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January 2007

January 26, 2007. New State Law Requirements Slow ICA Applications from New York. As of January 11, 2007, New York law requires that any person seeking to become a foster or adoptive parent in New York include in his/her home study a national police clearance as well as an FBI fingerprint check. The New York legislature enacted this requirement because of concerns about out-of-state criminal convictions of domestic foster and adoptive parents but it is duplicative and time-consuming in the Intercountry Adoption context; CIS already requires such a fingerprint check of any person applying for a visa to bring home an adopted child born outside the United States.

January 25, 2007. British Cabinet Dispute Rages Over Gay Adoption. Prime Minister Tony Blair and members of his cabinet are embroiled in difficult discussions over provisions of Britain's adoption law that, as of April 6, 2007, will require adoption agencies not to discriminate against Gay and Lesbians in their placement of children. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, leader of Roman Catholics in England and Wales had called for an exemption for faith-based agencies from anti-discrimination legislation. While Prime Minister Blair was said to be sympathetic to this request, a majority of the Cabinet is apparently opposed to provisions which would allow agencies to refuse Gay and Lesbian placements. Last year Catholic Charities of Boston halted adoption services rather than place children with Gay and Lesbian families. More Information.

January 24, 2007. What We (Don't) Know About Intercountry Adoption. In his Wall Street Journal movie review of "The Italian," critic Joe Morgenrstern had this to say about Intercountry Adoption: "International adoption is big business, and often dirty business, an unregulated chaos of shining promises, tawdry realities and thwarted hopes as well as happy endings." These statements are an unfortunately familiar litany of exaggerations, half-truths, and untruths. As readers of this column well know, adoption is a highly regulated form of family creation, especially when compared to biological child birth or IVF. As for ICA in particular, the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, soon to be ratified by the U.S., creates an international legal framework for U.S. domestic law, and represents an unprecedented American decision to prefer transparency and accountability to domestic legal unilateralism. While there are corrupt actors in ICA, as everywhere, the vast majority of members of the adoption triad as well as those professionals working in the many adoption fields are honest, dedicated and concerned about only one thing: providing every child with a permanent home of his or her own. For More Information see Wall Street Journal, January 19, 2007, p. W1.

January 19, 2007. CIS Should Be Issuing New China Visa Regulations. We have learned that the Citizenship and Immigration Service (CIS) is planning to issue new regulations which will allow for the expediting of I-600A forms for families who will not qualify to adopt in China under the new CCAA guidelines which go into effect on May 1, 2007. Further, CIS will post information about this expediting process on its website shortly. More Information.

January 18, 2007. New Chinese Special Needs Adoption Requirement. The Chinese Center of Adoption Affairs (CCAA) has announced a new dossier requirement for Waiting Children (Special Needs) adoptions. Effective immediately the CCAA will be sending U.S. agencies "Seeking Confirmation Letters" for each family applying to adopt a waiting child. These are the same letters that families in the Non-Special Needs program sign when they accept or decline a referral of a child. Previously the Letter of Intent to Adopt served this purpose for Waiting Children adoptions. Now families adopting a Waiting Child will have to sign the original of the Seeking Confirmation Letter which their agency will then forward to CCAA. The CCAA will only issue a Travel Approval for a family after it receives the original of this letter.

January 17, 2007. Troubled U.S. Orphan Hosting Programs. Over the last few years U.S. charitable organizations and adoption agencies have created programs which allow Ukrainian unparented children to visit with U.S. families for two weeks. While the motivation for these holiday visits is benevolent, they often work on a false premise - that the U.S. host family will be able to apply to adopt the child who visits its home. However, under Ukrainian law, families who wish to adopt from abroad must travel to Ukraine without previously having pre-identified a child to adopt. Moreover, Ukrainian adoption law has been in flux for the last year, putting in jeopardy any Intercountry Adoption program. More Information.

January 16, 2007. Top British IVF Clinic Raided. Two clinics run by Dr. Mohammed Taranissi, one of Britain's most famous IVF doctors, were raided by inspection teams from the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA), the government authority that regulates U.K. fertility treatments. These clinics have been among Britain's most successful IVF facilities but HFEA charged that these clinics were proceeding without valid licenses. Last night the BBC ran a documentary on Dr. Taranissi's practice which, among other things, pictured a doctor offering a young reporter IVF treatments even though she had no history of infertility. As potential parents continue to seek scientific methods of family creation, it is important that proper regulation and supervision of fertility medicine keep pace. More Information.

January 12, 2007. Chinese Contemplate Huge Gender Imbalance. Chinese researchers and government officials are seriously worried about the gender imbalance in the Chinese population. The effect of the Chinese traditional preference for sons, combined with the one-child policy and the invention of the sonogram twenty years ago has resulted in a gender ratio of 120 boys for every 100 girls rather than the expected approximately 103 to 100. The 2000 census reported that there were almost 19 million more boys than girls in the 0-15 age group. While the number of Chinese children adopted by Americans (6,500 in FY 2006), is very small compared to the overall number of "missing" girls, 95 percent of those adopted are girls. We can expect that the looming demographic crunch will affect China's ICA policies in years to come. More Information.

January 11, 2007. Rules on Chinese Waiting Children Adoption Still Not Clear. For several years now, the Chinese Center for Adoption Affairs has run a special adoption program for "Waiting Children" - children who have physical needs that range from minor and correctible to more serious. Selected American agencies were given groups of children's files and placed those children with clients. Those adopting through the Waiting Children program proceeded in an expedited fashion. In conjunction with the rules changes for Non-Special Needs adoption announced last month, the CCAA has indicated that the procedures for Waiting Children adoption will also change. However, the CCAA has not yet informed agencies of the precise nature of these changes.

January 10, 2007. New Year Brings Full Adoption Rights to Gays and Lesbians in Scotland. Legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament in December now allows unmarried and same-sex couples to apply to be joint adoptive parents. Previously only heterosexual married couples and single parents could apply to adopt. Lawmakers took this step in the face of opposition from Roman Catholic Church leaders. Notably, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, Scotland's Roman Catholic leader, described the legislation as "gravely immoral" and a "distorted social experiment aimed at redefining marriage, subverting the family and threatening the good of society". Proponents of the change hope that it will ease the shortage of adoptive families in Scotland and allow more children to find permanent loving families of their own. More Information.

January 9, 2007. Nixzmary Brown One Year Later. Last January 11 seven year old Nixzmary (pronounced: Neesmahree) Brown was found starved and beaten to death. One year later her mother and step-father are still awaiting trials, scheduled for March and February respectively. Three separate petitions have been filed for custody of Nixzmary's five siblings, all under the age of 11. They currently live in foster care. If any good can be said to come of this tragedy, calls to New York City's Administration for Children's Services are still running at thirty percent higher than before Nixzmary's death. As a spokeswoman for the city, Sharman Stein, said, "There is something about this case that has definitely affected people." More Information.

January 8, 2007. India Popular Source for Embryo Adoption. With Intercountry Adoption becoming more difficult and more expensive, more couples are turning to embryo adoption as a method of family creation. India is becoming an increasingly popular source of embryos for western couples. According to Dr. Arachana Dhwan Bajaj, a specialist in infertility and Reproductive Medicine in New Delhi, "Outsourcing of embryo[s] has caught the fancy of couples from the West who now see India as a destination where they can yield an embryo to child their barren wombs at lower costs." In 2006 CAP's annual conference focused on science, technology and embryo adoption. More Information.

January 5, 2007. New Chinese Rules for Intercountry Adoption Official. The official notification from the Chinese Center for Adoption Affairs to American adoption agencies concerning new rules for Intercountry Adoption from China have now been posted on various agency websites. While the rules are phrased as dividing applicants into "priority applicants" and others, most U.S. adoption agencies have already made the changed rules their basic requirements for adoption from China. The new parameters include: both parents must be under 50 for non-special needs adoption and under 55 for special needs adoption, while divorced applicants must be in their present marriage for at least five years. Some important questions have not yet been answered such as what the new health requirements mean and how will they be interpreted. Also unclear is whether the new requirements will be applied to all applications with an LID after May 1, 2007 or will they apply to all applications that arrive in China after May 1, 2007. More Information.

January 4, 2007. It's Official: Romania Joins the EU. On January 1, 2007 Romania and Bulgaria joined the European Union. With Romanian accession a reality the Bucharest government has far more latitude to revise its rules regulating Intercountry Adoption. Currently, responding to the carrot and stick tactics of high ranging European Union politicians, notably Lady Emaa Nicholson, Romania prohibits non-familial ICA. We hope that the Romanian government, having achieved the EU membership it has long sought, will now feel able to amend its laws to permit ICA so that every child will have what he or she deserves: a permanent loving home.

January 30, 2007. State Department Publishes Parents' Guide to the Hague Convention. The State Department has published a guide to the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption for prospective adoptive parents. This 36 page pamphlet, which can be downloaded from the State Department's web site, provides an accessible overview to the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption and should be must reading for any U.S. family planning to adopt from a Hague Convention country. The Frequently Asked Questions section and glossary of terms are particularly helpful. The Hague guide may be downloaded at http://travel.state.gov/pdf/Prospective_Adoptive_Parents_Guide.pdf.

January 29, 2007. Guatemalan Politics May Complicate Adoption Policy. In September Guatemalans will choose a new President; under Guatemalan law Oscar Berger, who was elected in 2003, cannot serve a second term. Concurrently, the United States is scheduled to ratify the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. Once the U.S. becomes a Hague country, Americans will no longer be able to adopt from Guatemala until its government modifies its Intercountry Adoption procedures to conform to the Hague requirements. It seems likely that Guatemalan presidential politics will play a role in the future tenor of Guatemala's ICA legislation. More Information.

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