Phan Ngoc-Quoi to Miriam Lewis, International Social Service Case Consultant, April 27, 1966

This letter was sent by a worker in the Saigon office of the International Social Service to that organization's New York office. It details the requirements for an international adoption from Vietnam during the early stages of the U.S. war there, long before most Americans were aware of the needs of Vietnamese children. The names of the child and her American adopters have been changed.

Saigon, April 27th, 1966

Dear Mrs. Lewis,

Thank you for your letter dated April 21st, 1966 regarding the above child and 2 carbon copies of your letter to Michigan agency and 2 carbon copies home study of the Richardsons, which I received this morning. This really lifted our morale as we begin to see that the ISS work in Vietnam is moving. . . . The Richardsons seem to be a wonderful couple and ideal PAPs, and I feel that any child adopted by this family is fortunate. In the home study, the worker mentioned several times that the child should have above intelligence or at least average intelligence so that she could live up to the family’s expectation. This is really difficult for us at this end, as we have no facilities or specialist to test the child’s intelligence. The child seems to be normal to those who look after her.

We however would like to mention that Mai seem to make much progress, but this is still somewhat slow in comparison with other children of her age. Since March 23, 1966, we have removed her to Caritas, a center for Malnutrition children, and of very high standard. Mai still suffers some skin disease (molluscus contagiosum), and we are going to take her to a doctor to have these warts cut off. Many children in orphanages here suffer this condition due to shortage of water and lack of care in these institutions. The doctors have assured us that once these children are properly cared for and have proper foods, this skin condition will be cleared away. Mai is still very small, but she has a happy smile. We still hope that a home will be found for her, despite of all these facts. . . .

At this end if the Richardsons agree to adopt Mai, we would need the following:

1. Three pictures of the couple (and if possible with their children) in order to send to the orphanage at their request, and for our file.

2. Birth certificate of the adopting father.

3. Birth certificate of the adopting mother.

4. Marriage license of the PAPs.

5. Power of attorney from both requesting ISS in Saigon to act on their behalf for adoption.

6. Financial statement from employer or bank stating their income and that they are in position to take care of another child.

7. A Statement from the INS or an adopting agency stating that the PAPs have met all the preadoption requirements and that the laws of their state do not object the adoption of a foreign child. Furthermore, since the PAPs have been married less than ten years, and they have already children of their own,

8. they should file a petition for a waiver. This waiver might be obtained quite easily by the U.S. Citizens. The petition should be addressed to the Chief of State. If the Von Kalers are willing to go along, I will draft the petition and send it to you, and you will forward it to the PAPs and the local adopting agency for approval and signature.

It seems that the adoption requires a lot of work and communications. But if you can provide these documents, I will take all of them to the Minister of the Interior here (whom Mr. Sherman had met) and he will study the case. If everything is all right, he will grant the permission for the child to be emigrated to the USA for adoption, and that the ISS will have the custody of the child until she is adopted. Thus we will avoid a proxy adoption. . . .


Source: Miss Phan Ngoc-Quoi to Mrs. Miriam Lewis, April 27, 1966, International Social Service, American Branch Papers, Box 38, Folder: “Vietnam—Adoption” (1 of 3), Social Welfare History Archives, University of Minnesota.

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