Kevin Diaz, Star Tribune
April 8, 2009

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., urged the prime minister of Vietnam on Tuesday to establish reforms that would reopen adoptions of Vietnamese children by U.S. families.

Klobuchar, in Hanoi as part of a congressional delegation in Asia, called her meeting with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung "a good first step toward addressing the situation."

Klobuchar is touring Vietnam with two prominent Republicans: Ariz. Sen. John McCain, a former Vietnam War POW, and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. Their meetings with Vietnamese officials also included discussions of security and economic issues.

In a phone interview from Hanoi, Klobuchar took note of the city's bustling streets and said the country's growing U.S. imports represent an opportunity for Minnesota companies such as Cargill, which already has a presence in Vietnam.

On adoption, Klobuchar has been part of a bipartisan congressional group -- including Minnesota Republican Norm Coleman -- backing efforts to reestablish a bilateral relationship with Vietnam to allow adoptions under safeguards set forth in the Hague Convention.

"These babies and their adoptive families are caught in the crossfire of bureaucratic and political disputes," she said. "Many families in Minnesota are devastated."

Minnesota is a longtime leader in international adoptions, with the nation's highest per capita rate of international adoptions. In 2007, Vietnam was sixth in international adoptions by U.S. families. A deal allowing U.S. families to adopt children from Vietnam was terminated in September 2008, and the Vietnamese government has stopped taking adoption applications.

Klobuchar said the prime minister expressed his country's desire to join the Hague Convention.

She said she was also heartened that the Vietnamese want to play a part in combating the problem of global warming, which is forecast to greatly affect the southeast Asian nation's coastal areas.

"I thought it was interesting that they brought it up," she said.