"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy"

Martin Luther King, Jr.



Adoption in many countries is governed by the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. The overarching aim of the Convention is to ensure that intercountry adoptions only take place where they are in the best interests of the child. The objectives are to establish safeguards of the child’s interests and fundamental rights under international law, and to establish a system of co-operation between the governments that have signed the Convention to ensure that the safeguards are respected and to prevent the abduction, the sale of, or traffic in children.

Vietnam signed the Convention and a new Law on Adoptions took effect on 1st January 2011. Among other things the new law places emphasis on domestic adoptions as the preferred option, and so requires other possibilities for adoption of individual children to be exhausted before adoption by a foreigner residing abroad is considered.

Why is adoption appropriate for a child?

Generally, the principles of the new Law on Adoptions in Vietnam are in accord with the Hague Convention. Both emphasise, along with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, that the priority is to respect the rights of children to live in the original family environment, or else with a suitable family within their country of origin.

On the other hand, the Convention on the Rights of the Child notes that children are entitled to special care and assistance in the assurance of their human rights. Inter-country adoption is recognised under the Convention on the Rights of the Child as providing an appropriate alternative means of ensuring a child’s care and full development, and for improving the living conditions of children in every country.

Who can be adopted

The current law allows children up to the age of 15 to be adopted, with special case consideration given to the situations of children over 15 years old. Under the new law, children under 16 years old may be adopted by any of the categories of alternative families, and children aged 16 years to under 18 years old may be adopted by a stepfather, stepmother, or maternal and paternal uncles and aunts.


International adoptions from Vietnam can only be carried out through foreign child adoption agencies licensed by the government. The adoption process requires prospective alternative families to work with the Department of Justice of the provincial People’s Committee where the adopted child permanently resides.