How to adopt a stepchild
According to the Vietnamese law, both the adopting person and the to-be-adopted child must satisfy the requirements on adoption.

I am from Taiwan and married to a Vietnamese. My wife has a daughter who is five years old. Am I allowed to adopt my stepchild? And what procedures must I and my wife carry out?

Both the adopting person and the to-be-adopted child must satisfy the Vietnamese law on adoption__Photo: Internet

According to the Vietnamese law on adoption, you may adopt your wife’s child if the following conditions are fully met:

Firstly, your wife’s child must satisfy the conditions on persons allowed to be adopted.

The 2010 Law on Adoption prescribes that:

- The persons allowed to be adopted must be children under 16 years.

- A person aged between full 16 years and under 18 years may only be adopted by either his step father or mother or natural aunt or uncle.

- A person may be adopted by only a single person or a married couple.

In your case, as your stepchild is just five years old, you may adopt her as long as she has not yet been adopted by anyone else.

Secondly, since you are a foreigner wishing to adopt a specific Vietnamese child, your case will be considered adoption involving foreign elements. Therefore, you must fully meet the conditions specified in Article 29 of the 2010 Law on Adoption which require a foreigner permanently residing abroad who seeks to adopt a Vietnamese to meet all conditions prescribed by the law of the country where he permanently resides (in your case, you must meet all conditions required by the Taiwanese law) and have full civil act capacity and good ethical qualities.

In addition, you must not fall into the following cases:

- Having some of the parental rights over a minor child restricted;

- Currently serving an administrative handling decision at an educational institution or health establishment; or currently serving an imprisonment penalty;

- Having a criminal record of commission of any of the crimes of intentionally infringing upon another’s life, health, dignity or honor not yet expunged;

- Maltreating or persecuting your grandparents, parents, spouse, children, grandchildren or caretaker;

- Enticing or compelling a minor to violate the law or harboring a minor violator; trafficking in, fraudulently swapping or appropriating children.

In case all above-mentioned conditions are met, you and your wife will proceed with the following steps:

* Preparing two dossiers, one for yourself and the other for your stepchild

+ Your dossier:

According to Article 31 of the Law on Adoption, you must compile a dossier comprising:

+ An adoption application;

+ A copy of the passport or a valid substitute paper;

+ A written permission for adopting a person in Vietnam;

+ A completed questionnaire on psychology and family;

+ A health certificate;

+ An income and property certificate;

+ A certificate;

+ A written certification of the marital status;

+ A document proving the eligibility to adopt a specific child (you may use your marriage registration certificate).

The aforesaid papers and documents must be made, issued or certified by competent agencies of the country in which the adopting person permanently resides, and must remain valid. In addition, these documents must be consularly legalized for use in Vietnam.

- Dossier of your stepchild:

According to Article 32 of the 2010 Law on Adoption, the dossier for a to-be-adopted child will be made by his bioparent or guardian. Therefore, your wife will prepare a dossier for her daughter, comprising:

+ The birth certificate;

+ A health certificate issued by a district- or higher-level health agency;

+ Two photos of the whole body looking straight, taken within the last 6 months;

+ A document stating the remarkable characteristics, hobbies and habits of the child.

* Submitting the dossiers

According to the 2010 Law on Adoption, the dossier of an adopting person who is a foreigner will be made in two sets and submitted to the Vietnamese Ministry of Justice via the central adoption agency of the country where such person permanently resides. However, in case of applying for adoption of a specific child, the dossier may be submitted directly to the Ministry of Justice.

In your case, you will prepare and submit two sets of your dossier to the Ministry of Justice while your wife will make and send three sets of her daughter’s dossier to the provincial-level Justice Department of the place where her daughter permanently resides.

* Picking up your adopted child

In case the adoption is approved by the provincial-level People’s Committee concerned, the provincial-level Justice Department will notify you to come to Vietnam to pick up the child. Within 60 days after receiving the notice from the provincial-level Justice Department, you must be present in Vietnam. This time limit may be extended for a plausible reason but must not exceed 90 days. Past this time limit, if you fail to come to pick up the child, the provincial-level People’s Committee will cancel the issued decision permitting intercountry adoption.- (VLLF)

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