I am 28 years old, from Uruguay, and currently living in Hanoi. I am single and would like to become a father. Could you please tell about the options available to me?

Congratulations on your brave decision to be a single father at a young age. I understand how hard it is to come to this consideration. Normally, a single man who wants to start a family on his own in Vietnam has two options – surrogacy or adoption – but there are some legal restrictions that I will explain.

Is Surrogacy Legal in Vietnam?

Many families welcome a baby through surrogacy when they are not capable of giving birth naturally. However, having a child through surrogacy is far from easy, regardless of where you’re residing in the world. Vietnam has its own restricted regulations and it is not a feasible option for you to pursue this course here.

In January 2015, the new Law on Marriage and Family entered into effect in Vietnam legalizing noncommercial gestational surrogacy under strict conditions. This new privilege is especially for heterosexual couples without a child and the wife is unable to give birth naturally. They also put some restrictions on these surrogacy regulations: the surrogate mother must have a family link to the husband or to the wife, and is absolutely certified by a competent health organization that she is a suitable age and eligible for gestational surrogacy. Amongst other specific conditions, a single man is not allowed to have a child in Vietnam via a surrogate mother under the current regulations.

It is said that there is a black market in surrogacy in Vietnam, but we strongly oppose and advise you not to go this route. The first obvious reason is because it is illegal and you will face serious penalties from the authorities. Moreover, and more importantly, it is risky for you, the baby and the surrogate mother (illegal surrogacies are often performed in poor sanitary conditions). Additionally, the surrogate mother may suddenly change her mind to keep the baby or at a later date may try to request to have the child returned to her. You will not be the parent of the child, from a legal point of view, and your family will be exposed to uncertainty, insecurity and substantial risks.

Are You Ready For Adoption?

You are now 28, young and full of energy. I mention this because energy declines with age and you need to take proper care of your child not only financially and physically but also mentally. We often read about celebrities adopting children from developing countries, and there are more and more single fathers by choice. Footballer Cristiano Ronaldo has a son, also called Cristiano, who was born in a San Diego clinic in June 2010. The singer Ricky Martin has twins, Matteo and Valentino, born in a Los Angeles clinic in 2008.

Fortunately, the legislative changes in Vietnam are quite open for the adoption a child in Vietnam by a foreigner with an aim to give the best living conditions for children. Under the regulation of the Law on Adoption, which came into force on January 1, 2011, the inter-country adoption is provided between Vietnamese citizens and a foreigner, between foreigners permanently residing in Vietnam and between Vietnamese citizens either of whom settles down abroad.

In order to assure the care for and education of the adopted child, the conditions of the adopting person, such as having full civil act capacity, being 20 years or older than the adoptee, having health, financial, ethical qualities, and accommodation conditions are required by the competent authorities in Vietnam.

As far as we know, this is no cooperation agreement on adoption between Vietnam and Uruguay; therefore, you might not be on the adoption priority list, which only accommodates foreigners who are citizens of countries with cooperation commitments regarding adoption. However, both Uruguay and Vietnam adopted the La Haye Convention on May 29, 1993 on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect of Inter-country Adoption—this is hopeful.

The procedure of inter-country adoption would be applied both for a foreigner currently working or studying in Vietnam for at least 1 year and foreigners permanently residing in Vietnam. If you are adopting a specific child, the foreigner needs to prepare and submit a dossier including a written request for adoption, written permission for adopting a person in Vietnam, and other materials proving your identification, health condition, income and property recognition, marital status and so on. This dossier, together with the introduced child for an adoption, will be submitted to the provincial-level justice department where the adoptee permanently resides. The consideration and examination procedure will take at least 15 days to 1 month for a final decision.

If the adoption is not for a specific child, you may submit the registration dossier to the provincial-level justice department and after taking some complicated internal consideration, the authorities will examine and find a suitable child for you. The authorities will register the adoption under the law on civil status registration and organize a meet-up at the head office of that Department of Justice and normally it takes around three-and-a-half months. Upon that moment, the father-child relationship begins. Once every six months for three years from the date of delivery and receipt of the adopted child, you have to notify the Ministry of Justice the child’s health, physical, mental conditions and integration with the new environment.

However, before submitting the dossier for an adoption in Vietnam, we recommend that you consult with the Consulate or Embassy of Uruguay in Vietnam if they have any further requirements.

I wish you and your future child all the best.