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July 2006

July 31, 2006. United States Presses Romania on Intercountry Adoption. According to today's Bucharest Daily News, a leading Romanian newspaper, American officials raised the issue of the Romanian ban on Intercountry Adoption during the visit of Romanian President Traian Basescu to Washington. President Basescu urged the American government to change its visa requirements for Romanians traveling to the United States. President Bush is reported to have indicated that the U.S. government could be flexible about these restrictions but, according to the Romanian newspaper, only if the Romanian government ends its ban on ICA. We hope that this account is accurate and salute all efforts made by President Bush, White House and State Department officials to convince their Romanian counterparts to revise the harsh anti-ICA statutes now in effect in Romania. More Information.

July 28, 2006. Congress Passes Resolution on Romania. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate have unanimously passed a resolution calling on the Romanian government to amend its adoption laws to lessen the barriers to adoption as well as to complete the evaluation of adoption cases under review when Romania enacted its virtually total ban on Intercountry Adoption. In addition, the resolution calls on the European Union and its member states to support Romania's efforts to find permanent homes for unparented children consistent with Romania's commitments under the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. We salute this resolution and hope that it will lead to a revision in Romania's adoption laws. More Information.

July 27, 2006. U.S. Government Has an Opportunity to Help Romanian Unparented Children. Romanian President Traian Basescu arrives in Washington today for talks with President George Bush as well as other high ranking U.S. officials. The questions of the location of U.S. bases in Romania, visa requirements for Romanian citizens traveling to the U.S. and World Bank financing are on the Romanian agenda. Riding in the balance, however, is the fate of Romania's unparented children who are destined to a institutionalized existence because of the European Union inspired Romanian ban on Intercountry Adoption. We strongly urge President Bush as well as State Department representatives to discuss Romania's ban on Intercountry Adoption with President Basescu and to urge the Romanian government to introduce new legislation which would make Intercountry Adoption an accepted part of Romania's child welfare policy.

July 26, 2006. Good News About Vietnam Intercountry Adoption. We are pleased to note that American agencies are continuing to receive licenses to resume processing adoptions from Vietnam again. The negotiations which preceded the resumption of U.S. ICA programs in Vietnam took several years and it is wonderful that these efforts are proving successful. Harrah's Adoption International Mission and Adoptions Together are two of the American agencies who are now authorized to work in Vietnam. Given the history of ICA in Vietnam and the nature of the new agreements, we cannot repeat enough how vital it is for all adoption professionals to make sure of the bona fides of everyone with whom they are working, either in Vietnam or in the United States. Vietnam programs costs are running significantly higher than ICA from China. Vietnam has not ratified the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption so the U.S, ratification process will not at this time affect U.S. adoptions from Vietnam.

July 25, 2006. Convicted Swindler Was Running Irish Vietnam Adoption Program. Irish officials have confirmed that My Linh Soland, a Vietnamese- American, who was in charge of the recently reinstated Irish-Vietnamese Intercountry Adoption program, is the same woman who pled guilty in 1995 to two counts of defrauding and obstruction of justice and witness intimidation in the state of Virginia. She was sentenced to three years in prison and three years on parole and was disbarred. Ms. Soland was employed as a Vietnam program facilitator by Helping Hands adoption agency in Cork, Ireland, which was established as part of a campaign to root out corruption in Intercountry Adoption. Ms. Soland, who had passed a background check done by the Irish police, has now been asked by the Irish Adoption Board to stop participating in any adoption work. Helping Hands is responsible for 150 Irish adoptions from Vietnam. According to the Irish Adoption Board, the Vietnamese Ministry of Adoption has confirmed the legality of these adoptions. It is very important for U.S. agencies, which are re-opening their Vietnam programs, to make completely sure that everyone who they are dealing with is completely honest and above-board. More Information.

July 24, 2006. Adoption From Foster Care Continued. As part of the ongoing efforts to find permanent loving homes for children in domestic foster care programs, various states have established websites describing children needing permanent placements. A typical example is the Texas Adoption Resource Exchange (TARE). This site gives information about the Texas adoption from foster program. It lists resources for foster parents and prospective adoptive parents as well and gives pictures and background information about specific children. The descriptions are laudatory but realistic and provide an excellent starting point for social workers and prospective adoptive parents who choose a domestic route to creating or expanding their family. More Information.

July 21, 2006. Adoptions From Foster Care Rise. In 1997 Congress passed the Adoption and Safe Families Act. It was designed to speed the process from foster care to adoption for unparented children. In the following eight years foster adoptions have increased 64 percent nationwide, from 31,030 in 1997 to 51,000 in 2005. We salute the successful formation of hundreds of thousands of families through adoption. We urge Congress to renew this bill next year, when it comes for its ten year review. More Information.

July 20, 2006. Insurance for Adopted Children. Questions are sometimes raised by insurance companies about the eligibility of adopted children, especially those with pre-existing medical conditions, for health insurance under the policies of their adopted parents. This is a needless worry for adoptive parents. Federal law (and many state laws as well) require that adopted children (with some minor exceptions) be treated in the same way as biological newborns. These laws also make it illegal to place restrictions on pre-existing medical conditions that were present at the time of adoption. For More Information see 29 USC 1169(c).

July 19, 2006. Federalism at Work. Adoption laws in the U.S. have historically been determined on a state by state basis. (The national aspects of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption helps explain how long the ratification process has taken). One decided difference among the states is the rules governing home studies. When a client moves from one state to another, having completed a home study in the first state, some states will allow the new state's adoption agency to furnish just an addendum to the existing home study. Others, notably California, insist under these facts that the client begin a whole new homestudy with the California adoption agency. Just one of the differences that, at least when it comes to international adoption, ratifying the Hague will homogenize.

July 18, 2006. U.S. Ratification of Hague Convention Moves One Step Forward as COA Designated as Accrediting Entity. On July 12, 2006 the Council on Accreditation (COA) and the State Department signed a Memorandum of Agreement which designates COA as an Accrediting Entity pursuant to the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA). COA will utilize the standards and procedures previously published as part of the regulations implementing the IAA and the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. COA will accept applications from adoption agencies and service providers located throughout the United States. It expects to begin processing applications as soon as its fees are approved by the State Department later this summer. This is a major step on the path to U.S. ratification of the Hague Convention which continues to be on track for next year. We salute this progress as an important development for the preservation and expansion of Intercountry Adoption. More Information.

July 17, 2006. Emma Nicholson Attacks Intercountry Adoption. In an interview published last week in the Romanian newspaper Gindul, Lady Emma Nicholson, the leading foe of Intercountry Adoption, has declared that the 385 European Members of Parliament who signed a petition backing a re-examination of the cases of children whose Intercountry Adoptions were blocked by Romania's moratorium on ICA did so because they were deceived by lobbyists working for traffickers. Lady Nicholson opined that the MEPs were ignorant of the real facts about ICA and therefore were easy prey for avarious middlemen with links to organized crime. Lady Nicholson refused to credit any positive side to ICA, asserting that ICA is always fundamentally flawed because an adoptive mother can never replace a biological one. Lady Nicholson also declared that institutionalized foster care is far preferable to ICA. We now have new evidence, not that it was needed, that Lady Nicholson's positions violate not only the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption but the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the two treaties that both Romania and most of the members of the European Union have signed and ratified.

July 14, 2006. Catholic Bishops in UK Object to Anti-Discrimination Rules, Too. Britain's Catholic hierarchy is following the same unhappy path that led the Catholic diocese of Boston, earlier this year, to shut down its adoption services rather than follow Massachusetts law that forbade discrimination against Gay and Lesbian families. The Sexual Orientation (Provision of Goods and Services) Regulations, which should be finalized in by September or October, will ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in Britain, just as discrimination on the basis on race or gender is banned. The bishops claim that the regulations do not discriminate between homophobia and religious conviction and fear that the regulations, drawn up by the Department of Trade and Industry, will penalize Catholic adoption agencies if they refuse to place children with Gays and Lesbians. Church leaders are asking for an exemption from the regulations for actions, such as forbidding placements to Gays and Lesbians, growing out of official church teaching. More information.

July 13, 2006. Numbers of Internationally Adopted Children By Americans On Decline This Year. Various factors have caused a decrease in the numbers of children that will be adopted by Americans from other countries this year. Adoptions in Russia have slowed down, in part because of publicity from the tragic mistreatment and death of several children adopted from Russia to the United States. Romania remains closed to ICA and while Moldova is officially open, few if any adoptions have apparently been completed from Moldova. Adoptions from Vietnam are resuming but that process is just in its beginning phases. Ukraine halted all ICA; a new central authority has taken over but it has not yet finalized its ICA procedures. Adoption from Guatemala is continuing but wait times have increased while the time from dossier registration to referral in China has virtually doubled this year, to about 12 months. These developments explain the urgency for all Americans involved in Intercountry Adoption, be they professionals or parents, to do everything in our control to make our adoption processes transparent, honest and effective.

July 12, 2006. Which Countries Are Hague Countries? The U.S. ratification process of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption is proceeding. Once the U.S. has ratified the Convention, Hague rules will govern all adoptions between the U.S. and other countries that have ratified this treaty. The top ten countries from which Americans adopted (based on 2005 statistics) that have ratified the Hague convention include China, India, Colombia, the Philippines, Mexico, Poland, Thailand and Brazil. The sending countries from which Americans adopt that have not ratified the Hague convention include Russia, South Korea, Ukraine, Ethiopia and Kazakhstan. The status of Guatemala is in legal limbo. More Information.

July 11, 2006. Disgraceful Royal Comment. Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and husband of Queen Elizabeth, has never been known for his tact or respectfulness. However, at an awards ceremony on July 7 he hit a new low. When one of the honorees said that he had worked in Romania, the Duke replied, "Romania? You didn't go across to help in one of those orphanages, did you?" When the recipient said no, he had not, Duke allegedly responded "Ah good, there's so many of those orphanages over there you feel they breed them just to put in orphanages." Such comments are offensive and unacceptable, no matter who utters them. More information.

July 10, 2006. State Department Signs Accrediting Agreement with State of Colorado. The first agreement for an accrediting body under the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption has been signed by Colorado and the Department of State. Colorado has been licensed, "to accredit (including temporarily accredit) agencies and approve persons that are located in Colorado and that are licensed as a child placement agency in the State of Colorado." The accrediting agreement, as published in the Federal Register, does not address the question of whether Colorado may accredit branches of adoption agencies or persons resident in other states nor does it list the accreditation fees. Clearly agencies and persons with no ties to Colorado must await the agreement between the Council on Accreditation and the State Department. But the publication of the State Department's Agreement with Colorado indicates that Hague ratification is now proceeding on track to a 2007 finalization. For more information write to jcicsnews@lists.jcics.org.

July 7, 2006. New York Court of Appeals Rules Gay Marriage a Question for the Legislature. In a four to two ruling, New York State's highest court found that the current marriage laws in New York, limiting marriage to two people of the opposite sex, do not violate New York's constitution. The majority stated that the domestic relations law was intended to be limited to heterosexual couples and such an interpretation was a rational and legal one. In the opinion of the majority of the Court's justices, it was the place of the legislature, not the Court, to change New York's marriage laws. This ruling does not affect the ability of people in New York to file for second parent adoptions. More Information.

July 6, 2006. Majority of MEPs Back Romanian ICA. A Written Declaration of the European Parliament calling on the Romanian government to allow the so-called "pipeline" children to be reunited with their putative adoptive parents has been signed by 385 Members of the European Parliament. Well over 1,000 children were caught up in the ban on Intercountry Adoption that had been foisted on Romania by Lady Emma Nicholson, chair of the Romanian application to join the EU, and her allies. The declaration states that the cessation of ICA from Romania has "brutally interrupted the processing of thousands of adoption requests" and considering that "children concerned by these requests have already have established relationships with their future adoptive families, this moratorium has, in effect, left them abandoned for the second time." We hope that the support of the MEPs for ICA will cause the Romanian government to revise its laws which forbid any ICA other than by birth grandparents. More Information.

July 5, 2006. Update on Ukrainian Adoption. Based on a press conference held on July 3, 2006 by Ukraine's Minister for Family, Youth and Sports, Yuriy Pavlenko, the State Department today issued an update on Intercountry Adoption from Ukraine. A new central adoption authority, the State Department for Adoption and Protection of Rights of the Child (SDAPRC), has begun operation, replacing the National Adoption Center under the Ministry of Education, the previous central authority. While Mr. Pavenko said Ukraine will neither place a moratorium on ICA nor enact new restrictions, domestic adoption will be the government's first priority. The SDAPRC will not accept any new applications from Non-Ukrainians until January 1, 2007. The old NAC had a backlog of 1,200 applicants, including 390 from the U.S. These previously registered families are asked to confirm their intention to adopt from Ukraine and to follow the procedures set out in the State Department's posting referred to below. Appointments for previously registered applicants who have properly reconfirmed will begin in September. More Information.

July 3, 2006. Russian Regions Requiring Psychological Testing. American agencies doing adoptions in Russia are reporting that at least one region is requiring prospective adoptive couples to undergo psychological testing. Although regions decide their own requirements, the prerequisites set for Russian adoption tend to become standard throughout the country. For this reason American agencies are starting to require that any one who applies to adopt from Russia receive a psychological evaluation as part of their home study and dossier. The most common clinical test used is the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2(tm)) or MMPI 2. It is often administered to job candidates who have applied for positions that involve high risk and stress positions as is also used in criminal justice assessments. More Information.

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