09/13/2010 04:19 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Anatomy of an Adoption Crisis


The U.S. Embassy in Hanoi "believes that there is fraud in the overwhelming majority of cases of infants offered for international adoption" from Vietnam.

--U.S. Ambassador

Michael Michalak,

1/8/2008, to Department of State, Washington, D.C.

Two years ago this month, American adoptions from Vietnam ceased. In "Anatomy of an Adoption Crisis," posted September 12, 2010, on Foreign Policy, the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University reports on and analyzes hundreds of pages of often-shocking internal U.S. State Department documents (received under Freedom of Information Act requests) discussing why the U.S. 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 such things as:
  • "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."
Click here for a selection of startling quotes with links to the documents in which these phrases were found. The Schuster Institute for Investigate Journalism is extremely interested in your feedback and perspectives on "Anatomy of an Adoption Crisis" and the underlying State Department documents that we analyzed.
  • Did you adopt from Vietnam?
  • Do you know anyone who did?
  • Do you have information about any part of the adoption process that you think is important for others to know?
  • Have you had dealings with, or knowledge of, the State Department and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on international adoption, in ways that would cast light on these documents?
  • Do you have knowledge or experiences in international adoption in other countries?
  • Have you received relevant documents (personally, or under the Freedom of Information Act) that you would like to share publicly or with the Institute?
You can find the Schuster Institute's detailed research on fraud and corruption in international adoption and a country-by-country map of background documentation that led to our findings and analyses here.

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