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March 2006

Newscap, March 21, 2006. Internet Twins Case Still in the News. The birth mother who twice offered her twins for adoption over the internet in 2001 is back in the news. Tranda Conley has not seen the girls for three years but she may be able to get visitation rights sometime in the future. The girls were offered first to a California couple and then to a British family. This case became a symbol of what is wrong with internet adoption. Thevery important subject of the internet and adoption is one of the central themes of CAP's third annual adoption conference, this year on Science, Technology and the Internet to be held on May 18, 2006, at New York Law School. More information.

March 20, 2006. Rights of Unwed Fathers In Adoption. Historically unmarried birth fathers have had few rights to their children. However in recent decades courts and legislatures have tried to balance the rights of unmarried fathers with the rights of their children. The result, in about thirty states, has been the creation of birth father registries. Their goals are the same: to allow a man who is the father of a baby or thinks he is the father of a baby to record his interest in the child. Once a father's interest is recorded, he must, at the very least, be notified if the birth mother chooses an adoption plan for the child. The nature of these registries varies as does the timing of the filing requirements. Once again, we firmly believe that the best interests of the child is the key to good legislation. We suggest the creation of a national birth father's registry which would contain uniform provisions and a searchable data base. If we can have a Uniform Commercial Code, we can certainly do just as much for our children. More information.

March 17, 2006. The Law Must Be Changed. Belgian MEP (Member of the European Parliament) Frederique Ries, in a recent newspaper interview, asserted that the European Parliament (EP) is not opposed to Romanian Intercountry Adoption. MEP Ries maintains that the only report Parliament ever voted on Intercountry Adoption stated that "we do not discourage international adoption questions but promote them as an instrument of international solidarity." MEP Ries believes that the EP should first help the pipeline children find their families and then aid Romania in order that Romania revise its adoption legislation to once more permit ICA. MEP Ries also assured Romanians that resuming ICA would not jeopardize Romania's application to join the EU. We are delighted that MEPs from many countries are coming forward to proclaim their support of ICA. For too many years Lady Nicholson has had a stranglehold on EU policy on Intercountry Adoption. No longer. More Information.

March 16, 2006. What the Hague Convention Requires. Readers may be interested in the various actions the United States government needs to take in order to complete the process of ratifying the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. According to the State Department, which will administer the Hague Convention as the U.S. Central Authority, in what we hope will be the home stretch of the ratification process, the State Department must increase staffing of the Office of Children's Issues in the Bureau of Consular Affairs. The State Department must issue regulations for the selection and governance of accrediting entities which will then accredit non-profit adoption agencies who will be the only adoption agencies that may do Hague adoptions. The State Department will also have to draft and issue regulations to govern the accreditation process for adoption agencies, and also create an application process for agencies. The State Department must create and administer a computer tracking system for all intercountry adoptions from the U.S. and the State Department will also create procedures to monitor compliance by various parties with the terms and conditions of the Hague Convention. Given the fact that the State Department has little or no experience in the field of family law and adoption law, it is clear that these new responsibilities will be an enormous undertaking. More Information.

March 15, 2006. British MEP Forecasts Romania Resuming Intercountry Adoption. British MEP Charles Tannock, a member of the Democratic bloc, has predicted that the European Union will support the Romanian government if it decides to allow the resumption of Intercountry Adoption. Mr. Tannock told the Bucharest Daily News, in an interview published on March 9, 2006, not only that he believed that the Romanian ban on ICA was a mistake but that he and other senior MEPs believed that Romania should allow the so-called pipeline cases to be resolved in favor of adoptive families whose paperwork had not been completed prior to the moratorium on Romanian ICA. Mr. Tannock asserted that the European Parliament no longer supports the ban on ICA that Baroness Emma Nicholson had virtually imposed on Romania. He also asserted, correctly as CAP's own research has shown, that both the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child support Intercountry Adoption. We can only hope that the EU Parliament follows Mr. Tannock's lead. More Information.

March 14, 2006. Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney Working on Bill to Grant Catholic Charities Permission to Discriminate. Governor Romney, a potential GOP presidential candidate in 2008 is working on what he maintains will be a "very narrow bill" that would allow Catholic Charities to discriminate against Gays and Lesbians who wish to adopt children. Romney, who always emphasizes his child-friendly stance, does acknowledge that "same-sex couples have a legitimate interest in adopting children," but says that the adoption services provided by Catholic Charities are too important to lose. Romney's position will not necessarily be endorsed by all Republicans. Massachusetts Lt. Governor Kerry Healey stated recently that she did not agree with Romney: "I believe that any institution that wants to provide services that are regulated by the state has to abide by the laws of this state, and our anti-discrimination laws are some of the most important," Healey said. Thinking about the best interests of children, we can only hope that Healey's position carries the day. More Information.

March 13, 2006. Boston's Catholic Charities Ends All Adoption Services. Over 100 years ago Catholic Charities in Boston opened its doors. Its original purpose was to find adoptive homes for unparented children. While the mission of Catholic Charities has expanded greatly since then, it remained a leading adoption agency in Boston. But on March 10, Rev. J. Bryan Hehir, president of Catholic Charities announced that Catholic Charities would cease all adoption work. The reason: a Massachusetts law forbidding discrimination against Gays and Lesbians means that all adoption agencies operating in Massachusetts have to consider properly qualified Gay and Lesbian families. While the 42 member lay board of Catholic Charities voted unanimously to consider such families, the state's four Catholic Bishops sought an exemption from the law. With such an exemption not yet in sight, Catholic Charities made its announcement on Friday. This story is not yet over since Governor Mitt Romney announced that he will try to introduce legislation allowing such discrimination. In the meantime, at risk and foster children in Boston today have even less hope of finding a permanent family than they did before. The need to discriminate has triumphed over the call to provide a loving family for the least advantaged children. More information.

March 10, 2006. Russia Continues to Accredit and Reaccredit Agencies. On March 1, 2006 the Russian Ministry of Education granted reaccreditation certificates to seven more American adoption agencies. The Ministry reviews accreditation requests on a rolling basis and has been consistently issuing reaccreditation certificates to adoption agencies. At this time there are 39 American agencies listed on the State Department's web page as accredited in Russia. The State Department urges Americans interested in adopting from Russia to work only with adoption agencies accredited by the Russian government. It also urges all American to comply fully with Russian requirements. In particular, the State Department reminds Americans that they cannot travel to Russia or leave Russia without a valid visa. For more information, see the site for the US Embassy in Russia or the Joint Council on International Children's Service site.

March 9, 2006. Romanian Newspaper Reports the Truth About Romania and Intercountry Adoption. In a brave and hard-hitting article in the Bucharest Daily News, Denisa Maruntoiu discusses the debate about Romania and Intercountry Adoption. As Ms. Maruntoiu states, contradicting the misinformation repeatedly circulated by Baroness Emma Nicholson, many European Parliament members (MEPs) believe that ICA should be available as an alternative for unparented children in Romania. Indeed Pierre Moscovici, Vice-President of the EU Parliament and the person who replaced Lady Nicholson as the chair of Romania's application to join the EU, states that he and Lady Nicholson "notably differ on the issue of international adoptions of Romanian children." For years Lady Nicholson has disguised her personal and unyielding opposition to ICA as a pan-European position but Ms. Maruntoiu states that it is virtually impossible to find any MEP who opposes ICA. Ms. Maruntoiu also discusses the back story behind Lady Nicholson's anti-ICA vendetta: Lady Nicholson's failure to parent successfully an Iraqi boy after the Persian Gulf war. Lady Nicholson has tried to subsume her personal failure into an indictment of any ICA but Ms. Maruntoiu has done a wonderful job of untangling the personal from the political. Those who seek the best interests of every child can only hope that the European Parliament will soon signal its approval for Romania to resume ICA. More information.

March 8, 2006. Human Trafficking: The Real Story. Opponents of Intercountry Adoption often assert that ICA is nothing but a cover for child trafficking. That this is not the case can be seen by reading the State Department's Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000: Trafficking in Persons Fifth Annual Report, released on June 5, 2005. This extensive report exhaustively covers the horrendous trade in people throughout the globe, providing country by country narratives of human trafficking, with a breakdown of changes in legislation, changes in arrests and prosecutions, and a discursive summary of each nation's record in these respects. The same story repeatedly appears: the women and children being bought and sold are not those with potential adoptive families but those unfortunate individuals who have no families. Unparented children or children who age out of institutional care with little or no education are easy prey for traffickers. One of the best ways to fight the traffickers is to provide every child with a permanent loving family, whether through birth, domestic adoption or Intercountry Adoption. More information.

March 7, 2006. Public Session on Hague Regulations. The Office of Children's Issues of the State Department, which is responsible for administering the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, is holding a public information meeting on March 17 from 10:00 to noon on the accreditation of agencies and approval of persons under the Hague Convention. Once the Hague Convention is ratified, only accredited agencies will be able to perform adoptions with other Hague countries. Attendees may submit questions in advance by email to AdoptionUSCA@state.gov or by fax to (202) 647-6201. Anyone wishing to attend must be precleared no later than March 13, 2006 by following the procedures set forth in the link below. This session shows that the Hague process is really gathering steam. The federalization of adoption will have many implications for adoption practices in the coming years. More information.

March 6, 2006. Gay Adoption and the Catholic Church. Massachusetts' four Catholic bishops have requested that Governor Mitt Romney exempt Catholic social services from the state requirement not to discriminate against gay families (both married and unmarried) applying to become adoptive parents. Out of 720 adoptions in the last twenty years, Catholic Charities has placed 13 foster children with gay couples. However, the 42 member lay Board of Directors of Catholic Charities unanimously voted in December to continue to place children with same sex couples. Three board members have resigned in protest of the Bishops' actions. The Bishops initially hired the Boston law firm of Ropes & Gray to make their case but the firm announced on February 28 that it would no longer be doing any work on the gay adoption question. While those in favor of allowing same sex couples to adopt point to state anti-discrimination statutes, the Bishops make their case on first amendment, freedom of religion grounds. Which ever way Governor Romney decides to favor, this case is a harbinger for what happens to religious adoption agencies which discriminate in favor of or against applicant families on the basis on religion when the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption goes into effect. The Hague Convention requires that all agencies doing Hague adoptions be accredited; the act of being accredited may well be sufficient to trigger the applicability of the 1964 federal Civil Rights Act which forbids discrimination on racial and religious grounds. For More information see: Blog, Article, Article.

March 3, 2006. Other Proposed Legislation We Would Like to See Become Law. On February 25, 2004, Senator Don Nickles (R-Okla) introduced the Natural Born Citizens Act. This bill, co-sponsored by Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La), proposed to give children born to U.S. citizens abroad and children born abroad and then adopted by U.S. citizens the same rights and privileges granted to children born in the U.S. Among other things, the proposed legislation would allow such children to run for president. Given the fact that the law of adoption is designed to give adopted children the same rights and privileges as birth children, the Natural Born Citizens Act seems not an innovation but rather a clarification. While the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on the bill on October 5, 2004, no further progress on passing this legislation was made. We hope that the bill will be reintroduced and next time, will be enacted. More Information.

March 2, 2006. Sixteen States Considering Anti-Gay Adoption Move. Last year Gay marriage was in the forefront; this year adoption by Gay and Lesbian parents is the key social issue at the ballot box. Both sides in this debate agree that adoption legislation has never been as newsworthy. Bills are being drafted or discussed in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, and West Virginia. Those opposed to Gay rights, emboldened by their clean sweep of victories in all the states that had Gay marriage initiatives last year, are pushing to ban Gay adoption as well. Some political insiders think that the Gay adoption issue is being used as a way to mobilize the Conservative vote in the 2006 midterm elections. What is clear is that the best interests of the children are not central to this debate. However these initiatives fare at the polls, Professor Richard Carlson, of South Texas College of Law in Houston, argues that morality based adoption laws will offer "a weak argument" and will face legal challenges. When interviewed by USA Today, Carlson cited U.S. Supreme Court rulings striking down bans on interracial marriage and sodomy, which reflected prevailing views when enacted. Although the Supreme Court has not ruled on gay adoption, the recent Lawrence case gives hope that the Court would strike down a ban on Gay adoption. More information.

March 1, 2006. A New Way of Looking at Adoption and Family Creation. Procreation and adoption have long been looked at separately. One was the intimate creation of a family, privately consummated between the only two people involved. The other was a state-sanctioned method which involved rules and regulations administered by local and state judicial and child welfare officials. As Dr. Debora Spar, points out in her new book, The Baby Business: How Money, Science and Politics Drive the Commerce of Conception, technological breakthroughs have rendered this old bifurcation thoroughly useless. The invention of the internet, coming shortly after the development of artificial reproductive technology, has created, as Dr. Spar put it at a CAP conference two years ago, "sixteen ways to make a baby." Moreover, Dr. Spar points out: "The new technologies, particularly in vitro fertilization, have permitted us to do things we couldn't before...Many of the once infertile can now make babies and people will pay almost anything to do that. But because this is so new, it's also unregulated, and a lot of the usual economic rules don't apply." Dr. Spar proposes using a business model to examine family creation transactions, in order to better navigate and regulate the business of having children. Dr. Spar, the Spangler Family Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, will be the keynote speaker at CAP's annual conference, this year on Science, Technology and Adoption, to be held at New York Law School on May 18, 2006. More information.

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