts to secure cooperation from Tu Du hospital have led to bureaucratic run arounds. We are pushing forward in the hope that the results will be different this time, but note that expectations should be kept low.”

• 6 Vietnamese Arrested for Allegedly Trying to Sell 2 Newborn Babies in China  

“Initial investigation showed that the four men and two women were paid by ring leaders in Ho Chi Minh City… to transport the two babies to China for sale…”

• 10 Disturbing Cases

“The child is still facing severe medical problems, in part due to the concealed medical records at the hospital in HCMC.”

• Warning Two 

“As of April 8, 2008 the following provinces do not allow U.S. officials to conduct independent field inquiries: An Giang, Binh Thanh, Thuah Thien Hue, Phu Tho, Quang Nam, Ninh Binh, Thai Nguyen, and Thanh Hoa. In addition, U.S. officials have not been allowed to conduct independent field inquiries at Tu Du hospital in Ho Chi Minh City.”

• Adoption OI #018-08CA

Tu Du Hospital

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Kien GiangKien Giang, Vietnam

Agencies in province:

• Adoption OI #014-08CA

“An April 9 investigation of a relinquishment case in Kien Giang province revealed that the biological parents had sent their child to a hospital for medical treatment a few days after her birth only to discover three days later that their child had disappeared.”

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Quang NinhQuang Ninh, Vietnam

Agencies in province:
“…the border army arrested two people who were trying to bring a baby boy across the border.”
• 6 Vietnamese Arrested for Allegedly Trying to Sell 2 Newborn Babies in China 

“At 1:30am on May 11, the police of Mong Cai Town in Quang Ninh Province and the border army arrested two people who were trying to bring a baby boy across the border.”

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Ben TreBen Tre, Vietnam

Agencies in province:

“When [the midwife] meets a poor woman with an unexpected pregnancy, she gives that woman money in exchange for agreeing to put that child in [redacted orphanage.”

• 10 Disturbing Cases

"When [the midwife] meets a poor woman with an unexpected pregnancy, she gives that woman money in exchange for agreeing to put that child in [redacted orphanage].”

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The following provinces did not have any FOIA documents listed:

None of the following provinces where U.S. agencies were reported to have been licensed were mentioned in the State Department documents received under the Schuster Institute’s Freedom of Information Act request. The adoption agencies listed were, according to Vietnam Voices for Adoption Integrity, licensed to work in that province as of June 11, 2007. If you have information about agencies that were working in provinces not listed here, please let us know.

Ba Ria- Vung Tau

Agencies in province:

Bac Giang

Agencies in province:

  • Asian Children’s Services and Vietnam Humanitarian Corp.: Now closed

Bac Ninh

Agencies in province:

Binh Duong

Agencies in province:

Ca Mau

Agencies in province:

  • Vietnamese Orphans Relief Fund: Now closed http://www.vorf.org

Cao Bang

Agencies in province:

Da Nang

Agencies in province:

Dong Nai

Agencies in province:

Dong Thap

Agencies in province:

Ha Nam

Agencies in province:

Ha Tinh

Agencies in province:

  • Asian Children’s Services and Vietnam Humanitarian Corp.: Now closed

Hai Duong

Agencies in province:

Hoa Binh

Agencies in province:

  • Gift of Love International Adoptions, Inc.: Now closed http://www.giftoflove.org

Hua Giang

Agencies in province:

Hue

Agencies in province:

Hung Yen

Agencies in province:

Khank Hoa

Agencies in province:

Lam Dong

Agencies in province:

Lang Son

Agencies in province:

Lao Cai

Agencies in province:

Nghe An

Agencies in province:

  • Ventures for Children International: Now closed http://www.venturesforchildren.org/

Ninh Thaun

Agencies in province:

Quang Binh

Agencies in province:

Quang Ngai

Agencies in province:

Soc Trang

Agencies in province:

Thai Binh

Agencies in province:

Thai Nguyen

Agencies in province:

Tuyen Quang

Agencies in province:

Vinh Long

Agencies in province:

Vinh Phuc

Agencies in province:

Yen Bai

Agencies in province:

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NOTE: This page from the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism website offers documentation of and background about serious irregularities in international adoption. For the systemic analysis of corruption in international adoption, please read “The Lie We Love,” Foreign Policy magazine, Nov./Dec. 2008, and visit our webpages dedicated to international adoption. For ideas about fairer policy solutions, please read “The Baby Business,” Democracy Journal, Summer 2010.


© 2008-2011 Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA, 02454. All rights reserved.

Last page update: February 22, 2011