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January 28, 2015. Government and Other Notices: Nepal. The Department of State has clarified that children abandoned in hospitals in Nepal may not be adopted into the United States. This statement was necessary because the Government of Nepal would allow children abandoned in hospitals to be adopted internationally but, as DOS states, "While children reported to be found abandoned at a hospital are not within the scope of the [Government of Nepal] ban, these cases are within the scope of the U.S. abandonment suspension on the adjudication of adoption petitions for children in Nepal reported as having been found abandoned, unless a birth parent can be identified and proper relinquishment procedures have been followed." The reasoning behind the DOS decision is that "Nepalese hospitals currently do not have mechanisms in place to verify the true identity of a baby's parent(s) during the hospital admission process. Under Nepali law, birth parents cannot relinquish a child directly to the hospital. Therefore, children reported to be found abandoned at Nepali hospitals generally would not be eligible for U.S. intercountry adoption processing at this time because the origin of these children is uncertain, and the identity of the birth parents cannot be sufficiently ascertained." More information.

January 27, 2015. International Adoption Reforms in Australia Mean More Homes for Unparented Children. Prime Minister Tony Abbott has announced that Australia will open a new national bureau, the International Adoption Support Service, to help Australian families navigate the difficult bureaucracy surrounding adoption. The Abbott government also announced that it is working to open up international adoption to Australia from the United States, Vietnam and Poland. New South Wales Australian of the Year Deborah-Lee Furness Jackman, who has been very active in adoption issues, advocates "for more work to be done on supporting families adopting from war zones and other traumatic backgrounds." More Information.

January 26, 2014. The Supreme Court Will Rule on Same-Sex Marriage. Emily Dudak Taylor, a partner in the firm in The Law Center for Children and Families in Madison, Wisconsin, has written this excellent summary of what is at stake now. "On Friday, January 16, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court accepted review of four same-sex marriage cases. The cases come from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes Michigan, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio. On November 6, 2014, the Sixth Circuit had upheld the marriage bans in those four states, calling same-sex marriage a political and electoral issue. The Supreme Court's decision to review the Sixth Circuit's decision comes after the Supreme Court decided not to review Wolf v. Walker in October 2014. That made Wolf the law of the land in Wisconsin. The Supreme Court's decision on Friday to review the same-sex marriage cases does not affect the finality of Wolf, at least not during the pendency of the Supreme Court case. The Supreme Court has ordered that all briefs be filed by March 27th and oral argument is scheduled for April 17th. A decision is expected in June 2015. The majority of legal observers seem to believe that the Supreme Court will find that the marriage bans at issue violate the concepts of equal protection and/or substantive due process. Others, more cynically, worry about the chaos that would ensue if the marriage bans were upheld somehow, possibly on the basis of federalism (each state should be able to decide which marriages it will allow and recognize). What would happen to all the adoptions, Social Security benefits, income tax refunds, etc., that have occurred or been paid out in the meantime? It seems unlikely that the Court would deny review in Wolf in October, and allow benefits to start flowing, knowing it might uphold a ban later. After oral arguments in April, we should know more about what each Justice is thinking. For better or worse, this will be it, once and for all."

January 22, 2015. Will Reality TV Help Finds Families for Russian Orphans? The number of Russian orphans has risen over the last two years as Russia intensified its shutdown of international adoption. Domestic adoption has not been sufficient to solve this problem. Now Public Chamber member Yulia Zimov has proposed a Russian reality show as a solution. Her idea is a program called "Special Forces for Adoption". Cameras would follow Russian adoptive parents and foster parents as they go about their daily life, in the hope of convincing Russian families to consider adoption as a method of family creation. Russian Public Television's General Director Anatoly Lysenko however has raised concerns about funding and worries that there is no audience for such a show. More Information.

January 21, 2015. A Wonderful Discussion on International Adoption. Steven Conn, a historian at Ohio State University, has written an excellent article on International Adoption. He wrote this piece in response to the New York Times magazine negative story on Korean adoptees which appear last week. Conn writes from both a historian's perspective but also as the brother of a sister adopted from Korea and the father of a daughter adopted from China. The whole article is very much worth reading; I am quoting from the final paragraphs: There is a throw-away line in Jones' piece that brought me up short. "The new anti-adoption law has been successful in reducing the number of children adopted from South Korea, Jones reports, and then she off-handedly notes "since the law was passed, the number of abandoned babies has increased -- though whether that's a direct result is unclear." In an article sub-titled "the ethics of international adoption" that seems remarkably cavalier. In fact, the results are quite clear elsewhere around the world. According to a 2009 study, after the cessation of international adoption in Vietnam: "Now we have... a 'tide of unwanted newborns' overwhelming health care centers in Ho Chi Minh City, the largest city in the country. Those who object to international adoption and are working to end it have failed to tell us just exactly what the better alternative would be. They have not, because they cannot address the ethical questions that come in the form of those abandoned children and their diminished futures. More Information.

January 20, 2015. USCIS Information on Executive Action on Immigration. USCIS has now posted on its website two important fliers dealing with the recent Obama administration executive actions on immigration. The first is describes the requirements for eligibility for the expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA) and the new Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanant Residnts (DAPA) and second gives advice on avoiding immigration scams and offers instructions on how and when to file under these programs. These fliers may be accessed at

January 15, 2015. International Surrogacy Perils. With international adoption on the wane, international assisted reproduction technology has become an increasingly popular method of family creation. The following story is an example of the pitfalls ill-advised potential intended parents can encounter. A Japanese man has now sued the Thai government seeking return of the 18 children he fathered with surrogates in Thailand. Mitsutoki Shigeta is 24 years old. Thirteen of the children whose DNA he contributed are currently under protective custody under the aegis of Thailand's Ministry of Social Development and Human Security. More Information.

January 14, 2015. DOS Update on Vietnam's International Special Adoption Program. The Department of State has issued a notice clarifying the details of Vietnam's International Special Adoption Program. Children eligible to be adopted under this Hague system are children with special needs, aged five and over or children in biological sibling groups. Anyone interested in adopting from Vietnam should read this notice very carefully. For one thing, it states that Vietnam has indicated that these criteria apply to relative adoptions as well. Please remember also that only two adoption service providers, Holt International Children's Services and Dillon International, have been authorized to work in Vietnam. More Information.

January 12, 2015. Government and Other Notices: China. At the end of last year, the China Center for Children's Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA) announced changes in its international adoption program. These changes to a program that is virtually only special needs adoption cover three categories: making more U.S. families potentially able to adopt from China, easing post-placement requirements and raising China's fees for international adoption. PAPs in the process of adoption from China now should check with their adoption service provider to see how the post-placement reports and fee schedule changes affect them. More Information.

December 18, 2014. A Salute to Whitney Reitz. For the last five years Whitney Reitz, first as a high ranking official at USCIS and then, more recently, in her position as a senior policy advisor to Senator Mary Landrieu, has been in the forefront in the battle to help orphans and vulnerable children. Whitney was a major player in the effort to remove an onerous and medically unnecessary burden of TB testing for adopted children and in her role at USCIS was able to work on both the macro and micro levels to make international adoption processing better serve potential adoptive children and their families. The 1100 children from Haiti who were able to come to the United States and join their families in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, to a significant degree, owe their rescue to Whitney, who also spearheaded the government effort to give these children the legal protection they needed in order to have full and final adoptions and be able to become citizens through the Help Haiti Act. Most recently Whitney was the lead drafter and point person for the Children in Families First Act, a bill which aimed to assist OVC through USAID's National Action Plan for Children, in-country adoption and international adoption. We know that Whitney leaves government service this month; we also know that Whitney will never stop fighting for the rights of unparented and uncared for children. Thank you Whitney.

December 17, 2014. U.S. Officials Visit Nepal. A delegation from the Department of State and USCIS visited Nepal last month to discuss international adoption issues with Nepalese officials. The U.S. government suspended adoption processing from Nepal in August 2010. The U.S. delegation met with officials from the Nepalese Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare (MoWCSW), the Intercountry Adoption Management Development Board (ICAB) and selected ICAB members, the Central Child Welfare Board (CCWB), and representatives from local District Child Welfare Boards. US representatives also met with representatives from foreign governments as well as officials from UNICEF and Terre de Hommes. According to the Department of State: "The delegation was encouraged by the Government of Nepal's interest in partnering with the international community to further reform Nepal's child welfare and adoption systems. Safeguards under consideration include the establishment of reasonable limits and accountability for adoption fees and services, and meaningful monitoring and oversight of children's homes. The Department of State and USCIS are exploring next steps, including procedures to document and trace the origin of children in institutional care and how the international community might support the Government of Nepal's efforts to strengthen its child welfare system." More Information.

December 16, 2014. South Korea to Digitize International Adoption Documents. Kim Moon-Jung, of Korean Adoption Services, announced that a government agency will digitize 35,000 documents relating to international adoption between the 1950s and the present. These documents will be house at this government agency indefinitely. Making adoption documents easily accessible will be a boon to the 165,000 Koreans who were adopted internationally in the last six decades. More Information.

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