In early September this year, I had a business trip to a provincial social security facility. Perhaps the scene that imprinted on me the most was of the little girl of 11 years old or somewhat sitting on the stairs with sad eyes. After a while of getting to know each other, she started to cry: “When I was sleeping, I dreamed of Mom lying on the bed, looking at me… At that time, she was not sick. I miss Mom and Dad. I hate the COVID virus so much because it took Mom's life.”
I recalled what Ms. Huong, Director of the facility, just said that morning: “Recently, according to the Decision of the Provincial People's Committee, we’ve temporarily taken in nearly two dozen orphans whose either parent passed away and the other was being treated at the hospital. They didn't have any relatives living in the province to take care of them for a maximum of three months”. The girl must have been one of the new children of the case. Before leaving in the afternoon, I came to meet her again. When I asked her, she said she was Nga, 10 years old, and she had been there for a week.
From her biological uncle, I later learned that when Nga was small, she lived with her grandparents because her parents moved to the city to work as workers. After a serious illness, one of her hands could not move and it hurted every time the weather changed. After her grandparents died when she was 8 years old, her parents took her to the city to take care. Due to the requirements of the job, her parents sometimes worked overtime or worked the night shift, thus, they often asked the neighbor, Tu, to take care of her. In early August this year, the factory where Nga's parents worked implemented the "3-on-site" model. Her father was the leader and her mother was the vice-leader of the production team, so they had to stay at the factory. They called some relatives in their hometown, asking if they could come to take care of Nga, but they were all self-isolating at home due to contact with F1. Nga's mother had no choice but to ask Tu. Fifteen days later, her parents were infected with Covid-19 and two days later her mother could not overcome it. Her father is still being treated actively in the hospital. Then Tu had some family problems. She had to go back to her hometown and could not continue to take care of Nga. Tu therefore informed the local authorities about the situation and Nga was admitted to the social security facility.
At the end of September, I contacted Ms. Huong again to ask about Nga's situation and I learned that as she missed her family and the pandemic situation was under much better control, her uncle decided to take her back to hometown. However when contacting the uncle after a few days, Ms. Huong was told that her father had also passed away a few days before. In just three months, she lost both her parents. Her relatives loved her so much but they could not take care of her for long because of their financial problems. The uncle’s family was one of the poorest households in the commune. Her aunt's family had many children, plus, they just all lost their jobs due to the pandemic. I felt so pity and was moved to tears listening to every word of Ms. Huong since I did not know what her future might hold. Ms. Huong was told that after consulting the local State Legal Aid Center, Nga's uncle came to the People's Committee of the commune where Nga resided to find her a surrogate family almost a week ago. At the Commune People's Committee, her uncle was clearly informed that: After 60 days of public notice about finding a family to adopt Nga, supposing that there was no one in the country to adopt, the commune-level People's Committee would sent Nga to a social support establishment, which received and raised children who were full orphans or who lived in difficult situations, could not take care of themselves and did not have anyone take care of. The legal aid center emphasized that as Russia was a child with a severe disability, she was classified as a child with special circumstances in the context that the State had been currently encouraging the admission of orphans and children with special circumstances like Russia to be adopted. I knew from Ms. Huong that most of the social security facilities like the one where she was working were overloaded because demand exceeded supply. Although they were funded by the State as well as other sources of revenue and support, they still faced many difficulties in general. She was concerned that this issue would more or less affect optimum conditions for child care. After losing both parents, Nga became reserved. She usually sat alone and was afraid of crowds, so sending her to the social support establishment was not the optimal solution. After consideration, Nga's relatives wished to find her an adoptive family that ensured she would be raised, cared for and educated in the family environment.
Knowing her current situation, I feel very sorry for Nga. I myself am an orphan, so I understand what it feels like to lose a parent. For many nights, I couldn't sleep when thinking of her sitting on the stairs of the Social Security Center. My heart overflowed with compassion, longing to protect her! Suddenly, I came up with an idea to adopt Nga and asked Ms. Huong for her uncle's number. That very night, I expressed my wish with my husband. At first I thought he would deny it because we already had two kids and we were in a hard time. However, after listening to me talking about the case of Nga, he agreed immediately. I contacted Nga's uncle and offered to adopt her and I also asked for his address so that we could come to talk about it in person.
Initially, Nga’s uncle and we agreed that we ought to let Nga have some time to get to know us. Provided that we had a predestined relationship and Nga said yes, we would adopt her. After nearly two weeks making efforts, with the love of us and her relatives, I saw that she gradually opened up to everyone and liked us, but maybe we still needed more time, especially Nga. We intend to ask her in a few months about our wish to adopt her and hope she will agree. A few days ago, when contacting the People's Committee of the commune where Nga permanently resided, we were told to be eligible to adopt Nga, which made us thrilled to bits. We hope Nga will accept and live happily with us in this new home!
Clause 3, Article 4 of the 2016 Law on Children stipulates that: “3. Surrogate care refers to the fact that an organization, family or individual undertakes to take care of a child who cannot live with natural parents;... or a child who is affected by natural disasters and calamities or aimed conflict for the purpose of ensuring the safety and best interests of such child.”
Point d, Clause 1, Article 10 thereof specifies that children with disabilities are a group of disadvantaged children.
Clause 4, Article 47 thereof specifies that: “4. [...] The sending of children to social support establishments is only a temporary method when the care of children at their families or families performing the surrogate care is unsuccessful or for the best interests of children.”
Clause 3, Article 60 thereof provides one of the requirements on the implementation of surrogate care: “3. Consider the opinions, expectations, feelings and attitude of children according to their age and maturity level. With regard to children from enough 07 years of age and older, their opinions must be considered carefully.”
Article 8 of the 2010 Law on Adoption provides for persons allowed to be adopted as follows:
1. Children under 16 years.
2. Persons aged between full 16 years and under 18 years falling into either of the following cases:
a) To be adopted by the step father or step mother;
b) To be adopted by a natural aunt or uncle.
3. A person may be adopted by only one single person or two persons being husband and wife.
4. The State encourages adoption of orphans, abandoned children, and children in other disadvantaged circumstances.
Article 14 thereof provides conditions on adopting persons as follows:
1. An adopting person must fully meet the following conditions:
a) Having full civil act capacity;
b) Being 20 years or more older than the adopted person;
c) Having health, financial, and accommodation conditions for assuring the care for and nurture and education of the adopted child;
d) Having good ethical qualities.
2. The following persons may not adopt a child:
a) Currently having some of the parental rights over a minor child restricted;
b) Currently serving an administrative handling decision at an educational institution or medical treatment establishment;
c) Currently serving an imprisonment penalty;
d) Currently having a criminal record of commission of any of the crimes: intentionally infringing upon another's life, health, dignity, and honor; maltreating or persecuting one's grandparents, parents, spouse, children, grandchildren, or caretaker; enticing or compelling a minor to violate the law or harboring a minor violator; trafficking, swapping, or appropriating children.