Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Disturbing Update from Vietnam

Lately, there has been a lot of disturbances going on in the adoption world in Vietnam. Several families with our agency have been detained by the U.S. Embassy while in Vietnam and their baby's visas have not been issued due to what the U.S. has deemed "irregularities" in their child's paperwork. They have proven to be, at the Embassy's own admission, unfounded, but still the families are still there.

To resolve this, the US has instituted some new policies which are now in effect, but it does not solve the underlying problem of possibility that there are some unethical activities occurring with adoptions in Vietnam. This is not specifically related to the agency we are choosing to work with. This is a general statement based on observations by the U.S. Government. This is a really deep, complicated situation that I could not do justice to in one post. The full story has involved my reading, researching and following Vietnam activities for several weeks now. To compile it into one or two paragraphs is impossible.

Because of all of this, however, I decided to send an email to the agency checking on the status of our contracts as we had not received them yet and to see if there is the potential that Vietnam might close adoptions to the United States again (this country has only fairly recently re-opened to U.S. adoptions). This is my email and the response:

Hi Maria,
Thank you for your vote of confidence =) We are swamped right now. Your question is valid regarding the relations between the US and is stormy. It has always been stormy. There is a bilateral agreement that is due to expire June 2008. This agreement needs to be signed in March 2008. Both parties (Vietnam and US) have issues with signing the agreement. There is already an effort being made to negotiate the changes requested by both parties...will they is yet to be seen. With that said should you forge ahead? We have elected to put new applications on hold. This is largely due to the number of clients we currently have and the pending agreement. You can place your file on hold and know that the line up for Vietnam will not be growing at [agency name], not unless things change and we open up applications, at which point you can request new contracts and move ahead. If you decide to pay the contracts and you have an approved home study you need to keep in mind that those fees are not refundable. We would move full speed ahead with the assumption that the program will continue. It is a hard decision...think about it and let me know what you think. If you decide to move ahead we will want to have the dossier done ASAP =)
Take care,
[agency contact]

-----Original Message-----

Oh, how I'm so glad I'm not you right now. :-) I know things are terribly emotional right now in [agency name's] world with so much going on. I follow the listserv regularly along with several other for individuals adopting from Vietnam.

I just hate that all this is happening, for everyone involved: agencies, PAPs, children ...

And so I write...

We have not received contracts from [agency name] yet. Of course, I know things are crazy right now. In all honesty, I have to question you about whether you think what is going on will force an end to American adoptions from Vietnam again. I am wondering if we should wait a little while prior to signing our contract and sending in our dossier. What are your thoughts on this? We are, in no way, dissatisfied or questioning of [agency name] as I think the agency has proven to be the kind of agency I would want -- one who goes to bat for their clients and who provides adequate communication. We are, of course, questioning the Vietnam program continuing.

Your thoughts, as always are appreciated.
Warmest regards,
Maria Latham

To that end, we have decided to wait a few months to see how things play out in Vietnam -- basically until we feel (reasonably) certain that we are not going into a volatile situation where we might stand to loose a large sum of money or worse, get a referral and the country close adoptions and we not be able to get our child. March is when the agreement is due to be signed. We'd rather wait those 4 months and feel comfortable. We will not loose our "place" in line (which is basically just at the application stage) as the agency is not accepting any more new applications. I think this is a very professional and responsible decision on their part. I wish our "other" agency had been so forthcoming when we signed up for China. We could have already been home with a child had they been this honest.

This will allow us enough time to raise more (much needed) funds. It will give me time to indulge in some much needed rest. It will also allow the agency time to move through the current list of clients and would put us near the top of the list once we turn in our dossier, hopefully, meaning our referral would come very quickly. It will allow the U.S. and Vietnam time to iron out any problems that are currently surfacing so that we can be sure that our adoption is both unencumbered and most importantly legal.

I want to be upset (my old self!) but I have seen first hand through the last few weeks/days that God is truly leading our family where He wants us. He is choosing a varied and twisting path, but we surely can't say it hasn't been eventful. I am positively CERTAIN there will be an Ellie (or two) in our home. I am still confident that He is at work on a miracle. :-) I will go wherever He leads us and right now he is saying, "Wait." And so, I will, we will. Both Kevin and I agree that it would not be wise of us, right now, to pay out a large sum of money with no guarantee that the program will be open in a few months.

We are still in line in China so that is still an on-going process as well.

Continued prayers for our family are always appreciated. Each of you reading this blog is special to us and we pray for you regularly. You are such a source of strength for our family and we feel blessed by each of you in our lives.

With love,
The Lathams

PS -- Ironically, we closed on our loan for this adoption -- today. :-)

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