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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.

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