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June 2006

June 30, 2006. Arkansas Supreme Court Overturns Ban on Same-Sex Foster Parents. The Arkansas Supreme Court unanimously ruled against the State Child Welfare Agency Review Board which had adopted a ban against same-sex foster parents in 1999. Associate Justice Donald L. Corbin, writing for the court, stated, "There is no correlation between the health, welfare and safety of foster children and the blanket exclusion of any individual who is a homosexual or who resides in a household with a homosexual." Moreover, the court said that the evidence had shown that "the driving force behind adoption of the regulations was not to promote the health, safety and welfare of foster children but rather based upon the board's views of morality and its bias against homosexuals." The court also rejected the state's contention that children raised by Gays or Lesbians had academic or sexual identity problems. We are proud to say that Leslie Cooper, a staff lawyer for the ACLU who has been integrally involved in this litigation, was a speaker at the Center for Adoption Policy's 2005 Conference on Gay and Lesbian Adoption. More Information.

June 29, 2006. Hague Convention and Adoption Agencies. As U.S. ratification of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption nears (it now looks set for late 2007), adoption agencies are getting ready for the accreditation process which should begin toward the end of this year. Various professionals, both lawyers and others, are establishing consultant practices to aid agencies and individuals in their quest to become Hague accredited. For agencies that have not gone through the accreditation process before, the Hague requirements can be very daunting. Adoption professionals will now have to decide if they want to meet the Hague requirements themselves or instead work with agencies or persons who have satisfied the Hague accreditation procedures.

June 28, 2006. Romanian Children and Post-Placement Reports. A Romanian journalist, Gabi Golea, has reported that 1300 internationally adopted Romanian children are "missing." What the reporter means is that the Romanian government has no record of what has happened to these children. The explanation for this lack of knowledge is complex. The Romanian government, particularly after the moratorium on ICA began in 2001, has kept less than stellar records. Moreover, many of the adoption agencies or adoption foundations under whose auspices these adoptions took place have gone out of business. Diligent adoptive parents, in the United States and elsewhere, have found themselves left to their own devices when they tried to send post-placement reports to Bucharest. Finally, some adoptive parents, once they have their child, renege on their obligation to send the required follow-up material to the child's birth country. This article underscores the need for American adoption professionals to help their clients fulfill the ICA post-placement requirements that are part of Intercountry Adoption today. For more Information see Jurnalul National, June 26, 2006.

June 27, 2006. State Department Issues Draft Visa Regulations. On June 22, the State Department issues proposed visa regulations as part of its implementation plan for the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. These regulations create a new definition of "child" for Hague Convention adoptions and will make it possible for consular officers to follow the procedures set out in the Hague Convention and the Intecountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA). The comment period is, unusually, only 30 days. It closes on July 24, 2006. The Department of Homeland Security will be issuingrelated home study petition regulations. For more Information write to AdoptionUSCA@state.gov.

June 26, 2006. LA Times Damages Itself and American Intercountry Adoption. The Los Angeles Times article entitled, "How to Shop for Kids the Brangelina Way," is, to put it mildly, a very unfortunate piece of journalism. At a time when Intercountry Adoption is under attack around the world, to talk about "shopping" for children damages the cause of unparented children everywhere. The language of the title as well as the tone of the entire article will provide grist for the enemies of ICA and will not sell any extra papers. Moreover, the author's attempt at a humorous comparison of various countries from which Americans adopt fails miserably. Parents do not turn children into commodities children but the LA Times has. That newspaper owes the adoption community a retraction. More Information.

June 23, 2006. Agencies Handling Chinese Waiting Children Must Exercise Due Diligence. With the lengthening of the referral time for non special needs Chinese adoption to around twelve months from when the dossier is logged in at the CCAA, an increasing number of potential adoptive parents are turning to waiting children adoption from China. The children who are placed in this program have various medical issues such as cleft lip and palate, various heart ailments, limb differences, or burns. These medical issues can turn out to be more minor than envisioned or more serious. It is essential for agencies to educate their clients concerning the medical and emotional issues that they will be dealing with, especially when their clients are first time parents. It is also crucial that potential adoptive parents be advised to consult, not just with any doctor, but with a doctor who specialty includes the medical condition of their potential child.

June 22, 2006. Michigan Debating “Faith-Based” Adoption. The Family and Children Services’ Committee of the Michigan House of Representatives held hearings in early June on bills that would amend the state adoption code to permit adoption agencies to approve or deny adoptions based on their particular “written religious or moral convictions or policies,” and continue to receive state funding irrespective of whether those convictions or policies violated Michigan’s own anti-discrimination laws. Those in favor of the bills argued that it was necessary to avoid the same situation that occurred in Boston where Catholic Charities ended all adoption services rather than provide services to Gay and Lesbian applicants. Ron Hicks, director of the Department of Family and Children, testified against the proposed legislation as did a representative of the Episcopal Church. When Sean Kosofsky, director of policy for Triangle Foundation tried to testify, the Committee Chairman, John Stahl, who had earlier taken the unusual step of testifying himself in favor of the proposed legislation, cut Mr. Kosofsky off and shut the witness microphone down. The Committee did not take a vote on the bills. Rep. Stahl has yet to provide any proof backing up his allegation that he has received numerous phone calls and written communications from agencies complaining about discrimination by the State of Michigan. More Information

June 21, 2006. ICARE Probably Won’t Pass This Year. The Senate approved the Inter Country Adoption Reform (ICARE) Act this session in the form of an amendment to the omnibus immigration bill. The House of Representatives did not include the ICARE legislation as part of its version of the immigration bill. Now Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert has announced that Republican congressmen will hold public hearings around the U.S. on the issue of immigration legislation. Such a move will delay House-Senate negotiations on reconciling different versions of the legislation until the autumn, when Congressional elections are looming. As a result, the chances of any immigration legislation passing this year, with or without the ICARE provisions, appear dim. More Information

June 20, 2006. USAID Clarifies its Stance on ICA. In her June 13th letter to the Financial Times, Lady Emma Nicholson asserted that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) supports the Romanian ban on Intercountry Adoption. In response, Rodger D. Garner, Director ,USAID, Bucharest, has set the record straight by informing the Financial Times that : “neither USAID nor its consultants have ever recommended a ban on intercountry adoption. For 15 years, USAID has supported programmes in Romania that have helped prevent child abandonment, trained foster parents, closed large state-run orphanages and encouraged Romanian families to adopt Romanian children. USAID's work in Romania supports the US government policy that intercountry adoption offers an additional opportunity for many of Romania's abandoned and orphaned children to be raised by loving families.” We are delighted that Mr. Garner has made this statement. Once again Lady Nicholson, in her zeal to end all ICA, has stepped over the line that separates fact from fiction. More Information.

June 19, 2006. More Hague Regulations. The State Department has published in the Federal Register for comment, “Issuance of Hague Convention Certificates and Declarations in Convention Adoption Cases.”  These proposed regulations cover both adoptions by United States citizens and adoptions of U.S. children by foreign nationals who are citizens of Hague Convention countries. Comments on these regulations must be received by August 15. Revised visa regulations have not yet been published. More information.

June 16, 2006. Contracts Covering Post-Adoption Relationships Between Birth Parents and Adoptive Parents Gain Favor and Legal Protection. In the last decade the number of written agreements between birth parents and adoptive parents regarding a continuing relationship between the birth parents and the child after an adoption is finalized has increased greatly. Behind this trend are two explanations. The first is that a large number of adoptions are of older children or step-children; in both these cases it is often desirable and beneficial to retain for the child a relationship with his or her birth parents. Birth parents of infants who are adopted are more likely today to request an open adoption or at least more and specified contact with their birth child and adoptive parents are willing to agree to this form of adoption which is called cooperative adoption or adoption with contact. Eighteen states have statutes permitting this form of adoption and granting enforceability to the adoption agreement. More Information.

June 15, 2006. Guatemalan Adoption and the Hague Convention. One of the unknowns about the effect of U.S. ratification of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption is the ramificiation it will have on U.S. adoptions from Guatemala. Guatemala ratified the Hague Convention but its highest court then overturned the ratification. However, under international law, Guatemala still remains a Hague nation although its adoption procedures do not meet Hague standards. Once the Hague Convention is ratified, U.S. adoptions with Hague countries will have to meet Hague standards, making adoption from Guatemala, under the current structure, difficult if not impossible. The State Department has pledged to work with Guatemala to create procedures that are in line with Hague requirements and it hopes that more information will be available as the time for U.S. ratification of the HagueConvention, now scheduled for sometime in 2007, draws nearer. More Information.

June 14, 2006. Lady Nicholson Tries to Respond. Stung by the open letter by 33 NGOs published in the Financial Times on June 12 and reported in this column yesterday, Lady Emma Nicholson responded in the same newspaper. According to Lady Nicholson, the Romanian government was "brave" to ban Intercountry Adoption and resuming it would be "madness." No! Madness is allowing babies and children to receive institutionalized care for their entire childhood, erecting barriers which prevent unparented children from finding a loving home and sentencing unparented children to a life deprived of love, nurture and education. More Information.

June 13, 2006. Update on Romania. Horrified at the continuing childcare crisis in Romania, caused in part by the ban on Intercountry Adoption foisted on that country by the European Union, 33 charities who work with children in Romania joined together to place an ad in yesterday's Financial Times. As the agencies point out: "the citizens of the EU should be aware of the current crisis in Romania's childcare system - a system certain EU officials are wrongly presenting as "model" Many Romanian officials continue to disregard the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children, the European Convention on Human Rights, and the European Parliament report of December 2005." More information can be found at www.romanianchild.org.

June 12, 2006. Florida Case Places Cloud Over Putative Father Registry. Florida, like many other states, has a Putative Father's Registry intended to preserve the parental rights of unwed birth fathers. The statute also says that if a father does not register, he has waived his rights to the child. Not according to the Second District Court of Appeal in Lakeland, Florida . Judge Chris Altenbernd's ruling allow birth fathers standing to intervene in an adoption proceeding whether or not they have registered. Such a ruling makes the Registry meaningless and puts the safety of future Florida adoptions in peril. More Information.

June 9, 2006. ICA From Ukraine. Ukraine is now transitioning to a new adoption authority. The State Department estimates that the process will be complete during June. At this time no new appointments, which are necessary to finalize an adoption, are being scheduled for American families who wish to adopt from Ukraine. However, Ukranian officials are currently accepting dossiers for children who fall into the following categories: 1. the child is older than 10 years of age; 2) the child has an identified handicap; or 3) the child has biological siblings who have been adopted by the family pursuing his or her adoption. More Information.

June 8, 2006. Indiana Weighs Ban on Gay and Lesbian Adoption. Indiana State Senator Jeff Drozda is calling for a ban on adoption by Gays and Lesbians. His move comes in the wake of a ruling by the Indiana Court of Appeals that an adoption by two unmarried people is legal. Interestingly, Drozda does not object to Gays and Lesbians being allowed to be foster parents. According to Carrie Evans, state legislative director for the Human Rights Campaign, a group which monitors state laws for a national gay-rights advocacy group, this distinction is commonly made: many more states are attempting to ban Gay and Lesbian adoption while still supporting the ability of Gay and Lesbians to be foster parents. While Drozda says he bases his distinction on the fact that foster parents remain under state supervision, a certain pragmatism may also be at work here. After all, every state is grappling with a shortage of qualified foster parents. More Information.

June 7, 2006. ICARE Amendment Attached to Senate Immigration Bill. The Intercountry Adoption Reform (ICARE) amendment, introduced by Senator Mary L. Landrieu (D.La), has become part of the Senate version of the important Immigration reform bill. Senator Landrieu first introduced the ICARE bill in 2003. By granting children adopted internationally by American parents the same rights as children born abroad to American citizens, the bill will streamline Intercountry Adoption to the U.S. As Senator Landrieu stated, "This legislation has taken us far too long to pass, but today we are helping eliminate barriers and provide a more effective international adoption system which will help the hundreds of thousands of children who are waiting for the safe and loving family they deserve." As the House of Representatives' version of the Immigration Act does not contain the ICARE amendment, it is far from certain that it will become law this year. More Information.

June 6, 2006. Getting Serious About Sex Trafficking. Ahead of soccer's World Cup beginning in Germany on Friday, the State Department has warned the German government , "a source, transit and destination country" for sex trafficking, about its dubious record for protecting women and children from sexual exploitation. CAP shares Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice's view that, fighting against human trafficking is "a great moral calling of our time." We applaud the State Department's efforts to protect women and children from the violence of the sex trade. Congress, which passed the Trafficking Victim Protection Act in 2000, has joined in this worthy battle. What a contrast to the actions of Lady Nicholson. She uses the allegation of "human trafficking" to besmirch Intercountry Adoption advocates but by leading the charge to ban ICA in Romania, has left tens of thousands of children to the mercy of the traffickers she claims to abhor. More Information.

June 2, 2006. New Requirements for Russian Intercountry Adoption. Under a new Russian law, adoption agencies seeking accreditation or re-accreditation in Russia will have to also register as non-governmental organizations (NGOs). In effect, any American agency that is applying for reaccredidation must first complete its NGO registration. Until the NGO registration is completed, the agency may not be re-accredited. Agencies which do not have both NGO registration and accreditation may not place Russian children for adoption. However, the Russian government has said that American families who had begun adoptions with agencies waiting for reaccredidation will be allowed to complete their adoptions. Complicating matters, there is not yet any official word as to the requirements, procedures or timeframe for NGO registration. More Information.

June 1, 2006. ABC Primetime Investigates Foster Care in America. Tonight the ABC news show Primetime begins a series: "A Call to Action: Saving Our Children," which investigates the American foster care system. Good Morning America, World News Tonight, Nightline and 20/20 will broadcast additional stories on June 1 through June 3. In conjunction with these reports, ABC has placed on its website a series of stories about foster care and foster care from adoption. These reports include a story on a social worker who works with foster children, a list of resources for people who want to be involved with foster children, and an article explaining the connection between the growing use of methamphetamine and enlarged foster care populations. More Information.

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