April 28, 2006. Update on the Hague Convention. State Department officials held a public meeting on Friday, March 17, 2006 to introduce what is considered to be the final regulations under the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. Because the State Department's goal is to have the Hague Convention enter into force in 2007, officials hope that accrediting bodies that will accredit individual agencies handling adoptions between the U.S. and other Hague countries begin their accrediting work sometime in 2006. The following entities are under consideration to be accrediting bodies: the Council on Accreditation and the states of Colorado, Utah and Vermont. Only agencies accredited by the accrediting bodies will be permitted to process adoptions between the U.S. and other Hague Convention countries, once the Convention goes into effect. Similarly, families who have applied for their I 600 or I 600A visas before the Hague Convention goes into effect will not be covered by the Hague Convention. All other Intercountry Adoptions between U.S. families and children from Hague countries will be covered by the Hague Convention once it goes into effect. China has been a Hague Convention country since January 1, 2006; the Russian Federation is not. For More Information see download from JCICS or the HCCH web site.
April 27, 2006. What Will the European Union Do? Romania's chief foreign policy priority is to join the European Union. Its government will do anything necessary to keep to the January 1, 2007 entry date that motivates all major decisions taken by eager officials in Bucharest. When Lady Emma Nicholson, then the rapporteur (or chair) of the European Parliament's Committee on Romania's EU application, told Romanian officials to end all Intercountry Adoption, they did so with frightening alacrity. Now another group of Members of the European Parliament have expressed their alarm at the horrifying conditions facing Romanian unparented children. As Conservative MEP Charles Tannock said, "Following the enforcing of the ban, many children were sent back to their biological families, thus being often neglected and abused." Tannock, working with European Liberal MEPs Jean-Marie Cavada and Frederique Ries organized a debate in the European Parliament on April 25 about the international adoptions of Romanian children and called on the Romanian National Office for Adoption (ORA) to reanalyze all the requests from putative adoptive parents of pipeline children. This came after ORA had ruled against allowing the Intercountry Adoption of any of these 1,100 children. Clearly the MEPs are the best hope for these children. If the European Union gives Romania permission to change its adoption law, Romanian officials will do so. More Information.
April 26, 2006, The EU, Romania and International Adoption. Yesterday Members of the European Union Parliament listened to witnesses who pleaded that the EP allow Romania to resume Intercountry Adoption. Sara Romine, now 16, spent two years at Romania's Orphanage No. 1. When she was adopted, Sara could neither walk, nor talk, nor feed herself. Today she is an excellent student and a happy, thriving girl. In March, Sara sent a letter to the Bucharest Daily News hoping that her voice would count for something. In part the letter read: "I feel I must speak for the children I left behind in the orphanages now, because no one ever listens to them. . . . I want you to fully understand how important international adoption is for orphans like me that needed so much help." Now Sara has gone to Brussels to make the case for Intercountry Adoption personally. As Romania nervously awaits next month's European Union decision on the status of its application to join the EU next year, some MEPs are saying that they never intended for Romania to suspend all Intercountry Adoption. We fervently hope that these sentiments, laudable that they are, will now be translated into action. If the EU blesses a resumption of Intercountry Adoption from Romania, we believe that Romania would reinstate Intercountry Adoption as a valued part of its childcare program. You can get more information see The Ledger or Nine O'Clock.
April 25, 2006. A Wonderful Family Film about Wonderful Families. HBO is currently showing "All Aboard! Rosie's Family Cruise." The movie follows the annual cruise organized by Rosie O'Donnell and her partner Kelli O'Donnell for Gay and Lesbian families. For some children on board, the cruise provides the first opportunity that they have ever known to be able to be free to talk about their families without fear of ridicule (or worse). To see children, some of whom would otherwise be institutionalized, thriving with their loving parents makes for both compelling video and a beautiful film. The movie amply demonstrates the truth of Rosie's observation: "All families deserve respect and all families are bound by love. And that we're all equal. I think the movie really shows that the sexuality of a parent has nothing to do with the competency or ability to parent." More Information.
April 24, 2006. The Right Way to Help Bulgaria's Children. Bulgaria now has the highest proportion of institutionalized children in Europe. Conditions in orphanages and hospitals are shocking, as a Sunday Times (UK) report recently highlighted. Harry Potter author, JK Rowling, who started a new charity, the Children's High Level Group, as well as the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, have protested the wretched conditions these children suffer, including overcrowding, being tied to beds and terribly wrong medical treatment. However, the solution is not to ask Lady Emma Nicholson to solve Bulgaria's problems, as some tragically misguided but well meaning individuals have suggested. Lady Nicholson's solution, ending Intercountry Adoption, guarantees that a very high percentage of Bulgaria's unparented children, like those in Romania before them, will never know parents of their own. Rather the answer is to fund a variety of solutions, including Intercoutnry Adoption, so that both Romanian and Bulgarian children will be able to find their permanent loving families. More information.
April 21, 2006. Massachusetts Not Penalizing Catholic Charities For Discrimination. Last month, in a highly publicized move, Catholic Charities in Boston announced that it would stop providing any adoption services, rather than comply with a Massachusetts state law that forbids discrimination against Gays and Lesbians. Catholic adoption agencies in Worcester, Fall River, and Springfield have taken a different approach: they are currently continuing to provide adoption services in Massachusetts but are refusing to work with Gays and Lesbians, in clear violation of the law. However, Constantia Papanikolaou, the general counsel for the state Department of Early Education and Care, which is charged with regulating adoption agencies, announced that her department is not going to take any actions against these agencies because Governor Mitt Romney has promised to introduce legislation that would legalize this kind of discrimination. It is tragic that so much time and energy is being spent to allow discrimination when these efforts could be used to help unparented children find permanent, loving homes. More Information.
April 20, 2006. Russian Official Calls for Revocation of Accreditation of Twelve American Adoption Agencies. Deputy Prosecutor General Sergei Fridinsky called for the accreditation granted to twelve U.S. adoption agencies to be revoked because these agencies have not complied with the Russian government's requirements for post-placement reports. The Russian government has become more vigilant about post-placement information about Russian children adopted abroad in recent years. Partly, this new attitude is a response to several tragic cases of children who have suffered abuse at the hands of American adoptive parents. The growth of Russian nationalism in its post -Cold War form has also affected Russian rules about Intercountry Adoption. From the agencies' perspective, compliance with post-placement requirements can prove difficult since there is no real way to enforce these regulations if adoptive parents refuse to comply. We do not yet know the names of the agencies that Fridinsky is addressing. More information.
April 19, 2007. What Having Parents Means. As readers of this weblog know, Catholic Charities of Boston last month announced that it would end any adoption services rather than comply with a Massachusetts state law that forbids discrimination against Gays and Lesbians. The story of Jesse Powers-Patey illustrates how allowing all kinds of families to adopt changes the lives of unparented children. Jesse was a "Wednesday's child," -- a foster child who had been through six schools and was consigned to special education when he was adopted by Laura Patey and Leigh Powers. Today Jesse at his high school is a football co-captain and baseball captain. He is also in a regular education program. Most importantly, he has a permanent loving family as well as an adopted brother. It is hard to believe that he would have had this life without his two mothers. Ironically the nurturing schools that have helped make a difference in his life were both Catholic schools. More information.
April 18, 2006. What Romania's EU imposed ban on Intercountry Adoption Means. Allyson and Michael Schaaf of Stratham, New Hampshire are going to Brussels. They are hoping to meet with European Union representatives in order to convince the EU to permit Romania to lift its virtual ban on all Intercountry Adoption. Lady Emma Nicholson, formerly the EU Member of Parliament in charge of Romania's application to join the EU, had made it clear to Romanian government officials that their hopes of joining the EU in 2007 was conditional on Romania banning all ICA. Caught in the ban on ICA were approximately 1100 "pipeline" cases -Romanian children who had adoptive families abroad but whose paperwork had not been completed. The Schaafs had already adopted a Romanian boy when, in late 2002, they learned that their paperwork had been approved to adopt a baby girl named Natasha. The Schaafs have now waited three and one half years to bring this little girl to the United States; all this while Natasha has been living in a Romanian group home. Today the Schaafs, and their congressman, Rep. Jeb Bradley, will meet with EU officials. They are hoping for what they call a "miracle." We would call an EU decision in favor of allowing Romania to resume Intercountry Adoption a victory for Romanian's unparented children. More Information.
April 17, 2006. House of Representatives Unanimously Urges Romania to Jettison Ban on Intercountry Adoption. The non-binding resolution, passed on April 6, called on Romania to "amend its child welfare and adoption laws to decrease barriers to adoption, both domestically and intercountry, including by allowing intercountry adoption by persons other than biological grandparents." Representative Christopher Smith, (R., N.J), one of the leaders of the Congressional campaign on behalf of unparented Romanian children, told fellow legislators that as of December 2005, 76,509 children were currently in Romania's child protection system, and only 333 children were entrusted for domestic adoption in 2005. In 2001, Romania, under pressure from the European Union, placed a moratorium on intercountry adoptions; in 2004 the Romanian government, again under EU marching orders, passed a law banning virtually all intercountry adoption. As Representative Smith put it, "Intercountry adoption is a loving, compassionate option, and certainly is far better than languishing in an orphanage somewhere where the child is warehoused." We are delighted that the House of Representatives has taken this stance; they have given a voice to children whose anguish is all too often ignored. More Information.
Center for Adoption Policy (CAP)