May 24, 2018. State Department Redefines Public Charge Standard. The Department of State has amended the Foreign Affairs manual which guides how diplomats and officials interpret the law "to increase the burden of satisfying the public charge ground of inadmissibility for both immigrant and nonimmigrant visa applicants." This standard has stayed the same since December 1997, when the requirement for an affidavit of support was required. This change may negatively affect potential adoptive parents who are in process for bringing children home with IR 4 or IH 4 visas. More Information.
May 23, 2018. Wide-Ranging EU Privacy Laws Conflict With U.S. Legal Practice. The European Union has enacted sweeping privacy laws which seek to protect (and expurgate) European Union citizens' data. This article, aimed at New York lawyers but applicable to all, explains the ways in which this new EU law conflicts with U.S. legal practice and statutes. To access the article, please click here.
May 22, 2018. An Eloquent Voice Speaks About Foster Care. Rob Henderson has written a stirring article about being a foster child and why it made him a conservative student at Yale. Henderson, whose life has been shaped by "foster care, broken homes and military service," calculates that among the 5,000 undergraduate at Yale, only 10 were former foster care children. To read this excellent article, please click here.
May 21, 2018. Make the Right Decision, Please. Joanne Boyle, former head women's basketball coach at the University of Virginia, is also, by Senegal law, the adoptive mother of Ngoty, age 6. With the knowledge and assistance of the U.S. embassy in Dakar, Boyle brought her very ill daughter home to the U.S. on a medical visa. Now USCIS is denying Boyle the opportunity to complete her U.S. paperwork to properly adopt and naturalize her daughter under U.S. law. The tragedy here is that there exists a legal remedy for Boyle, who did every step in an above board manner, in reliance on the word of the U.S. embassy employee. The proper answer is humanitarian parole which is designed precisely for this sort of case. No precedent would be set, no flood of other children will come. A humane government needs to do the humanitarian right thing. More Information.
May 17, 2018. The Adoptee Citizenship Act Needs YOUR Support. The Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2018, S. 2522 needs your support now. This bill, if passed, will provide citizenship to international adoptees who did not qualify for automatic citizenship and whose adoptive parents failed to naturalize them in a timely fashion. The children and former children, now adults, did nothing wrong - to deny them citizenship is blaming the children for the sins of their parents. Please contact your Senators and ask them to co-sponsor ane/or endorse S. 2522. The bill's text can be found by clicking here.
May 16, 2018. Surrogate Mothers Ask Supreme Court to Hear Their Cases. Three surrogate mothers: Melissa Cook, Gail Robinson and Toni Bare have called upon the Supreme Court to take their cases which seek to overturn the form of surrogacy contracts used in many states on the grounds that surrogacy prevents "a child being placed where it's in the child's best interest." The lawyer for the three women, Harold Cassidy, brought the famous Baby M surrogacy case in New Jersey where the Supreme Court ruled in 1988 that surrogacy contracts were void against public purpose. More information.
May 15, 2018 Department of State Update on Adoption From Japan. The Department of State has issued an update on adoption from Japan stating that the Japanese government has informed DOS that "pursuant to Japanese law, the intercountry adoption of Japanese children requires authorization by Japanese courts." DOS will be updating its Japanese adoption page to reflect that only through the court process can children be adopted from Japan. Among other things, the court procedure requires potential adoptive parents to spend a minimum of six months "trial nurturing" in Japan. There is no word on what American parents in process with Japanese adoptions using a different procedure will need to do. More Information.
May 14, 2018. Oklahoma Governor Signs Bill Making Adoption Agency Discrimination Legal. Governor Mary Fallin of Oklahoma has signed a bill into law which would permit discrimination by child placing agencies as it allow agencies not to place children with families when the placing would "violate the agency's written religious or moral convictions or policies." This law will invidiously affect LGBT community members as well as Catholics, Jews, Muslims, non-believers and others of which an agency feels will not meet its religious or moral convictions. More importantly it will hurt LGBT children who may be placed in foster homes which are totally inappropriate for their best interests. More Information.
May 10, 2018. Mothering: It's Not About the Chromosomes. Just in time for Mother's Day, Rebecca Compton, Professor of Psychology at Haverford College, and adoptive mother, has written a beautiful article for Psycholgoy Today on what makes a mother. Professor Compton rightly focuses on the 23andMe DNA genetic testing site which implores in its latest ad that: "The whole point of Mother's Day is you're with your family, your DNA!" The company is hoping people will give their mothers the gift of genetic testing for Mother's Day. But as Professor Compton points out, not all mothers are genetic mothers and to "blindly" focus on the ones who can make money for the company does a great disserve to all families, some of whom do not have mothers at all, have two mothers or have two fathers. Please do read this excellent article. To access it, please click here.
May 9, 2018. Michael S. Goldstein Esq. and Other Approved Agencies/People Relinquish Accreditation Relinquishment. In the last two weeks three more agencies and approved persons have either relinquished their accreditation for intercountry adoption or their accreditation has lapsed: Michael Goldstein, Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois, and the Center for Global Adoption. No doubt the dwindling number of accredited providers/people reflects the dwindling number of international adoptions. More Information.
May 8, 2018. California Seeks Exemption from New Child Welfare Law With Former Staffer in Charge. In February President Trump signed The Family First Prevention Services Act, the most ambitious reform to child welfare legislation in twenty years. One of the leading Senate staffers leading the campaign for Family First was Becky Shipp who served on the Senate Finance Committee staff. But in April Ms. Shipp, who left government service less than a year ago, began representing LA County which is seeking to get a waiver so the rules of the Family First will not apply to what is the largest ($31 billion annually) foster care system in the world. More Information.
May 7, 2018. Arkansas Original Birth Certificates Available to Adoptees. Arkansas Act 519 of 2017 now provides that individuals who were adopted and are 21 or over are allowed to request their adoption file from the Arkansas Department of Health. The files will usually contain an original adoption as well as an original birth certificate. However, the law permits birth parents to redact their name from the adoption file as well as to update family history and contact preference. More Information.
May 3, 2018. Federal Government Loses Track of Almost 1500 Children. Last week Federal officials revealed to a Senate subcommittee that the Health and Human Services Department has lost track of 1,475 migrant children who have been placed in homes all around the country. These children are some of the 180,000 unaccompanied refugee minors who have come to the United States in the last five years. With limited resources HHS has placed these children with adults lacking proper background checks or authentication. "You are the worst foster parents in the world. You don't even know where they are," said Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. According to one 2016 investigation, "more than two dozen unaccompanied children had been sent to homes where they were sexually assaulted, starved or forced to work for little or no pay." More Information.
May 2, 2018. Important DOS Clarification on Soft Referrals. The Department of State has issued a FAQ on "soft referrals." This FAQ contains vital information relevant to any special needs adoption referrals but is especially important for potential adoptive parents and adoption agencies which are working in/interested in China adoption. To read the FAQs please click here.
May 1. 2018. Chinese Adoption: Orphanage Donations. We are very concerned to learn that the recent CCCWA announcement that adoptive families may donate whatever they wish to orphanages, instead of the prior practice of a fixed donation to the orphanages, will lead to the dwindling number of unparented children who can be adopted from China. We have been informed that several orphanages say that without the donations they cannot afford to prepare the files necessary for international adoption. We would hate to think that children who could find permanent loving families in the United States will spend their life in institutional care.
April 30, 2018. Oklahoma Legislature Passes Bill Allowing Adoption Agencies to Discriminate. Both the Oklahoma House of Representatives and the Oklahoma State Senate have passed S.B. 1140, which states that "no private child-placing agency shall be required to perform, assist, counsel, recommend, consent to, refer, or participate in any placement of a child for foster care or adoption when the proposed placement would violate the agency's written religious or moral convictions or policies." Now Governor Gov. Mary Fallin must decide whether to sign the bill. More Information.
April 26, 2018. Legal Scholar Makes Strong Case for Repealing Natural Born Citizen Requirement for President. Noah Feldman, a law professor writing in Bloomberg News, has made a very strong case for amending the Constitution to repeal the requirement that the President be a "natural born citizen." This ambiguous clause has been interpreted as requiring the President to be born in the United States or (perhaps) to U.S. citizens abroad. But this is an archaic, unclear passage which only serves to discriminate against immigrants as well as foreign born adopted children of U.S. citizens. We agree with Professor Feldman that the time is right for Congress to pass a law amending the Constitution and the states to ratify it. To read the article, please click here.
April 25, 2018. Thousands of British Children in Foster Care Go Missing Each Year. The British Children's Commissioner, Anne Longfield briefed newspapers late last week that over 10,000 British children in foster care are missing and unaccounted for. This number represents around one out of every ten children. Missing foster children are the most vulnerable target for child grooming gangs which entice children into sex slavery and prostitution. Notwithstanding that many children are rescued, the Times of London reported that "Just six per cent of crimes reported to police under the Modern Slavery Act led to prosecutions since it was introduced in 2015." We know that U.S. foster children are similarly at risk. While many British newspapers carried this story, we are linking to this one because it does not require a paid subscription: More Information.
April 24, 2018. New Fetal Gender Test Sparks Fears of Gender-Linked Abortion Rise. A new finger prick blood test will allow pregnant women to learn the sex of their fetus at eight weeks. Not only is the test rapid, it will be inexpensive. Gender-related abortions have created an imbalance of 63 million missing women in India and 34 million "extra men" in China. The growth in family incomes in India and China has not ended the cultural preference for male children; the fear now is that even more abortions will take place. More Information.
April 23, 2018. Bitter Fight Over Embryos Highlights New Issues Raised by Assisted Reproduction Technology. Yesterday's New York Post reported on a court fight between two New Yorkers about their frozen embryos. Illissa Watnik, wants to use the fertilized eggs to become a single mother. She claims that former partner (but not husband) Kevin Heldt agreed that she could use the genetic material and maintains that she does not want any child support. But Heldt says that as the son of a (primarily) single mother, he could not live with being the genetic father of a fatherless son. These are new issues which the world of assisted reproductive technology has created.
Center for Adoption Policy (CAP)
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