When Adopting a Child in Vietnam, What Requirements Does the Adopted Parent Need to Bring Her to the US?

Question by fogcityt: When Adopting a Child in Vietnam, What Requirements Does the Adopted Parent Need to Bring Her to the US?
My sister is currently in Vietnam for the second time volunteering at an orphanage. She is interested in adopting a Vietnamese girl. Although she has started the adoption process back in the Massachusetts, she was surprised to be told today that the 6 year old girl she met on her first trip is now available for her to adopt. What legal papers and requirements does she need to legally adopt this child? It seems that there is a fair amount of corruption so she wants to be sure she does everything properly and legally. What kind of Visa will she need for the girl? What kind of document would she need from the parents or family? Any info is greatly appreciated. Thanks! A Very Excited Future Aunt

Best answer:

Answer by spydermomma
That is great that your sister has been volunteering at an orphanage. I’m guessing that means she speaks some Vietnamese and will want to keep her future adopted child connected with the Vietnamese (and Vietnamese American) culture. That will really be a great help to your future niece!

As to the requirements, here is a link that details them:
http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.5af9bb95919f35e66f614176543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=5da2194d3e88d010VgnVCM10000048f3d6a1RCRD&vgnextchannel=063807b03d92b010VgnVCM10000045f3d6a1RCRD

Here are the basics:
–Assuming your sister is single, she will need to be 25 years old (or almost) to apply to bring an adopted child to the USA. And she will have to be a US citizen. If your sister is married, there is no specific age requirement, and only one of the couple has to be a US citizen (the other has to be at least a lawful permanent resident).

–The child will have to be considered an orphan under US immigration law:
“Under U.S. immigration law, a foreign-born child is an orphan if he or she does not have any parents because of the death or disappearance of, abandonment or desertion by, or separation or loss from, both parents. A foreign-born child is also an orphan if his or her sole or surviving parent is incapable of providing care of the child and has, in writing, irrevocably released the child for emigration and adoption.”

Assuming both of the above are true, there are 2 ways to do it:
Way 1–Preapproval of the parent(s) to adopt
(it sounds as if your sister is perhaps already started on this process back in Massachusetts):
–Your sister willl probably want to file USCIS Form I-600A (Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition) to make sure that she meets all requirements for adopting. http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.5af9bb95919f35e66f614176543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=abde5f56ff55d010VgnVCM10000048f3d6a1RCRD&vgnextchannel=db029c7755cb9010VgnVCM10000045f3d6a1RCRD
This involves a homestudy, which will make sure your sister will be able to provide a good home for an adopted child. The homestudy involves interviews, a visit to her home, background checks, health checkup, etc. Your sister will have to be in the US for at least a month to get all this done, and probably several months.
–After the I-600A has been approved, assuming the child can be classified as an orphan, your sister can file form I-600 (Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative) (why they give them almost the same number I don’t know, seems confusing to me!)
http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.5af9bb95919f35e66f614176543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=c5695f56ff55d010VgnVCM10000048f3d6a1RCRD&vgnextchannel=db029c7755cb9010VgnVCM10000045f3d6a1RCRD
–After that is approved, your sister can adopt the child in Vietnam and bring her to the US.

Way 2–adopting a specific child
–It is possible your sister might want to skip the I-600A and go straight to the I-600. The risk of this is that her homestudy might not be approved. Also, if she went about it this way and this particular girl turned out not to be legally orphaned or otherwise to be unavailable, I’m not sure if the papers would still be partly valid or if perhaps your sister would have to start all over again. Here is the link for this other process:
http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.5af9bb95919f35e66f614176543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=2f4796981298d010VgnVCM10000048f3d6a1RCRD&vgnextchannel=063807b03d92b010VgnVCM10000045f3d6a1RCRD

Regarding Vietnam in particular, here is the US State Department’s very detailed statement on adopting from Vietnam. It covers the process, history of adoption from Vietnam, the types of documentation required, problems your sister might run into, etc.:
http://travel.state.gov/family/adoption/country/country_349.html
In particular, note this part of the statement with regards to fraud:
“A FEW WORDS ON VIETNAMESE CIVIL DOCUMENTATION: Document fraud is widespread in Vietnam. Fraud is not limited to fake documents produced by other than the authorized civil authority. A document may be legal, in the sense that the appropriate Vietnamese government office has issued it and it is in the correct format, but still be fraudulent because it contains false information. Vietnamese regulations regarding civil documentation are frequently not followed. For instance, births are supposed to be registered within 30 days and in a prescribed format, but late registrations and non-standard, unofficial “birth certificates” created by orphanages are common. Death certificates, such as for a child’s biological parent(s), may prove even more difficult to verify, since there is no standard format and the cause of death listed on Vietnamese death certificates is often very vague. Moreover, the format of all official documents, with the exception of birth certificates, varies widely from province to province. All of these factors can greatly complicate the ability of Vietnamese and U.S. officials involved in the intercountry adoption process to identify the child and confirm his/her parentage to a sufficient level of comfort to protect against child-buying or other inappropriate, illegal or prohibited practices.”

Regarding corruption and possible pitfalls, check out this blog. Apparently some visas are being denied because the US government are not convinced the children are truly orphans. Babies have in some cases been bought and sold, or possibly stolen from their natural parents. And even when this is not the case, documents have been forged to make it appear that a paper trail is “clean” when it actually is not:
http://www.adoptionintegrity.com/

Also check out this entry on Vietnam from an excellent blog on corruption in international adoption:
http://fleasbiting.blogspot.com/2007/11/us-embassy-statement-on-vietnam.html

And then perhaps this general overview on adopting from Vietnam
http://adoption.families.com/blog/vietnam-adoption-an-overview

Good luck to your sister in this. The process is not without issues, and you are right to be concerned about corruption. But adopting an older child who really needs a family and who has already come to trust her, and keeping the child in touch with her native culture–well that is a wonderful thing–making the best of a bad situation for the child.

And good luck to you as an auntie also. I’m a new auntie myself and just got back from meeting my niece, and I’m excited also!

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