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November 2008

Newscap, November 20, 2008. Speaking for the Children. We have highlighted two horrendous cases of child abuse in this column, the case of Nixzmary Brown in New York and the story of Baby P in London. We would like to bring readers up to date with recent developments. Let these children not be forgotten. Nixzmary's mother, Nixzaliz Santiago, was sentenced to up to 43 years in prison for her role in Nixzmary's death. Nixzmary had been beaten and abused by her step-father and mother until her death at age seven. Justice Patricia M. DiMango, in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn, summed up by telling Ms. Santiago that "You may not have delivered the fatal blow, but the jury found it was in your power to prevent the effects of it. Were it not for your failure to act, Nixzmary Brown would have probably not died from that blow on that day." In London, the Times (UK) revealed that after Baby P's death at the hands of his mother and lodger, social workers attempted to stop his mothers newborn daughter, born in jail, from being taken away from Baby P's mother. Social works said removing the child from the mother, who was in jail awaiting trial for the death of her son, would be "against the human rights of the mother." Only the persistence of Scotland Yard allowed the little girl to be removed to safety. More Information.

November 19, 2008. State Department Launches New Website. The State Department has unveiled a new international adoption website. It gathers all relevant ICA information from the State Department and organizes it in a more user-friendly version. The graphics illustrating ICA statistics are particularly illuminating. The link for the website is: http://adoption.state.gov/.

November 18, 2008. Comparative Analysis of Orphan Visa Statistics. In order to better understand the import of the recently released statistics concerning children adopted into the United States, we have prepared the chart below which lists the top six sending countries of fiscal year 2008 and compares these numbers to the comparable statistics for 2007 and 1997. It is instructive to remember that Guatemala, the top sending country and Vietnam, the sixth sending country are both closed to new intercountry adoption. China's numbers peaked at 7,906 in FY 2005.

Comparative Analysis of Orphan Visa Statistics

Country200820071997
Guatemala4,1244,728788
China3,9095,4533,597
Russia1,8612,3103,816
Ethiopia1,7251,25582
South Korea       1,065             939             1,654            
Vietnam751828425

November 17, 2008. State Department Lists Dismal Intercountry Adoption Statistics. The State Department today published its intercountry adoption statistics for fiscal year 2008 (October 1, 2007 through September 30, 2008). As we have predicted the numbers have once again declined. This year's total ICA figure is 17,438, the lowest number since 1999. And yet the reduced figures only reveal part of the precipitate decline. The largest sending nation for 2008 was Guatemala but that nation's total of 4,123 children who came home last year will not be reached again because Guatemala is currently closed to ICA. The number of children adopted from China, formerly our largest sending nation, has declined from 5,453 to 3,909. The last time the total number of children adopted from China was less than 4,000 was during the first year of Bill Clinton's second term as president. The China program has also changed markedly. Ten years ago it was a non-special needs program. Now, waiting children make up an ever larger percentage of the children adopted internationally from China. More Information.

November 13, 2008. Change In Ethiopian Rules for U.S. Intercountry Adoption. We have been informed that the Ethiopian Ministry of Women's Affairs will now mandate added documentation for intercountry adoption cases where a birth parent or parents have relinquished their child to an orphanage. MOWA will now require that the letter issued by the local Kebele court be authenticated by the regional Social Affairs Bureau, but only after its in-depth investigation of the circumstances surrounding the relinquishment. This new requirement, which is permanent, will result in delays in the processing of adoptions arising out of relinquishments. However, it is designed to ensure that ICA is transparent, legal and ethical. As such, the adoption community must support this change wholeheartedly.

November 12, 2008. ICA Referral Numbers from China Continue to Shrink from China Dramatically. The Chinese Center for Adoption Affairs sent out referrals last week for potential adoptive parents whose non-special needs dossiers had been logged in with the China Center for Adoption Affairs on February 16 and 17, 2006. This latest batch, another historically low one, brings the wait for PAPs from LID to referral up to almost thirty-two months. We have to ask, can the Chinese NSN intercountry adoption program be considered a stable one if the wait for new applicants (at the current projections) is eight years long? By contrast, the Chinese waiting child ICA program is proceeding very rapidly with many PAPs able to bring their child home in under a year.

November 11, 2008. Another Stolen Life. A British court has convicted a birth mother and her boyfriend/lodger for killing her 17 month old son. "Baby P" died despite 60 visits from social services over an eight month period. The social worker in charge of the case explained her decision to allow Baby P to stay with mother as follows: "I made the decision at the time based on the material in front of me and based on the background to the case." This despite the constant, obvious deterioration in the child's health. But others failed this vulnerable child as well. Police told the birth mother that she would not be prosecuted, even though she had been arrested twice for suspected child cruelty. The pediatrician who examined Baby P failed to notice that he had both a broken rib and a broken back. It is too late for Baby P; we hope it is not too late for other children. More Information.

November 10, 2008. Unfortunate Results From Last Week's Elections. We are saddened to report that last week in a number of states voters turned back the clock when it comes to the rights of gay and lesbians to build families and parent children. Arkansas voters supported a measure banning unmarried couples from being either foster or adoptive parents. California voters approved Proposition 8, summarized on the California ballot as "Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry." Voters in Florida and Arizona approved similar measures. It is heart-breaking both that these ballot measures restricted the rights of gays and lesbians but even more heart-breaking that each of these initiatives sets back the ability of unparented children to find permanent, loving homes.

November 5, 2008. After the Election. Now that we know who the President of the United States will be and have seen the composition of the new Congress, we can concentrate on achieving our legislative priorities. Central to our agenda must be the selection of political appointees in the State Department and at the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services who believe that intercountry adoption is a legitimate and proper mechanism for finding permanent loving homes for unparented children and who understand that American citizens who adopt internationally are exercising a right, not seeking a suspect privilege. We must all work to ensure that ICA in the United States, under the Hague Convention, and as administered by the State Department and CIS, is transparent, accountable and designed to serve the best interests of children.

November 4, 2008. Update on ICA from Ukraine. The State Department recently released an update on intercountry adoption to the United States from Ukraine. Potential adoptive parents will gladly learn that as of October 14, there were unused slots in the annual ICA adoption quota which had been previously set at 1,453 dossiers. For that reason the Ukrainian SDAPRC (State Department for Adoptions and Protection of the Rights of the Child) has opened the unused slots to PAPs and will keep accepting new applications until November 27, 2008. Equally interesting is the breakdown the Ukrainian government provided of the background of children available for ICA. It is as follows:

Analysis of the numbers of children available for intercountry adoptions according to their age and health condition
(based on the information from the central databank as of September 1, 2008)

Age of children Number of children
(% from the total number)
Health condition
Healthy or with correctable medical problems Serious health problems
Under 3 years old 551 (2,6 %) - 551
3 - 5 years old 1324 (6,1 %) 109 1215
6 - 11 years old 5408 (24,9 %) 3011 2397
12 - 17 years old 14418 (66,4 %) 11337 3081
Total 21701 (100,0 %) 14457 7244

More Information.

November 3, 2008. Duchess of York Visits Romanian Orphanages. Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, accompanied by her two daughters and a British television crew, recently traveled to Turkey and Romania where they visited various orphanages. The scenes they filmed were horrific, particularly since Romania has been the beneficiary of so much European Union money designed to give unparented children decent lives. As reporter Chris Rogers put it, "Romania has lost its power to shock me. Now it can only disappoint." The attention that the Duchess of York brought to Romania's unparented children reminds us that while the world moved on since the Romanian ban on Intercountry Adoption, the children of Romania were unable to. More Information.

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