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June 2008

June 30, 2008. Good News On Waiting Children From China. The China Center of Adoption Affairs has instituted a new system for waiting children referrals. Since the beginning of 2008 the system has been almost totally on-line with a limited (but growing) number of agencies able to access the shared list. The children on the list are both children with minor issues such as cleft palate and Hepatitis B carrier and children with more serious issues. CCAA has restricted the referrals to those families whose dossiers are already logged in with CCAA or families who pledge to have their dossiers logged in within three months. However, we are pleased to note that families who meet these criteria and opt for a referral from this new program are bringing home their children in three to four months. This is a wonderful result for children who are coming home very quickly and also for their parents.

June 26, 2008. A Revolutionary Time in California. On May 15, 2008 the California Supreme Court struck down the state's ban on gay and lesbian marriage. From June 16, gays and lesbians have been able to be married in the nation's most populous state. The California decision marks a major turning point in the fight for Gay and Lesbian equality; among other things, decisions of the California Supreme Court have always had great influence on other state supreme courts. This decision will also have a significant effect on the lives of American children growing up in gay and lesbian families.

June 25, 2008. What Happens to Children in Romania. As readers of this column know, intercountry adoption from Romania ended in 2004. We wish that we could report that unparented children in Romania have found permanent, loving homes domestically. Now we have detailed information of that many children have met a fate even worse than growing up in an institution. The Romanian newspaper Gardianul reported on May 26, 2008 that the NGO Focus group has found over 500 cases of children disappearing in Romania in recent months. No trace at all was found for 60 of them. The NGO Committee notes that "We must draw the public's attention to the importance of the problem of missing children because they have usually been kidnapped and/or exploited sexually. We should all be concerned about the fact that the number of missing children is growing and that there are more kidnappers and pedophiles than we can imagine." If only these children had been protected.

June 24, 2008. State Department Briefing on Vietnam. The State Department has once again warned prospective adoptive parents against adopting from Vietnam. The U.S. government confirms that the Memorandum of Agreement between the United States and Vietnam concerning intercountry adoption will expire on September 1. The State Department also reports, as previously understood, that the Vietnamese government will not accept new dossiers after July 1 and will not issue any referrals for children after September 1. Any dossier that is in Vietnam on that date but has not received a referral will be closed and returned to the adoptive service provider. We urge all ASPs to inform their clients fully about this important development. More Information.

June 23, 2008. Good News on Guatemala Pending Cases. We are pleased to report that a sizable number of transition adoption cases are moving forward in Guatemala. These are cases that were filed in Guatemala prior to December 31, 2007 and grandfathered when the new adoption law went into effect. The new Guatemalan Central Adoption Authority (CNA) decided to re-investigate all pending cases; that decision and various other delays led to a virtual shutdown of processing of transition cases. However, in the last weeks U.S. adoption service providers have informed clients that their cases have been moving through the adoption process. More Information.

June 12, 2008. CCAA Referrals Show Positive Trends. The China Center of Adoption Affairs sent new referrals for potential adoptive parents from China earlier this week. They cover logged in dates of January 13 through January 20, 2006. Although the wait for non-special needs adoption from China continues to increase in time, we were encouraged because neither the Sichan earthquake nor the imminence of the Olympics appeared to affect the adoption process. The children referred tended to be older than in previous batches and there were more boys than in other batches. Also included in this batch were expedited referrals for PAPs of Chinese ancestry. Their referrals covered October and November 2006.

June 11, 2008. Professor Elizabeth Bartholet's Response to Call for Amendment of the Multiethnic Placement Act (MEPA) to Reinstate Use of Race as a Placement Factor. Professor Elizabeth Bartholet, who teaches at Harvard Law School, and has long worked together with the Center for Adoption Policy on various issues, gave a definitive rebuttal to calls emanating from the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption institute and others to revise MEPA to allow use of race as a placement factor in adoption. Speaking at a Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute briefing yesterday, held on Capitol Hill, Professor Bartholet said that it is the research she has done and the evidence she has found that "led me to the position that we needed MEPA in exactly the form we have it today, in order to protect black children from the devastating damage that delay in adoptive placement causes." Professor Bartholet was speaking on her on behalf as well as on behalf of CAP, and the National Council on Adoption, the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, the Center on Adoption Policy, and Harvard Law School's Child Advocacy Program. Her excellent statement is reprinted in its entirety in our Speaking for Children section.

June 10, 2008. State Department Fact Sheet on Vietnam Adoptions. The Department of State has issued a bulletin on the current status of Intercountry Adoption from Vietnam. The money quote is: "The U.S. and Vietnamese governments have agreed the current agreement cannot be renewed when it expires in September 2008." This is the first definitive DOS word that the bilateral MOA between the two nations which covered ICA from Vietnam would not be renewed, although we long expected such a decision. Also in line with our assumptions, the State Department confirmed that it will "continue to "encourage Vietnam to join the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption and to undertake measures that will advance Vietnam's ability to meet Hague obligations." The State Department's silence on the fate of Vietnam waiting families is just as important as what it does say about the current climate for Vietnam ICA. We understand that there are over a thousand families in process (some with referrals, some not), yet U.S. government officials are mute as to the fate of their adoptions. What is more troubling is that the licenses of U.S. agencies in Vietnam will expire when the MOA does so not only does there have to be a bilateral determination concerning the future of these transition cases but the mechanics need to be addressed as well. More Information.

June 9, 2008. Transition to Foster Care From Group Homes: Wonderful Goal Not Always Possible To Achieve. New York City has embarked on a laudable program to arrange foster care placement for teenagers living in group homes. The success stories are wonderful - Juan Molina, a sixteen year old boy who was placed with a 71 year old foster father who is in the process of adopting him says: "He cares about me and talks to me like a father. I feel like I finally got this." But recruiting foster familes for teenagers is difficult; many potential foster families are (with good reason) nervous about taking older children into their homes. Good support systems are crucial: one of New York's best is You Gotta Believe. That agency was featured at CAP's April Conference on Foster Care to Adoption. More information.

June 5, 2008. Information for Guatemalan PAPs Who Registered Only With the First Incarnation of the CNA. The tangle which surrounded the formation and operation of the new Guatemalan National Adoption Council resulted in about 250 grandfathered families missing the deadline to re-register their cases with the CNA. These families lack a CNA registration number and the failure to re-register has placed their adoptions in limbo. A Yahoo group has now been formed by some of these PAPs; it can be accessed at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CNAregistration.

June 4, 2008. Disturbing Rumors. We regret to report that we are hearing disturbing rumors that potential adoptive parents have been offered the opportunity (for large sums of money) to bypass the Chinese and U.S. governments and supposedly adopt a child who has been orphaned by the Sichuan earthquake. Any such adoption would be totally contrary to the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption and would not be approved by either the U.S. or Chinese governments. For More Information on CCAA's policy concerning children affected by the quake see http://www.china-ccaa.org/frames/index_unlogin_en.jsp.

June 2, 2008. They Really Don't Like Adoption. The charity Save the Children has long been known for its disdain, not to mention outright dismissal of intercountry adoption. It turns out that at least some of its spokesmen dislike domestic adoption as well, notwithstanding the depth of the tragedy that causes the need for it. This time the precipitating event is the Sichuan earthquake in China. Many Chinese families are offering homes to the thousands of orphans the quake created. But Deborah Barry, the child protection officer from Save the Children, who is on the scene in China, dismisses this idea-"You can't just place a child in a family that doesn't fully understand the issues the child is dealing with," she said. Other than trying to keep "clients" for her organization, there seems little to recommend Ms. Barry's view. More Information.

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