Newscap will be on vacation until January 5. We wish everyone very Happy Holidays and a joy-filled New Year.
December 18, 2008. Two Updates on China Adoptions. The most recent referrals for Non-Special Needs children to be adopted internationally from China were for families whose dossiers were logged in with the China Center for Adoption Affairs between February 18 and February 23, 2006. That means that these families waited two years and nine months from the time their dossiers were logged in until the time they received their referrals. Given the additional dossier preparation time as well as the six to eight weeks families wait to travel, potential adoptive parents will wait for travel approval, it now takes well over three years to complete a NSN adoption from China. CAP also has learned that while CCAA will permit a family to switch from the NSN program to a waiting children (SN) program if their adoption agency has both programs, CCAA will not allow a family with an LID to switch to the SN program of another agency and still keep their place in line.
December 17, 2008. Another View of International Adoption from Russia. National Public Radio reporter Anne Garrels has been doing a series of reports from Chelyabinsk, an industrial city 1000 miles from Moscow this week. Today she focused on the declining number of children being adopted internationally from the city. Here are the telling statistics: "In Chelyabinsk, domestic adoptions have nearly doubled in three years, to 231. And in 2005, nine children were placed in foster care, compared with 290 this year. The government now provides a stipend for relatives who care for abandoned youngsters - more than 2,000 children who would have ended up in orphanages are now with someone from their extended family. Over the past three years, the number of foreign adoptions in Chelyabinsk has fallen to 75 from 196." Nadezhda Gertman, head of child welfare in Chelyabinsk, explains the fall in numbers this way: "In the past, the only way to save our children was through foreign adoption, but now the government is providing funds for families who might not otherwise be able to afford to take on a child." While Gertman still believes that there remains a need for some international adoption, her goal is to decrease the number of international adoptions each year. More Information.
December 16, 2008. Adoption-Related Personnel Change for USCIS. Michael Valverde, who has been the Chief of Programs for USCIS, will be leaving his position on Friday, December 19. Mr. Valverde, has been an invaluable contact for many adoptive parents; he will be missed. His replacement, who takes over his position as coordinator of USCIS international adoption issues, is Karen Eckert. Ms. Eckert has long experience working with international adoption questions at USCIS. We look forward to working with her in her new role.
December 15, 2008. Warning About Adoption from Kyrgyzstan. The State Department has issued a warning to U.S. citizens not to adopt from Kyrgystan. According to its sources, international adoptions are not being processed by the Kyrgy government. The Kyrgy government also reportedly has had difficulty completing adoptions by its own citizens and may be in the process of redoing its system of domestic and international adoptions. In fiscal year 2008 U.S. citizens adopted 78 children from Kyrgyzstan, up from 54 the previous year. More information.
December 10-11, 2008. The Truth We Live By. Foreign Policy, a usually well-respected journal, has published a screed against international adoption in its December 2008 issue, entitled "The Lie We Love." In this article author E.J. Graff tries to demonstrate that the idea that international adoption brings together unparented children with permanent, loving families is "largely fiction." Thankfully, what is fiction is Graff's analysis. The Center for Adoption Policy was contacted for this article; we are not quoted as our statements did not fit into the anti-international adoption bias of the article. Instead many of the usual anti-adoption campaigners are given free reign.
More importantly, throughout the article biased opinions and half-truths are dressed up as facts. For example, a consultant named Nigel Cantwell is quoted as saying that be "guessed that zero" healthy babies under the age of three would be adopted into Western Europe and the United States from Eastern Europe were money not involved in adoption. Tell that to the ethnic minorities such as the Roma children in Eastern Europe and Central Asia who are constantly shunned and discriminated against by majority populations.
Indeed Graff never mentions the invidious position of ethnic minorities in many sending countries for international adoption. While she is quick to condemn international adoption from Guatemala, she does not point out that the majority of children adopted from Guatemala are from indigenous groups and as UNICEF Representative in Guatemala Manuel Manrique stated, "Indigenous people in general are discriminated against, the indigenous child doubly discriminated against, the indigenous girl triply discriminated against." (http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/guatemala_40656.html)
Moreover the regional office of UNICEF also "demand [ed] that Guatemalan authorities launch a serious investigation of child pornography rings said to be operating virtually unhindered in this Central American nation. (February 1, 2006, http://fleshploitation.blogspot.com/2006/02/unicef-advises-guatemala-to-crack-down.html.) That Guatemalan birth mothers would chose to have their children parented abroad cannot be surprising, given these circumstances.
Graff also writes about the "nefarious means" used to obtain children for international adoption in Vietnam. She neglects to mention that according to the Gates Institute Vietnam has one of the highest abortion rates in the world; currently Vietnam's proportional abortion rate is more than double the U.S. rate. (http://www.jhsph.edu/gatesinstitute/_pdf/policy_practice/adolhealth/presentations/C%20Session/PPT/4C_Mai_post%20abortion%20VietNam.pdf) Once international adoption from Vietnam reopened, it is inconceivable that some birth mothers did not choose to make an adoption plan rather than have abortions.
In her discussion of international adoption, Graff focuses on adoptive parents' desire for "healthy, adoptable babies." Never does she mention that around 40 percent of adoption from China last year, the largest sending country for adoption, was of special needs children nor does she point out that most of the children adopted from Russia (also in the top five sending countries) are children with medical needs. These are not parents searching for a "perfect child" as they are portrayed in the article.
Are there bad actors in international adoption? Of course, because there are dishonest people in every profession. Do things go wrong? Yes. But just as we do not ban cars because millions of people die on the highway around the world each year, or ban medicine because of malpractice deaths, our goal should be to create and enforce the highest ethical and legal standard for international adoption, not end it. The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption which has gone into effect in the United States and seventy five other countries around the world is a major step toward improving the regulation, transparency and accountability of international adoption. We will get this right because we owe it to our children and to every child who does not have a permanent, loving family of his or her own.
December 9, 2008. Romanian Children: Victimized Again. Romania has been closed to international adoption since 2004. We have written about the thousands of unparented children living in terrible conditions in Romania. Now, according to Cronica Romana, over 2,500 Romanian children living in foster homes or orphanages in Italy will be sent back to Romania, beginning on December 20. These children had been under the protection of Italian social services because they had been abandoned by their birth parents in Italy or because they had been put out to beg or worse. Their future in Romania will most likely be a bleak one.
December 8, 2008. Orphanage Donation for China Rises. The China Center for Adoption Affairs has made it official: the orphanage donation for adoptive parents of Chinese born children will rise throughout China as of January 1, 2009. Various provinces had instituted increases from the prior donation of $3,000; now there will be a uniform, higher fee of RMB 35,000. At current exchange rates the fee is approximately $5,100. It is a sign of the changing world economic picture that the donation, formerly given by adoptive parents in dollars, will now be made in Chinese RMB.
December 4, 2008. Quake Victim Parents in China Start Over. In May a devastating earthquake hit Sichuan Province in China. Over 90,000 people were killed or remain unaccounted for. Thousands of children died, many trapped in schools which did not withstand the quake. For a larger percentage of parents, the tragedy was exacerbated because the families only had one child. Now, with the unofficial loosening of the Chinese government's one child policy in effect in earthquake hit areas, many of these parents are trying to rebuild their lives by having another child. In one town alone where hundreds of children died, over one hundred quake mothers are pregnant and eight hundred other families have indicated that they want more children. As one woman said: "If we have a baby now, then when we are 70 years old there is at least someone to take care of us...otherwise, we have nobody to turn to." More Information.
December 3, 2008. Florida Court Strikes Down Ban on Adoption by Gays and Lesbians. On November 25, a circuit court in Miami-Dade Country struck down Florida's 30 year old prohibition on adoption by gays and lesbians. Judge Cindy Lederman permitted a 47-year old man and his partner to adopt the four year old and eight year old half-brothers they have been caring for during the last four years. This is the second ruling by a Florida circuit court declaring the ban on adoption by gays unconstitutional. In her 53-page ruling Lederman wrote, ''The challenged statute, in precluding otherwise qualified homosexuals from adopting available children, does not promote the interests of children and, in effect, causes harm to the children it is meant to protect. . . There is no question the blanket exclusion of gay applicants defeats Florida's goal of providing [foster] children a permanent family through adoption.'' We salute this holding and hope that it withstands challenge on further appeal. More Information.
December 2, 2008. Processing of I-800 cases. The National Benefits Center has released statistics on the processing of the Hague-related I-800/A applications. Since the I-800 went into effect on April 1, 2008, the NBC has received 1,530 I-800A applications. To date 306 have been approved. The average processing time for I-800A cases is currently 90 days. Requests for further evidence have declined from 70 percent to 61 percent. The NBC also confirms that to date 66 I-800 applications have been received of which 58 have been approved. The average processing time for I-800s is 10 days.
December 1, 2008. Sad Follow-up on Child at Heart of Custody Dispute. Readers of this column may remember the story of Anna He. Born in the United States to Chinese parents, she was removed into the custody of the state of Tennessee when she was an infant. Thereafter she was placed with a foster family. Seven years later, after an acrimonious custody battle that went all the way up to the Tennessee Supreme Court, Anna was returned to her birth parents. The whole family soon returned to China. Today Anna, whose birth parents are divorcing, spends Monday through Friday at a boarding school in the city of Chongqing. As Anna speaks English like any American-raised girl and very little Chinese, her life is a very difficult one. This story is an object lesson in what happens when the best interests of the child are ignored by the adults involved. More Information.
Center for Adoption Policy (CAP)