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Newscap wishes all its readers a joyful holiday and a Happy New Year. We will resume posting on January 12, 2015.

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.

December 11, 2014. China Changes Rules for Potential Adoptive Parents. The China Center for Children's Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA), China's adoption authority has altered the rules for prospective adoptive parents. In general, these rules make it easier for PAPs to adopt from China. The rule changes, which affect families with dossiers logged in after January 1, 2015, include allowing single women to adopt special needs children (those with minor issues) as well as special focus children (children with more serious medical issues), singles and couples over the age of fifty can adopt as long as the child they are adopting is no more than 50 years younger than the younger adopting parent, families with more than five children in the home may now adopt both special needs and special focus children. More Information.

December 9, 2014. Attorney General Promises Federal Action on ICWA. Attorney General Eric Holder has announced "a new initiative to promote compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act." Among other things, the Department of Justice will actively seek to identify state-court cases where it can file briefs "opposing the unnecessary and illegal removal of Indian children from their families and tribal communities." DOJ, together with the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of the Interior "will make sure that all the tools available to the federal government are used to promote compliance with this important law." While we salute Attorney General Holder's determination to uphold federal law, we hope these efforts will not have a chilling effect on the ability of the birth mothers and fathers to place their children with adoptive parents of their choice, while fully complying with ICWA. More Information.

December 8, 2014. Senator Mary Landrieu Loses Election Runoff. With sadness and regret, we post today about the electoral defeat on Saturday of Senator Mary Landrieu (D.La). For 18 years Senator Landrieu has led the fight for children in the United State Senate. She has been the most outspoken supporter of adoption programs and foster care programs in the U.S. government. We in the adoption community have lost a great friend and ally in Washington and we are all poorer for it.

December 4, 2014. Information on U.S. Adoption Agencies With Programs in Ethiopia from U.S. Documents. The Schuster Institute for Investigation at Brandeis University has published a series of articles on international adoption. As part of its background research, the Institute obtained numerous federal documents through Freedom of Information Act requests. Now the Schuster Institute has posted on its website an "Index of Mentions of U.S. Adoption Agencies, Orphanages & Associations operating in Ethiopia and found in these government documents, which are also available on the Shuster Institute's website. More Information.

December 3, 2014. American Couple Finally Allowed to Leave Qatar. Matthew and Grace Huang, whose convictions resulting from the death of their adopted daughter in Qatar were overturned on Sunday, finally obtained travel approval to leave that country today. U.S. Ambassador Dana Shell Smith posted on her Twitter account that "Matt and Grace Huang are wheels up from Qatar," The Huangs were arrested and charged with murder in January 2013 and found guilty of lesser charges. Part of their peril arose from the inability of Qatari authorities to believe that an Asian-American couple would adopt an African child. More Information.

December 1, 2014. Reports Circulate That Kenya Has Banned International Adoption. The Department of State has posted the following: "The U.S. Department of State is aware of reports in the Kenyan press on November 27 of a Kenyan government decision to ban adoptions of Kenyan children by foreigners. The U.S. Embassy in Nairobi is working through diplomatic channels to confirm these reports and gather information critical to U.S. adoption service providers and prospective adoptive families. Additional information will be posted to adoption.state.gov as it becomes available."

November 20, 2014. An Adoption Month Salute to Senator Mary Landrieu. During November, which is National Adoption Month, we try to give recognition to those who have made a difference to the lives of children who have found their permanent, loving families through adoption. Today we would like thank Senator Mary Landrieu for all that she has done and continues to do for child welfare. Senator Landrieu has been a pillar of advocacy for unparented children. The laws which she has sponsored, in the areas of foster care, domestic adoption and international adoption, have created tangible improvements in the lives of millions of children in the eighteen years Senator Landrieu has served in Washington. Her tireless work for families whose children have been stuck in foreign country limbo has provided a crucial lifeline to so many children. We as a community owe Senator Landrieu a huge debt of gratitude.

November 19, 2014. Government and Other Notices: Adoption Agency Suspended. The Council on Accredditation (COA) suspended the accreditation of Illien Adoptions International, Inc. on November 7, 2014, citing Illien's failure "maintain substantial compliance with the accreditation standards at 22 Code of Federal Regulations Part 96, Subpart F." The suspension will last at least 15 days and until Illien has corrected its violations. Illien has programs in Azerbaijan, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, India, Nepal, and Venezuela, as well as for outgoing adoptions from the United States. More Information.

November 17, 2014. The Dave Thomas Foundation Names Adoption-Friendly Workplaces. The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption has come out with its annual list of the most adoption friendly work places. Not only is there a top 100 companies by industry but also a list of the best companies by size and in the state of Ohio. The Dave Thomas website is an excellent source for adoption-related information as well. More Information.

November 13, 2014. Government and Other Alerts: Mexico. The Department of State has announced that as of January 2, 2015, the Immigration Visa Unit in the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez will process all intercountry adoption visa applications for the adoption of Mexican Children. This includes all I-800 petitions as well as remained I-600 petitions. Until January 1, 2015, the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City will continue to process these applications. The adoption process otherwise remains the same: "After completing the adoption and obtaining a new birth certificate and passport for their adopted child(ren), adoptive parents should plan to appear before the SRE in Mexico City in order to apply for the required Article 23 certificate. Once the SRE issues the Article 23, adoptive parents may then travel to Ciudad Juarez to complete the visa application. Anyone with questions may contact DOS at AdoptionUSCA@state.gov or call us at 1-888-407-4747. More Information.

November 12, 2014. Adoptions Plummet in England. The Adoption Leadership Board has announced that the number of adoptions in England fell by almost half in less than a year. Part of the reason for the drop may be several recent court decisions in adoption and foster care cases. The most senior family court judge chastised social workers for sloppy work and for turning too quickly to adoption. As a result, many local authorities may have decided not to process adoptions at all. The government is being asked for clearer guidance of how best to proceed. For More Information.

November 11, 2014. What Adoption Means to a Child. November is National Adoption Month and in recognition of this fact Huffington Post has assembled "27 Breathtaking Photos Of Adoptive Families Uniting." Take a look at these beautiful pictures. Adoption changes the world of each child who, through this form of family creation, finds her permanent, loving family. The story can be found by clicking here.

November 10, 2014. China's "Baby Hatches" Prove a Useful Refugee for Children Parents Cannot Raise. Two years ago China opened "Baby Hatches," where parents could anonymously leave their babies and children who they could not raise. The Ministry of Civil Affairs has announced that the program will be expanded nationwide during 2015. An analysis of 262 children left in Guangzhou found that all were ill or disabled. Almost half had cerebral palsy, 15 percent had Down's Syndrome and 12 percent suffered from congenital heart disease. These children were placed in local orphanages and may well be available for international adoption at some later date.

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