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US Finds Fraud in Vietnam Adoptions

A new report by the U.S. Embassy in Vietnam says fraud is pervasive in the Vietnamese international adoption system. Matt Steinglass reports from Hanoi.

A nine-page report released Friday by the embassy charges that some Vietnamese orphanages pay parents to put their children up for adoption so the orphanages can obtain donations from foreign adoption agencies.

The report says some orphanage officials embezzle foreign agencies' contributions. It details specific cases in which police and hospitals have coerced parents, or put children up for adoption without their parents' consent.

The head of Vietnam's Department of International Adoptions, Vu Duc Long, categorically denies the charges.

Long says it is possible that some cases do not conform precisely to regulations, but that he can confirm there is no selling of babies.

Embassy spokeswoman Angela Aggeler says the U.S. stands by its report.

"The report that we produced on these adoption irregularities here in Vietnam is the result of months and months of investigations into hundreds of these adoption cases. And we have worked very, very hard to ensure that the findings are accurate. Because these are children. They're not commodities."

The U.S. is asking Vietnam to allow freer investigations and genetic testing to make sure people who give children up for adoption are really their parents.

U.S. adoptions from Vietnam had been on the rise, with over 300 so far this year. But the embassy now urges Americans not to initiate any adoptions from Vietnam until new measures to prevent fraud have been implemented.