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April 2008

April 30, 2008. Agencies and Communication. In this time of difficulties for Intercountry Adoption, it is especially critical for agencies to communicate with their clients often and responsively. We are hearing more and more complaints from clients that agencies are not receptive to the potential adoptive parents' concerns. While we understand that agencies are faced with enormous financial and other challenges at this time, it is crucial for adoption agency personnel to understand that listening to PAPs and giving them all information available to the agency is the best way for everyone to proceed.

April 29, 2008. Papers and Presentations from CAP's 2008 Conference on Foster Care to Adoption. CAP's 2008 adoption law conference, co-sponsored with New York Law School, on the topic of "Waiting in America: Foster Care to Adoption" is now history. We are pleased to post presentations from our conference under the "CAP Conference 2008" button on our website. CAP's 2009 Conference on "International Adoption: One Year After the Hague" will be held on March 6, 2009.

April 28, 2008. Vietnam Ends ICA to United States. Vietnamese officials announced on Friday that they would not renew the Memorandum of Agreement between the United States and Vietnam which governs Intercountry Adoption from Vietnam to the United States. While U.S. officials had made clear their reluctance to renew the agreement, at least in its present form, it was Vu Duc Long, Director of Vietnam's Department of International Adoption that made this announcement. His statement came shortly after the release by the U.S. embassy in Hanoi alleging prevalent corrupt practices surrounding Vietnamese adoption procedures. According to press accounts, the DIA will continue to accept new applications from American families until July 1, 2008 and continue to process these dossiers until September 1, when the MOA expires. More Information.

April 24, 2008. Hundreds of Missing U.K. Children Feared Trafficked into Drug or Sex Trade. Local welfare department officials in Britain have "lost" over 400 foreign children. These young victims, from Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe, have disappeared from group homes and foster families around Britain, particularly in areas near ports and airports. Around 90 children of Chinese background disappeared from Heathrow area and about 70 children from Africa and Asia are missing from the Kent ports area. The children were placed in what was supposed to be protective care after being declared as unaccompanied asylum seekers. While waiting for their immigration cases to be adjudicated, the children are captured or enticed by traffickers looking for prey to satisfy the always growing sex and drug industries or for domestic servitude. More Information.

April 23, 2008. Intercountry Adoption From Vietnam: What Do We Hope? We hope that the investigations by CIS will be resolved in a fair and equitable manner. We hope that once the MOA expires, all transition cases will be grandfathered, the same way they were in Guatemala. We hope that in lieu of an extension of the MOA, we will see a bridge agreement in place that will allow ICA from Vietnam to continue while a new long-term agreement is negotiated.

April 22, 2008. Intercountry Adoption From Vietnam: What Do We Know? The position of Intercountry Adoption into the United States from Vietnam can best be described as perilous. We know that the Memorandum of Agreement governing ICA between Vietnam and the United States is due to expire on September 1, 2008. We know that the United States will not extend the MOA in its present form. We know that the State Department on January 28, 2008 warned prospective adoptive parents not to begin the process of ICA from Vietnam. We know that CIS in Ho Chi Minh City has blocked many families from getting I-600s on the grounds of insufficient information. Finally we know that U.S. agencies are scheduled to have another meeting with U.S. government officials in Vietnam on May 29, 2008.

April 21, 2008. State Department Sets up Hague Convention Adoptions Complaint Registry. The Department of State has inaugurated a registry for complaints involving the Hague Convention, the Intercountry Adoption Act, the implementing regulations and Hague Convention adoptions. If a person makes such a complaint to the registry, the State Department will forward the complaint to the correct Accrediting Entity for action and will monitor the case. The form is available on the website listed below. However, people complaining must first try to resolve their problem with the appropriate Adoption Service Provider before filing such a complaint. More Information.

April 17, 2008. State Department Warning: New ICA from Guatemala Closed At This Time. The Department of State has issued a timely warning that U.S. citizens cannot at this time begin a new adoption from Guatemala. The only cases currently being processed are transition cases which were begun prior to December 31, 2007 and were registered as such with the Guatemalan central adoption authority (CNA). As Guatemala is a Hague Convention country, U.S.citizens may no longer use I-600/A forms to initiate an adoption and, until further notice, the Citizenship and Immigration Services will not process I-800/A forms for ICA from Guatemala. More information.

April 16, 2008. A Surprising Backer of Intercountry Adoption Efforts. We all know the work of J.K. Rowling. Less well known is the fact that Rowling is a leading financial backer of Lady Emma Nicholson's Children's High Level Group initiative. With Nicholson, Rowling serves as the Co-Chair of the CHLG board of directors and raised $3, 000,000 by donating new "wizarding" stories. We salute any effort to help institutionalized children. However, we completely disagree with the CHLG's rejection of Intercountry Adoption as an alternative for unparented children. We are also puzzled by the CHLG's embracing of "care in the community,"a programmatic approach which has had disastrous consequences in Britain, where it was originated. More Information.

April 15, 2008. "Study" Describing So-Called Madonna Effect Gets Wide Circulation. A "study" by anti-adoption psychologist Kevin Browne, which advocates greater restrictions on intercountry adoption, has been circulating through global news media outlets. According to Browne, Madonna's adoption of her son has caused Europeans to adopt internationally rather than adopt domestically. Browne's press release concludes "that in countries such as France and Spain, people are choosing to adopt healthy, white children from abroad rather than children in their own country who are mainly from ethnic minorities." Yet Madonna, whose adoption is vilified, did not adopt a white child but an African boy. One would think that Madonna's example, if followed, would lead to more transracial adoption, not less. More Information.

April 14, 2008. The Changing Choices in Adoption. For the last ten years, Intercountry Adoption has appealed to many U.S families because of its relative reliability, ease and lower costs. However the closing or constriction of almost every international adoption program, including Guatemala, China, Ukraine and Russia, has left American families disillusioned with if not disbarred from participating in ICA. As a result domestic adoption has begun to seem a more reliable and predictable as well as equally affordable alternative. For example, one popular adoption agency advertises that in 2007 it matched 242 birth and adoptive families and placed 175 newborns in adoptive homes. According to its site, the average wait time from when a potential adoptive family begins its paperwork to when the child is placed in the adoptive home ranges from six to eighteen months. These are statistics that any agency doing ICA this year would be very grateful to claim.

April 10, 2007. State Department Updates Website. The State Department has modified and simplified its website relating to Intercountry Adoption. It is easier to navigate and contains updated information concerning orphan visa statistics, the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption and the latest country updates. More Information.

April 9, 2008. Protests Over Olympic Torch: Are They the Future for Beijing Olympics? The demonstrations sparked by the international tour of the Olympic torch poses the question: will protests continue through August, when the Beijing Olympics take place? If so, we have to ask how this will affect Intercountry Adoption from China. We long suspected that the Olympics might cause a slowdown in ICA from China. However, the avalanche of negative publicity concerning China's human rights record, coupled with the growing movement to boycott at least the opening ceremonies, raises the possibility that an actual shutdown of ICA from China might, at least, temporarily, occur in the summer.

April 8, 2008. Vietnam's Family Planning Tragedy. Since Vietnam reopened to Intercountry Adoption from the United States in 2005, the number of children adopted into the United States has expanded from 163 in fiscal year 2006 to 828 in fiscal year 2007. There are those who attribute the rise in ICA numbers to corruption and baby stealing. There is a much simpler explanation. Vietnam has a very high rate of unplanned pregnancy as a result of a virtually complete dearth of access to birth control information. As a result Vietnam has experienced a surge in population and a growth of early teenage pregnancy. More tragically, Vietnam has one of the world's highest abortions rates. The United States, with 300 million people has around one million abortions each year. Vietnam with a population of 82 million has over 1.4 million abortions each year. Are we surprised that birth mothers, unable to raise their children, would choose adoption over abortion? More Information.

April 7, 2008. CCAA Sends Latest Non-Special Needs Referrals-Massive Slowdown Continues. The China Center for Adoption Affairs sent its latest referrals to prospective adoptive parents. These referrals covered PAPs whose documents were logged in to the CCAA between January 5 and January 9, 2006. Because the dates included a weekend, these referrals only covered three business days. The waiting time for these waiting families was therefore 27 months between LID and referral.

April 3, 2008. Keep CIS Documents Current. Agencies and lawyers working with prospective adoptive parents adopting outside the United States should be extremely proactive with their clients about keeping their Citizenship and Immigration Services docunents current and try to ensure that PAPs' documents do not expire. PAPs can continue to use I-600A s for extensions in Hague countries but have to switch to I-800As if they let their I-171H expire. In the case of PAPs adopting from China, using I-800As will force them to deal with as yet unanswered questions about China dossiers. In the case of transition Guatemala clients, allowing their CIS documents to expire will place the PAPs in a trap: they will not be able to file a new I-600A because Guatemala is considered a Convention country but CIS will not accept a I-800A for a Guatemala adoption because Guatemala does not have Hague-compliant procedures.

April 2, 2008. Official State Department Announcement of the Entering into Force of the Hague Convention.

On April 1, 2008, the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (the Convention) enters into force for the United States. As of this date, the provisions of the Convention will govern both immigrating (incoming) and emigrating (outgoing) intercountry adoptions between the United States and other Convention countries.

Implementing the Convention and the IAA has led to many changes in the U.S. intercountry adoption process. Some of these key changes are:

  • Federal accreditation, through accrediting entities designated by the Department, of adoption service providers who provide certain key adoption services in connection with Convention adoption cases.
  • The replacement of the Department of Homeland Security petition forms I-600A and I-600 for orphans with new forms I-800A and I-800 for "Convention adoptees."
  • New documents will be issued by consular officers overseas in Convention cases stating that the requirements of the Convention and the IAA have been met for an adoption or custody declaration completed overseas. These are the Hague Adoption Certificate (HAC) or Hague Custody Certificate (HCC), which will accompany the IH-3 or IH-4 immigrant visa.
  • For the outgoing adoption or custody declaration completed in the United States, the Department will issue the HAC or Hague Custody Declaration (HCD) stating that the requirements of the Convention and the IAA have been met.
  • The creation of the Adoption Tracking Service (ATS) through which the Department will track both incoming and outgoing cases. For the first time, it will be possible to track the cases of American children who are adopted by citizens of other (Hague) countries. Previously there was no federal role in these cases, and no system for collecting information from the various states about the numbers and destinations of American children adopted abroad.
  • The creation of a Hague Complaint Registry to track public complaints related to intercountry adoptions.

For more information on the Convention's implementation in the United States, please visit the "Intercountry Adoption" section of the State Department's website at www.travel.state.gov or contact the U.S. Central Authority at AdoptionUSCA@state.gov.

April 1, 2008. Hague Watch: Today is the Day. Today the Hague Convention is effective in the United States. The United States is now fully participating in an international governance system for Intercountry Adoption. We fervently hope that this day marks a turning point for ICA. That this treaty and the related regulations which promise increased transparency and accountability will safeguard ICA as a viable alternative for unparented children.

Center for Adoption Policy (CAP)
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