Brandeis-based journalist reveals why U.S. stopped adoptions from Vietnam

Government documents show widespread abuse, corruption, 'baby farming'

E.J. Graff

Two years ago this month, American adoptions from Vietnam ceased.

In “Anatomy of an Adoption Crisis,” posted on Foreign Policy, E.J. Graff, associate director of the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, analyzes hundreds of pages of often-shocking internal U.S. State Department documents received under Freedom of Information Act requests discussing why U.S. officials believed those adoptions had to end.

Those documents, posted on the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism’s website, reveal that the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi said it was finding:

  • “baby buying and baby farming”
  • “the murder of four Vietnamese by kidnappers seeing fresh babies for the [adoption] trade”
  • “networks that recruit pregnant women, pay them for their children, arrange for them to stay in safe houses and then create fraudulent documents to make it appear that the child was abandoned”
  • “organized networks engaged in child buying and laundering throughout Vietnam”
  • hospitals and orphanages “declaring children ‘abandoned’ and plac[ing] them for adoption without the birth parents’ knowledge or consent”
  • police officers, orphanage directors, hospital workers, Vietnamese government officials and American adoption agency recruiters colluding to defraud birth families and “supply infants to meet the demand created by U.S. adopting parents.”

These startling quotes are linked to the documents in which they were found.

For more on the underlying issues, see “Adopting new standards on adoption,” from the Sept. 10, 2010, issue of

These articles form part of a larger investigation into international adoption fraud and corruption by the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism.

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