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February 2008

February 28, 2008. Plight of Foster Children Depicted. What happens when children lose the support of the Foster Care system is depicted in this moving piece from "Radio Rookie" Shirley (Star) Diaz. Radio Rookies are kids who have been given the opportunity to do their own radio shows. One learns just how much the Foster Care system does mean for these children because when it is gone there is absolutely nothing. To hear this interview, click here.

February 27, 2008. Australian Adoption Rate Plummets. In 1971-72 there were almost 10,000 adoptions each year in Australia. In 2006-7 there were 568. Experts credit better information about birth control, sex education and the acceptability of single-parenthood for this drastic societal change. Of the 568 children adopted last year, well over half came from Asia, 31 percent from China, 20 percent from South Korea and 11 percent from the Philippines. Only 59 children were adopted domestically into non-relative families. The population of Australia is 21 million. More Information.

February 26, 2008. Another New York Tragedy Which Could Have Been Averted. Leatrice Brewer killed her three young children this week. The deeply troubled woman had been known to Nassau County Social Services-apparently there had been numerous occasions where accusations of abuse and neglect were filed against Brewer. In fact, one of the accusations led to a visit last Friday to the Brewer home. Unfortunately, case workers did not remove the children from their mother's custody when they still could. We await the official report of these heartbreaking deaths. More Information.

February 25, 2008. Lady Nicholson in Expenses Fight. Lady Emma Nicholson, known to readers of this column as one of the biggest opponents of Intercountry Adoption, is both a baroness sitting in the House of Lords as well as a European Member of Parliament. According to newspaper reports, she has taken around $5, 000 each month from the European Union expense fund to run her office in London even though she already had a free office in Parliament. As Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "Baroness Nicholson should be ashamed of herself. If she hadn't double-charged taxpayers for her London office, perhaps the Treasury would have more money to help the Marsh Arabs whom she has campaigned so long for. We will be writing to the Parliamentary Commissioner to ask him to investigate this matter." It is in part due to Lady Nicholson's lamentable efforts that Romania ended Intercountry Adoption in 2004. More Information.

February 21, 2008. Closed Adoption Agency Facing Police Investigation. Boulder, Colorado police are looking into the dealings of the Claar Foundation, a Boulder-based adoption agency that recently closed. Potential adoptive parents and court records reveal that Claar's founders, Lisa Novak and Martin Claar, have a troubled legal history. For example, in 2005 Novak's brother Joseph sued the couple, alleging that they fraudulently transferred around a quarter of million dollars of assets. The suit was settled. Lisa Novak is registered as the business agent of the Claar Foundation, New Dawn Adoptions, the "Orphan Business Alliance," "Global Orphan Support and Education Foundation" and "New Family Services," among others. Boulder residents have won suits against the Claar Foundation for failure to provide post-placement services and for a failed adoption from Guatemala, where Claar appeared to be most active. More Information.

February 20, 2008. Fertility Tourism Booms. The cost and demand for fertility treatments by U.S. citizens is spurring a huge boom in fertility tourism. As discussed in this column last year, Americans are traveling to fertility clinics around the world -- Thailand, Canada, the Czech Republic and Israel are just some of the destinations. One U.S. woman reported that for $22,000, the cost of one fertility cycle performed domestically, she and her husband made two trips to the Czech Republic, paid for all the treatments and had sight-seeing holidays as well. The increasing cost and delay in Intercountry Adoption programs will certainly increase further the number of U.S. citizens traveling abroad for such treatments. More Information.

February 19, 2008. Domestic Adoption Replacing Intercountry Adoption Plans in U.S. As a recent USA Today article put it, "Those hoping to adopt look closer at U.S. options." The closing of Guatemala to Intercountry Adoptions as well as the slowdown in ICA programs from China, Vietnam and Ukraine have changed the equations for U.S. parents hoping to adopt. Domestic adoption, by comparison, seems more promising, more reliable and less expensive than Intercountry Adoption. Potential adoptive parents are looking at both private U.S. adoption as well as adoption from foster care. The USA Today article linked here contains an interview with Sarah Gerstanzang-she is one of the speakers at CAP's conference on Foster Care to Adoption-to be held at New York Law School on April 28. More Information.

February 14, 2008. Most Guatemalan Transistion ICA Cases Successfully Registered. We are pleased to report that close to 3,000 families with in process Intercountry Adoptions in Guatemala have successfully registered their cases with the new Central Adoption Authority (CNA). These cases may now continue to be processed under the prior notarial system of adoption that was ended by Guatemala’s government on December 31, 2007. Reports indicate that about 100 cases were not registered; anyone with an in-process case which has not been registered with the CNA should immediately contact his or her adoption agency and/or Guatemalan attorney. More Information

February 13, 2008. Intercountry Adoption from Zambia Suspended. The State Department has announced that the Zambian Ministry of Social Welfare suspended all Intercountry Adoption of Zambian children effective on December 22, 2007. As of last month, the Zambian government had not issued an explanation for this suspension or stated how long it would last. The U.S. Embassy is attempting to ascertain the status of families whose adoptions from Zambia were in process at the time of the shutdown. More Information

February 12, 2008. U.S. Adoption Community Reaches Out to China During February Weather Crisis. Snowstorms and unexpectedly cold temperatures devastated China earlier this month, causing great hardship. Towns were cut off, without power or water for days. Travelers attempting to return home for Chinese New Year were stranded in the millions at airports and train stations ill equipped to handle the crowds. U.S. families have rallied to support the country where so many American children were born, sending tens of thousands of dollars to general Chinese charitable organizations as well as targeted contributions to specific orphanages and towns. Among the active U.S. groups are Half the Sky, Children’s Hope International South China Emergency Fund and the Alliance for Children Foundation. This is but one instance of the continued support by adoptive families of their children’s birth countries. International adoption benefits not only the adopted child, and his or her family but birth countries as well.

February 11, 2008. State Department Warns Potential Adoptive Parents Concerning Guatemala Registration. The Department of State confirmed on Friday that the new Guatemalan National Council for Adoptions (CNA) is requiring that in order for ICA cases from Guatemala begun prior to December 31, 2007 to achieve grandfather status, such cases must be registered at the offices of the new central adoption authority. For the moment the CNA offices are located in the Secretary of Social Welfare (Secretaria de Bienestar Social or SBS) of the Presidency, 32 Calle 9-34, Zona 11, Colonia Las Charcas. Such registration must be completed by the end of business tomorrow, February 12, in order to meet the deadline imposed by Guatemala’s newly enacted adoption law. More Information

February 7, 2008. State Department Deals With New Responsibilities. Now that the effective date for the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption for the United States is set for April 1, the officials, career officers and lawyers of the State Department have assumed new duties that are unprecedented in our federal system. We would like to recognize the hard work that these individuals and the Department as a whole have contributed to Intercountry Adoption in the face of insufficient resources and ever-burgeoning responsibilities.

February 6, 2008. U.S. ICA from Ethiopia to Change. The Intercountry Adoption program from Ethiopia to the United States has uniquely permitted contact between the birth parents and adoptive parents. This feature made the Ethiopian program attractive and drew praise from adoption experts because it is in line with current ideas of best practices in the adoption field. However, responding to a letter from the American embassy in Addis Ababa, sent to various adoption agencies, this feature of Ethiopian ICA will be curtailed if not stopped. The problem is that in order for internationally adopted children from non-Hague countries to obtain visas to the U.S., these children need to qualify under the Citizenship and Immigration Services "orphan" visa definition. A requirement for such visas is that the child's birth parents have ended any "parental interest" in the child and the embassy believes that relinquishing a child by birth parents who expect continued contact disqualifies a child from receiving this visa. We regret this development and hope it does not affect one of the few ICA programs that is both functioning and growing. More Information.

February 5, 2008. New York Court Affirms Recognition of Same-Sex Marriages. A New York State appeals court has ruled that same-sex marriages performed outside New York are entitled to the same recognition in New York as heterosexual marriages are given. The rule on marriage recognition is that a marriage which was validly performed in the state of origin is entitled to recognition in another jurisdiction whether or not the second jurisdiction would allow the marriage to begin with. In this case a lesbian couple who had been married in Canada applied for married medical benefits in New York. When this court ruled that the same-sex marriage must be afforded equal treatment, it took a step that will help adopted children whose same-sex parents have often found themselves denied spousal medical and other benefits of marriage. More Information.

February 4, 2008. Those Left Behind. When a country closes to Intercountry Adoption, as Romania did in 2004, its children fall off the international radar screen. But thousands of children go unparented and unprotected. CNN and the Daily Mail (UK) have done a horrific story about trafficked Romanian children, featuring a fourteen year old girl who was sold into slavery by her birth parents when she was nine. Male and female pimps run this evil business which has boomed since Eastern European nations joined the European Union. Now criminals in Romania are reaping millions of dollars in profit sending trafficked children and women to Britain and other rich Western European countries. With an estimated one out of ten British men apparently frequenting prostitutes, the demand is huge. Clearly, the end of ICA in Romania has not brought these victims a better life. More Information.

Center for Adoption Policy (CAP)
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