October 30, 2008. No Trick or Treat for UNICEF. Tomorrow being Halloween, we are barraged by ever present orange trick or treat for UNICEF boxes in schools, stores and in magazine ads. Once again it is our unfortunate task to point out that notwithstanding UNICEF's great reputation and name recognition, UNICEF has repeatedly failed to protect unparented children. Behind its carefully crafted benevolent public relations image, UNICEF only supports intercountry adoption theoretically and grudgingly. UNICEF continues to thwart ICA programs, on the spurious grounds that a child's right to his identity as expressed by remaining in his or her birth country trumps the need for a permanent family. Ideology should never prevent the creation of permanent, loving families.
October 29, 2008. Happily Ever After. Many of the entries of this column understandably focus on problems in the adoption world but it is good occasionally to place the spotlight on wonderful outcomes. The video linked here is about Natasha, a Korean born girl who was adopted by an Atlanta family almost thirty years ago - her life in Korea, her life in the United States and how she has connected both her cultures. We are grateful to Natasha and her family for sharing this wonderful account. Please click here to watch the video.
October 28, 2008. Guatemala Tries to Implement Domestic Adoption Program. Last year Guatemala was the second largest sending country to the United States for intercountry adoption. Now, due to the implementation by the U.S. of the Hague Convention for Intercountry Adoption as well as UNICEF pressure and concerns about corruption, Guatemala is closed to ICA. Guatemala is a poor nation without a tradition of publically provided children's services. Into this vacuum, the Guatemalan Department of Social Welfare is trying to build a foster care system. So far in a nation of 13 million, officials have recruited 45 foster families. UNICEF consultant Dora Alicia Munoz, says she is "encouraged that the government is working with judges and prosecutors to finally create a system of protection for children that goes beyond institutional care." While insisting that UNICEF is not against all foreign adoptions, Munoz said she hopes foster care can become a temporary alternative to sending the child outside the country. What Munoz does not explain is what will happen to the thousands of unparented children in Guatemala who will not find foster parents? More information.
October 27, 2008. Not Surprising Delay on Vietnam. Joint Council on International Children's Services had announced earlier this month that negotiations between the Governments of Vietnam and the United States on an interim Memorandum of Understanding would resume shortly. Now we are hearing that any scheduled formal negotiations have been postponed, with no set date for resumption. While we are saddened to hear this news, we are not surprised since eight days before a presidential election is an unlikely time for new policy initiatives.
October 23, 2008. Hague Accreditation Compliance Reporting. Agencies accredited by the Council On Accreditation or the state of Colorado under the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption need to provide semi-annual compliance reports to their accrediting entity and the Department of State. We understand that as of yesterday only one-third of the reports expected have been received. The reports from agencies accredited prior to April 1, 2008 are now overdue. It is very important for agencies to fulfill their reporting requirements. The proper forms can be found on the COA website.
October 22, 2008. Justice for Nixzmary Brown. Last week a Brooklyn jury convicted Nixzaliz Santiago, mother of seven year old Nixzmary Brown, on the charge of manslaughter in her daughter's death. As readers of this column may remember, Nixzmary was found dead in January 2006. Her step-father has already been convicted of manslaughter in the case. Ms. Santiago, also found guilty of assault, unlawful imprisonment and endangering the welfare of a child, faces up to 43 years in prison. Prosecutor, Ama Dwimoh, said "the journey for justice for Nixzmary is almost over." We hope that the battle to improve New York City's child welfare system is just beginning. More Information.
October 21, 2008. Update on Vietnam. The United States and Vietnamese governments set forth a joint announcement updating the status of U.S. intercountry adoption from Vietnam. The two governments confirmed that all U.S. potential adoptive parents who received referrals prior to September 1 will have their applications processed to completion. However U.S. adoption service providers must retrieve all dossiers for PAPs who had logged in dossiers but had not received referrals prior to September 1 from the Vietnamese Dpartment of International Adoption by October 28. Any dossiers left at DIA after October 28 will be sent to the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi to be forwarded on to U.S. adoptive service providers or PAPs. Finally the U.S. and Vietnamese governments agreed that U.S. citizens will not be able to adopt any Vietnamese children, including special needs children, until the U.S. and Vietnamese governments sign a new agreement or Vietnam joins the Hague Convention. More Information.
October 20, 2008. Further Update on Melamine Issue. We have been informed by a national adoption agency that two children adopted from China who joined their families in 2005 have been found to have kidney stones attributed to melamine-tainted Chinese formula or milk products. For that reason Dr. Dana Johnson, an adoptive medicine specialist at the University of Minnesota, consulted with the American Academy of Pediatrics section on Adoption and Foster Care and reports the following: "...the consensus is to do a urinalysis and BUN/Creat test on all children adopted from China from 2005 onward and if abnormal, get a renal ultrasound."
October 16, 2008. South Korea Seeks to End Its Intercountry Adoption Program. The South Korean government has announced 2012 as the target year to end all Intercountry Adoption. Kim Dong-won, who is in charge of ICA from South Korea explained his government's rationale as follows: "South Korea is the world's 2th largest economy and is now almost an advanced country, so we would like to rid ourselves of the international stigma or disgrace of being a baby-exporting country. It's embarrassing." For the first time last year domestic adoptions (long a stigmatized and shameful method of family creation in Korea) exceeded the number of international adoptions. However, Mr. Kim admits that there is little interest in domestic adoption of special needs children while foreigners are eager to adopt waiting children. More Information.
October 14, 2008. Good News on Grandfathering of Transition Cases. We are delighted to announce that CIS has agreed with our position on the grandfathering of I-600 A transition cases under the Hague Convention. The announcement from CIS may be found here.
USCIS Announces Adoption Policy for Hague Transition Cases
WASHINGTON - U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that prospective adoptive parents already in the process of adopting a child from a country that has implemented the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention) who filed a Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition, prior to April 1, 2008, and who have received the one time no-charge extension, may file one additional Form I-600A, and continue to proceed with their intercountry adoption through the "orphan" process. The new Form I-600A must be filed before the current approval expires, and only if the prospective adoptive parents have not yet filed the corresponding Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative.
U.S. law and regulations allow individuals who began the intercountry adoption process by filing Form I-600A or Form I-600, before April 1, 2008, to continue using these pre-Hague Adoption Convention forms and procedures even if they are adopting a child from a Hague Adoption Convention country. However, depending on the time that it takes prospective adoptive parents to be matched with a child and file Form I-600, the approval of the I-600A might expire before the prospective adoptive parents are able to file Form I-600. By allowing the filing of one new Form I-600A prior to the expiration of the current approved Form I-600A, USCIS is allowing prospective adoptive parents who have been grandfathered into the pre-Hague Adoption Convention process to continue to proceed under this "orphan" process, provided the child's home country agrees.
If the Form I-600A is no longer valid, prospective adoptive parents must file a Form I-800A, Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country, with a home study which meets all of the requirements for a Hague Adoption Convention home study. Once a Form I-800A is approved, the Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative may be filed on behalf of the prospective adoptive child.
October 9, 2008. I-600/I-800 Transition Crisis: JCICS Call to Action. This column has long discussed the significant issues arising from the decision of USCIS to withdraw the guarantee of grandfathering for potential adoptive parents who had filed their I-600A applications prior to April 1, 2008 for transition Hague-country adoptions. Now the Joint Council for International Children's Services has announced a call to action in order to also draw attention to this federal government decision which could negatively affect thousands of PAPs. JCICS's action items include sending emails to JCICS and the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, signing an on-line petition and contacting Congressional Representatives on October 14, 15 and 16th. For More Information about this campaign see: http://www.jcics.org/5WaystoHelp.htm.
October 8, 2008. Wednesday's Children. We would today like to highlight the Wednesday's Children listings of the Adoption Exchange. These weekly lists give information on adoptable children in the foster care system. Many of these children have significant medical or psychological needs, but for all the greatest need is a permanent and loving home. In its twenty five years of service, the Adoption Exchange has midwife over 5,000 placements. Moreover, its website contains important links for members of the adoption community. For these listings and links please see http://www.adoptex.org/site/PageServer.
October 7, 2008. New Resource for Adoption Professionals and Families. The National Law Center for Adoption Law and Politics at Capital University has established an adoption and child welfare law site. This site contains legal and other material divided by interest affinity: there are separate tabs for adoption families, students, lawyers and child welfare professionals. The website provides an excellent repository of easily searchable material and is free of charge. Click here to access this site.
October 6, 2008. Important Advice Concerning the Chinese Milk Scandal. By now, members of the adoption community are well aware of the dreadful melamine poisoning of the Chinese milk supply which has so far sickened 55,000 babies and killed four. (Milk producers and traders added melamine to mask watered down milk supplies. Melamine, a chemical used in the making of plastics, causes kidney stones and kidney failure.) We turned to Dr. Jane Aronson, an internationally renowned specialist in adoption medicine, for advice. Dr. Aronson is recommending that families who have adopted children from China in the last year have urine tests and a Bun and creatine tests. She further recommends that if these tests show that a child has blood in the urine then a sonogram should also be done. How sad this situation is.
October 2, 2008. Nebraska Safe Haven Law Leads Parents and Guardians to Give Up Older Children. Nebraska was the last state to enact a safe haven bill which gave legal protection to parents who left babies in police stations or other safe locations, rather than abandon them in a dangerous place or harm them. Nebraska's statute is broader than usual, as it covers children up to the age of 19. In September alone fifteen children have been left at hospitals and other locations. That these older children, who were school age or teenagers, have been abandoned shows the difficulties parents and caretakers have with finding services and respite care for troubled children. More Information.
October 1, 2008. USCIS Releases FAQs on Hague Adoption Process. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has released a seven page guide to the Hague Adoption process. These FAQs cover both Hague outgoing and incoming cases as well as procedures of the National Benefits Center which is processing Hague-related CIS forms. It is well to remember that the answers supplied by CIS to the FAQs are not necessarily binding on CIS officials. More Information.
Center for Adoption Policy (CAP)