September 29, 2006. Forged Letter Circulating in Guatemala. The State Department has revealed that a letter purporting to be from the President of Guatemala stating that all Intercountry Adoption will be stopped on October 1 is a forgery. This letter is on faked presidential stationery with a false presidential signature. The government of Guatemala is preparing an official statement. In the meantime agencies should advise waiting parents neither to panic nor to take any action without speaking to responsible American authorities. More Information.
September 28, 2006. Russia Gives NGO status to Various American Adoption Agencies. In addition to various adoption agency registration requirements, the Russian government now requires all foreign adoption agencies to become registered Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Russia. We are pleased to report that during the last ten days a number of American adoption agencies have fulfilled their NGO requirements and have received Russian approval as registered NGOs. As a result these agencies will be able to keep their agency accreditation and to pursue Russian re-accreditation, which is required to be renewed on an annual basis. Agencies receiving their NGO status include Cradle of Hope, WACAP and MAPS International.
September 27, 2006. Justice Still Proves Elusive. Last January seven year old Nixzmary Brown died, having been starved and brutalized. The New York City child welfare system came under scrutiny as did Nixzmary's mother and stepfather. While changes in child placement practice followed, the legal system has been unable to proceed swiftly against Nixzmary's mother and step-father. Both mother Nixzaliz Santiago, and stepfather, Cesar Rodriguez, have been charged in with murder in Nixzmary's death-Rodriguez allegedly beat Nizmary and Santiago willingly helped him. But neither case has proceeded to trial. Santiago has a very able defense team whose legal maneuvers have apparently shielded both defendants from anything resembling a speedy trial. How sad that the system is better able to protect the alleged perpetrators than the child who paid for this negligence with her life. More Information.
September 26, 2006. Romania and Bulgaria Will Join the EU on January 1, 2007. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso informed the European Parliament today that both countries progress had been sufficient to merit entry into the European Union on January 1 of next year, as scheduled. EU advisors still criticized certain aspects of each country's compliance with EU rules but Romanian officials will be pleased that their efforts at fighting corruption and creating legal transparency were highly praised. Today's decision means that all of Eastern Europe will now be part of the EU. It is also a great victory for the Romanian government which has made joining the EU its highest national priority. Finally it is a victory for the unparented children of Romania: after January 2007, Romanian officials will be free to create their own domestic policies on Intercountry Adoption, among other subjects, without fear of offending EU officials. More Information.
September 25, 2006. Romania's Beleaguered Orphans Detail Years of Suffering. Eleven Romanian teenagers whose adoption by western families was blocked by Romania's ban on Intercountry Adoption have revealed their tragic years of abuse in a private orphanage in Brasov. These children had all been referred to specific families that planned to adopt them. Instead, the teenagers are now testifying to years of sexual and physical abuse. Their suffering can be laid at the door of Lady Emma Nicholson and her allies who foisted on Romania a ban on ICA as the price for endorsements for Romania's application to join the European Union. All indications are that the EU will this week give the final go-ahead on Romania's application to join next year. We hope that thereafter the Romanian government will feel free to permit ICA as a means to provide Romania's unparented children with permanent, loving families rather than institutional abuse. More information.
September 22, 2006. Affluent Chinese Children Have a Different Life. The New York Times reports today on the affluent lifestyle of Chinese children. Golf lessons, etiquette lessons, private "Fastrac" nursery schools are just some of the markers for the children of China's new elite. And that segment of China's population continues to expand; according one study over fifteen percent of Shanghai's population of 17 million is rich enough to own both a house and a car. What the increase in China's divide between rich and poor will mean for the stability of China in general and the future of Intercountry Adoption from China in particular is not at all clear. More Information.
September 21, 2006. Switching Countries for ICA. Referral times from China have continued to increase. Most agencies are informing prospective clients that the time for referral of a child from the date a dossier is logged in at the CCAA is projected to be 13-15 months but one respected agency is now predicting a 8-24 month wait for referral. At the same time more and more agencies are opening (or re-opening) Vietnam programs. As a result, some prospective parents who thought about China adoption are opting from Vietnam instead. The chief disadvantage is that the Vietnamese orphanage donation and associated fees are between three and four times what they are in China. However, the adoptions from Vietnam completed in 2006 have been much quicker than this year's NSN China adoptions.
September 20. 2006. Guatemala Adoption Process Proceeding Faster. The slowdown which affected Intercountry Adoption From Guatemala appears to be over. During the spring and early summer months, many applications were held up in the PGN office, which must approve every application for ICA. During the last month however, the PGN has been promptly reviewing foreign adoption applications. We are delighted that as a result, the number of families able to bring home children from Guatemala has greatly increased. More Information.
September 19, 2006. ICARE Bill Dead This Year. The ICARE bill which sought to establish an Office of Intercountry Adoption within the State Department and to modernize and standardize American laws pertaining to Intercountry Adoption will not become law in this legislative session. The ICARE amendment was attached as a rider to the Senate version of the comprehensive immigration reform bill. When members of both parties abandoned the Senate's bill, ICARE was lost as well.
September 18, 2006. British Government May Place Ban on IVF Twins. So many British women are having twins through IVF that the intensive care units of hospitals are swamped. Both women bearing twins and the children themselves have a much higher rate of complications. The number of twins has nearly doubled since IVF procedures began, in large part because women are permitted to have two embryos implanted at the same time. The expert advisory committee for the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA), which licenses all clinics providing IVF procedures in the UK, is expected to recommend that women under thirty-five be permitted to have only one embryo implanted at a time. (The remaining embryos would be frozen.) The Center for Adoption Policy sponsored a conference this past May on Science, Technology and Adoption which discussed this and other related issues. More Information.
September 15, 2006. Michigan House of Representative Passes Bill Targeting Gay Adoption. Private adoption agencies will be permitted to discriminate against any placement that violates their religious or moral convictions under a bill passed by the Michigan House of Representatives on Tuesday. This legislation would also prohibit state or local government from denying an agency child placement grants or contracts stemming from adoption placement decisions. While blocking adoption by Gays and Lesbians provided the clear impetus for this bill, its broad terms would allow an agency to discriminate against potential parents based on religious or racial grounds as well. The legislation would therefore appear to violate any Michigan state anti-discrimination statutes. For more Information see Michigan Legislature: http://www.legislature.mi.gov.
September 14, 2006. Aid Workers who Revealed Abuses Removed from Romanian Orphanages. International staff members working in various Romanian orphanages have been barred from returning to work after they revealed the sufferings of children in Romanian institutional care. Romanian staff stopped an American nurse from the charity Rock Ministries from returning to work in Oradea and six British nationals from the Smiles Foundation posted to the same orphanage were also prevented from resuming their work. A spokesman for the latter organization said: "We were caring for abandoned, abused and neglected children. We were changing them, feeding them, stimulating them through play - all the things lacking within the state system." The European Union, which is now giving final consideration to Romania's bid to join, is also reviewing this new information on the plight of Romania's unparented children. We sincerely hope that EU officials will realize that Intercountry Adoption is a necessary part of Romania's childcare arsenal. Otherwise another generation of Romanian children will be relegated to a substandard and unloved existence. More information.
September 13, 2006. Sesame Street Will Feature Story About Intercountry Adoption. This fall Sesame Street will introduce a new (non-muppet) member of the neighborhood. Gina, long a regular on the show, will adopt a little boy from Guatemala who will be called Marco. We are delighted about this new storyline. Given Sesame Street's long commitment to positive diversity, we are sure Marco's story will be a joyous one which adopted children will truly cherish. More Information.
September 12, 2006. Continuing Education for Adoption Professionals. One of the little discussed aspects of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption is that its ratification will bring with it a requirement that adoption professionals obtain continuing education (CE) credits in order to remain Hague accredited. This requirement is in line with other professions' requisites such as the requirement that lawyers take continuing legal education courses. An examples of the kind of courses that meet this requirement is the Annual ATTACh Conference, on attachment disorder. We believe that this requirement is another indication of how the Hague Convention will bolster the case for Intercountry Adoption. More information.
September 11, 2006. American Agency Programs in Vietnam on the Rise. American adoption agencies continue to expand their programs in Vietnam. The Vietnamese government had stopped all Intercountry Adoption to the United States for several years but allowed ICA to resume in 2006. Families are drawn to Vietnam by the relative lack of restrictions placed on adopting parents and by the availability of early infant adoption. The increased referral time from China has also contributed to the growing interest in adoption from Vietnam.
September 8, 2006. CIS Issues Important to Intercountry Adoption. The rules and regulations of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service are of great importance to the adoption community since obtaining a visa for the prospective child is necessary for any ICA to proceed. With lengthening referral times in China and Russia, one issue that arises is how to handle the expiration of documents. Fingerprints checks are valid for fifteen months while the adoption visa (I-171H) is valid for eighteen months. It has come to our attention that different regional CIS offices are handling renewal applications in different ways. We regret this fact, since all CIS offices are governed by the same federal rules. We hope that as part of the ratification process for the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, CIS procedures will be standardized and streamlined.
September 7, 2006. Moving Forward With the Hague Convention. The final steps toward U.S. ratification of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption are underway. Accrediting bodies have been chosen and agencies which work in the field of Intercountry Adoption must decide if they want to become Hague accredited or work through Hague accredited agencies. We understand that the procedures may seem cumbersome and particularly regret that the fees for accreditation have not yet been published. Yet these difficulties do not detract from the importance of U.S. ratification of the Hague Convention to the future of ICA. Now that China has ratified the Hague Convention, American failure to ratify could have a chilling affect on U.S. adoption from China. With ICA from Eastern Europe under constant attack from European Union officials, American failure to ratify the Hague Convention will damage the cause of Intercountry Adoption. It is vital for the American adoption community to put Hague ratification in the global context to which it belongs.
September 6, 2006. American Adoption Agency Registered as NGO in Russia. The Cradle, an American Adoption Agency located in Evanston, Illinois, announced that it received its NGO registration from Russia on August 30, 2006. Ever since the Russian government announced earlier this year that it was requiring all international adoption agencies to be registered as NGOs, as well as follow requirements for registering as international adoption agencies, there has been concern about what this further layer of requirements means for Russian ICA. The speed with which the Cradle received its NGO registration is heartening to us all.
September 5, 2006. European Birth Rate Decline Will Affect Intercountry Adoption. Western European birth rates have long been declining below the 2.1 rate required to maintain a country's population stable. Now birth rates in Eastern European countries, both those which have joined the European Union, and those like Romania and Bulgaria which are hoping to do so next year, are plummeting as well. Discouraged by the cessation of free daycare and plentiful child benefits, both features of Communist regimes, Eastern Europeans have stuck with one child or put off child rearing altogether. As a result, birth rates in the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Poland have dropped to 1.2, matching the lowest levels of Western European countries. Romanian and Bulgarian birth rates are not much higher. As a result of the baby deficit, European countries will face dire demographic issues as their populations age without younger European workers to fill the gap. Reliance on immigration, as has been the case in Western Europe for years, has proved to be a problematic solution. These demographic changes may influence European attitudes to Intercountry Adoption. More Information.
Center for Adoption Policy (CAP)