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May 2008

May 29, 2008. California Supreme Court Declares Ban on Gay Marriage Unconstitutional. Earlier this month the California Supreme Court by a 4 to 3 vote, struck down the state's ban on gay marriage. The wide-ranging majority opinion held that civil unions violated the state's constitution and equally importantly held that any discrimination based on sexual orientation would be held to the highest level of constitutional scrutiny. This ruling has obvious, positive implications for children of gay and lesbian parents. Two of the lead attorneys in this case were Shannon Minter and Joan Hollinger. Both have been speakers at CAP annual Law conferences. More Information.

May 28, 2008. Nepal Sets Reopening of Intercountry Adoption. The Nepali Cabinet has approved new rules for intercountry adoption and has stated that prospective adoptive families who had been referred a child before June 15, 2007 may proceed under the previous rules. The new terms and conditions for ICA include putting the Women, Children and Social Welfare Ministry (WCS), rather than individual orphanages, in charge of making referrals, promoting more domestic adoption and requiring all adoption agencies to register with the WCS. It is not yet known when ICA from Nepal will actually reopen. More Information.

May 27, 2008. CAP Comments on CIS Rule. The Center for Adoption Policy submitted comments today pertaining to the United States Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services rule on adoptions from Hague Convention countries. Among other things we commented on the nature of the China dossier, contact between potential adoptive parents and potential adoptive children and processing times. We also endorsed the extensive comments made by Professor Joan H. Hollinger of the University of California at Berkeley School of Law.

May 22, 2008. A Vietnam ICA Priority. There are many hundreds of U.S. families who have embarked on an intercountry adoption from Vietnam. These potential adoptive parents selected ICA from Vietnam in reliance on the existance of the Memorandum of Agreement concerning ICA between the United States and Vietnamese government, signed in 2005 and due to expire on September 1, 2008. We believe that the U.S. government must enable these transition cases to continue, irrespective of the current status of an MOA after September 1. The PAPs relied on the MOA and therefore the U.S. government is under a double obligation to grandfather these cases: Vietnamese unparented children need to come home to their waiting PAPs and American families have a right to expect that the State Department live up to its obligations.

May 21, 2008. JCICS Launches "A Child's Right Campaign for Vietnam." The Joint Council of International Children's Services has launched "A Child's Right Campaign for Vietnam" adoption. This initiative is designed to garner Congressional support for a new Memorandum of Agreement between the State Department and Vietnam which would permit Intercountry Adoption from Vietnam to continue after September 1, 2008, when the current MOA expires. The JCICS initiative includes provisions relating to child protection and adoption best practices. We support the idea of keeping Intercountry Adoption from Vietnam open and the laudable ideas expressed in the JCICS recommendations. JCICS Campaign Days are June 2, 3 and 4, 2008. More Information.

May 20, 2008. China Earthquake Relief. Many members of the Chinese adoptive community have expressed interest in joining relief efforts intended to palliate the effects of the tragic Sichuan earthquake of last week. We are proud to offer information that both Half the Sky and Love Without Boundaries have established earthquake relief groups in order to bring assistance as quickly a s possible. Both organizations have excellent known track records in orphanage assistance.

May 19, 2008. Guatemala Transition Cases in Crisis. While intercountry adoption from Guatemala closed on December 31, 2008, families whose documents were in process before that day and who registered their cases with the new Guatemalan Central Adoption Authority (CNA) were allowed to continue their adoptions. Unfortunately, the last week has seen ominous developments with dire prospects for the safety of these 2900 cases. Birthmothers who had previously made an adoption plan and signed all the requisite papers apparently are having to come to the Solicitor General's office (PGN) and affirm their relinquishments again, under difficult circumstances. We have also heard reports that Guatemalan officials are offering birth mothers monthly stipends if they recant their decision to make an adoption plan. More Information.

May 15, 2008. There Are Crusades and There Are Crusades. In this time of crisis for intercountry adoption there are no shortage of people who seek to do the right thing. But there is great disagreement over what the right thing is. Ethica, an entity which proclaims itself as seeking "to be an impartial voice for ethical adoption practices" has launched what it labels as a pro-ICA campaign which if enacted would end ICA as a solution for unparented children. Ethica demands mandatory birth parent "informed consent." It makes no allowance for abandoned children. Enacting this provision would wipe out all ICA from China because in China babies are only relinquished through abandonment. Ethica demands that adoptive parents be blocked from making donations to orphanages, thereby depriving tens of thousands of children of the sustenance that make a difference to their quality of life or even their life or death. In short, Ethica purports to support the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption when in reality its campaign is undermining the Hague Convention. As usual, it will be the children who will pay the price. More Information.

May 14, 2008. What Were They Thinking? Last week Teleflora, the Today Show and Donny and Marie Osmond together launched the America's Greatest Mother contest. The organizers created various categories such as "Working Mom" and "CEO Mom." The category title for mothers of children who joined their family through adoption was entitled, "Non-Mom Moms." After a deluge of emails and calls from the adoption community, the category was renamed as "Adoptive Moms." We note that the "CEO" Mom is subtitled "Chairman of Everything Mom."

May 13, 2008. China Adoption Community Provides Assistance in Aftermath of China Earthquake. The devastating earthquake that was centered in China's Sichuan province, just north of Chengdu, has left tens of thousands of people dead or injured. British and American tourists, intent on visiting the world-famous panda sanctuary are among the missing. Schools and hospitals have been hit as have high-rise apartment buildings. Prominent among the organizations offering assistance are those created or sponsored by the American adoption community, notably Half the Sky and Love Without Boundaries. Once again, in a time of crisis, adoptive parents are demonstrating that their love for their children has led them to a permanent bond with their children's homeland. More Information.

May 8, 2008. The View from the United Nations. When asked about intercountry adoption to France from Africa, Annette Rehrl, a spokeswoman from United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said, "Children are not abandoned in Africa. They may lose a father or mother or both, but they are never left on their own. They stay with the extended family. Who can say that they'd have a better life in France? That idea comes from European arrogance. We should stop thinking we can tell Africans what's best for them." As happens so often, this U.N. official is fighting a straw foe. We do not advocate taking children away from relatives (or other people) in their birth country who can assume the legal, moral and emotional role of parent. But we do believe that many children have neither birth parents nor relatives who can parent them. In such cases children should be given the opportunity to have permanent, loving parents, wherever they may be found. The real arrogance lies in thinking that children born in Africa are entitled to less than children born in Europe or the United States. More Information.

May 7, 2008. Delay in Processing of Guatemala Transition Cases. The newly appointed Solicitor General of Guatemala (the "Procuradoría General de la Nación" or "PGN") informed the U.S. embassy on April 29 that its office intends to review all adoption cases that have been filed with the PGN, whether or not they were previously approved by the PGN under the prior leadership. According to U.S. sources, the PGN further stated that some cases will also require birth mother interviews. According to Prensa Libre, a Guatemalan newspaper, all intercountry adoptions from Guatemala to the U.S. will be suspended for a month. Whatever the extent of this review, we hope that these grandfathered transition cases will be processed as quickly as possible, for the good of the children involved. More Information.

May 6, 2008. China Referrals for May. The China Center for Adoption Affairs has sent out referrals to potential adoptive parents whose dossiers were logged in with the CCAA between January 10 and January 12, 2006. As these numbers demonstrate, the wait for PAPs continues to grow with each passing month. The ages in this referral batch were mixed, with some children being in the six to seven month range, quite a number between nine and twelve months and others in the two to three year age range. This group of PAPs should be able to travel to adopt their children before the Olympics. We still do not have any definite information on whether there will be adoption travel during the Olympics which begin on August 8.

May 5, 2008. What is Happening to Unparented Children in Guatemala? New Intercountry Adoption from Guatemala to the United States ended at the end of the last year (other than for grandfathered cases). At the present time Guatemalan authorities have the responsibility of creating a new regime for Intercountry Adoption which will meet the requirements of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption generally and as interpreted by the United States State Department. In the meantime we wonder how the unparented children of Guatemala are faring. Much child care was provided in independently funded "hogars" that drew significant financial support from the private adoption world which is now largely defunct. We also do not know what happens to babies whose birth parents are unable to take care of them. The key question is: are the children of Guatemala better off today than they were one year ago? We want to know.

May 1, 2008. Adoption from Foster Care. One very worthwhile alternative for potential adoptive parents hoping to form their family through adoption is adoption from foster care. Many cities have user friendly parent recruitment hotlines which guide PAPs through the requirements and steps in order to adopt children from foster care. One excellent program is created by New York City's Administration for Children's Servcies (ACS). You do not have to live in New York City to work with this program. More Information.

Center for Adoption Policy (CAP)
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