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'Forget fame and think of the boy'

When Vietnam speeded US actress Angelina Jolie's adoption of a three-year-old boy, many less privileged parents who've been through the same process rejoiced for the child.

  • Reuters
  • Published: 00:00 March 17, 2007
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: AP
  • Angelina Jolie with daughter Zahara, and Brad Pitt with son Maddox in Mumbai, India, last November 12.

When Vietnam speeded US actress Angelina Jolie's adoption of a three-year-old boy, many less privileged parents who've been through the same process rejoiced for the child.

Competition to adopt Vietnamese children is fierce with adoption agencies of 60 nationalities represented in the poor, communist-run Southeast Asian country of 84 million people. While some people complained at the preferential treatment given to Jolie, several parents said the boy's welfare was the most important issue.

"The real concern should be the future of the child, not who the parents are," said one French single mother who adopted her son from Vietnam in 1994. "Is it a crime to give money to an orphanage? Could we forget the fame and just think of the child?" she said.

Senior officials said the adoption was put on a fast track, partly due to Jolie's celebrity status and the age of the child, who was abandoned at birth.

Donation

Some Vietnamese involved in adoption said Jolie made a donation to the Ho Chi Minh City orphanage where she adopted the boy on Thursday, although no one is saying how much. Less wealthy people have also done the same.

Many adoptive parents are moved to donate toward humanitarian causes such as the care of people disabled by chemicals or unexploded ordnance from the US war in Vietnam that ended 32 years ago when the communists unified the country.

American Jolie adopted the boy, her fourth child, just more than than a year after the first licences were issued to US agencies under a new adoption agreement signed in July 2005.

Jolie visited Vietnam in November and filed papers in early March. The length of time it takes to adopt in Vietnam varies, with an average of about six months, sometimes longer.

Jolie and pop star Madonna, who is in the process of adopting a baby boy from Malawi who currently lives with her in London, have been criticised for using their celebrity status to bypass laws. But this puzzles many parents. "Whatever is going on in the Jolie-Pitt family is none of your business," one blogger, identified as Sandra Hanks Benoiton, wrote on http://international.adoptionblogs.com

Psychotherapist Beth Dobrish and her husband Jeremy of Maplewood, New Jersey, in the United States adopted a baby girl from Vietnam last year and found the process complex.

Dobrish said in an e-mail to Reuters that international adoption is "very problematic in many ways, with a lot of people doing their best.

"I like to believe Angelina and Madonna are doing the same. I don't find their actions any greater or worse than any average person adopting," she said.

Others say the state-run system is corrupt because of a multi-layered process that involves agencies, central government, provincial government, police and orphanages.

Most Vietnamese adoptions are by French citizens, but the number of US citizens adopting is expected to increase.

There were 1,200 international adoptions in 2005 and 1,500 last year, according to government figures. The government said it wants to increase the number to about 1,800 this year.

The boy, renamed Pax Thien Jolie, is Jolie's third adopted child. She has a biological daughter with partner Brad Pitt.

Outside the justice department building where Jolie signed adoption papers on Thursday, a Vietnamese mother, Nguyen Thi Thuong, 39, had high hopes for the boy's future.

"It is lucky for him. It's wonderful to be adopted by someone really famous. You can have a good life," she said.

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