November 7, 2018. Dilemma of Foster Care Placement. A British case highlights the problems foster care agencies can encounter in finding suitable placements. The Kent County social services council placed a baby, whose mentally ill mother could not care for him, with excellent foster parents. Now 15 months old, he is thriving in his loving home. But Judge Mary Lazarus has taken the council to task because neither the council nor the lawyers nor the child's guardian ad litem bothered to contact the birth mother's parents who might well have been suitable guardians. Reluctantly, Judge Lazarus agreed that the child should not be moved because he was thriving but she bemoaned the lost opportunity for kinship care. To read more, please click here.
November 6, 2018. Election Day. Today Americans vote for all House of Representatives members as well as one-third of the Senate. While adoption is not a key issue in any of the races, we are fully aware that important agenda items such as the Adoptee Citizenship Act, which failed to win approval this year and possible changes to the Families First Act as well as Department of State issues are to be decided in the next Congress. We hope that the new elected officials remember the importance of permanent loving families for unparented children once they are in office.
November 5, 2018. Success of IVF Has Decreased Interest in Adoption. The chief executive of the British Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service has said that the increasing success rate of assisted reproduction (ART) has seriously diminished the interest level of heterosexual couples in adoption. Most potential adoptive parents view the adoption process as far less reliable and far more intrusive than ART. Furthermore, although Britain formally banned the practice of matching race/religion/socioeconomic status in 2014, many social workers still discourage transracial or trans religious adoptions. More Information.
November 1, 2018. Foster Care: Child Welfare's Responsibility and Challenge. Professor Johanna Greeson has co-authored an important article on what the Child Welfare community owes to foster children. Professor Greeson will be one of the speakers at our conference on Silent Victims: Foster Care and Foster Care Adoption, to be held at Duke Law School on November 16. The article and registration can both be accessed at the link above.
October 31, 2018. Why My Children Do Not Trick or Treat for UNICEF. Every Halloween we write about UNICEF's tragically negative attitude towards international adoption. UNICEF has the best recognized "name" in international child welfare. Yet for decades this non-governmental organization has used its influence to lobby against international adoption. Why? One UNICEF official explained to us that IA's "band aid" approach distracts from the systemic problems of international child welfare. We share UNICEF's commitment to eliminating child poverty and discrimination. But at the same time, we seek solutions for unparented children in the here and now. International adoption is not the whole answer but we believe it must be an answer--a viable option for unparented children where ever they are.
October 30, 2018. Canadian Government Said Hague Convention Barred Adoption From Pakistan. According to a fascinating report from Canadian tv, the Canadian government in 2013 decided that the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption barred Canadian citizens from adopting from Pakistan although neither the United States nor Britain interpreted the Hague Convention in this manner. The grounds for the ban, which was extended to other Muslim nations, was that according to the federal government, "adoptions aren't permissible under Shariah law- even if parents had court orders from Islamic countries explicitly authorizing them." We have seen this problem before: the receiving country's central authority has decided to tell the sending country how to interpret its own laws. In every case, it is the children who suffer. To read the report, please click here.
October 29, 2018. Suspension of New Star Kefala. We quote from the Department of State website: "On October 26, 2018, the Intercountry Adoption Accreditation and Maintenance Entity (IAAME) suspended the accreditation of New Star Kafala for failing to maintain substantial compliance with accreditation standards. During this suspension, New Star Kafala must cease to provide all adoption services in connection with intercountry adoption cases. New Star Kafala is required to transfer their cases to another accredited adoption service provider. If you have an open case with New Star Kafala, please contact them directly to find out how the suspension will affect your case. You may also wish to review the Office of Children's Issues publication on Case Transfer Responsibilities and the USCIS publication If Your Adoption Service Provider is No Longer Accredited or Approved." More Information.
October 24, 2018. How To Help Children In Orphanages. New York Times writer Tina Rosenberg has posted her second article on how best volunteers can aid orphans and vulnerable children in poor countries. Rosenberg approvingly quotes the Christian Alliance for Orphans' guide for short-term volunteers working with children as recommending that volunteers should "support, not supplant, a parent or long-term caregiver as a "hero" in the child's life. And they should have no contact at all with children under 3 years old." We wish Rosenberg had mentioned in either this article or her previous article that for children who have neither parents nor committed family members, adoption - domestic or international - should be viewed as a viable method of family creation. To read the article, please click here.
October 23, 2018. When Do Children Age Out of Foster Care? Given our federal system, it is no surprise that the age children are no longer eligible for foster care varies among the different states. Last year North Carolina extended foster care services for teens from 18 to 21, as long as the affected recipient meets certain conditions. This extension was welcomed by child care professionals as it fills a gap for young adults who, having been in foster care, were not well equipped to be left to their own resources on their 18th birthday. To see how North Carolina changed its laws, please click here.
October 22, 2018. Department of State's China Travel Warnings. The Department of State has issued careful travel warnings for Americans going to China. Travelers are urged to "Exercise increased caution in China due to the arbitrary enforcement of local laws and special restrictions on dual U.S.-Chinese nationals." Children adopted from China with U,S, citizenship are not generally considered Chinese dual nationals by the Chinese government but as DOS points out, "China may refuse to acknowledge dual U.S.-Chinese nationals' U.S. citizenship." Any Chinese adopted child will have "China" listed on their U.S. passport as their place of birth. This fact makes Chinese adopted children more vulnerable to what DOS refers to as "arbitrary enforcement." Chillingly, DOS also points out that "Security personnel carefully watch foreign visitors and may place you under surveillance. Hotel rooms (including meeting rooms), offices, cars, taxis, telephones, Internet usage, and fax machines may be monitored onsite or remotely, and personal possessions in hotel rooms, including computers, may be searched without your consent or knowledge. Security personnel have been known to detain and deport U.S. citizens sending private electronic messages critical of the Chinese government." Teenagers and college students are particularly prone to less than prudent social media messages which can become grounds for surveillance or even detentions. To Read the DOS warning in full, please click here.
October 18, 2018. Congressman Fights to Revive International Adoption. Representative John Curtis (R-Utah) has introduced "HR 6985, the Intercountry Adoption Advisory Committee Act," which aims to reverse the decline in international adoptions. His bill aims to "enhance the intercountry adoption process and collect stakeholder input in advance of new policies being developed or implemented." It come at an important juncture because the Department of State, which many people hold responsible for at least part of the decline," is preparing to introduce new regulations which may further restrict international adoption. To read the article, please click here.
October 17, 2018. How Low Will The International Adoption Numbers Be for 2018? The federal fiscal year (FY) 2018 ended on September 30. In FY 2017 4,714 children came to the United States, the lowest number in decades. We believe that the number of children internationally adopted to the United States this year will be even lower. Five years ago the number was almost twice as much: 8,667. The evidence is clear that the number of children in need of permanent, loving families has declined in the last five years. We hope that the Department of State and USCIS can work toward lowering the barriers that have increasingly put international adoption out of reach for the children who need this solution.
October 16, 2018. Replacing Orphanages With Foster Care. Tina Rosenberg at the New York Times has written the first of a two part article on replacing orphanages in developing countries with high quality foster care and family reunification. The article points out the problems of orphanage care and how the orphanage business can be good business for adults, not children. We only wish she had mentioned that when no in-country family is available, international adoption should be a viable alternative for children. To access the article, please click here.
October 15, 2018. EDx Web Course: Creating a Child Welfare System. Professor Richard Gelles has organized an excellent web course on Creating a Child Welfare System. The course is free to take and costs $29 to receive verification. Professor Gelles describes the course as follows: "Child Welfare Policy is not rocket science - it is harder! Join Dr. Richard Gelles, the Joanne and Raymond Welsh Chair of Child Welfare and Family Violence at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Social Policy & Practice and Faculty Director of the Field Center for Children's Policy, Practice & Research, for this six-week course which looks at each step in the child welfare policy process. The course will begin with the legal basis for child protection at the state and federal levels. Learners will meet decision-makers and practitioners: social workers, attorneys, judges, policymakers, and politicians - all of whom have an impact on the United States ever-changing system of child protection. Through video interviews, you'll learn about the key roles in this complex system." For more information, and to enroll for the course, please click here.
October 11, 2018. Concerns About Adoption From Detained Immigrant Population. The large number of undocumented immigrant children in the United States raises concerns that these children could inadvertently be placed for adoption although they have parents who want to retain custody. As the linked article points out: "States usually seal child custody cases, and the federal agencies overseeing the migrant children don't track how often state court judges allow these kids to be given up for adoption." According to its records, Bethany Cristian Services, which provides foster care for undocumented immigrant children in the last 35 years nine of the 500 migrant children in its foster care program have been adopted by American families. A Bethany spokesperson said that the children, aged 3 to 18, were placed for adoption "after it was determined it wouldn't be safe or possible for them to go back to their families; at least one asked to be adopted by his foster parents, and another was a trafficking victim." More Information.
October 10, 2018. DOS Statement on Ethiopian International Adoption Ban. The Department of State reminds the adoption community that, "adoption service providers (ASPs) should not be referring children in Ethiopia to U.S. families." The Ethiopian Parliament passed new legislation in January 2018 which banned foreigners from adopting Ethiopian children. However, it your case was in process with an Ethiopian Federal First Instance Court prior to February 14, 2018, you should contact the Office of Children's Issues at EthiopiaAdoption@state.gov or the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa at ConsAdoptionAddis@state.gov. More Information.
October 9, 2018. Federal Judge Strikes Down ICWA. Last week a federal judge in the Northern District of Texas, struck down the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). The case was brought by the states of Texas, Indiana and Louisiana, as well as several individual plaintiffs from around the country. Mark Fiddler, the lawyer for one of the plaintiffs summarized the ruling as follows: "The court struck down almost all of ICWA and its new 2016 regulations on multiple grounds, including under the equal protection clause (on the basis that the placement preferences and certain other provisions in ICWA are unconstitutionally race-based in nature), the "non-delegation clause" (that 1915(c) unconstitutionally delegates federal authorities to tribes), the anti-commandeering clause (on the basis that ICWA unconstitutionally commandeers states to carry out federal duties), and the Administrative Procedure Act (on the basis that the new regulations were promulgated without authority)." To read the decision, please click here.
October 8, 2018. New York City Children's Services Had Visited House Before Child Found Dead. New York City's Administration for Children's Services "saw no red flags or physical signs of abuse" when the social work visited the home of Tina Torabi two days before her 1 year old twins were found badly beaten. Elena Torabi was found dead; her twin Keon was rushed in critical condition to the hospital. He is expected to survive. ACS spokesperson Marisa Kaufman said "We are currently reviewing this case through our new after-action protocol, which closely examines both individual decision-making and child protective systems. Any further action would be a result of this comprehensive analysis," That will be too little, too late for Elena. More Information.
October 4, 2018. Registration Now Open: CAP/Duke Law Silent Victims Conference. We are proud to announce that registration is now open for the CAP/Duke Law School Annual Conference. This year's topic is "Silent Victims: Foster Care and Foster Care Adoption in America. The Conference will be held on Friday, November 16 at Duke Law School in Durham, North Carolina. To register please click here.
October 3, 2018. Department of State Adds Warning Label to Intercountry Adoption Pages. The Department of State has added a warning label to the information pages of countries with international adoption programs open to U.S. citizens. This warning label reads: Caution: Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that not all children in orphanages or children's homes are available for adoption. In many countries, birth parents place their child(ren) temporarily in an orphanage or children's home due to financial or other hardship, intending that the child return home when possible. In such cases, the birth parent(s) have rarely relinquished their parental rights or consented to the adoption of their child(ren). To see the label on the China page, please click here.
October 2, 2018. DOS Announces Suspension of Adoption Avenues. The Department of State has announced the Intercountry Adoption Accreditation and Maintenance Entity (IAAME) has suspended Adoption Avenues' accreditation for "for failing to maintain substantial compliance with accreditation standards." During the time of the suspension Adoption Avenues may not provide any adoption services and must transfer any open cases to another approved adoption services provider. Any potential adoptive parent working with Adoption Avenues should contact the agency immediately to find out how how their case is affected by the suspension. We do not have any information as to how long this suspension will last. More Information.
October 1, 2018. Federal Court Rules Korean Adoptee Must Leave U.S. By order of a federal judge in Kansas, a Korean-adoptee must leave the United States immediately after her college graduation. Hyebin Schreiber came to the United States when she was 15, to be adopted by her aunt and uncle. Her adoptive father delayed the adoption until she was 17, partly because Lt. Colonel Schreiber was serving in Afghanistan. A lawyer had told Schreiber that the adoption could wait until Hyebin was 17. However this was not true-foreign born adoptees (without biological adopted siblings) must be adopted by the 16th birthday in order to obtain U.S. citizenship. This sad case illustrates the need for potential adoptive parents of internationally born children to make sure that they are getting advice from attorneys who understand that U.S. adoption alone does not confer citizenship and that there are different rules for foreign both children. More Information.
September 25, 2018. Taking A Chance on Love. Dr. Carolyn Roy-Bornstein has written a moving article about how she and her husband came to be foster parents of two teenage daughters. One topic Dr. Roy-Bornstein discusses is the time her daughter Janine told her that foster children are terrified of making mistakes, quoting her daughter who said, "In foster care, you always feel like if you do something wrong, you can be taken away at any moment. Sent somewhere else to live." We as a society spend far too little time thinking of all the losses and burdens foster children must live with, even in good homes. To read this article, please click here.
September 24, 2018. "The Client: How States are Profiting from the Child's Right to Protection." Professor De Leith Gossett has written a revelatory article which was published earlier this month in the University of Memphis Law Review. Using the framework of a John Grisham novel, Professor Gossett details how the new private industry of out-sourced foster care and states themselves profit when children are removed from their biological families and transformed into wards of the state. Neither the drafters of the Adoption and Safe Families Act, nor the latest child welfare reform, Families First, conceived that states would actually balance their budgets using foster children's entitlements. This article is found at 48 U. Mem. L. Rev. 753 (2018).
September 12, 2018. Many Foster Children at High Risk for Lead Poisoning. Children exposed to lead paint during their early years may develop permanent physical and mental disabilities. The New York City government has revealed that both in its housing projects and in privately owned building that accommodate families with Section 8 housing vouchers, authorities have failed to comply with federal lead paint standards. Many of the affected populations are children in foster care. Dealing with lead paint-caused issues is yet another roadblock for these children that they will have to overcome. More Information.
September 11, 2018. USCIS Update on Citizenship Certificates. USCIS has released an update on U.S. Citizenship Certificates (COC) for international adopted children. The Buffalo Field Office processes these certificates for children who have arrived with IR-3 and IH-3 visas. USCIS will mail the COCs of eligible children under 14 within 60 days of arrival to the U.S. Local field offices will process the COCs for eligible children over the age ofv 14. If you notice a mistake on the COC you have 10 business days to notify the Buffalo field office or three business days to notify your local field office if you received the COC locally. Afterwards, or to obtain a replacement certificate, you must file Form N-565, Application for Replacement of Naturalization/Citizenship Document. You can find More Information here.
September 10, 2018. Training Opportunities. The Department of State has alerted us that there is a webinar opportunity, presented by the Quality Improvement Center for Adoption and Guardianship Support and Preservation (QIC-AG), which may be of interest to adoption professionals and others with interest in intercountry adoption. The webinar will be held on September 26, 2018 and the topic is "Developing an Adoption Competent Network of Providers." To register or for any questions please go to the QIC-AG website.
September 6, 2018. Disruption in Foster Care Placement. Most children in foster care have experienced at least two placements. Disruption of a placement, may be typical but it remains deeply traumatic for children. This article examines five key reasons why foster care placements disrupt: change of social worker, over-optimistic expectations, aging out, the degree of therapeutic and emotional care the child needs and changes in life-stages, especially the onset of adolescence. To read the article, please click here.
September 5, 2018. The Changing Face of International Adoption. Over the past five years, the number of internationally adopted children to the United States, the age and gender of children who were adopted internationally have changed drastically. The numbers first: 2013: 7,092 children adopted internationally as compared to 4,714 children adopted in 2017. In 2013, 45.4 percent of the adoptees were male; last year 50.1 percent were male. In 2013, 541 adoptees were infants under 12 months of age; in 2017 no infants were adopted at all. In 2013, the largest cohort of adoptees were aged between one and two years while last year the largest cohort were between the ages of 5 and 12. More Information.
September 4, 2018. "America Soured On My Multiracial Family." Journalist David French has written a troubling article about the negative treatment he and his family received once French and his wife adopted from Ethiopia. Tragically, attacks came from both sides of the political spectrum: from the left he was pilloried for adopting a black child who he could not raise in a culturally sensitive manner, and from the right he was savaged for being a race-traitor. To access the article, please click here.
August 30, 2018. New Intercountry Regulations Coming. The Department of State has posted a notice that it will be submitting for public comments new regulations which, if enacted, would govern international adoption. These proposed regulations would cover pre-adoption training, fees, accreditation of adoption service providers, and complaints concerning the actions of ASPs. DOS drafted regulations covering much of the same topics two years ago. Those regulations were withdrawn. We hope that the new version takes account of the many comments DOS received in 2016 concerning its proposed regulations. More Information.
August 29, 2018. Another View of Foster Care. Yesterday we posted about an article which advocated for more and better foster care. Today we are posting a National Coalition for Child Protection Reform article about various studies which conclude that "children do better in their own homes than in foster care." The report cites two studies, on from Finland and one in Minnesota. However, the studies discuss "typical cases" which leaves a lot of wiggle room in the conclusion. To access this report, please click here.
August 28, 2018. The Foster Care Crisis: A Different Kind of Child Separation Problem? In an eloquent article for the Washington Post, writer Naomi Schaefer Riley writes about the damage done to children in foster care, defending her belief that "the problem is not that we're taking too many children away from their parents. We're not taking enough." Riley argues that the "dominant ideology" of family reunification prioritizes the needs of birth parents over the interests of children. The needs of children in peril are particularly acute now, Riley says, because, "according to a March report by the Department of Health and Human Services, every 10 percent increase in overdose death rates is correlated with a 4.4 percent increase in foster-care entry rates." To access the article, please click here.
August 27, 2018. What Remedy for Families Who Lost Stored Eggs and Embryos? Earlier this year two of the largest "catastrophic failures" of cryogenic tanks occurred: at University Hospitals Fertility Center in Cleveland and at Pacific Fertility in California. Thousands of eggs and embryos were rendered unusable and the question for everyone is: is there a legal remedy and what will the repercussions of that remedy be? We say everyone because if the lawsuits that have been filed in Ohio may open up the Fertility Center there to a charge of wrongful death which would necessitate the court finding that the embryos were "persons" in the eyes of the law, thereby having huge potential effects on abortion rights. Traditionally reproductive material has been view as property. More Information.
August 23, 2018. British Brexit Raises Fears of No Increasingly Difficult ARTS in the UK. The British government's white papers about the possible consequences of a British exit from the European Union without a new agreement in place have raised fears that the United Kingdom (Britain and Northern Ireland) will suffer from a shortage of sperm donation supplies after the Brexit. Half of the imported sperm used for UK ARTS procedures comes from EU member Denmark with the other half coming mainly from the United States. Leaving the European Union could cut Britain off from the EU Organ Directives and EU Tissues and Cells Directives groups which govern human sperm, eggs and embryos. More Information.
August 22, 2018. New York State Charges New York City Cover-up On Children's Services. The Acting Head of New York State's Office of Children's Issues has informed New York City's Administration for Children's Services of her deep concern over the City agency's failure to perform required background checks on employees who care for children in the City's care. In a letter to the head of the ACS, Acting Commissioner Sheila Poole wrote "By failing to comply with the requirements to process criminal background checks... ACS has compromised the health and safety of the vulnerable children [under its care]," Poole also wrote said that ACS never went back to "address the issue retrospectively" to eliminate workers who were a danger to children and further, that "ACS hasn't been conducting another background check through the Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment as required by a 1980 law." Earlier this summer an ACS employee who allegedly assaulted a six year old boy in his career was found to be a paroled murderer. More Information.
August 21, 2018. Ground Breaking UK Case Concerning Posthumous Fertility. The UK's Court of Protection has issued a ruling allowing a woman to posthumously use her the sperm of her husband, who suffered a catastrophic brain injury, to conceive a child. Uniquely, while the couple had begun fertility treatment, the husband had not given his written consent to the use of his gametes, which is necessary under the provisions of the Human Fertilization and Embryology Act 1990 ('HFE Act 1990'). The COP, which "has jurisdiction over the property, financial affairs and personal welfare of individuals who lack the mental capacity to make decisions themselves," was the last recourse for the wife. In making her ruling, in favor of the wife's petition, the Judge ruled that the retrieval, storage, and use of the husband's sperm was in his best interests because for the wife because: "(1) he had had a settled intention to have a child with his wife, (2) he had sought a referral for fertility treatment, (3) he had discussed the issue of posthumous use of his sperm with his wife and had agreed to posthumous use and (4) he and his wife were under the care of a consultant obstetrician and gynecologist and had undergone and arranged a further appointment for the purposes of undergoing treatment." More Information.
August 20, 2018. DOS Posts Update on International Adoption From India. The Department of State has posted an important update concerning new procedures governing international adoption to the U.S. from India. The topics covered included: "the registration of ASP representative(s) or agent(s) with CARA, ASP contact with orphanages, ASP agreements with orphanages, and fees paid by adoptive families in India." Among other things India's Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) now requires a U.S. adoption service provider to obtain CARA's approval if the ASP intends to use an Indian local agent or representative and CARA prohibits ASPs from contacting orphanages about a specific child until "a referral is accepted and registered in CARINGS (CARA's database for adoptions in India)." All prospective adoptive parents and ASPs interested in Indian adoption should read this important notice.
August 16, 2018. CAP/Duke Law Conference Set for November 16, 2018. We are delighted to announce that our Annual Conference with Duke Law School will be held at Duke Law School on Friday, November 16, 2018. The topic of the conference is "Silent Victims: Foster Care and Foster Care Adoption in America", and it will focus on the needs and rights of children in the context of foster care and adoption. It will follow in the tradition of our 2017 conference on intercountry adoption, as well as prior conferences held by the Center for Adoption Policy, and it will draw on the strong interdisciplinary focus of Duke University and Duke Law School. The conference will be widely publicized and will offer CLE credit for attendees, so we expect a large turnout. We will be posting more information shortly.
August 15, 2018. Domestic Foster Children Need Help. Dawn Saffayeh, the executive director of 150-year-old Hear Share St. Vincent's Services in Brooklyn, has written an eloquent plea on behalf of American children who need committed foster parents. Having watched the outpouring of support for separated migrant children, she says," As a leader of one of the city's oldest foster-care agencies in Brooklyn, I first felt frustration. What about New York City's youths in foster care? They're also wrenched from their parents - although to protect them from harm." Each year over 5,000 children under the age of 18 are removed from their homes for their own safety in New York City. But New York City, like every other area of the country, has a huge shortfall in the number of approved foster parents. Saffayeh ends with these eloquent words," Make the migrant crisis a call to action, New Yorkers. If you're willing to offer bedrooms to kids separated from their parents at the border, why not offer them to New York kids in our own back yard?" More Information.
August 14, 2018. China Pushes Women To Have More Children. Thirty years after China imposed the one-child policy on families, three years after the Chinese government announced a two-child policy, Chinese government officials, fearing a demographic crisis of a different sort than that envisioned in past decades, is on the verge of scrapping child limits. Moreover, the Chinese government is taking serious measures to increase population growth. The governments' view, stated in the official newspaper People's Daily is that "the birth of a baby is not only a matter of the family itself, but also a state affair." In Jiangxi province, an area which formerly had a large international adoption program, officials have reissued abortion guidelines, which, if enforced, would seriously curb the availability of abortions. How quickly things change. More Information.
August 13, 2018. Colorado Parents Fighting to Stop Deportation of Their Internationally Adopted Daughter. U.S. citizens Amy and Marco Beccera adopted their daughter Angela in Peru. They received the final Peruvian adoption decree in May 2017. Because they did not follow the U.S. procedures for a Hague adoption, Angela was not eligible for the adoption visa. It took until March 2018 for Angela to receive a tourist visa to come to the U.S. Her tourist visa will expire on August 31, 2018 and USCIS has denied an extension. More Information.
August 9, 2018. New York Convicted Murderer Child Care Worker Accused of Assaulting Six Year Old Boy. New York City's Administration of Children's Services has admitted that it fails to do required background checks on employees. As a result Jacques Edwards, who served a 30 year sentence for murder, was employed as a juvenile counselor. Last week Edwards was arrested assaulting a six year old boy in his care. Although ACS has been required to do criminal background checks since 2013, no such investigation was done before was hired in 2014. Current ACS Commissioner David Hansell Edwards "admitted he didn't know how many more of his 7,000 employees have felony records." Under current ACS guidelines, Edwards' conviction would have disqualified him from working with children. To read the follow up story, please click here.
August 8, 2018. Should Court-Enforceability of Post-Adoption Contracts Be Promoted? As open adoptions have become more common, the question of the legality and enforceability of post-adoption contact agreements has risen in importance. In this article Heidi Cox and Eric Freeby weigh the benefits of certainty against the need for flexibility and for the adoptive parents to be able to honor the best interests of their child as that may change over time. The authors focus on intra-family adoptions, recognizing that inter-family adoptions raise different concerns. To read the article, please click here.
August 7, 2018. Benin Accedes to the Hague Intercountry Adoption Convention. The Department of State has announced that "on June 28, 2018, Benin ratified and deposited its instrument of ratification to the Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption Convention (Hague Adoption Convention.)" The Convention will enter into force for Benin on October 1, 2018. Benin is the 99th country to join the Hague Convention. In Fiscal Year 2017 no children from Benin were adopted to the United States. More Information.
August 6, 2018. Wall Street Journal Highlights Role of Bethany Christian Services in Migrant Care. In an article published on August 4, The Wall Street Journal recounted the role of adoption services/foster care provider Bethany Christian Services in helping to find foster homes for migrant children whose parents came to the U.S. without legal authorization. Bethany does not place children with same-sex couples nor does it offer its adoption services to same sex or non-Evangelical couples. Bethany's president, Christopher Balusky, stated that he believes in a "big tent" but also believes that prospective foster parents should "align with the organization they want." The difficulty comes when Bethany or another faith-based organizations is the only government designated foster care agency in a specific area. What happens then? More Information.
August 2, 2018. Care of Migrant Children and Foster Children Is Big Business. The care of foster children and migrant children is a very profitable growth industry for providers. This New York Times article about Cayuga Centers, one such provider, details that in fiscal 2017, Cayuga Centers had revenue of $48.7 million and indeed received $123 million in the four years, largely from the federal government. Moreover, the care of unaccompanied refugee minors (migrant children) is more profitable and less difficult that working with troubled foster youth. To read the article, please click here.
August 1, 2018. Chinese Vaccine Scandal Outrages Parents. The Chinese government has revoked the license of a major manufacturer of Chinese vaccines after its DPT and human rabies vaccines were found to be faulty. Tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of Chinese children have been given the defective vaccines under a mandatory national vaccination program. Adoptive parents who have adopted in the last three years should make sure the effectiveness of their Chinese adopted children's vaccines have been evaluated by a medical professional. This scandal is also worrisome because more and more drugs for American consumption are manufactured in China. More Information.
July 23, 2018. Head of National Council for Adoption Asks: "Why does the State Department make it hard to adopt children from other countries?" Chuck Johnson, CEO of the National Council for Adoption (NCFA) poses this question in a strongly worded column written for USA Today. Johnson points out the international adoption has plummeted by 80 percent while the number of children who need permanent, loving homes has only grown. Johnson believes that "The [State] Department's Adoption Division needs new leaders who value and champion the human right for every child to have a family. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo needs new leaders who will collaborate with adoption service providers, community stakeholders, and other nations so that more Americans can become parents to these children." More Information.
July 19, 2018. Arizona Enacts First in the Nation Law on Embryo Disposition. Arizona's new law which requires that embryos in disputed custody situations be given to the person who intends to "develop to birth" these embryos is a controversial solution to a very difficult issue. With millions of embryos now in storage, various state courts have dealt with the question of to whom to award frozen embryos when the couple which created the embryos have divorced and now disagree as to the disposition. At the same time, pro-life groups have used this issue to work toward establishing the personhood of embryos. In the opinion of Rich Vaughn, chair of the American Bar Association's committee on fertility technology and founder of the International Fertility Law Group, this "new law is in fact an end around aimed at establishing the 'personhood' of unborn embryos." More Information.
July 18, 2018. Where is the Outrage Over Institutionalized Children Denied Adoption Homes. In the eloquent article linked to below, Professor Elizbeth Bartholet asks two vitally important questions: why do so many people actively to obstruct unparented children's access to permanent, loving parents through international adoption and why do so few people raised their voices to help these children? As Professor Bartholet points out: "The Trump administration has set itself to undo all things Obama. But oddly it has to date opted not to change the State Department adoption policies so desperately in need of change" while very few of the Democrats who decry the administration's migrant children policy have supported legislation which has been introduced to help unparented children find international adoptive parents. To read the article, please click here.
July 17, 2018. Co-Head of Congressional Coalition on Adoption Introduces Federal Faith-Based Protection Amendment. Representative Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) successfully introduced an amendment to the House Appropriations Committee bill that will fund the Department of Health and Human Services Department for fiscal year 2019 that "would permit federally funded providers to refuse to recruit, train or support same-sex or unmarried couples interested in fostering or adopting children." In the last four years nine states, Alabama, Kansas, Mississippi, Michigan, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Virginia, have enacted similar laws. More Information.
July 16, 2018. Tree of Life Adoption Center's Accreditation Expires. The Department of State has notified adoption stakeholders that the "the Intercountry Adoption Accreditation and Maintenance Entity (IAAME) reports that on June 9, 2018, the Hague Accreditation for Tree of Life Adoption Center (Tree of Life) expired. They did not re-apply for accreditation." Tree of Life is the eighth adoption service provider to cease international adoption services since April 1st. Please go to the link blelow to learn about case transfer procedures for in process families or post-adoption families who are required to submit home studies. Click here.
July 12, 2018. CAP Endorses Intercountry Adoption Information Act of 2018. We are proud to endorse the Intercountry Adoption Information Act of 2018, sponsored by Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) and is co-sponsored by Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH). In the words of Senator Burr, "this bipartisan bill will help remove some of the frequent informational challenges families face when trying to learn the status of intercountry adoption policies. It will also shine a light on unnecessary and detrimental barriers some countries have put up to thwart adoptions, and require the State Department to provide information on what they are doing to address those barriers. I hope the Senate will work to pass this commonsense legislation as soon as possible." We agree. To read the text of the bill, please click here.
July 11, 2018. Post-Adoption Reporting is a Must-Do. Many countries of origin require adoptive parents to send post-adoption reports about their child on a regular basis. But once home, it is easy for adoptive parents to neglect this obligation. However, not only have adoptive parents agreed to this requirement but the failure of compliance with post-adoption reporting requirements is one of the top reason countries cite for banning international adoption. More Information.
July 10, 2018. Battle Over Foster Care. Catholic Social Services in Philadelphia is no longer providing foster care referral services in Philadelphia. As a result, Catholic Social Services is taking the City to court over the termination of its role in foster care. According to spokesmen for Catholic Social Services, the Philadelphia Department of Human Services took this step because of Catholic Social Services' religious beliefs regarding marriage," specifically LGBT marriage. What Catholic Social Services calls religious freedom issues, others believe to be the freedom to discriminate. More Information.
July 9, 2018 Adoptions From Ukraine Will Take Longer. The Department of State has posted information that potential adoptive parents from Ukraine Adoptive parents may have to wait an additional six to 12 weeks in Ukraine to obtain the child's passport, birth certificate, and other required documents. This wait time is in addition to the 30-day waiting period following the final court hearing (DOS emphasis). Potential adoptive parents should allow for these waiting periods when making their plans. More Information.
May 31, 2018 United Nations New Food for Sex Scandal. We have previously written about the sexual abuse which Save the Children and Oxfam employees perpetrated in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. The Times of London has now obtained an 84 page report written by researchers from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and Save the Children in Africa in 2001 documenting the widespread sexual abuse of children and the extracting of sex in exchange for food in refugee camps. One of the tragic comments in the article is "if you don't have a daughter you starve." These same organizations are vocal in their condemnation of international adoption. More Information.
May 30, 2018. Why It is So Dangerous to Leave Children In Parked Cars. The adoption community was saddened last week to learn of another child, adopted domestically, who died of heat stroke after being left in a parked car by accident. The attached article shows why this actions proves fatal: within one hour, a car parked in the sun on a hot day will record temperatures in excess of 110 degrees. Even a car parked in the shade has a temperature over 100 degrees, To read the article, please click here.
May 29, 2018. Did The Trump Administration Lose Undocumented Immigrant Children? The truth is that both Obama administration and the Trump Administration officials lost track of many unaccompanied refugee minor children once they were released to sponsors. More Information.
May 24, 2018. State Department Redefines Public Charge Standard. The Department of State has amended the Foreign Affairs manual which guides how diplomats and officials interpret the law "to increase the burden of satisfying the public charge ground of inadmissibility for both immigrant and nonimmigrant visa applicants." This standard has stayed the same since December 1997, when the requirement for an affidavit of support was required. This change may negatively affect potential adoptive parents who are in process for bringing children home with IR 4 or IH 4 visas. More Information.
May 23, 2018. Wide-Ranging EU Privacy Laws Conflict With U.S. Legal Practice. The European Union has enacted sweeping privacy laws which seek to protect (and expurgate) European Union citizens' data. This article, aimed at New York lawyers but applicable to all, explains the ways in which this new EU law conflicts with U.S. legal practice and statutes. To access the article, please click here.
May 22, 2018. An Eloquent Voice Speaks About Foster Care. Rob Henderson has written a stirring article about being a foster child and why it made him a conservative student at Yale. Henderson, whose life has been shaped by "foster care, broken homes and military service," calculates that among the 5,000 undergraduate at Yale, only 10 were former foster care children. To read this excellent article, please click here.
May 21, 2018. Make the Right Decision, Please. Joanne Boyle, former head women's basketball coach at the University of Virginia, is also, by Senegal law, the adoptive mother of Ngoty, age 6. With the knowledge and assistance of the U.S. embassy in Dakar, Boyle brought her very ill daughter home to the U.S. on a medical visa. Now USCIS is denying Boyle the opportunity to complete her U.S. paperwork to properly adopt and naturalize her daughter under U.S. law. The tragedy here is that there exists a legal remedy for Boyle, who did every step in an above board manner, in reliance on the word of the U.S. embassy employee. The proper answer is humanitarian parole which is designed precisely for this sort of case. No precedent would be set, no flood of other children will come. A humane government needs to do the humanitarian right thing. More Information.
May 17, 2018. The Adoptee Citizenship Act Needs YOUR Support. The Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2018, S. 2522 needs your support now. This bill, if passed, will provide citizenship to international adoptees who did not qualify for automatic citizenship and whose adoptive parents failed to naturalize them in a timely fashion. The children and former children, now adults, did nothing wrong - to deny them citizenship is blaming the children for the sins of their parents. Please contact your Senators and ask them to co-sponsor ane/or endorse S. 2522. The bill's text can be found by clicking here.
May 16, 2018. Surrogate Mothers Ask Supreme Court to Hear Their Cases. Three surrogate mothers: Melissa Cook, Gail Robinson and Toni Bare have called upon the Supreme Court to take their cases which seek to overturn the form of surrogacy contracts used in many states on the grounds that surrogacy prevents "a child being placed where it's in the child's best interest." The lawyer for the three women, Harold Cassidy, brought the famous Baby M surrogacy case in New Jersey where the Supreme Court ruled in 1988 that surrogacy contracts were void against public purpose. More information.
May 15, 2018 Department of State Update on Adoption From Japan. The Department of State has issued an update on adoption from Japan stating that the Japanese government has informed DOS that "pursuant to Japanese law, the intercountry adoption of Japanese children requires authorization by Japanese courts." DOS will be updating its Japanese adoption page to reflect that only through the court process can children be adopted from Japan. Among other things, the court procedure requires potential adoptive parents to spend a minimum of six months "trial nurturing" in Japan. There is no word on what American parents in process with Japanese adoptions using a different procedure will need to do. More Information.
May 14, 2018. Oklahoma Governor Signs Bill Making Adoption Agency Discrimination Legal. Governor Mary Fallin of Oklahoma has signed a bill into law which would permit discrimination by child placing agencies as it allow agencies not to place children with families when the placing would "violate the agency's written religious or moral convictions or policies." This law will invidiously affect LGBT community members as well as Catholics, Jews, Muslims, non-believers and others of which an agency feels will not meet its religious or moral convictions. More importantly it will hurt LGBT children who may be placed in foster homes which are totally inappropriate for their best interests. More Information.
May 10, 2018. Mothering: It's Not About the Chromosomes. Just in time for Mother's Day, Rebecca Compton, Professor of Psychology at Haverford College, and adoptive mother, has written a beautiful article for Psycholgoy Today on what makes a mother. Professor Compton rightly focuses on the 23andMe DNA genetic testing site which implores in its latest ad that: "The whole point of Mother's Day is you're with your family, your DNA!" The company is hoping people will give their mothers the gift of genetic testing for Mother's Day. But as Professor Compton points out, not all mothers are genetic mothers and to "blindly" focus on the ones who can make money for the company does a great disserve to all families, some of whom do not have mothers at all, have two mothers or have two fathers. Please do read this excellent article. To access it, please click here.
May 9, 2018. Michael S. Goldstein Esq. and Other Approved Agencies/People Relinquish Accreditation Relinquishment. In the last two weeks three more agencies and approved persons have either relinquished their accreditation for intercountry adoption or their accreditation has lapsed: Michael Goldstein, Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois, and the Center for Global Adoption. No doubt the dwindling number of accredited providers/people reflects the dwindling number of international adoptions. More Information.
May 8, 2018. California Seeks Exemption from New Child Welfare Law With Former Staffer in Charge. In February President Trump signed The Family First Prevention Services Act, the most ambitious reform to child welfare legislation in twenty years. One of the leading Senate staffers leading the campaign for Family First was Becky Shipp who served on the Senate Finance Committee staff. But in April Ms. Shipp, who left government service less than a year ago, began representing LA County which is seeking to get a waiver so the rules of the Family First will not apply to what is the largest ($31 billion annually) foster care system in the world. More Information.
May 7, 2018. Arkansas Original Birth Certificates Available to Adoptees. Arkansas Act 519 of 2017 now provides that individuals who were adopted and are 21 or over are allowed to request their adoption file from the Arkansas Department of Health. The files will usually contain an original adoption as well as an original birth certificate. However, the law permits birth parents to redact their name from the adoption file as well as to update family history and contact preference. More Information.
May 3, 2018. Federal Government Loses Track of Almost 1500 Children. Last week Federal officials revealed to a Senate subcommittee that the Health and Human Services Department has lost track of 1,475 migrant children who have been placed in homes all around the country. These children are some of the 180,000 unaccompanied refugee minors who have come to the United States in the last five years. With limited resources HHS has placed these children with adults lacking proper background checks or authentication. "You are the worst foster parents in the world. You don't even know where they are," said Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. According to one 2016 investigation, "more than two dozen unaccompanied children had been sent to homes where they were sexually assaulted, starved or forced to work for little or no pay." More Information.
May 2, 2018. Important DOS Clarification on Soft Referrals. The Department of State has issued a FAQ on "soft referrals." This FAQ contains vital information relevant to any special needs adoption referrals but is especially important for potential adoptive parents and adoption agencies which are working in/interested in China adoption. To read the FAQs please click here.
May 1. 2018. Chinese Adoption: Orphanage Donations. We are very concerned to learn that the recent CCCWA announcement that adoptive families may donate whatever they wish to orphanages, instead of the prior practice of a fixed donation to the orphanages, will lead to the dwindling number of unparented children who can be adopted from China. We have been informed that several orphanages say that without the donations they cannot afford to prepare the files necessary for international adoption. We would hate to think that children who could find permanent loving families in the United States will spend their life in institutional care.
April 30, 2018. Oklahoma Legislature Passes Bill Allowing Adoption Agencies to Discriminate. Both the Oklahoma House of Representatives and the Oklahoma State Senate have passed S.B. 1140, which states that "no private child-placing agency shall be required to perform, assist, counsel, recommend, consent to, refer, or participate in any placement of a child for foster care or adoption when the proposed placement would violate the agency's written religious or moral convictions or policies." Now Governor Gov. Mary Fallin must decide whether to sign the bill. More Information.
April 26, 2018. Legal Scholar Makes Strong Case for Repealing Natural Born Citizen Requirement for President. Noah Feldman, a law professor writing in Bloomberg News, has made a very strong case for amending the Constitution to repeal the requirement that the President be a "natural born citizen." This ambiguous clause has been interpreted as requiring the President to be born in the United States or (perhaps) to U.S. citizens abroad. But this is an archaic, unclear passage which only serves to discriminate against immigrants as well as foreign born adopted children of U.S. citizens. We agree with Professor Feldman that the time is right for Congress to pass a law amending the Constitution and the states to ratify it. To read the article, please click here.
April 25, 2018. Thousands of British Children in Foster Care Go Missing Each Year. The British Children's Commissioner, Anne Longfield briefed newspapers late last week that over 10,000 British children in foster care are missing and unaccounted for. This number represents around one out of every ten children. Missing foster children are the most vulnerable target for child grooming gangs which entice children into sex slavery and prostitution. Notwithstanding that many children are rescued, the Times of London reported that "Just six per cent of crimes reported to police under the Modern Slavery Act led to prosecutions since it was introduced in 2015." We know that U.S. foster children are similarly at risk. While many British newspapers carried this story, we are linking to this one because it does not require a paid subscription: More Information.
April 24, 2018. New Fetal Gender Test Sparks Fears of Gender-Linked Abortion Rise. A new finger prick blood test will allow pregnant women to learn the sex of their fetus at eight weeks. Not only is the test rapid, it will be inexpensive. Gender-related abortions have created an imbalance of 63 million missing women in India and 34 million "extra men" in China. The growth in family incomes in India and China has not ended the cultural preference for male children; the fear now is that even more abortions will take place. More Information.
April 23, 2018. Bitter Fight Over Embryos Highlights New Issues Raised by Assisted Reproduction Technology. Yesterday's New York Post reported on a court fight between two New Yorkers about their frozen embryos. Illissa Watnik, wants to use the fertilized eggs to become a single mother. She claims that former partner (but not husband) Kevin Heldt agreed that she could use the genetic material and maintains that she does not want any child support. But Heldt says that as the son of a (primarily) single mother, he could not live with being the genetic father of a fatherless son. These are new issues which the world of assisted reproductive technology has created.
April 19, 2018. Australian Senator Seeks to Stop Orphanage Tourism. Senator Linda Reynolds wants to put orphanage tourism on the Australian government agenda. Reynolds see orphanage tourism "as a scam which Australians are keeping the industry afloat, with the "sugar rush" their altruism creates often resulting in virtual signaling social media posts. The thinking behind ending orphanage tourism is that Australians support family care at home, why wouldn't they support it abroad? However, what this article fails to point out is that there are thousands of children around the world who cannot be cared for in the birth family." More Information.
April 18, 2018. Citizenship Certificates Taking A Very Long Time. Adopted children who came home between 2001 and 2004 did not automatically receive Certificates of Citizenship. Instead their parents had to file the N-600 form and pay a fee. In the last two years many parents realized that their children needed their Certificates to prove their citizenship and have filed with USCIS to obtain the Certificates. Unfortunately it is now taking well over a year for families to receive these Certificates and the wait is projected to only increase. Please do obtain this Certificate-it is the only indisputable proof of Citizenship and if you don't obtain it, your child will not be registered as a citizen by the Social Security Administration.
April 16, 2018. Department of State Raises Concern About International Adoption from Japan. The Department of State has notified us that it is "currently reviewing Japanese law regarding the transfer of custody of a child without a court order, which may affect a child's eligibility for an adoption-based visa under the Immigration and Nationality Act. The Department urges families with pending I-600 petitions and immigrant visa applications based on the transfer of custody of children - if such applications do not involve a court order - to consider deferring their travel to Japan to complete the visa process at this time. The Department also urges adoption agencies not to make new referrals to U.S. prospective adoptive parents in such cases until further notice." Any person with an in process adoption from Japan should keep watching adoption.state.gov for updates and should contact the Office of Children's Issues at email@example.com with any particular questions.
April 12, 2018. New Information Concerning COA Accredited Agencies. The Department of State has notified us that the Council on Accreditation (COA) is changing the way published information about adoption agencies and approved persons, both the make the information more accessible and to ease the transition to IAAME, the new accrediting entity. To search for information on the COA website, now it is necessary to go to http://coanet.org/accreditation/who-is-accredited/overview/. COA will not only update this list to reflect its own work but will also publicize the work of IAAME on monitoring, oversight,and complaints.
April 11, 2018. Mexican Government Requirements for U.S. Adoption Agencies. The Department of State has posted information from the Mexican Central Authority and the National System for Integral Family Developments setting for the requirements for U.S. adoption agencies which wish to be authorized to work in Mexico. Interested agencies and families who are in the process of considering or adopting from Mexico should visit the Department of State web site for more information.
April 10, 2018. IAAME Monitoring of Adoption Agencies Working with International Adoption Has Begun. On April 1, 2018 the Intercountry Adoption Accreditation and Maintenance Entity (IAMME) became the official and only entity charged with monitoring and oversight over all adoption service providers which are accredited and approved for international adoption. The Council on Accreditation which previously had been responsible for such monitoring and oversight will only completely reviews of a small number of agencies whose accreditations expire prior to December 2018 and thereafter will cease functioning as the Accrediting Entity which will thereafter be the sole responsibility of IAMME. In addition IAMME will take over from COA the investigation of complaints against agencies which have not yet been resolved. More Information.
April 9, 2018. Many Agencies Will Not Be Re-Accredited for International Adoption. In the last few days the following adoption agencies (also know as adoption service providers) have been refused re-accreditation or have chosen not to apply for reaccreditation: Amazing Grace Adoptions, Adopt Abroad International, Faith International Adoption, Inc., AAA Full Circle Adoptions & Family Building Center, Inc., Buckner Adoption & Maternity Serves and Grace International Adoption Agency. Anyone who is in the process of adopting with one of the agencies should contact their agency immediately to find out what the transition plan for their case is. Please also refer to the Department of State notices for more information. To acess the DOS site, please click here.
March 27, 2018. Something Everyone Can Do to Help Save International Adoption. We know that many in the adoption community feel the need to try to do something to arrest and reverse the decline in international adoptions. The link below represents an action which concerned individuals can take which is to sign the petition to the White House which urges President Trump to take steps to change his administration's policy on international adoption. To sign the petition, please click here.
March 26, 2018. International Adoptions to U.S. Now at Lowest Number Since 1973. The Department of State has released its figures on international adoptions to the United States in Fiscal Year 2017 (October 1, 2016 to September 30, 2017). The total number of children internationally adopted children was 4,714, a drop of 12 percent from FY 2016. This figure is the lowest number of international adoptions to the United States since 1973. Even this low number is likely to drop because Ethiopia, the second largest sending country, has since banned international adoptions. China is still the largest sending country to the U.S, with 1,905 adoptions, down 15 percent from the previous year. To read all the dismal statistics, please click here.
March 22, 2018. Message from Assistant Secretary of State, Carl Risch. The Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs, which has jurisdiction over international adoption, has circulated a message to the international adoption community. In the message, Mr. Risch assures families, agencies (ASPs), and stakeholders that the Department of State "is committed to maintaining intercountry adoption as an option around the world for children who cannot find permanent families in their countries of birth. He also states that DOS policy is a shared responsibility and not driven by one person and that if the transition to IAAME as the new accrediting entity (AE) is not successful, "the Department could be left with no AE, and accreditation and approval of ASPs would cease until a new AE could be found, absent a change in the legislation governing intercountry adoption. Such an outcome would almost certainly result in the interruption of intercountry adoption to the United States." More information.
March 20, 2018. New Article Discusses Department of State's Position on International Adoption. We draw your attention to an excellent article about new Department of State policies which will negatively affect international adoption. The article features Professor Elizabeth Bartholet, National Council for Adoption President Chuck Johnson, and other individuals with long experience in the field of international adoption. To access the article please click here.
March 19, 2018. State Department Guidance on "Soft Referrals." The Department of State has issued guidance on the practice by countries of origin or adoption service providers of issuing so called "soft referrals," which DOS defines as "the act of matching a child to a family before confirmation of the child's eligibility to be adopted through the intercountry process and /or approval of the perspective adoptive parents' home study and associate background checks." The China Special Needs program, the largest international adoption program, has made it a practice to provide Preliminary Approval (PA) to families for specific children although the families does not yet have an approved home study, a procedure which will not pass muster now. However, the DOS announcement does not ban photo listings in and of themselves. More Information.
March 15, 2018. What Were They Thinking: Twins and Triplets Separated For Adoption For a Medical Study. We have been horrified to learn that in the 1960s a prominent adoption agency, Louise Wise Services, separated twins and triplets who were then placed in different adoptive families. None of the adoptive families knew their child had a biological twin or triplets. The families were also told that their children would be part of a child development study. In reality the study was designed to test nature over nurture, using separated children as test cases. Clearly neither the adoptive parents nor the children gave informed consent. Some of the now adult children only learned about their twins' existence from the producer of a new documentary. The victims still cannot get access to the unredacted study, the documents for which are at Yale University but sealed. More Information.
March 14, 2018. Protecting Frozen Eggs and Embryos. Over the weekend two fertility clinics, one in Cleveland and one in San Francisco, reported that their freezing systems for preserving client's eggs and/or embryos had failed. In response, the New York Times has prepared a basic outline of what steps clients should take to ensure, as far as possible, the safety of their eggs. The article may be found by clicking here.
March 13, 2018. Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2018 Introduced. On March 8, Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash) and Chris Smith (R-N.J.), together with Senators Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) introduced, yet again, an Adoptee Citizenship bill. This legislation, if passed, would provide citizenship for adoptees whose American citizens parents failed to complete the necessary steps to make their children U.S. citizens. As Senator Hirono said: "International adoptees who were adopted by American parents and raised as Americans should have the same rights of citizenship as biological children," We wholeheartedly urge every adoptee to contact their legislators and urge swift passage of this bill. More Information.
March 12, 2018. Kansas Parents Will Serve Prison Sentences For Child Abuse. Jim and Paige Nachtigal, Kansas missionaries, pleaded guilty to child abuse for the cruel mistreatment of the three children they adopted from Peru. While the Nachtigals were known in their community for their involvement in their church and their foreign missionary work, they were secretly abusing the three children they had adopted. School staff and others had contacted Department of Children and Families officials as early as 2014 but it took until 2016 for any investigations to begin. While two of the children appear to be doing well, the younger daughter is clearly struggling. More Information.
March 7, 2018. Washington State Enact Uniform Parentage Act. Washington state is the first state to enact the new Uniform Parentage Act. The law addresses crucial issues related to surrogacy, same-sex marriage, the right to genetic information, the status of children conceived as a result of sexual assault and updates other parentage laws. It also permits paid surrogacy in Washington state. Prior to the enactment of the new law, paying for surrogacy in Washington state was a crime. To review the law, please click here to download PDF.
March 6, 2018. Update on Ethiopian International Adoption. The Department of State has informed the adoption community since the Ethiopian suspension of international adoption, 66 in-process cases have been completed with another 128 cases still outstanding. The Ethiopian government has taken further action to ensure the closure of Ethiopian international adoption. DOS officials have reached out to Ethiopian counterparts but can provide no indication when, if ever, international adoption from Ethiopia will resume.
March 5, 2018. USCIS Is Now Accepting Credit Cards For Its Fees. USCIS is now accepting credit card payments for the I-600/A fees, I-800/A fees as well as fingerprinting costs. The Department of State does not yet accept credit card payments for passport fees although you can use a credit card for the payment of the execution/processing fee. USCIS currently believes that using a credit card will not affect the timing of processing through the lock box.
March 1, 2018. UK High Court Rules Sperm Donor's Parents Have Right To Contact With Their Biological Grandson. In a landmark ruling, the British High Court has allowed a boy's biological grandparents to have mandated visits with their grandchild. The sperm donor was a friend of the two mothers. He was the donor for their five year old son; the women used a different donor for the other son. After the baby was born the two mothers and the sperm donor had different views of his role in the boy's life: the women thought he would see the boy on the same basis as any friend's child while he thought he would have be known to the boy as his biological father. Initially contact was normal and amiable and the boy's grandparents also saw him. But as time went on, and after the women split up, the mothers found the continued contact "burdensome" and sought to limit it. The donor went to court and was granted visitation, with his parents allowed to participate occasionally. The women sought to block the grandparents from gaining mandated rights because they maintained such a grant would interfere with their freedom to parent. The lower court disagreed and the High Court affirmed the lower court's ruling with an opinion which stated that the "order made by the judge was one that she was plainly entitled to make on the evidence before her." This landmark case illustrates three factors: the new world of family relationships, the large discretion family court judges have, and the importance of donors and intended parents obtaining sound legal advice before proceeding. More Information.
February 28, 2018. Adult Children of Fertility Doctor Discover They Are All Half-Siblings. When Dr. Donald Cline, a fertility specialist from Indianapolis, faced federal charges for denying he has used his own sperm to inseminate patients, the news reports led now-adult children whose mothers had gone to Dr. Cline to contact each other. DNA testing has revealed the existence of at least 30 half-siblings, all in their thirties now, but reports indicate that there are many more. The decisions of the adult children to use 23 and Me testing was what led to Dr. Cline's prosecution. More Information.
February 27, 2018. DOS Meets with CCCWA. U.S. Department of State representatives from the Office of Children' s Issues met with a delegation from the China Center for Children's Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA) to discuss a number of issues on January 25. Topics included the effect of the NGO Law, ASP activities under the New Law, Foreign Supervised Provider Agreements, Orphanage Donations, waiver requests and post-placement reporting. We are seeking clarification on the brief descriptions of these topics and will report more after we speak with DOS officials on Monday, March 5.
February 26, 2018. Department of State Seeking Information on "Soft Referrals." The Department of State has informed the adoption community as follows: "We have received several questions about soft referrals, which were mentioned in the FAQ, Part 2 for IAAME's Schedule of Fees, posted to our website on February 22, 2018. If you have questions that you have not already submitted, please write to us at Adoption@state.gov no later than Thursday, March 1, 2018. We are in the process of preparing guidance on this issue and want to be sure we understand your concerns so that we may address them as thoroughly as possible."
February 22, 2018. Former Head of Save the Children Resigns from UNICEF After Revelations. Justin Forsyth, head of Save the Children from 2010 to 2016 resigned after admitting that he penned a "barrage" of "unsuitable texts" to female staff. Mr. Forsyth was Deputy Director of UNICEF since he left Save the Children. UNICEF denied knowledge of Mr. Forsyth's behavior. For decades Save the Children and UNICEF have vigorously opposed international adoption, claiming that they provide a better alternative by guiding the creation of in-country care instead of international adoption. The numerous depredations of Save the Children, UNICEF, and Oxfam employees gives lie to this boast. More Information.
February 21, 2018. Measles Cases Surge Four Fold in Europe. European cases of measles rose four times in 2017. The World Health Organization rightly labeled this increase a "tragedy." The worse hit nations were Romania, Italy, and Ukraine. Failure to vaccinate is the cause of a large number of the increased cases. The decline in vaccination rates began when a now-discredited British physician linked the MMR anti-measles vaccine to autism. More Information.
February 15, 2018. OXFAM Did Not Ban Staff From Using Prostitutes for Fear It would Infringe "Civil Liberties." We have now learned that OXFAM did not ban staff from using prostitutes because it feared trampling on its employees "civil liberties." What about the right of children not to be molested by aid professionals? This week's revelations have highlighted the unregulated power of NGOs/charity organizations working in the child welfare world, particularly those working in developing nations. The irony of organizations like UNICEF and Save the Children attacking international adoption when these entities have harbored and enabled child predators and sexual abusers is tragic. We hope that these tragic event will start a process of re-evaluating the activities of those who purport to serve children and the disadvantaged but use their privileged position to exploit the most vulnerable populations of all. More Information.
February 14, 2018. Save the Children Link to Haiti Sex Abuse Scandal. The Times of London reports today that Roland van Hauwermeirn, the disgraced head of OXFAM's Haiti mission had previously been investigated by the charity Merlin (part of Save the Children) after allegations of sexual abuse during van Hauwermeirn's work in Liberia in 2004. One of his colleagues told the Times that "van Hauwermeirn used the charity's drivers to ferry him to clubs to meet prostitutes and take them to the villa rented for him using donated funds." Save the Children is one of the most virulent anti-international adoption organizations. When will its leaders take responsibility for the fact that their lobbying to end international adoption has left children vulnerable in their birth countries to the worst kind of abuse and that aid agencies have become havens for child predators? More Information.
February 13, 2018. UNICEF Admits Child Victims of Sex Abuse Were Abandoned. UNICEF has admitted that children who were allegedly raped and sexually abused by UN peacekeepers in the Central African Republic have not received the help that UNICEF had promised to provide. A Swedish television documentary revealed that some of these abuse survivors, having been abandoned by UNICEF, were homeless, not in school and were forced to make a living on the streets. This report comes as the NGO/charity sector is reeling from the Times of London reports that the head of OXFAM's Haiti program and his colleagues had used their money and privileged position in post-earthquake Haiti to sexually abuse women, some of who were apparently underage. Furthermore, these officials were allowed to quietly resign and find other aid positions, so that OXFAM's reputation not be harmed. With UNICEF and other aid agencies making it their cause to end international adoption on the grounds of fraud allegations, we ask who watches these agencies? More Information.
February 12, 2018. The Horrendous Scandal of OXFAM in Haiti. We have learned that OXFAM, one of Britain's leading British charities, conducted sex orgies in Haiti, reportedly with underage girls and that these horrendous acts were covered by OXFAM's senior officials in Britain because they did not want to hurt their charity's reputation and lose contributions and British government money. The guilty parties were allowed to resign and were given good recommendations which enabled them to get positions with other NGOs. Aid agencies provide a tempting target for pedophiles who are able to exploit their access to unlimited funds to lure impoverished victims. Save the Children, which is a vocal opponent of international adoption, has also been named as harboring sexual abusers. How could anyone disagree that a permanent, loving family, wherever it may be found, is better than this? More Information.
February 8, 2018. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Affects More Children Than Previously Thought. A new study in the Journal of American Medicine (JAMA) has concluded that fetal alcohol syndrome is far more common in American-born children than previously thought, and may be at least as common as autism which is estimated to affect 1.5 percent of American children. As Christina Chambers, a professor of pediatrics at the University of California at San Diego states: "This is an equally common, or more common, disorder and one that's completely preventable and one that we are missing." FASD can cause serious developmental and cognitive delays. More Information.
February 7, 2018. National Council for Adoption Statement on New International Adoption Fees. The National Council for Adoption has weighed in on the new fees for accreditation of adoption service providers who do international adoption. According to NCFA, the shift of accreditation responsibility from COA to IAAME and the resulting fee increase will mean "skyrocketing fee costs would make intercountry adoption even more expensive for prospective adoptive parents. Rising costs would likely cause smaller non-profit adoption agencies to close, and intercountry adoptions would plummet." For More on NCFA's position, please go to https://www.adoptioncouncil.org/intercountry-advocacy.
February 6, 2018. We Are Still Waiting for 2017 Numbers. The Department of State and USCIS have had the statistics for fiscal year 2017 international adoption for five months since the federal fiscal year ended on September 30, 2017. What will be the decline in the number of children adopted internationally? As a reminder, in fiscal year 2016, the total number of international adoptions was 5,372 with the countries, in order of largest sending countries, being China (2,231), Democratic Republic of Congo (359), Ukraine (303), South Korea (260), and Bulgaria (201).
February 5, 2018. U.S. Citizenship for Children Residing Abroad with their Adoptive Parents The Department of State has changed the way its officials handle the question of U.S. Citizenship for children who reside abroad with their U.S. citizen adoptive parents. Attorney Karen Law has prepared an excellent summary of the current necessary procedure. We have posted her memorandum under our Facts and Figures button.
February 1, 2018. Department of State Issues New Fee Schedule and Related FAQs for Adoption Service Providers. The Department of State today issued the new fee schedule which will be effective for all adoption service providers going forward. The new accrediting entity, the Intercountry Adoption Accreditation and Maintenance Entity, Inc. (IAMME) will charge fees on a sliding scale as detailed in this DOS notice.
January 31, 2018. NCFA Report on FY 2016 AFCARS. The U.S. Children's Bureau has released its FY2016 Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS). As the National Council for Adoption (NCFA) explains, there are three critical points made in the report: the number of foster children continues to increase, the opioid crisis is fueling this increase, and adoptions from foster care are on the rise, especially by foster parents. To read the NCFA paper, please go to the below link. (Note that it took from September 30, 2016 until January 2018 for the data to be prepared and released.) More Information.
January 30, 2018. Why UNICEF's Views Are Wrong. We have been asked to comment on UNICEF's anti-international adoption position. UNICEF takes the view that, according to its charter and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), it would rather a child have the chance to have a safe and healthy childhood with his or her own family and, in any event, remain in his or her country of origin. The first problem with this statement is that UNICEF interprets these words as meaning that in-country institutional care is preferable to international adoption. We do not. UNICEF has promoted "Permanency." Permanency is a concept which translates into permanent, in-country foster care or group homes. We believe that children are best served by permanent, loving families, where ever they may be found. But UNICEF's solution suits many stakeholders because UNICEF backs up its ideology with money--especially money for group homes. As they used to say in Britain, "jobs for the boys." But the children are the losers. The second problem is that many countries of origin do not view children from minority groups, such as Roma or indigenous people, as part of their national group. This disparity leads to UNICEF, on the one hand condemning international adoption, and on the other, decrying the treatment of Roma or indigenous people. The children are caught in the middle and get nothing. Finally, on international adoption, UNICEF references its charter, the Declaration of Human Rights and the UNCRC. Two comments. After the UNCRC was passed, most countries signed and ratified the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption (the "Hague") which, as a legal matter, supersedes the UNCRC. UNICEF avoids referencing the Hague because the Hague supports international adoption over intercountry institutional care. The CRC (arguably) does not. A further issue with human rights treaties. The various enumerated children's rights do not include the right to family. This problem arose from the drafting of the first of the post-war human rights conventions, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (1948), and persists to this day. The Declaration was written in the shadow of the German Lebensborn program which saw more than 250,000 children from Eastern Europe kidnapped and taken to Germany to be raised as Aryan German children. The 1948 Declaration condemned this action by stating that every child is entitled to his/her nationality. But the Declaration did not include a child's right to a family because in the context of the Lebensborn program, kidnapped children had two families--their birth families and the German ones they were given. By omitting the right to a family, the 1948 Declaration created the negative precedent which then gets embraced in the UNCRC. We have been working to plug this hole for years. We are still trying.
January 29, 2018. Concerns Grow Over Status of Chinese "Orphanage Donation." For over 20 years families who have adopted from China have given an "orphanage donation" as part of their adoption. The fees were set and didn't vary within provinces and only minor differences from province to province. The U.S. Consulate understood that these donations were in fact mandatory and accepted the payment of these fees as a way for orphanages to recoup the cost of caring for the adopted child and supporting those children left behind. Last month, however, the Chinese central authority (CCCWA) announced that the orphanage donation would not longer be fixed but would be up to each family. We have asked for clarification from the Department of State since several families have been told that this change was due to U.S. government pressure. Should families give to orphanages? If they do, will the Consulate then accuse the families of paying improper fees? What is the best course of action for families? We hope the Department of State will answer these questions as soon as possible.
January 25, 2018. New Report Highlights Problems of Changing Placements in Foster Care. A Connecticut study has highlighted the negative effects of changing foster homes on foster children. This report demonstrates that, older youth in foster care have a high chance of multiple placement, that stability of placements correlates both with appropriate behavior and high school graduation and that more frequent placements are also associated with a greater likelihood of criminal behavior. We urge all states to work on increasing foster placement constancy. More Information.
January 24, 2018. Parents File Suit Against Department of State for Their Son's Citizenship. Twins Ethan and Aiden were born abroad to Elad and American citizen husband Andrew last year. Aiden is Andrew's biological child so he received birth citizenship but Ethan, son of Israeli citizen Elad, did not. Aaron Morris, executive director of Immigration Equality, contends that "the State Department is wrongly applying a policy for children born out of wedlock to married same-sex couples: 'If a mother and father walk into a consulate and have a marriage certificate and birth certificate, they're never asked any questions about the biology of the child...But the converse is also true and every same-sex couple will be asked that.' " The Dyash-Banks family maintains that "the children of a U.S. citizen who marries abroad are entitled to U.S. citizenship at birth no matter where they are born and even if the other parent is a foreigner." More Information.
January 23, 2018. Proposed Changes to Korean Special Adoption Laws Roils Adoption Community. A South Korean legislator has proposed amendments to the Korean Special Adoption Laws which will make both domestic and international adoption far more problematic. These amendments would, among other things, make international adoption extremely difficult, end the relationship between the South Korean government and various adoption agencies, centralizing all adoption services in government departments and allow birth families to demand extensive information about their birth child from adoptive families. In short, these amendments, which were suggested without input from adoptive families or agencies, would have a chilling effect on domestic and international adoption, making institutionalized outcomes far more likely for unparented Korean children. More Information.
January 22, 2018. Internationally Adopted Children Face Extra Risks Going Abroad. Today's New York Times article about the arrest of a Swedish-Chinese bookseller highlights a potentially serious issue for internationally adopted children as they grow up, study abroad and work abroad. Countries of origin differ as to whether they consider internationally adopted children to be dual citizens. But U.S. naturalized U.S. citizens may face greater risks if they are arrested or detained by police in the country of their birth than U.S. birth citizens. More Information.
January 18, 2018. Horrific Story of off the Grid Family Shows Need for Monitoring. We are used to reading tragic stories of failed adoptions that demand our attention. The sufferings of the 13 biological children of David and Louise Turpin demonstrate that one common thread linking this story with so many others - the ability of malfeasors to use home schooling as a way to perpetrate evil deeds unnoticed. David Turpin created his own school, the Sandcastle Day School, solely for six of his children. He registered the school with the California Department of Education as required but "In California, almost anyone can open a private school by filing an affidavit with the state. California is one of 14 states that ask parents only to register to create a home school, and in 11 other states, including Texas, parents are not required to submit any documentation at all." When questioned DOE said while it registers private schools, it "does not approve, monitor, inspect, or oversee" such schools despite the fact that schools with more than six students are eligible for some government assistance. Because children in these rogue schools never see anyone outside their family, the children's sufferings go unnoticed. More Information.
January 17, 2018. India Announces New Requirements for Indian Intercountry Adoptions. The Indian Central Authority for Adoption (CARA) has announced that all prospective adoptive parents (PAPs) who wish to adopt from India must include a professional psychological evaluation of the PAPs in their home study. The linked Department of State gives specifics on what the new evaluation must include. This new requirements applies to any PAP who has not yet received the "No Objection Certificate." More Information.
January 16, 2018. Children in Foster Care at Risk from Over Medication. As a New York Times article recently highlights, children in foster care are proscribed psychotropic drugs at a much higher rate than the general population. "Psychotropic medications were being taken by nearly one in five foster children in a 2008 to 2011 survey, the Government Accountability Office said, a higher rate than among privately insured children. "The risks these drugs pose specifically to children are not well understood," the office said in House testimony." Moreover, even when such drugs are clinically appropriate, best practice requires that children prescribed the drugs also receive clinical monitoring and oversight, which, in many cases, foster children do not receive. More Information.
January 15, 2018. Ethiopian Parliament Bans International Adoption. We open the year on a sad note as we report that the Ethiopian Parliament, on January 9, 2018, passed legislation banning international adoption of Ethiopian children. As of now, the Department of State has no idea what the effect of this legislation will be for in process cases. Furthermore, on January 10, 2018 DOS raised the threat level in Ethiopia to Level 2- Exercise Extreme Caution because of "the potential for civil unrest and communications disruptions." More Information.
December 21, 2017. Let's Make 2018 the Year VCF Passes. The Vulnerable Children and Families Act (VCF) a bi-partisan bill introduced by Senator Roy Blunt, Senator Amy Klobuchar et. al. in 2017 (S.1178), is a top legislative priority for next year. The key purpose of the VCF bill is set out in the introduction to the bill: "To realign structures and reallocate resources in the Federal Government in keeping with the core belief that families are the best protection for children and the bedrock of any society to bolster United States diplomacy targeted at ensuring that every child can grow up in a permanent, safe, nurturing, and loving family, and to ensure that intercountry adoption to the United States becomes a viable and fully developed option for providing families for children in need, and for other purposes." The dearth of options for unparented children around the world to find permanent, loving homes demands that the Department of State take a lead role in creating and supporting the finding of families for unparented children, wherever these families are found. To accomplish this goal, VCF requires the President to appoint an Ambassador at Large who will head the Office of Vulnerable Children and Families (which will replace the Department of State's Office of Children's Issues) and take the lead in turning the aspirations of the bill into reality. The catastrophic decline in international adoptions to the United States over the last decade is one symptom of the failure of U.S. institutions to promote the most effective solution to global poverty: a permanent, loving family.
December 20, 2017. A New View on International Adoption. Mark Montgomery and Irene Powell are economics professors at Grinnell College and adoptive parents of children both born in the US and abroad. Noting the catastrophic decline in international adoptions, they have written Saving International Adoption: An Augment from Economics and Personal Experience. This provocative books argues for incorporating economic realities into the adoption policy process, in order to better serve those who need it most: unparented children wherever they reside. It is certainly time to welcome new approaches.
December 19, 2017. Federal Audit Finds Major Issues with Massachusetts Foster Care Group Homes. An audit, produced by the Department of Health and Human Services' Inspector General, found that 27 of the 30 homes inspected failed to follow health and safety standards designed to protect children taken into state custody due to abuse or neglect. Equally appalling was the finding that almost two-thirds of the group homes had one or more employees who were working without having completed the required background checks. Approximately ten percent of Massachusetts foster children live in group homes. They deserve much better. To read the article, please click here.
December 18, 2017. The Adoption Tax Credit Stays In! We are delighted to share this information from the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute: "Last night, the U.S. Congress unveiled their final tax reform bill and conference report, and we are pleased to share that in the end, the conference committee's final tax reform bill saves the adoption tax credit and the tax benefit for employer provided adoption benefits! ...We expect Congress will vote on this legislation next week, and it is expected to pass." One of the key reasons for the preservation of the Adoption Tax Credit was the strong advocacy work of the adoption community. This is a lesson for future legislative work.
December 14, 2017. Another Heartbreaking Account of Opioid Addiction's Tragic Effects on Children and Foster Care. According to a recent report: "The crisis is so severe - with a 32 percent spike in drug-related cases from 2012 to 2016 - it reversed a trend that had the foster care system shrinking in size over the preceding decade. All told, about 274,000 children entered foster care in the U.S. last year. A total of 437,000 children were in the system as of Sept. 30, 2016." One Indiana agency states that it "used to see about 60 percent of children return to their birth families. Today it's around half that." The agency then ask successful foster parent to adopt but if they do, those parents can no longer be foster parents which lessens the pool for the next cases. More Information.
December 13, 2017. Do Your Research. The closure this year of EACI and IAC, two large agencies, has had terrible consequences for families wishing to adopt, both domestically or internationally. These are agencies that once had good reputations but whose ability to serve their clients deteriorated completely. There are several lessons to learn for the adoption community. The first is to do one's research and make sure it is current. Talk to families who have used the agency within the last 18 months. Ask them about their experiences. Make sure that the agency you are using has an escrow fund in which they place your fees until they are used for your case. Check the Department of State website and our website to see if there is any information warning against a specific country or agency. No one can be protected from every problem but these simple steps will save much anguish.
December 12, 2017. Ethiopia is Closed to Intercountry Adoption. The Ethiopian government has decided to end international adoption. That is the fact. The Department of State, on November 8, informed the adoption community that agencies should not make new referrals to Ethiopia. Yet, today DOS put out a notice which stated that some agencies are apparently making new referrals and encouraging potential adoptive parent to accept new referrals of Ethiopian children. Agencies should know better - DOS is holding out no hope for a quick reopening of Ethiopia. There are few situations more painful than to have the referral of a child you cannot bring home. Potential Adoptive Parents: please do not accept these referrals. More Information.
December 11, 2017. DOS Issues FAQs on Transition to New Accrediting Entity. The Department of State has issued a list of Frequently Asked Questions pertaining to the changeover in adoption service provider accrediting entity from the Council on Accreditation (COA) to the Intercountry Adoption Accreditation and Maintenance Entity, Inc. (IAAME). Of utmost importance to the adoption community is that COA will continue as accrediting entity until December 2018. Furthermore, DOS says that there should be no interruption in accrediting so that prospective adoptive parents need not fear that they will be caught by this transition. To read the FAQs, please click here.
December 7, 2017. "The Adoption Tax Credit Saves Money." Jedd Medefind, the President of the Christion Alliance for Orphans and the head of the White House Office of Faith Based and Community Initiative from 2008-09, has written an excellent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal explaining the necessity for the Adoption Tax Credit. Through the excellent work of adoptive parents, adoption stakeholders and others, the Adoption Tax Credit was preserved in both the House and Senate versions of the new Tax bill. However, the two version now face reconciliation in Committee. We urge Senators and Representatives to continue the ATC in what every legislation emerges. To read the Wall Street Journal article, please click here.
December 6, 2017. The Department of State Unveils Its New International Adoption Webpage. DOS' new webpage has debuted. We are heartened to see this quote at the top: "Recognizing that the child...should grow up in a family environment in an atmosphere of happiness, love, and understanding." We were further heartened to read that "Intercountry adoption is one of the Department of State's highest priorities." We look forward to working with DOS to make that priority a reality for the millions of unparented children around the world. To see the new webpage, please click here.
December 5, 2017. Vermont High Court Rules in Important Gay Rights Case. In Sinnott v Peck, handed down last month, the Vermont Supreme Court decided Sarah Sinnott, retained parental rights to a child that she had parented with her former partner but who she had not formally adopted. In agreeing with Sinnott's lawyers that Sinnott did have parental rights, the Court held opined that "It is hard to imagine how... an approach that allows for a complete and involuntary severing of a lifelong parent-child relationship could possibly promote children's welfare. In many cases, the consequences of such a rule would be nothing short of tragic" We applaud this ruling. The Center for Adoption Policy joined in an amici brief in this case.
December 4, 2017. How Adoptive Parents and Stakeholders Saved the Adoption Tax Credit. When Republican legislators listed the tax credits they planned to axe, the adoption tax credit (ATC) was on the list. This credit, first added to the tax code in 1988, helped almost 74,000 people in 2014 provide homes for unparented children. Adoption stakeholders and parents put together advocacy groups under the coordination of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, the National Council for Adoption, an organization headed by Chuck Johnson and Michaela Sims, President of the lobbying firm Sims Strategies. Groups who came out to support the ATC included Focus on the Family, National Right to Life, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop and LGBT adoption advocates. This nonpartisan coalition forced Republicans to change their mind about eliminating the tax credit. A great victory. More Information.
November 29, 2017. A Growing Trend: Single Men Adopting From Foster Care. We welcome the news that an increasing number of single men are adopting from foster care. The numbers remain small but the rise is significant. Moreover, the child welfare community recognizes this. ADOPTUSKids "encourages placement professionals to look at prospective adoptive parents on their capacity to parent and to do so with the support of family and friends, and not base approval on a trait such as race, ethnicity, national origin or gender." Kathy Ledesma, national project director for AdoptUSKids, adds, "One of the biggest myths is that a person has to be married to adopt." These days one- third of all adoptions from foster care are by single women or men. More Information.
November 28, 2017. Another Reason All Adopted Children Need Their Certificate of Citizenship. At the Duke/CAP Conference last week, USCIS officials stated an important fact of which we were unaware. Until your adopted child actually receives the COC, your child remain listed as a green card holder, not a citizen. Therefore, if you have a child who is a citizen but have not obtained a certificate of citizenship for her, your child will be listed as a non-citizen in all federal government data bases, including the social security data base. Every child needs her COC.
November 27, 2017. AFSA is Twenty Years Old, So? AFSA is the Adoption and Safe Families Act which President Clinton signed into law on November 19, 1997. The goal of AFSA was to move children from foster care and group homes to permanent, loving families. Among other things, AFSA removed some geographic barriers to child placement, required case works to make permanency plans for children, and required substantial review of those plans in a timely fashion. But many states are not in compliance and Congressional oversight is sporadic and ineffectual. The quality of foster care often is appalling. Why do these children have so little protection? Because unparented children have no advocates. Another reason why children need permanent, loving families-so that someone cares about each child as an individual person, not as a statistic or ideological tool. To read more about AFSA, please click here.
November 22, 2017. Center for Adoption Policy/Duke Law School Conference a Great Success. Last Friday we held the first CAP/Duke Law Conference. Its subject was "The Rights of the Child in a Globalized World," and it was the best kind of academic conference, where the speakers passionately engaged about the subjects that are truly vital to children, especially the right of a child to a permanent, loving home. The various presenters prepared materials that are helpful to lawyers, social workers, adoptive and birth parents, as well as immigrants. For that reason, we are making the site, https://law.duke.edu/conferences/2017/adoptionlaw/, a permanent one. Under the tab, "Conference and Other Materials," we will be posting Conference articles and other materials of interest to our community. Please go check it out.
November 21, 2017. More on the Ethiopia Closure-Dedicated DOS Mailbox. The Ethiopian authorities have confirmed their closure of intercountry adoption from Ethiopia. It is not yet clear if all the pending cases will be allowed to continue. If you are a prospective adoptive parent with a child in Ethiopia, the State Department has given the following information: "The Office of Children's Issues has established a new dedicated email address for inquiries related to the ongoing adoption issues in Ethiopia. Prospective adoptive parents, adoption service providers, Congressional staff, and other stakeholders may send new inquiries to EthiopiaAdoption@state.gov. If you have already written to firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or to provide information about your case, you do not need to email us again at EthiopiaAdoption@state.gov; we will respond to you from the new inbox." Reference.
November 20, 2017. Restart the Adoption Movement! Arthur C. Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute and a contributing opinion writer to The New York Times, has written an excellent op-ed asking for support in restarting the adoption movement. How right he is. Every child deserves a permanent loving family, wherever it may be found. What is especially interesting about Brooks' article is that he cites statistics demonstrating that the prejudice against adopted children has largely disappeared from American life. Brooks says money is the big barrier and he is right that the government and private donors can help solve that problem. The other barrier is the lack of U.S. government recognition of the right for every child to a family. Click here to read the article.
November 13, 2017. "The Rights of the Child in a Globalized World": There Is Still Time to Register. We are delighted to present a Conference, together with Duke Law School, on "The Rights of the Child in a Globalized World." It will be held at Duke Law School in Durham, North Carolina on November 17. With Senator Mary Landrieu keynoting, Ambassador Michele Bond speaking, together with Department of State and USCIS representatives as well as academics and practitioners in all areas of family creation, it is a not-to-be missed opportunity. To Register, please click here.
November 9, 2017. Urgent Update for Prospective Adoptive Parents from Ethiopia. The Department of State has posted the following notice concerning in-process Ethiopian adoption cases: "Ethiopian officials have informed the Department of State that as of November 8, 2017, the ONLY adoption cases that the government of Ethiopia will allow to proceed to completion under Ethiopia's current law are cases with a completed Form I-604 determination OR cases that have a Form I-604 determination that is currently pending with the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa. If an adoption case has not reached this point as of November 8, 2017, the government of Ethiopia will not allow the case to proceed to completion. This means that families who have been matched with a child but have not progressed to the Form I-604 stage may not proceed with the adoption in Ethiopia. If you are uncertain if your case has progressed to the Form I-604 stage, please contact Embassy Addis for confirmation. In light of this information, adoption agencies should not refer new Ethiopian adoption cases for U.S. prospective adoptive parents because the government of Ethiopia will not allow any new cases to be processed. If you filed a Form I-600 Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, with the National Benefits Center (NBC) before November 8 for a child in Ethiopia, please send us an email at email@example.com with your name, the child's name, and where you are in the process." To read the rest of the notice, please click here.
November 8, 2017. "Care About Kids? You Should Want to Save This Tax Credit." The quote that starts this column is the title of an eloquent Op-ed from yesterday's New York Times. The author adds more specifics and shares yet another perspective of the importance of keeping the adoption tax credit. According to this Op-ed the annual cost of ATC is $355 million, a tiny amount to the U.S. budget but huge to each individual child who it helps. To read the Op-ed, please click here.
November 7, 2017. What the Adoption Tax Credit Means to Families. Please read the linked article to see the stories of the Bierly and Sims-Stewart families which show the real world impact to children in the foster care system of the Adoption Tax Credit. Three children have loving families now and will grow up in safety and security, with love. Moreover, according Schylar Baber, Executive Director of Voice for Adoption, every child who is adopted will save the government $127,000 for long-term foster care with far better outcomes. This is one tax benefit that should be retained, especially since a large percentage of foster to adopt families have lower to middle level incomes. This article is at http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/07/health/adoption-tax-credit-families/index.html
November 6, 2017. Save the Adoption Tax Credit. The reasons for the Adoption Tax credit are explained in this excellent statement. The Academy of Adoption & Assisted Reproduction Attorneys President Debra Guston issued the following statement today in opposition to the House Majority tax reform plan which proposes to eliminate the Adoption Tax Credit: "The Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys is disappointed that the House Majority's tax reform plan eliminates the Adoption Tax Credit. Our attorneys know firsthand how critical the Adoption Tax Credit is in helping families adopt and helping children find loving, permanent homes. Congress should be breaking down the barriers to children being adopted, not building them. We urge Congress to show their commitment to American children and families by saving the Adoption Tax Credit."
November 2, 2017. Worldwide Citizenship Crisis for Korean Adoptees. According to a report prepared for the Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare, as of August 2017, almost 16 percent of Korean international adoptees (25,996 out of 165,305) worldwide were unable to obtain citizenship in the country where they reside. Of these almost 26,000 adoptees, 72 percent live in the United States. The large percentage in the United States is partly a result of the quirk that most Korean adoptees came to the United States on IR-4 visas which required their U.S. parents to adopt them in the U.S. as a prerequisite to obtaining citizenship. Further, until 2013, the Adoptee Citizenship Act did not apply to children who came to the U.S. with IR-4 visas. Many adoptive parents did not follow through on obtaining citizenship for their children or did not understand what they needed to do. These children grew up to become undocumented adults, subject to deportation. The cure for this terrible problem is for Congress to pass the Adoptee Citizenship Act, as we have been urging for many years. More Information.
November 1, 2017. Surrogate Mother Has to Fight For Her Biological Child. Jessica Allen became a surrogate for a Chinese couple in order to save up money for a house and to help a family. But in a medically rare twist, she became pregnant with two children, one of whom was the biological child of the intended parents and one of whom was the biological child of Allen and her partner Wardell Jasper conceived. This condition in which an already pregnant woman conceives another child is called superfetation and is extremely rare. The Chinese couple did not want the child that wasn't their genetic child but the surrogacy agency did not want to give her child back to Allen but instead wanted to have him adopted by someone else. It took a lengthy legal battle for Allen to regain physical and legal custody of her biological child. More Information.
October 31, 2017. DOS Releases Report on IAG Fraud Case in Ethiopia. The State Department has published a report on the adoption fraud case involving the Ethiopian adoption program of the now now-defunct International Adoption Guides, Inc. agency. The investigation involving document fraud and bribery ultimately led to the conviction of four IAG employees. But State Department official Scott Riedmann also pointed out that "Most of the stakeholders involved in international adoptions do excellent work finding homes for children who need them . . . .The department seeks to ensure that intercountry adoptions involving children or U.S. parents take place in the best interests of the child. Taking action against entities like IAG eliminates bad actors and helps to protect all those involved in intercountry adoptions." More Information.
October 30, 2017. Is Surrogacy Always Unethical? In a column posted on the Indian news site Sunday Guardian, Australian lawyer Catherine Lynch makes her case that surrogacy can never be ethical, whether or not it is done for compensation or "altruistically" for a friend or relative. Lynch hangs her argument on Article 9 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which "gives every human being the right not to be separated from their parents." She advocates that all nations enact domestic legislation which explicitly acknowledges that every child has the right to remain with and be brought up by their gestational mother. However, Lynch's citation of Article 9 omits the various qualifications to the right of the child she cites: The first sentence Article 9 in whole states that "States Parties shall ensure that a child shall not be separated from his or her parents against their will, except when competent authorities subject to judicial review determine, in accordance with applicable law and procedures, that such separation is necessary for the best interests of the child." However, Lynch's column is worth reading to understand the arguments that she and others propound. The column may be found by clicking here.
October 26, 2017. Save the Adoption Tax Credit! The Federal Adoption Tax Credit has helped thousands of families to adopt children who would otherwise be unparented. These days most adoptions are of American born children. With Congress looking to end many tax credits, a groups of U.S. organizations has banded together to form “ Save the Adoption Tax Credit.” To find out how you can help please go to https://adoptiontaxcredit.org/
October 25, 2017. Gender Shift in International Adoption. Readers of this column are well aware of the first, the declining number of international adoptions and second, the fact that international adoptees today either have special needs, are part of a sibling group or are older. But another shift is that for the first time in the modern period of international adoption, the majority of adoptees are boys. In 2016, 52 percent of international adoptees were boys and of the Chinese adoptees ( who predominate in international adoption) 51 percent were boys. Historically, while birth parents preferred boys to girls, adoptive parents preferred girls to boys. Moreover, the Chinese program was virtually all girls until 2007. For More Information see http://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2017/september/international-adoptions-drop-to-new-low-as-evangelical-fund.html
October 24, 2017. More Proof That Children Belong in Families Who Can Care for Them. Over the last decade a number of scientific studies have demonstrated the dreadful effect on brain development caused by lack of one-to one interactions between a caregiver and an infant. This was famously documented in the Bucharest Early Intervention Study and now comes another report from UCLA. Professor Allan Schore emphasizes that “ stresses that “the growth of brain cells is a ‘consequence of an infant’s interaction with the main caregiver [usually the mother]’ and that the evolution of a baby’s brain “literally requires positive interaction between mother and infant. The development of cerebral circuits depends on it.’ ” In the words of a British Labour MP.Graham Allen if we don’t address this issue, “…it would mean we are politically incapable of implementing the one policy that will certainly make our society immeasurably better. And what more profound condemnation of our political system could there be than that?” For More Information see https://www.yahoo.com/news/two-brains-both-belong-three-120608571.html?.tsrc=fauxdal
October 23, 2017. Foster Care Privatization A Threat To Vulnerable Children. Not a Success. Sens. Orrin Hatch and Ron Wyden, the chairman and ranking member respectively of the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance this month release the results of a two year investigation into privatized foster care with dismaying conclusions. The report’s devastating statement “the child welfare system does not always protect children,” is backed up by evidence proving that "policies are not always followed; exceptions are made, waivers are granted, profits are prioritized over children’s well-being, and sometimes those charged with keeping children safe look the other way. High turnover among staff sometimes makes it impossible to develop case plans to ensure that children are ‘‘on-track.’’ Foster parents with questionable backgrounds, who lack the skills to provide care to vulnerable children, are given licenses to parent challenging children, and these children are then inadequately monitored.” We owe our most vulnerable population much better protection than they are getting. To access the report, please go to https://www.finance.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/An%20Examination%20of%20Foster%20Care%20in%20the%20United%20States%20and%20the%20Use%20of%20Privatization.pdf
October 19, 2017. Government and Other Notices: Haiti. We have received the following notice from the Department of State: “The Department of State, Office of Children’s Issues, wishes to advise U.S. prospective adoptive parents and adoption service providers of potential continued delays in the processing time to complete an adoption from Haiti due to multiple strikes within the judicial system throughout the country. U.S. Embassy Port-au-Prince reports that while judges have returned to work, Haiti’s clerks are once again on strike. While courts are once again operational and judges are able to adjudicate backlogged cases, court operations and dossier processing will be slow until the clerks return to work.” It has been a tough week for international adoption. For More Information see https://travel.state.gov/content/adoptionsabroad/en/country-information/alerts-and-notices/Haiti10-16-17.html
October 18, 2017. Department of State Confirms Ending of Ethiopian International Adoption. The Department of State has informed the adoption community that “Ethiopian officials have informed the Department of State that the Government of Ethiopia plans to cease processing new intercountry adoption cases, but that provisions will be made for in-process cases.” DOS has encouraged the Ethiopian government to permit all in-process cases to be completed but has no assurance that the Ethiopian government will agree. We are saddened by this news which confirms yesterday’s post. At the same time, we join DOS in urging all potential adoptive parents looking to begin an international adoption to stay clear of Ethiopia which no longer has a viable international adoption program. For More Information see https://travel.state.gov/content/adoptionsabroad/en/country-information/alerts-and-notices/EthiopiaUpdateonSuspensionofAdoptions.html
October 17, 2017. Terrible Allegations about Uganda Adoptions. A new report by CNN contains allegations that EACI (European Adoption Consultants Inc.) was involved in trafficking in Uganda—namely promising birth families that their children would be educated in the U.S. while telling American parents that the children being placed have been abandoned or relinquished by birth families. EAC has already been suspended from international adoption by the Department of State. To read the story, please go to http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/12/health/uganda-adoptions-investigation-ac360/index.html
October 16, 2017. Ethiopia May End International Adoption. An Ethiopian newspaper has reported that the Ethiopian parliament is consider reviewing legislation which would make it impossible for foreigners to adopt Ethiopian children. According to the Ethiopian Reporter, “the review is predicated on “widespread case of identity crisis that children adopted by foreign families face and based on the premise that foreign families could not offer relatable family environment to Ethiopian children.” We are deeply saddened by this report which, if true, will be devastating to unparented Ethiopian children who will lose one possible means of finding a permanent, loving family.https://www.borkena.com/2017/10/12/ethiopian-government-ban-child-adoption-foreigners/
October 11, 2017. In Italy, Killing an Adopted Child is Not Killing Your Child! Andrei Talpais, a 57 year old Moldovan immigrant to Italy was convicted of killing his adopted son Ion in 2013. Ion was trying to defend his mother Elizaveta from her husband’s beatings when Talpais knifed his son to death. The trial court and appeals courts convicted Talpais and he was sentenced to life in prison, a sentence customarily given to parents who kill their children. However, the Corte di Cassazione, equivalent to our Supreme Court, has now ruled that the life sentence cannot stand because an adopted child does not count as “offspring” under Italy’s penal code. Because the Italian system does not allow for judicial reinterpretation, this ruling may well be legally justified. The fascist era 1930’s Italian criminal code, still in effect, does not consider adoptive children the same as biological children. Currently, attempts to change the law have little support because the status of the small number of adopted children has gotten tangled with the question of whether to give birth citizenship to the children of migrants who are born in Italy. For More Information see https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/10/10/killing-your-child-gets-you-a-life-sentence-in-italy-but-not-if-the-child-is-adopted/?utm_term=.937c1c1aeb1f&wpisrc=nl_most&wpmm=1
October 10, 2017. Another Threat to International Adoption. The Council on Accreditation has been the organization that accredits adoption service providers who seek to perform adoption services since the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption went into effect. However, on October 6, 2017 COA sent a Dear Colleague letter to all ASPs indicating that the new requirements imposed by the Department of State on COA” will fundamentally change our responsibilities and role as an accrediting entity and which are inconsistent with COA’s philosophy and mission.” Moreover, COA states that if DOS’ new requirements are not rolled back, COA will no longer be able to serve as the accrediting entity for ASPs. DOS did announce another accrediting entity had been authorized but one that does not have the experience and breadth of COA. This alarming development may well spell the end of international adoption to the United States or at the least, cause a shutdown while a new accrediting entity takes over. For More Information, see,https://lightofdaystories.com/2017/10/08/if-coa-stops-accrediting-adoption-agencies-will-international-adoptions-end-to-the-usa/
October 9, 2017. The Education Crisis for Foster Children. We know that children in foster care face many hurdles. A very large one is their inability to obtain a good education which devastates their chances for success as an adult. According t a University of Chicago survey, a third of foster kids nationally earned neither a high-school diploma nor a GED. Another survey found that 13 percent of California prison inmates had been in foster care. In New York, an innovative school has been opened by The New York Foundling, a n on-profit that grew out of the former New York Foundling Hospital. Haven Academy charter school is run for children who are mainly in the foster care system or receiving preventive measures. There are social workers on site, as well as specially trained teachers who understand that misbehavior is a symptom of bigger problems. The results are impressive: “60 percent of the kids are performing at grade level on math and English tests in fourth grade, compared with only 13 percent and 12 percent of foster kids whom The Foundling helps outside of school.” To learn more, please to go to The New York Post, 9/19/17, column by Naomi Schaefer Riley
September 28, 2017. Alarming DHS Surveillance Plan Affects International Adoptees. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently published a new rule in the Federal Register which would allow searches of “all "social media handles and aliases, associated identifiable information and search results" in the department's immigrant files.” We understand that this rule, as currently written, would apply, not only to visa holders and new immigrants but to all naturalized American citizens, which includes all international adoptees. We deplore any categorical distinction between American born and naturalized citizens, especially when it results in disparate treatment of members of the same family. For More Information see http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/352421-dhs-planning-to-collect-social-media-info-on-all-immigrants
September 26, 2017. Former IAG Employees Sentenced for Adoption Fraud. Executives of the now defunct IAG adoptions were sentenced last week for committing Accreditation Fraud and for conspiring to defraud the United States in connection with adoption fraud. “United States District Judge David C. Norton of Charleston sentenced Mary Mooney to 18 months incarceration, 3 years of supervised release, and $223,946.04 of restitution to victims who adopted children from Kazakhstan. James Harding was sentenced to 12 months incarceration, 3 years supervised release, and $301,224.25 of restitution. Alisa Bivens, was sentenced to one year probation, and $31,800 restitution to two victims listed in the Indictment with whom she had direct contact.” Christian J. Schurman, Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Programs at the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service said, "This sentencing makes a strong statement to those who would attempt to exploit the most vulnerable among us. The Diplomatic Security Service is dedicated to ensuring those who commit these crimes are brought to justice.” For More Information see https://www.justice.gov/usao-sc/pr/founder-ceo-and-employee-international-adoption-guides-iag-sentenced-adoption-fraud
September 25, 2017. Registration for CAP/Duke Law School Conference to be Held on November 17, 2017. We are delighted to announce that registration is now open for the CAP/Duke Law School Conference, “The Rights of the Child in a Globalized World,” is now open. Speakers include Senator Mary Landrieu, (Retd.) Assistant Secretary of State Michele T. Bond, Shannon Minter of the National Center for Lesbian Rights and many others. The Conference will be held at Duke Law School, in Durham, North Carolina on November 17. The Registration site also contains information on hotels and links to information about traveling to Durham. To register please go to https://law.duke.edu/conferences/2017/adoptionlaw/