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August 2006

August 31, 2006. Companies Extend Benefits to Adoptive Families. U.S. corporations are increasingly making available family leave benefits to parents who are adopting children rather than restricting these benefits to biological parents. WorldatWork, a human resources consulting organization reports that 39 percent of companies responding to its survey in 2005 offered some form of adoption benefits, up from 3 percent in 2004. These financial benefits sometimes provide the crucial difference which allows a person or couple to adopt. Moreover, extending these benefits demonstrate that families formed by adoption are just as valuable to society as biologically-based families. More Information.

August 30, 2006. Progress on Hague Accreditation. We are happy to note that adoption agencies are speedily working to receive their accreditation pursuant to the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. Agencies that are directly seeking COA Hague accreditation are getting their materials in order. Other agencies are seeking to become "supervised providers" status which will allow them to work on Hague Intercountry Adoptions together with Hague accredited agencies. We applaud this progress. U.S. ratification of the Hague Convention (we hope in 2007) will strengthen the cause of ICA everywhere. More Information.

August 28, 2006. CIS Makes Asking Questions about Intercountry Adoption Easier. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) is in the process of creating email addresses for each of its district offices dedicated to fielding queries from parents seeking visas for the children they wish to adopt internationally. These email addresses will be solely for ICA questions such as advice on completing CIS forms or the status of adoption visa applications. CIS says that within two weeks the particular email address for each CIS office will be available by calling the USCIS National Customer Service Center information line at 1-800-375-5283. This is a very helpful step for would-be parents and we congratulate CIS for deciding to create this email service.

August 25, 2006. Romanian Official Alleges Illegal Domestic Adoptions. According to Theodora Bertzi, State Secretary at the Romanian Office for Adoptions, over 15 percent or more than 300 domestic adoptions completed since January 2005, when a new adoption law went into effect in Romania, are illegal. Ms. Bertzi stated that these illegal adoptions take place with the complicity of maternity hospitals and employees of child protection services. However, Alin Stanescu, the former medical director of the Institute for the Protection of Mothers and Children in Bucharest, disputed Ms. Bertzi's claim, stating that he had no knowledge of any such case in his institution, one of those Ms. Bertzi cited. The troubling existence of these allegations provides evidence that corruption in adoption does not stem from Intercountry Adoption but rather that legal and transparent Intercountry Adoption is a safeguard against domestic corruption and provides a viable and necessary option for unparented children. For More Information see, Adevarul, Thursday, Aug. 24, 2006.

August 24, 2006. Putting Rumors in their Place. Rumors about rule changes concerning Intercountry Adoption from Russia and from China have been swirling around the internet, causing great consternation among potential adoptive parents and also for adoption agencies. We believe it is of utmost importance for adoption professionals to avoid circulating any unconfirmed reports. Recounting speculation can only create unnecessary worry. The most important task for adoption professionals is to create transparent, honest and legal ICA procedures, whether Hague accredited or not. Such policies will contribute to the continued availability of ICA as a method of creating families for unparented children.

August 23, 2006. Back to School Raises Adoption Issues. The start of a new school year is a milestone that has special resonance for families formed through adoption. Particularly in the early years, the classroom or school yard provides adopted children with their first occasion to discuss adoption. Whether describing his or her adoption is a positive or negative experience depends on several factors. One of the most important is the attitude and vigilance of parents and adoption professionals. Adoptive Families magazine has a special section offering advice and suggestions for the school year. In the opinion of columnist Lois Melina, parents of kindergarten through second grade children should discuss their child's adoption with his or her teachers early on, rather then waiting for an unfortunate incident and then initiating the conversation. More Information.

August 22, 2006. Trafficking of Children By Sexual Predators on the Internet. The New York Times has published an in-depth report concerning predators who target children using the internet. One of the ruses used by these unspeakably evil men was "a putative charity that raised money to send Eastern European children to a camp where they were apparently visited by pedophiles." While we are relieved to learn that the Times did not discover any links between these predators and Intercountry Adoption, this investigation reinforces the need for increased protection and surveillance by law enforcement officials and child protection workers to assure the safety of children. Among other things, anyone considering donating or working with child-oriented charitable organization must exercise the greatest of vigilance before making donations. More Information.

August 21, 2006. Hague Accreditation Moves Forward. The Council on Accreditation is setting up procedures and fee schedules for its accreditation of adoption agencies as the United States moves to ratify the Hague Convention for Intercountry Adoption. As part of this process, COA is offering webinars for agencies who wish a better understanding of Hague accreditation procdures. Agencies interested in learning how to become Hague accredited may also wish to contact the Joint Council on International Children's Services. Hague accreditation now appears now on a swift trajectory to completion. Agencies and adoption personnel who wish to continue in the field of Intercountry adoption with countries which have ratified the Hague Convention must accept the Hague Convention as the new legal standard for their adoption work. More Information.

August 4, 2006. Relative Intercountry Adoption Trends. For the last three years China has ranked as the number one sending country of children for American Intercountry Adoption. Russia has ranked second and Guatemala third. However, as a percentage of population, the 3, 748 children adopted by Americans from Guatemala last year is far more significant than any other sending nation's statistics. Given the fact that Guatemala has only 13 million people, Americans are currently adopting one of every hundred babies born in that Central American country. (The respective percentages for China and Russia are 0.04 percent and 0.3 percent.) While Americans have adopted 17, 863 children from Guatemala in the last nine years, Guatemalans have only adopted 576 children. These figures are even more important when it is remembered that the laws in effect in Guatemala and U.S. will result in a moratorium of American ICA from Guatemala once the U.S. ratifies the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. More Information.

August 3, 2006. COA Will Explain Hague Accreditation Process. The Council on Accreditation is holding its annual conference in New York City beginning this weekend. On Monday, August 7 it will hold a workshop entitled, "Everything You Need to Know About Hague Accreditation. As COA is the sole accrediting entity for agencies and adoption professionals seeking to work on Hague qualified adoptions (except for agencies and professionals in the state of Colorado), the information that will be disseminated in this workshop will be of vital interest to the adoption community. State Department officials will also be present to answer questions. We urge adoption agencies and professionals to do their utmost to get the most up- to- date information on Hague accreditation in order to make the Hague ratification process as smooth as possible. More Information.

August 2, 2006. Tragic Mistreatment of Romanian Childhood AIDS Patients. Human Rights Watch today a released a scathing account of the discrimination faced by children in Romania living with AIDS. According to the report, thousands of children are denied the right to go to school, proper medical care or even basic knowledge about their condition. As children's rights researcher Clarisa Bencomo summed up, "Unless the authorities take urgent measures now, unchecked discrimination will push far too many of these children to the margins of society." These children were infected in orphanages between 1986 to 1991 because of the Ceausescu government's deluded program which required abandoned children to be given "microtransfusions" of unscreened blood using contaminated needles in the wrongheaded belief that this process would improve childhood immunity to disease. The Romanian government has clearly squandered the last fifteen years of these children's lives. Their plight deserves immediate attention. More Information.

August 1, 2006. U.S. Embassy in Guatemala Will Require New Documents. As of September 1, 2006 the American embassy in Guatemala will require, as part of the initial I-600 packet, two additional documents. These consist of 1) a letter from the putative adoptive parents providing a correct email address and telephone number and 2) a letter from the U. S. adoption agency providing a correct email address and telephone number. Both of these letters must have original signatures notarized in the U.S. According to the embassy, these additional documents, which will form part of the dossier, are necessary to ensure that all email addresses and telephone numbers on file are correct. For More information contact Guatenotices.Donotreply@dhs.go.

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