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March 21, 2019. Trump Administration Plans to Shut Overseas USCIS Offices. In what USCIS has labeled an efficiency move, the Director of USCIS, L. Francis Cissna informed senior USCIS officials that the international division will close down at the end of 2019. The international division has operations in 20 countries and is the best conduit for potential adoptive parents to process their adoptions in-country. These shutdowns will affect not only potential adoptive parents but students, U.S. military personnel, and applicants for legal immigration. To read more on the plan, please click here.

March 20, 2019. AAAA Assails Decline in International Adoptions. The American Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys has issued a statement highlighting the 82 percent drop in international adoptions to the United States since 2004, and the 13 percent drop in international adoptions from 2017 to 2018 to the small number of 4,059. As the statements points out: "The majority of orphans denied intercountry adoption are not finding equal or better solutions in their country of birth; on the contrary, they are living and dying in institutions in ever-growing numbers. Research conclusively shows that the majority of those who survive the orphanage experience will experience permanent emotional and physical harm and will age out into a world that will exploit them in horrible and degrading ways."

March 19, 2019. Indian Authorities Investigage Embryo Smuggling Ring. A man from Malaysia was arrested at Mumbai airport after a human embryo was discovered in his luggage. The man told the police that he had smuggled embryos into India before and directed officials to a "high end" IVF clinic in Mumbai. Authorities are said to have also found text messages backing up his claim. The owner of the clinic denied the allegations. To access the story, please click here.

March 18, 2018. To Increase Birth Rate China Considers Single-Motherhood. China's leaders are convinced that the nation is facing a demographic disaster with a declining birth rate and increasing numbers of older people. Allowing each family two children, after thirty years of draconian - one child policies, has not produced the bump authorities sought. Now an idea getting serious attention is to treat single mothers the same as married couples. China has long penalized single mothers, making them face severe financial penalties as well as, in some provinces, denying the child the all-important "houkou" residence permit that is required for school, work and official residence. Even if these proposals are implemented, it will take a major societal change to break down the traditional disapproval. More Information.

March 14, 2019 Intercountry Adoptions to the United States Continue to Drop. The Department of State has released its Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2018. As expected, the number of international adoptions to the United States has continued to decline, this year down to 4059, a ten percent decline from FY 2017. The Department of State attributes the decrease to better domestic economic and social conditions in China as well as concerns over adoptive parent actions by the Ethiopian government. We have other explanations as well. To read the Annual Report, please click here.

March 12, 2019. Residence Requirements Potential Adoptive Parents From Sierra Leone. The Department of State has announced that in order to adopt from Sierra Leone, prospective adoptive parents must reside in and foster the child in Sierra Leone for six consecutive months. The Sierra Leone Attorney General has further confirmed that courts cannot waive this requirement nor can PAPs meet this requirement by proxy. DOS advise in process families to contact their adoptive agency immediately to make sure that their cases will be the Sierra Leone rules. More Information.

March 11, 2019. USCIS Issues Adoption Guidance. USCIS has issued guidance concerning the interpretation of its memo of November 9, 2018 memorandum on the suitability of prospective adoptive parents. This new information supplements and explains the earlier memorandum and attempts to answer various stakeholder questions which have come to the fore since then. It is important reading for agencies and prospective adoptive parents. To read the latest information, please click here.

February 28, 2019. Demographic Crisis Hits China. Two scholars of China, Wang Feng and Yong Cai, have written a fascinating article about China's demographic crisis: the continued fall in the number of births annually, together with a healthier population living longer means that fewer young people will support an increasingly large population of elderly citizens. In 2018 there were 1523 million new births, a decrease of over 11 percent from 2017. The attempt by the Chinese government to inspire families to have more than one child appears to have been a dismal failure. To read the article, please click here.

February 27, 2019. U.S. Embassy in Haiti Resumes Adoption Visa Processing. On Monday, February 25, the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince resumed processing of adoption visas. However, because non-essential Embassy staff were evacuated prospective adoptive parents should expect delays. Any PAP planning to go to Haiti should both review the February 14 Haiti Travel Advisory about the current security issues in Haiti and contact the DOS Office of Children's Issues to finalize travel plans. To read more, please click here.

February 26, 2019. Posthumous Reproduction: A New Frontier. Posthumous reproduction, a form of assisted reproductive technology, involved using the sperm of a deceased man, either collected before his death or shortly thereafter, to fertilize an embryo which continues the genetic line of the deceased man. The science is relatively simple while the legal and ethical issues are not. This article does an excellent job of discussing all aspects of posthumous reproduction. To access it, please click here.

February 25, 2019. Federal Court Rules U.S. State Department Misapplied Citizenship Rules to Same Sex Married Couple. Andrew and Elad Dyash-Banks are the married parents of twin sons who were born in Canada. Andrew is a U.S. citizen while Elad is Israeli. When Andrew went to the U.S. consulate to get their children's U.S. passports, he was asked to produce DNA results to verify that the children were genetically his. Because only Aiden was his genetic son, only Aiden received a U.S. passport; his brother Ethan, the genetic son of Elad did not. Now a federal court in California has ruled that "the Immigration and Nationality Act, the law that determines whether a person is a U.S. citizen by birth, makes Ethan a citizen from birth. He said that the parents were married at the time of his birth, and the law 'does not require a person born during their parents' marriage to demonstrate a biological relationship with both of their married parents.'" The Department of State is reviewing the ruling but intends to continue enforcing its discriminatory policy against other gay families. To read the article, please click here.

February 21, 2019. Poland Limits Intercountry Adoption. The Polish Central Authority (PCA) has informed the Department of State that international adoption from Poland will be limited to four categories: "intra-family intercountry adoption; intercountry adoption to reunite a child with his/her previously adopted siblings; intercountry adoption of a child in exceptional life or health situations when local authorities are unable to find permanent or temporary domestic placements, such as foster care; or intercountry adoption by Polish citizens living abroad." Moreover the PCA told DOS that an adoption referral will not be final even if it fits in one of these four categories and even if an Article 5/17 has been issued. Therefore DOS cautions prospective adoptive parents that "all matches made by the Catholic Adoption Center, the designated agency to match Polish children with PAPs, to be preliminary until the Central Authority issues its Article 17 approval. Furthermore, the Department reminds PAPs and ASPs that in accordance with Polish law, contact between PAPs and Polish children shall only occur after the PCA's issuance of Article 17, unless the adoption occurs between family members." Under these circumstances it seems prudent for PAPs not to start an international adoption from Poland. To read the notice, please click here.

February 20, 2019. Former Children Lacking Citizenship Hope For Relief. NBC news in San Francisco has covered the story of Liam, a thirty-something U.S. resident born in Brazil who only found out recently that he is not a U.S. citizen. His American parents adopted him but did not obtain U.S. citizenship for him. Now without U.S. citizenship he is at risk of being deported. There are around 20,000 adults who were are in similar predicaments. We having been working on a law that would give citizenship to children who came on adoption visas and were adopted but whose parents failed to get them citizenship when they were children. We came close to success last session and hope very much that this year we will get this bill enacted into law. To read this story, please click here.

February 19, 2019. Department of State Warns Against Haiti Travel and Evacuates Visa Processing Staff. The Department of State has announced that due to the deteriorating safety situation ion Haiti, all adoption visa processing staff in Port-au-Prince are being evacuated. Haiti is now subject to a level 4 warning-the same level as has been given in Afghanistan. Americans are cautioned not to travel to Haiti and if they are in Haiti now, to leave as soon as possible. We so regret that Haitians are suffering such political unrest and fear for children in orphanages. To read the warning, please click here.

February 14, 2019. What Will the International Adoption Numbers for 2018 Be? In fiscal year 2009 over 12,000 children born abroad were adopted to the United States. In fiscal year 2017 the number had plummeted to 4,714. (It has been over four months since fiscal year 2018 ended). We await FY 2018 numbers which we have reason to believe will be less than 3,000. We wish we could say that the decline in international adoption came because children throughout the world no longer face the prospect of life without permanent loving parents. Unfortunately this is not the case.

February 13, 2019. Instant Family: A Movie About Foster to Adopt That Works. Last year director Sean Anders switched topics. Instead of doing comedies, he cast Mark Wahlberg as a character based on himself who, with his wife, adopts three children from the foster care system. Most reviews were very positive, both in the autumn when the movie was released in the U.S. and in Britain, where the movie debuted last week. As a writer in Psychology Today noted, "Instant Family doesn't sugarcoat the problems of inexperienced foster parents dealing with damaged and disruptive foster children. Trying to make a comedy out of the chaos that ensues doesn't really work. More effective is the depiction of how love gradually grows between foster parents and children." The movie is available to stream starting February 19; the Psychology Today article can be found here.

February 11, 2019. Active Presidential Race Will Impact Citizenship Bill's Chances. We were very hopeful last year that the Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2018 would pass. Unfortunately, this legislation, which would have extended citizenship to thousands of international adoptees whose adoptive parents did not complete the requirements for naturalizing them, failed to become law. Our hopes for this year are dimming because three of the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senators Booker, Harris and Klobuchar, have all announced that they are presidential candidates. In our experience, running active campaigns tends to push aside legislative matters.

February 7, 2019. Children of Same Sex Couples Perform Better in School. A study by three economists of all children born in the Netherlands since 1995 has found that children raised by same sex couples performed better in elementary and secondary schools and had a seven percent higher chance of graduating high school than children raised by different sex couples. What made this study unique is that it followed all children in the Netherlands born since 1995 which included 1,200 children raised by same-sex couples and more than 1 million kids raised by different-sex couples. When controlled for income and wealth, children of same sex couples still had higher scores, although the difference was much narrower. To read the article, please click here.

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