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August 2007

August 30, 2007. Smooth Implementation For Second Guatemala DNA Test. Earlier this month the State Department began requiring a second DNA test for children being adopted by U.S. families from Guatemala. Since that time, adoption agencies report that families in process in Guatemala have continued to bring their new children home, notwithstanding this new requirement. We are pleased that a move designed to ensure further the safety of Guatemalan Intercountry Adoption has, from the accounts we have seen, been integrated smoothly into the U.S. international adoption process.

August 29, 2007. Vietnam Program Restrictions. The response from potential adoptive parents to the reopening of Vietnam programs after a three year hiatus has overwhelmed adoption agencies. Families who were shut out of the China program by the new rules or gave up on China because of the increasing wait times led the way. In response agencies have either stopped accepting new applications (Harrah's Adoption International Mission), stopped allowing applicant parents to request girls (Pearl S. Buck Welcome House) or restricted new applicants to those willing to accept older children (FTIA and Alliance for Children). These developments represent yet another example of the currently dwindling horizons for Intercountry Adoption.

August 28, 2007. Adoption Programs Temporarily (?) Closing. The turmoil in the Intercountry Adoption world has led agencies to suspend or put on hold various country programs. The suspensions affect different countries at different agencies. For example, at this time Mandela Adoption Services is not accepting new applications for its China program, Alliance for Children is not accepting new applications for its Guatemala program and Hawaii International Child is not accepting new applications for its Kazakhstan program. We hope that these programs, and others, will soon be able to reopen and flourish.

August 27, 2007. New Visa Procedures in Ukraine. The Adoption Unit in the Consular Section of the American embassy in Kyiv has announced that effective September 4, its procedures for obtaining a visa have changed. Parents are required to leave all documents at the Consulate before noon on the business day prior to the day of the visa interview. Visa interviews take place on 2:00 pm on the day designated but only if the required documents have been properly submitted. The Consulate will try to issue the visa the business day after the interview. However, additional documents are required if the adopted child is 16 years or older. More Information.

August 23, 2007. Changes in State Department and CIS Officers. During the summer, major staffing changes have occurred in both the State Department and Citizenship and Immigration Services. Departing officials included the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Overseas Citizen's Services, Catherine Barry, the Children's Issues Director, Ellen Conway and the USCIS Chief of International Adoptions, Ann Palmer. We congratulate these officials on their new positions. However, we also recognize that such high turnover at the senior level may well cause continuity issues at a very delicate time in International Adoption.

August 22, 2007. Follow Up on Casa Quivira. Guatemalan authorities raided an orphanage called Casa Quivira ten days ago. Since that time neither the staff of Casa Quivira nor potential adoptive parents have been able to obtain access to this children's home. We greatly regret that reports have reached us that as of yesterday apparently nine children living at the home have been taken to the hospital. Whatever the issues surrounding this orphanage, the deterioration in care given to children, if true, should not be condoned. More Information.

August 21, 2007. Referral Issues in Chinese Adoption. In the set of referrals sent by the China Center for Adoption Affairs in early August, at least one family expecting to be referred a girl was instead referred a boy. That family turned down the referral. Referrals of boys, once very uncommon, are becoming more usual as the number of Intercountry Adoptions from China drops and the Chinese governement becomes more attuned to the growing gender imbalance in its population. At least one agency has now informed his clients that it will support the parents' decision concerning the gender of referrals. However, it is not known how the CCAA will treat the parents' dossier; will the CCAA send a new referral shortly or will that file be placed at the end of the line. With wait times approaching two years from logged in date to referral, this is a vital, still unanswered question.

August 20, 2007. ART Openness in UK. A committee of British Members of Parliament recommended on August 1 that birth certificates of children born by parents who used donated sperm or eggs and artificial reproductive technology reflect the use of donated genetic material. In Britain it became illegal to donate sperm or eggs anonymously two years ago; the Pariamentry Committee believes that the logical next step is for the birth children of children who were born using donated genetic material should so state. However, the number of people willing to donate sperm or eggs has declined drastically since disclosure became mandatory. Opponents of this new proposed legislation argue that birth certificate bluntness will only increase "fertility tourism."

August 16, 2007. Factors Governing ICA from Guatemala Continue to Be Problematic. A number of issues are troubling Guatemala adoption programs. First and foremost, the State Department's recommendation that potential adoptive parents avoid Guatemala remains in effect. More recently, on August 11, Guatemalan police officers raided a children's center, Casa Quivira, near Antigua. Forty-six children, whose papers showed them to be in the international adoption process, lived at the center, run by American Clifford Phillips of Deland, Florida, who runs the Casa Quivira with his Guatemalan wife, lawyer Sandra Gonzalez. Phillips and his wife deny any wrongdoing. And the children are remaining at the home pending the outcome of the investigation. In explaining their actions, Guatemalan authorities have cited the 2003 "PINA" law for the protection of children and adolescents, which created additional requirements for adoption cases, including the obligation that caretakers of children in adoption processing obtain court-determined legal custody. However, the provisions established by the 2003 law have apparently not been previously enforced. More Information.

August 15, 2007. Can This Be True? We understand that apparently as of last Friday, notifications concerning visas are being sent by the Citizenship and Immigration Services to the National Visa Center by actual mail rather than email. Furthermore the National Visa Center will henceforth send visa approval forms to overseas Consulates by actual mail not email except to U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, China which will receive its notifications by email. Such a retrograde manner of communication is surely not an improvement and will only lead to more lost documents and further delays in Intercountry Adoption.

August 14, 2007. Child Abuse Claims Another New York City Victim. Hayley Gonzalez, twenty-one months old, died yesterday after being taken off life support. Prosecutors allege that her mother's companion beat her and then left her without medical attention for five hours. Her family had been scrutinized by social workers since January 2006 when Hayley was abused by her biological father. This tragic death comes in the wake of a New York City Department of Investigations report castigating city officials for their mishandling of ten deaths of children whose care had been supervised by social services. More Information.

August 13, 2007. Chinese Referrals Update. The China Center for Adoption Affairs made Intercountry Adoption referrals in early August for potential adoptive parents whose dossiers were logged in to CCAA between November 15 and November 21, 2005. With referral days lagging ever more behind calendar days, the average time between LID and referral is now over 20 months. More Information.

August 2, 2007. Requirement for Second Guatemala DNA test to be Effective as of August 6. We can confirm that the new requirement for a second DNA test for children adopted by U.S. parents from Guatemala will go into effect for adoptions finalized by the Guatemalan authorities and submitted to the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City on or after Monday, August 6. The State Department's notice states that, "Due to concerns about the Guatemalan adoption process, the U.S. government must apply an extraordinary level of scrutiny to adoption cases there." More Information.

August 1, 2007. Second DNA test Required for ICA from Guatemala. The U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City will shortly require that any child adopted from Guatemala by U.S. citizens have two DNA tests before he or she can receive a U.S. immigrant visa. This requirement is being implemented because of clear evidence that in the past unethical facilitators and lawyers have substituted children after a child has been given a DNA test in Guatemala but before the U.S. immigrant visa is issued. It is unclear exactly when this requirement will go into effect but at least one agency is attempting to do a second DNA test prior to a visa appointment next week. We applaud this step as one that will better ensure the safety of adoptions from Guatemala.

Center for Adoption Policy (CAP)
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