January 31, 2006. North Carolina Supreme Court Rules When Birth Father's Consent is not Required for Adoption. Reversing a lower court opinion, the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled that a birth father in the case presented could not prevent the adoption of his child. Initially, the birth parents had both agreed that the baby should be adopted. However, the birth father revoked his consent prior to the baby's birth. When the birth mother placed the baby for adoption after the birth, the birth father contested her decision. The trial court held for the birth mother, the Court of Appeals for the birth father. The North Carolina Supreme Court ruled in favor of the mother and the adoption on the grounds that "The consent of an unwed putative father... is not obligatory unless he has assumed some of the burdens of parenthood." In this case the birth father offered financial support but did not actually provide the financial support that would show that he was shouldering some of the obligations of parenthood. More Information: Durham Herald-Sun, January 28, 2006.
January 30, 2006, UK Practice Leaves much to be Desired. Notwithstanding new adoption legislation which went into effect on January 1 of this year, delays in court proceedings have caused infants under court supervision to endure year long waits before being returned to their birth parents or placed in foster care. In one particular instance a baby boy taken from his birth parents at age three months will not have his permanent home adjudicated until he is 16 months old. According to Christina Blacklaws, the chairman of the Law Society's family law committee, "The judicial process has failed this little baby in the most appalling manner, while the parents are left in the most terrible limbo." The fact that the most troubling cases may involve criminal charges as well as family law cases increases the processing time required. Not surprisingly, the longest delays are in London's family court. That this dire situation is occurring notwithstanding Prime Minister Tony Blair's pledge to make adoption easier shows how much work is required on both sides of the Atlantic to place children as soon as possible into permanent loving homes of their own. More information: Telegraph, January 22, 2006.
January 27, 2006, New York City's New Procedures show how badly its Administration for Children's Services Had Failed. During the two week period from January 9 to January 23, Children's Administration officials removed 291 children from their families and placed them in foster care. Social workers arranged for hundreds more to be placed under court supervision. The children removed from their birth families in January included a baby whose mother threatened to drop him out of window in October and a two year old girl who had second degree burns on her genitals and buttocks dating back to August. As Kim Mc Laurin, the lawyer in charge of the Legal Aid Society's Queens, N.Y. Division of Juvenile Rights put it: the removals of children "are coming from caseworkers who were previously told to work with the [birth] family and not bring them into care and now are scared and flooding the courts citywide." Perhaps City officials will now take to heart the lesson that the only standard that should govern the welfare of children is what is in the best interest of the child. It is too bad that the price for this learning curve was paid by the children least equipped to pay it. More Information.
January 26, 2006, J.K. Rowling tries to help Romanian children-if only Emma Nicholson were not her guide. Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling became interested in the plight of disabled and institutionalized Romanian children three years ago. Yesterday she arrived in Romania to work with European Parliament member, and sworn enemy of Intercoutry Adoption (ICA), Lady Emma Nicholson as a member of the Children's High Level Group, dominated by Lady Nicholson and her allies. Rowling observes that "There is now widespread agreement among child health experts that irreparable, long-term damage is caused to young children who are institutionalized without a parent." What Rowling apparently does not realize is the her guide into Romanian child welfare issues, Lady Nicholson, by forcing Romania to end all ICA, is the person who is most responsible for ensuring that children remain institutionalized. Moreover Rowling appears unaware that by ignoring the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, Lady Nicholson is also sabotaging the High Level Groups's self-proclaimed goal of "enforc[ing] children's rights as defined bythe United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international standards in force." More information.
January 25, 2006. Paying the Price for Today's Social Welfare Trend. The administrators in charge of children's welfare and the academics who advise them are no more immune from trends and fashions then anyone else. For the last decade, family reunion has been the big buzz word. The emphasis on repair and reunion of biological families resulted from the huge growth in foster care during the nineteen eighties and early nineties, itself a reaction to the epidemic of AIDS and crack affected babies and children. But now a healthy reaction has turned into a tragic overreaction. The death of seven year old Nixzmary Brown in New York City earlier this month vividly demonstrates the deadly results of an unthinking bias towards biological families. Tortured by her stepfather for years while her birth mother acquiesced (by some accounts approvingly), Nixzmary, who could have been saved, died painfully alone. As accounts pile up of the reflexive biological family emphasis displayed by New York City child welfare officials (three other children died at the hands of their birth families in New York during the last 90 days), isn't it time to remember that the only standard that should govern child placement is the "best interests of the child?" For more information see NY Post and NY Times.
January 24, 2006: One Way to Diminish Sex Trafficking. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof has been writing a harrowing series of columns on sex trafficking in Asia. He details how young girls are sold into slavery, in each of his examples by trusted friends or employers. Kristof lists various ways to limit the sex trade. However he fails to mention intercountry adoption as one effective solution to the plight of unparented or uncared for children. How much better for countries to implement legal, honest methods for adoption, either domestic or intercountry, of children whose birth parents cannot care for them then to leave these girls at the mercy of predatory criminals. How much happier would birth parents be if they knew that their children were being lovingly raised by adoptive parents than to fear or know that their daughters were being enslaved into a life of rape and disease. More Information.
January 23, 2006: British adoption law overhaul. British adoption law radically changed as of January 1, 2006. Unmarried and same sex couples may now jointly apply to become adoptive parents. Foster parents will be able to apply for a "special guardianship order," giving them the right to care continuously for a child until the child's eighteenth birthday. The new legislation significantly improves the ability of birth parents to search for their children as it creates an intermediary office to facilitate searches. Agencies will be able to contact adopted children to ask them if they wish to be placed in contact with their birth parents. Such contact will occur only with the permission of the adopted children. More Information.
January 21, 2006: Vietnam Reopens to Adoption by Americans. In December 2002, Vietnam suspended adoption from the United States. On June 21, 2005, the United States and Vietnam signed an Agreement Regarding Cooperation on the Adoption of Children, thereby paving the way for the resumption of adoption by U.S. citizens from Vietnam. During the autumn, American agencies applied for accreditation; the Vietnamese government has now granted the first licenses. It should be noted that the cost of adopting from Vietnam will be significantly higher than adoption from China, due to the level of in-country fees set by the Vietnamese government.
January 20, 2006 Ukrainian update: The State Department reports that Ukraine's parliament, on January 12, passed a law granting temporary jurisdiction over adoptions to the Ministry of Education's National Adoption Center (NAC) until a new adoption authority is legally established under the Ministry of Family Youth and Sports. This law becomes effective when it is signed by the President, who has up to 15 days to review it. At that time the Adoption Center is expected to be reopened.
The American embassy in Kiev is now strongly urging American adoptive families with already scheduled January appointments NOT to travel to Ukraine until the NAC has issued a notice publicly reconfirming the validity of these appointments.
Prespective American adoptive families are urged by the State Department to continue monitoring the Kiev embassy's web page for the current status of adoption processing in Ukraine: http://kiev.usembassy. (Source: http://travel.state.gov/family/adoption/notices/notices_2781.html)
Center for Adoption Policy (CAP)