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April 27, 2017. Government and Other Notices: Sierra Leone. The Department of State has posted an important notice on international adoption from Sierra Leone. DOS informs prospective adoption parents that: U.S. citizen prospective adoptive parents pursuing adoption from any foreign country, including Sierra Leone, must work with a U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider as their "primary provider." That primary provider may enter into a supervised provider agreement with agencies or individuals in the child's country of origin who facilitate the provision of adoption services in that country. Please be advised the U.S. government does not require or recommend any prospective adoptive parent to work with any specific adoption service provider or individual. Neither does the U.S. government proscribe which specific agencies or individuals an adoption service provider might enter into supervised provider agreements with. The U.S. Embassy in Freetown confirmed with Sierra Leone's Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender, and Children's Affairs (MSWGCA) that the MSWGCA has not authorized or designated any particular individual or individuals to facilitate adoptions from Sierra Leone. The Embassy also confirmed there are many adoption providers registered in Sierra Leone and working directly with MSWGCA. More Information.

April 26, 2017. Surrogacy Clinics Moving to Laos. Laos is quickly becoming a destination for couples who can no longer obtain surrogacy services in India or Thailand, due to changes in the law. Laos is ruled by an authoritarian government and has no restrictions on surrogacy. Some of the Laotian clinics offer to transfer the embryos in Laos but then house the pregnant woman in Thailand, which has much better medical facilities. Last week Thai police arrested a man who was accused of smuggling six vials of sperm from Thailand into Laos. More Information.

April 25, 2017. Ethiopia Shuts Down International Adoption. The Department of State has released the announcement below on adoption from Ethiopia. It is draconian in that it does not make provision for grandfathering or pipeline children. It reads as follows:

    Adoption Alert - Suspension of Adoptions from Ethiopia. On April 21, an official from Ethiopia's Ministry of Women and Children (MOWA) informed U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa that it is suspending its processing of intercountry adoption cases, effective immediately. The U.S. Department of State does not yet know how long this suspension will last. The Office of Children's Issues and the Embassy are working with MOWA to seek more information on the terms of the suspension. We will urge MOWA to complete processing of cases that were in progress prior to this suspension. If you have questions about your pending case, please contact your Adoption Service Provider. You may also write to ConsAdoptionAddis@state.gov if you have questions about an adoption-related visa application or immigrant petition. You may copy the Office of Children's Issues at Adoption@state.gov on your email to the Embassy if you wish. Please continue to monitor adoption.state.gov for updated information on intercountry adoption in Ethiopia.

April 17, 2017. International Adoptions in 2016 Decrease Again - Only 5,372 Foreign Born Children Come Home. The Department of State has released statistics relating to the number of international adoptions by U.S. citizens for fiscal year 2016 (October 1, 2015 to September 30, 2016). The number fell yet again, to 5,372 and even this number is artificially inflated due to the spike in adoptions from the Democratic Republic of Congo (359) resulting from the lifting of a several year suspension. DOS listed three reasons for the decrease: illegal or unethical practices by some U.S. adoption agencies or adoption facilitators; the lack of comprehensive, nationwide laws that prevent adoptive parents from transferring custody of adopted children to another family without official authorization; and the failure of some adoptive parents to file post-placement reports with sending countries.

The Center for Adoption Policy has long advocated and worked for policies which would promote ethical and transparent international adoption. We have been working on policies and practices to curb unauthorized custody transfer of adopted children since 2010, we have urged that the Department of State as the Central Authority be given greater ability to obtain and transmit post-placement reports, and we have worked on a variety of measures designed to ensure that all adoptions meet the highest ethical standards. In these efforts we have often partnered with DOS as well as USCIS and other federal and state government officials.

But that is not enough. In order to reverse the drastic decline in international adoptions, from its peak of 22,884 in 2004, we must have a U.S. government which is committed to doing all it can to ensure that international adoption remain a viable option for unparented children. More Information.

April 13, 2017. Government and Other Notices: Congo. The Department of State has released a notice continuing "to ask adoption agencies not to refer new Congolese adoption cases for U.S. prospective adoptive parents as the ongoing exit permit suspension remains firmly in place. The Department of State strongly recommends against initiating an adoption in the DRC at this time. We continue to work with the Congolese government so that Congolese children with finalized adoptions waiting for an exit permit can join their adoptive families as soon as possible. We remain committed to engaging with the Congolese government on long-term adoption reforms." We urge the adoption community to take this warning seriously. More Information.

April 12, 2017. New Book Highlights Chinese Fight to Desegregate Southern Schools. In Water Tossing Boulders: How a Family of Chinese Immigrants Led the First Fight to Desegregate Schools in the Jim Crow South, author Adrienne Berard details the struggle of the Lum family to have Mississippi educators classify their Chinese-American daughters as white so the girls could attend the better white schools instead of the separate and very unequal black schools. This little known story culminated in a Supreme Court case, Lum v. Rice, 275 U.S. 78 (1927), in which the Supreme Court unanimously held that the excluding children based on race, in this case Chinese ancestry, did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution. It would take another 27 years for the Supreme Court to change its mind. More Information.

April 11, 2017. Nebraska Supreme Court Upholds Decision to End Ban on Same-Sex Couples Qualifying as Foster Parents. Last week the Nebraska Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision to strike down a state ban against same-sex foster parents. In its ruling the Supreme Court compared the ban to "a sign reading 'Whites Only 'on the hiring office door." We applaud the Nebraska decision and hope that is ruling is followed by other states. More Information.

DOS Withdraws Proposed Regulations. Readers of this column will remember that last September the Department of State proposed new regulations dealing with various aspects of international adoption. The Center for Adoption Policy had significant issues with these regulations and provided extensive comments, as did many other stakeholders. Last week DOS announced the withdrawal of these regulations and informed the community that it would be proposing new regulations later in the year. To read the announcement, please click here.

March 27, 2017. How The System Fails RAD Children. Reactive Attachment Disorder is defined as "serious condition in which an infant or young child doesn't establish healthy attachments with parents or caregivers. Reactive attachment disorder may develop if the child's basic needs for comfort, affection and nurturing aren't met and loving, caring, stable attachments with others are not established." Children who have been institutionalized prior to adoption are prey to this dreadful condition. The attached article explains how the system often fails these children and their families. Please click here.

March 23, 2017. U.S. Surrogacy Laws. With domestic newborn and international adoption becoming more difficult, many couples who cannot have children have turned to surrogacy. The linked to chart provides an interactive state by state map with details of gestational surrogacy law across the United States. Please keep in mind that these laws are constantly changing with several states considering enacting new laws or modifying existing ones. To access the chart, please click here.

March 22, 2017. Supreme Court Expands Definition of Special Education Rights. The Supreme Court unanimously ruled, in the Endrew v. Douglas County School District decision handed down today, that students with special education needs must receive better than "merely more than de minimis" education. That was the standard set by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th District (Judge Gorsuch's region). As Chief Justice Roberts wrote for the court, "When all is said and done, a student offered an educational program providing 'merely more than de minimis' progress from year to year can hardly be said to have been offered an education at all...The IDEA [federal law in question] demands more...It requires an educational program calculate to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child's circumstances." This ruling is of great importance to parents of special needs children, adopted or biological. To see more, please click here.

March 21, 2017. CDC and FDA Issue New Statements on Possible Zika Virus Transmission in Sperm Donors. This Bulletin, from the American Society for Reproductive 0new statements yesterday pertaining to Zika and sperm donation. CDC identified a potential risk of Zika virus transmission in semen beginning in June 2016. Originally limited to Miami-Dade County, CDC has now expanded the identified area of risk to include Broward and Palm Beach County. Acting on the new information from CDC, FDA issued a new statement as well, saying that "'HCT/P establishments may want to consider the new information from CDC regarding the potential increased risk of Zika virus infection in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties and whether it affects your practices. Establishments may wish to take the type of tissue donation from donors and the risk factors for potential Zika virus infection in recipients into consideration.'" For More Information see ASRM BULLETIN, Volume 19, Number 10, March 14, 2017.

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