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October 2006

October 31, 2006. Trick or Treat but Not for UNICEF. Today is Halloween and children throughout the United States will be collecting money for UNICEF. What most of their parents do not realize is the negative role UNICEF has played in the lives of millions of unparented children. Over the last decades UNICEF officials have played a major role in the tragic effort to block Intercountry Adoption. Although UNICEF finally gave grudging official support to limited ICA in 2004, officials on the ground have not recanted their anti-ICA stance and have done little to aid the search for permanent families for unparented children. Those who purport to stand for children's rights must remember that no right is more fundamental than the right of every child to a permanent family.

October 30, 2006. Sesame Street Adoption Segments to Run Next Week. Sesame Street has announced that its adoption segments will run on November 6 and 7. The story line centers on long-term character Gina who will adopt as a single mother from Guatemala. Knowing the care and sensitivity with which Sesame Street approaches each show, we welcome these segments. We are sure they will both be fun and also supportive of the adoption and single parent communities.

October 27, 2006. New Jersey Opens Door To Gay Marriage. New Jersey's Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that Gay and Lesbian couples should have the same legal rights and privileges as heterosexual couples. A divided court, however, left it to the legislature to decide if these relationships should be known as marriages or civil unions. This decision will have great benefits for the children, adopted or biological, of Gay and Lesbian partners. In handing down this ruling New Jersey bucked this year's trend which saw the highest court in both New York and California defer to legislative decisions not to extend these rights to Gay and Lesbians. Some of the states that have included a ban on same-sex marriage on this year's ballot are Virginia, Tennessee, Colorado, Arizona, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

October 26, 2006. New Legislation Introduced Into Congress Extending CIS Visa Approval. Congresswoman Heather Wilson ( R-NM ) has introduced into the House of Representatives the "Helping Families Adopt Orphans Act." This bill would lengthen the time the I-171 H "Notice of Favorable Determination Concerning Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition" remains valid from the current 18 months to two years. Usually this document is the last one potential adoptive families receive prior to sending their dossier to the country from which they wish to adopt. With the time from dossier submission to adoption having lengthened significantly in recent years, many families are now having to apply for a new I-171 H prior to the time they seek to bring home their adopted child.

October 25, 2006. Intercountry Adoption in the News. The recent media focus on Madonna's decision to adopt from Malawi has created higher than usual interest in Intercountry Adoption. In all the discussions of Madonna's particular situation, many reports have lost sight of the more important discussion: that concerning Intercountry Adoption-what it is and what it should be. The crucial person in any adoption discussion must be the child and the most important part of any adoption decision must be determining what his or her best interests are. Vital to discerning the best interests are the well-being of the birth family and the potential adoptive family. Every child deserves to have a permanent loving family. If his or her birth family cannot perform this role, then adoptive parents, be they domestic or international, are the best alternative. Institutionalization or long-term foster care should never be permanent solutions. We support Intercountry Adoption wholeheartedly and seek to safeguard it. ICA only will be safe if it is legal, transparent and honest, according to the laws of the sending country and the receiving country. This is the ICA that everyone deserves.

October 24, 2006. Guatemala and the Hague Convention. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Overseas Citizens Services, Catherine Barry, has visited Guatemala in order to discuss the U.S. ratification of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. This high-level meeting is of great relevance since once the U.S. ratifies the Hague Convention (on track for sometime in 2007), if nothing else happens, all ICA from Guatemala to the U.S. will cease. We welcome the State Department's initiative and hope that it helps produce a change in Guatemala's adoption laws. More Information.

October 23, 2006. Study Confirms Health and Well-Being of Older Mothers. A long term study conducted in the United States has shown that women who give birth after the age of 50 are just as healthy, both physically and psychologically, as women who give birth at younger ages. This data is very important, among other reasons, to the current debate in Britain over whether the government should restrict access to IVF treatment to women under a certain age. Given the frequency of IVF and the ability of older women to adopt, the number of women over fifty with young children is at a historic high. More Information.

October 20, 2006. Good News On Russian Front. As readers of this Newscap know, the Russian government this year has required that international adoption agencies register as NGOs as well as complete the set requirements for foreign adoption agencies. This week two more American agencies have received NGO status. They are Creative Adoptions, Inc. and Alliance for Children. Prospective adoptive parents and the professionals they work with must take affirmative steps to ensure that any agency involved in ICA, be it from Russia, or any other country, has met all of the qualifications for service in the sending country.

October 19, 2006. What a Difference Local Laws and Procedures Make. Intercountry adoption has become much more common in the last decade. In the United States, the number of children adopted internationally went from around 10, 000 in 1995 to over 22,000 in 2004. This surge was mirrored in other Western countries-Dr. Peter Selman of Newcastle University states that overall ICA in the top 20 receiving nations grew 42 percent since 1998. However, Britain is the exception. In 2004 there were only 326 Intercountry adoptions into Britain. The comparable numbers for France and Spain were 4,079 and 5,541, respectively. A disinterest in ICA among British potential parents does not account for this huge disparity. Rather it is a result of legal, practical and societal roadblocks. More Information.

October 18, 2006. Intercountry Adoption -- Why it Should be Welcomed According to Unicef, 1 out of 13 children in the developing world is an orphan. In Malawi there are 1,000,000 orphans in a country where the life expectancy is 40. Yet for years Malawi has virtually banned Intercountry Adoption. This anti-ICA policy has been hailed by non-African NGOs as the correct one even though the chances of African orphaned children finding parents domestically are pitifully small. Interestingly, aid workers who are from Malawi or other countries in sub-Saharan Africa are much more welcoming of ICA than those from the West. As South African social worker Sue Kravitz put it,"...a child needs to be in a family, which is far better than growing up in an institution. We are in a crisis and there are a lot of children who need homes and that is the real issue." More Information.

October 17, 2006. Madonna and U.S. Immigration Law. Much has been made of the way in which Malawi apparently granted Madonna an exemption from its adoption laws in her quest to adopt a new son. Another puzzling question is the way in which her Intercountry adoption intersected with U.S immigration law. Her publicist said today that Madonna and her husband had "been granted temporary custody for 18 months, during which time they will be evaluated by the courts of Malawi per the tribal customs of the country". All reports have indicated that the boy is traveling with a U.S. visa. We would wonder how this unusual case meets the requirements of U.S. immigration statutes and regulations. More Information.

October 13, 2006. What is an Orphan? The publicity concerning Madonna's quest to adopt a child in Malawi has given light to confusion about what exactly is an orphan. The relevant definition for the purposes of Intercountry Adoption in the United States is the U.S. immigration law definition which states that a child is an orphan if: "The child has no parents due to the death or disappearance of, abandonment or desertion by, or separation from or loss of both parents; or the sole or surviving parent is incapable of providing proper care and has, in writing, irrevocably released the child for emigration and adoption." As can be seen from this definition, the fact that a child has living biological parents does not disqualify him or her from meeting the statatutory requirements for ICA. More Information.

October 12, 2006. Madonna's Intercountry Adoption Provokes Knee-Jerk Negative Reaction. It has been widely reported this week that Madonna is in the process of adopting a little boy from Malawi, one of Africa's poorest countries. Malawi has also suffered the ravages of the AIDS epidemic, leaving an estimated one million unparented children. The birth mother of the child Madonna is adopting is dead; his biological father, Yohame Banda, welcomed the adoption of his son. However, international aid workers are not pleased. The child advocacy group Eye of the Child questioned whether ICA was good for Malawian children while Jacke Schoeman, executive director of Cotlands, a South African organization that helps HIV affected children, said that "If the only other option is for them to be in a long-term institution then we would consider international adoption". Once again the aid community is demonstrating that notions of political correctness trump the best interests of a child. Every child deserves a permanent, loving family of his or her own, whatever passport the parents hold. More Information.

October 11, 2006. Delays Expected in ICA from Haiti. The U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti has informed the State Department that a new director has been appointed to lead the Haitian adoption department known as the "Institut du Bien Etre Social et de Recherches" (IBESR). The Embassy further reports that this change will result in a delay in adoption processing. Prospective adoptive parents should monitor this situation with their U.S. agencies and should consult the U.S. State Department website for updates. More Information.

October 9, 2006. Preventing Adoption Disruption The disruption of a completed adoption is a tragic outcome for both the adopted child and his adopted parents. Older children are particularly at risk-an estimated one out of four adoptions of children over the age of twelve fail. Crucial to the success of any adoption is providing potential parents the child's complete medical and family history, to the extent it is available. Just as important is pre-adoption education. Parenting a pre-teen or teen is very different from parenting an infant or toddler. Adoptive parents must also receive support during and after the adoption, particularly as to the effects of institutionalization, interrupted placements and separation trauma. More Information.

October 6, 2006. Guatemala and the Hague Convention. Guatemala's legal situation as regards the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption is unique. Guatemala's ratification of the Hague Convention was judicially nullified. However, Guatemala is still considered to be a Hague country whose ICA procedures do not meet Hague standards. Once the United States ratifies the Hague Convention all adoptions to the United States from Guatemala will stop until Guatemala enacts an adoption law which conforms to Hague requirements. Now that we have a clearer idea about the U.S. timeframe for Hague ratification, it is imperative that adoption agencies begin to advise clients of this situation. More Information.

October 5, 2006. State Department Announces Hague Transitional Application Deadline. In regulations published in the Federal Register today, the State Department has designated November 17, 2006 as the Transitional Application Deadline under the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. Agencies or persons that wish to ensure that they are accredited, temporarily accredited or approved by the date that the United States ratifies the Hague Convention will want to apply on or before November 17. Agencies or persons may apply for full accreditation at any time after November 17 but they may not be accredited by the time of U.S. ratification. For that reason agencies or persons that want to ensure that they will be able to continue working in Hague countries without interruption should certainly apply for temporary accreditation/approval prior to the November deadline. More Information.

October 4, 2006. COA Fee Schedule Announced. We are pleased to report that the Council on Accreditation has posted its fee schedule for accreditation under the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. Agencies who wish to handle Intercountry Adoption from Hague Convention countries will welcome this information. The United States is now one step closer to ratifying the Hague Convention. The complete fee schedule can be accessed at http://www.coanet.org/files/HagueFeeSchedule.pdf.

October 3, 2006. Seven States Have Anti-Gay Marriage Constitutional Ballot Questions. The states of Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin all have anti-Gay and Lesbian constitutional amendment ballot questions this November. While these electoral initiatives are framed in terms of marriage, once passed these anti-Gay and Lesbian amendments have also been used to deny Gay and Lesbian families the right to foster or adopt children. We deplore any measure that will lessen the chance for an unparented child to find a permanent loving home.

October 2, 2006. Child Selling in Bulgaria. The Sunday Times (UK) reported yesterday on child selling from the Roma community in Bulgaria. A baby's grandmother in the impovrished Roma section of Plovdiv, Bulgaria's second city, offered a reporter her granddaughter for $20, 000. According to the article, babies are routinely trafficked for adoption to other European countries, particularly to Greece. There are many reasons for the tragedy reported here. Chief among them must be that mothers who cannot take care of their children have been denied the ability to make a safe and legal adoption plan for them. The Bulgarian government, like Romania's leadership, has worked mightly to end Intercountry Adoption in order to please the gatekeepers of the European Union. As a result, legal adoption from Bulgaria to the United States plummeted from 297 in FY 2001 to 29 in FY 2005. The need for adoptive homes in Bulgaria has not changed; it has been driven underground. Once more it is the children who pay the price. The answer is for Bulgaria, now officially promised EU membership in January 2007, to permit ICA once more. More Information.

Center for Adoption Policy (CAP)
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