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November 2007

November 29, 2007. Not Able to Celebrate. November is National Adoption Month. Each year the President signs the relevant declaration; this year's statement correctly pledged to "recognize the adoptive and foster families who have shared their homes and hearts with children in need, and [to] encourage more Americans to consider adopting young people of all ages." We salute all the events that have celebrated adoption and the creation of families by adoption. We recognize that the United States is on track to ratify the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. But as November ends we sadly record that this past year has been a very difficult year for Intercountry Adoption. Fewer U.S. families will be able to adopt internationally this year than last year; in turn those numbers significantly declined from 2005. We fervently hope that 2008 will bring a change in this tragic trend.

November 28, 2007. Familes Marooned in Vietnamese Visa Nightmare. More than twenty U.S. families have completed Intercountry Adoptions in Vietnam, only to find that the Citizenship and Immigration Services and State Department will not grant them a visa for their new child. U.S. government officials generally cite problems with paperwork and disparities in abandonment histories to explain their actions. But for new parents, who have legally adopted their children but cannot take them home, this result is the worst possible outcome. As they try to obtain visas, some parents have opted to remain in Vietnam and others have returned, childless, to the U.S. Recent changes in the way visas are granted for ICA from Vietnam means that in future potential U.S. parents will obtain visa pre-approval in the U.S. before traveling to Vietnam. But the obviating of this issue in the future is of scant comfort to the parents caught in this crisis. More Information.

November 27, 2007. Update on Guatemalan Legal Changes. The predicted vote by the Guatemalan Congress on a new adoption law, projected for this coming week, has been postponed. According to various sources protests outside of the National Palace, Supreme Court and Congress caused the delay in the legislation. There are also worries that President Oscar Berger, the outgoing president whose term expires in January, may veto any legislation that the Congress passes. More Information.

November 26, 2007. Vietnam's Demographics Also Displays Gender Preference. Statistics released by the United Nations Population Fund reveal that Vietnam, like China, India and South Korea, now has a birth rate which is skewed toward producing male children. Around 110 boys are born for every100 girls in Vietnam. The sex-ratio at birth should be around 105 to 100. This report predicts a "marriage squeeze" when the current generation of babies reaches maturity. More Information.

November 21, 2007. Prospective Adoptive Parents Advised to File with CIS Now. The United States government expects that the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption will go into effect on April 1, 2008. As of that date all Intercountry Adoption between the U.S. and other Hague nations will be governed by the Hague Convention. Among other things, new Hague compliant procedures will alter the way the Citizenship and Immigration Services issues visas for children adopted into and out of the U.S. As these are new procedures, there will inevitably be delays for PAPs, even if all goes according to plan. However, any PAP who has filed an I-600 or I-600A will be grandfathered for U.S. purposes under the old system. Therefore we urge anyone contemplating ICA from a Hague country, notably China, to file his or her forms with CIS as soon as possible.

November 20, 2007. President Signs Hague Adoption Convention. President Bush signed the most important international treaty pertaining to children that the United States has ever agreed to, the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, on November 16. The U.S has completed all legal requirements necessary to ratify the Hague Convention. The State Department plans to deposit the instrument of ratification at the Hague on December 12, anticipating an effective date of April 1, 2008. Thereafter the Hague Convention will govern all ICA between the U.S. and other Hague Convention countries. This is a landmark day in the history of U.S. Intercountry Adoption. More Information.

November 19, 2007. U.S. Consulate Takes Humanitarian View-Allows Mother and Child Home. An adoptive couple traveling in China suffered a grievous loss when the father died of a heart attack, possibly from diabetic complications. This tragedy occurred after the adoption of a toddler had been finalized. However, U.S. officials initially refused to issue a visa for the child because the father had been the petitioner on the CIS paperwork. However, after a rapid and hugely successful email/telephone campaign, officials reversed their decision and mother and child were able to return to the U.S. as scheduled. More Information.

November 15, 2007. Nepal allows Transition ICA cases to Proceed. The government of Nepal closed its Intercountry Adoption program in May, 2007. Over 400 families in the middle of the ICA process were caught in this shut down, announced by the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare. Fortunately the Nepali Cabinet has approved the finalization of these transition cases. However, Nepal remains closed to any potential adoptive parents who wish to initiate a new ICA. There is no word as to when Nepal will reopen to ICA. More Information.

November 14, 2007. U.S. Families hit Ukraine's Quota on ICA. Ukraine reopened to Intercountry Adoption this year but instituted annual quotas for each receiving country. The quota for U.S. citizens was fixed at 558. The Ukrainian State Department for Adoptions and Protection of the Rights of the Child has now announced that the U.S. quota has been reached. Therefore during November the SDAPRC will not accept any dossiers except for children who are special needs, have previously adopted siblings and children who are over the age of 13. From December 1, 2007 to approximately January 15, 2008 the SDAPRC will not accept any dossiers from potential adoptive parents. The SDAPRC has not yet set the quota for 2008. More Information.

November 13, 2007. Chinese NSN and WC Referrals Include Growing Number of Boys. During 2007 the Chinese Center of Adoption Affairs has referred an ever- growing number of boys for Intercountry Adoption, both as part of the Non Special Needs program and through the Waiting Child program. A decade ago boys represented a very small part of these programs; this year referrals for boys have approached ten percent of NSN referrals. Most European potential adoptive parents are not allowed to specify gender; a number of U.S. PAPs have received referrals for boys even though they were expecting girls. We have reports that CCAA will permit adoption agencies to advocate for a new referral for PAPs who do not wish to parent a son. Generally PAPs will only receive a new referral if the child referred to them has a serious medical issue. The Chinese government's growing awareness that China's huge gender gap poses a threat to Chinese stability and prosperity at least partly explains this change.

November 12, 2007. State Department Releases Guatemala Update. Last week the State Department issued an update concerning Intercountry Adoption from Guatemala. The positive development is that the State Department expects that Guatemala's revised ICA law will, when enacted, allow "pending cases to be processed to conclusion under current law." However, the State Department continues to urge U.S. citizens not to begin any new adoptions from Guatemala until its government has completed the process both of ratifying the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption and designing a Hague-compliant ICA system. Passage of the new ICA law is only the first step; Guatemalan authorities have to enact regulations that transform their current system into a very different one. Any family that begins the ICA process now will neither be grandfathered nor will such an adoption be a Hague-certified adoption. More Information.

November 8, 2007. Latest CCAA Referrals. The China Center for Adoption Affairs has made referrals of non-special needs children from China for adoptive parents whose documents were logged in with CCAA for the period December 1 through December 8, 2005. As a result the waiting time for such referrals is now twenty-three months from LID. Given that it usually takes adoptive parents three to five months prior to LID to prepare their dossiers and another one to two months after the referral to go to China to adopt their children, the latest referral group will wait around two and a half years to get their children from the time they started the process. More Information.

November 7, 2007. Colom Wins Guatemalan Presidential Election. Alvaro Colom, running on the Center-Left party ticket, won Sunday's Guatemalan Presidential run-off. He, together with running mate Dr. Rafael Espada, a cardiac surgeon at Houston's DeBakey Center, defeated former general Otto Perez Molina. Very little appears to be known concerning the new President-elect's views on Intercountry Adoption. However, given the various complex issues surrounding the Hague Convention and ICA from Guatemala, we hope that Mr. Colum and Dr. Espada take a more favorable view of ICA than President Berger and Vice-President Stein have done. More Information.

November 6, 2007. U.S. Embassy Hanoi and USCIS, Ho Chi Minh City, Announcement concerning ICA from Vietnam. The U.S. Embassy in Hanoi and the Citizenship and Immigration Services office in Ho Chi Minh City have made a joint annoucement detailing their concerns about what they term as the "increase in the number of irregularities appearing in orphan petitions and visa applications in Vietnam" and the consequent increase in the American government increasing number of "Notices of Intent to Deny" adoption petitions. According to the government release, American officials have concerns over the adoption process in Vietnam, specifically the regulation of "child finders" and insufficient safeguards on the amount of fees paid by adoptive families. The U.S. government also confirmed that it is urging Vietnam to become a fully participating member of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. More Information.

November 5, 2007. New Feature: Speaking For Children. Today CAP begins its new feature: "Speaking For Children": a compendium of articles relating to the welfare of children generally with a continuing emphasis on family formation and adoption. We are beginning this series with an op-ed article entitled: "by Slamming the Door on Adoption: Depriving Children Abroad of Loving Homes," Professor Elizabeth Bartholet of Harvard Law School, one of this country's leading experts on adoption law and a participant in CAP's Fifth Annual Adoption Law Conference, to be held on April 25, 2008. More Information.

November 1, 2007. A Vote for the American Way of Adoption. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, and his wife Louise, who has dual U.S. and British citizenship, have adopted their second child from the U.S. Britain has a centralized and completely government -run adoption system, which is a great contrast to U.S. methods which feature decentralization, adoption agencies (both public and private) and independent attorneys. When given a choice, Mr. Miliband and his wife opted for the U.S. system. At a time of great flux in adoption law and practice, the Miliband family's decision is worth pondering. More Information.

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