April 29, 2009. China Apparently Places Part of International Adoption Program on Hold. We are receiving reliable reports that the China Center for Adoption Affairs is placing new referrals and new travel approvals (TAs) on hold because of concerns over swine flu. The Chinese government did the same thing during the SARS crisis but then quickly resumed referrals and TAs as soon as the fear over the epidemic subsided. We hope that the swine flu outbreak does not worsen and that unparented children do not have to wait any longer than absolutely necessary to meet their families.
April 28, 2009. Roma Increasingly at Risk in European Slump. The worsening economic situation in Europe has led to increased hardship, discrimination and even death for Europe's Roma population. As the recession causes economic hardship, many in Eastern Europe are turning to a familiar scapegoat: their Roma neighbors. Attacks have been reported in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania. Some have led to the deaths of children and parents. Unparented children from a Roma background have a particularly difficult road now that international adoption in Romania is no longer an option. More Information.
April 27, 2009. Foster Care to Adoption Rising During the Recession. The combination of the high cost of private adoption, the effects of the recession and the closing or constricting of international adoption programs has increased the popularity of foster care to adoption programs. It is true that many of the well-over 100,000 children available for foster care adoption are older and may have physical or emotional challenges but these characteristics are also increasingly common in international adoption. Just in Michigan, the number of licenses issue for potential parents to eligible to provide foster care (a requirement for those seeking to adopt from foster care) virtually doubled from November to January. Other states are showing similar increases. More Information.
April 23, 2009. Immigration Cases Make for Troubling Adoption Decisions. It is estimated that over one-fourth of illegal immigrants have children who are U.S. citizens. The U.S. state and federal governments' decisions to ramp up deportation proceedings has caused particular difficulty for their citizen children. What should happen to these children if their parents are first incarcerated and then deported is an issue that has been settled in different ways in various states. In Missouri a Circuit Court judge terminated the parental rights of Encarnacion Bail Romero and allowed her son Carlos, now 2, to be adopted by the local family that was caring for him. Judge David Dally wrote: "The only certainties in the biological mother's future," he wrote, "is that she will remain incarcerated until next year, and that she will be deported thereafter." In May the Nebraska Supreme Court will hear the appeal of a woman whose parental rights to her daughter and son were terminated after she was jailed and then deported. By contrast, officials in South Carolina are trying to send the baby girl of an arrested couple back to her relatives in Guatemala in advance of the parents' deportation from the United States. More Information.
April 22, 2009. Madonna Gets Right of Appeal on Her Adoption. A Malawian appeals court will consider Madonna's petition to adopt Mercy James on May 4. In early April a Malawian court denied the petition. According to various sources, the appeal will be heard by Malawi's Supreme Court of Appeal and Madonna need not be present during the hearing. We hope that the Malawian judges will focus on the best interests of Mercy and not on ideological issues extraneous to Mercy's well-being. More Information.
April 21, 2009. Father of Slumdog Millionaire Actress Accused of Trying to Sell Daughter. According to the British tabloid, News of the World, Slumdog star Rubina Ali's father Rafiq, and uncle, Mohiuddin, tried to sell her to the highest bidder but instead were caught by a sting operation run by the newspaper. The purported buyer was a man from Abu Dhabi. The meeting between the girl's family was to be held in Dubai but Rafiq could not get a passport to leave India because he is under criminal investigation for knife fighting. After bidding up the price, the Ali brothers settled on $200,000. Save the Children, the UK charity which stirred up anti-Madonna sentiment, quickly proclaimed that "Rubina's case should force India to take a harder look at child and human trafficking." We believe that Rubina's sorry situation should also prompt Save the Children to exchange its anti-adoption attitude for a more child-centric view that what matters is that every child have a loving family of their own, wherever that family may be found. More Information.
April 20, 2009. Orson Mozes-Accused of Tragic Swindle of Potential Adoptive Parents. It is rare that someone from the world of adoption makes America's Most Wanted list but Orson Mozes has that distinction. Mozes, reportedly a dual national of the United States and Canada, ran an agency called American International Program. He claimed to have extensive contacts in Eastern Europe and promised potential adoptive parents that if they would fed ex him between $7, 000 and $11, 000, they would be able to adopt the children pictured on the AIP website. Authorities say that on at least ten separate occasions Mozes promised the same child to several sets of PAPs. Mozes was apprehended in December 2008 and stands accused of 62 felony counts of Theft by False Pretense. More Information.
April 16, 2009. Senator Landrieu's Foster Care-Financing Reform Legislation Passes Senate. Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, one of the greatest friends children have ever had in Congress, has shepherded through the Senate legislation which will allow federal foster care funds to help children who have left the foster care system. As Senator Landrieu said, "Federal dollars should follow the needs of children at all stages of the process - whether their placement is reunification, adoption or guardianship. My amendment ensures that the foster care system is focused on children in care and the families that provide loving homes." Kathleen Strottman, executive director of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (and a speaker at this year's CAP Conference) further explains: "...over 70,000 children spend five years or more in a system that was never intended to be permanent replacement for a family. Federal law makes it clear that foster care is not the preferred solution, but federal funds promote the opposite. Senator Landrieu's amendment lays the foundation for a financing system that gives states both the flexibility and incentive they need to get children out of foster care and into loving families." We salute the efforts of both Senator Landrieu and Ms. Strottman. More Information.
April 15, 2009. Steps Towards Equal Rights. In the last two weeks we have seen a double victory for proponents of the right of gays and lesbians to be married. On April 3, the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the Iowa statute banning gay couples for marrying violated the equal protection clause of the Iowa state constitution. Iowa is the first state in the "heartland" to accord marriage rights to gays and lesbians. On April 7, Vermont's legislature overrode the veto of the governor of a bill to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage. Vermont is the first state to give equal marriage rights to gays and lesbians by act of its legislature, rather than by judicial ruling.
April 14, 2009. A Great Source of Information Concerning International Adoption on the State Department's Adoption Website. We would like to draw members of the adoption community's attention to the very helpful reference materials authored by State Department officials concerning international adoption. These publications include information for adopting parents, agencies, attorney and judges, social workers and adoptees. Additionally there is a Hague guide for parents, a guide to Hague outgoing cases and a guide for individual state adoption authorities. All of these materials may be accessed at http://adoption.state.gov/.
April 13, 2009. CCAA Sends New Referrals for Non Special Needs Children. The China Center for Adoption Affairs mailed out referrals last week for non special needs children. These referrals went to potential adoptive parents whose dossiers were logged in with CCAA on March 7 and March 8, 2006. These are the first PAPs who have waited in excess of three years from LID to referral. The children covered in this month's referrals generally were older than in previous batches with a significant number of children being 14-24 months and older. We urge any family who has received a referral to make sure that the age of their new child at adoption (not at referral) will match the age of the child they have been approved to adopt by their social worker and CIS.
NewsCAP Viewpoint, April 10, 2009. So What is the Answer for Unparented Children? This week we have highlighted problems with in-country foster care and in-country adoption. The answer for unparented children, in our opinion, is very clear. Child welfare advocates, members of the adoption community, government officials: we must all focus on the best interests of each child, free from cant, free from pre-conceived beliefs and free from ideological blinders, with due regard for the Hague Convention for Intercountry Adoption. Only then can every unparented child be assured of a permanent, loving family, wherever that family may be found.
April 9, 2009. In-Country Domestic Adoption is not Always the Answer Either. Russia Times is reporting on two terrible cases of child abuse stemming from domestic adoptions in that country. In one case, the adoptive parents are accusing of severely beating and mistreating a three year old boy and one-year old girl who they adopted. The children were not only physically abused but often left to sleep outside with the dogs. In another case the adoptive parents are charged with murdering their four year old adopted son. More Information.
April 8, 2008. What Happens After Foster Care? A family is forever, foster care is not. As an article in today's New York Times explains, children who age out of foster care are especially vulnerable in our present difficult economic climate. While New York has tried to provide a safety net of sorts for children between the ages of 18 and 21 who are too old for foster care but incapable of making their own way, the fact remains that many of these young men and women cannot make it on their own and have no family resources to fall back on. Economic times like these see so many young adults returning to their family for resources and support. For former foster children the outlook is bleaker. One of the bigger New York agencies, New York Foundling, is urgingaging out clients to immediately apply for welfare because officials there see no alternative. Another child welfare official is quoted as saying, "it's like falling off a cliff...." More Information.
April 7, 2009. What Foster Care Can Mean. During the current controversy over Madonna's attempt to adopt from Malawi we have been told by commentators, by the judge in the Malawi proceeding and by NGOs such as Save the Children that institutionalized care and/or foster care are preferable outcomes for an unparented child than international adoption. The news account that follows should give people with that viewpoint some pause. Two brothers in foster care in Britain, aged 10 and 11, are under arrest for allegedly attacking and torturing two boys with knives, bricks and burning cigarettes. One of the victims was left for dead. The Doncaster (Yorkshire) Council that had legal custody of the boys has already been under heavy criticism because of the deaths of seven children in the council's region since 2004. Social workers for the county council have reported being unable to attend to individual children's needs because of their heavy workloads. Wouldn't a permanent, loving family be better than this? More Information.
April 6, 2009. CAP Response to Madonna's Adoption Setback. Madonna left Malawi after a family court judge denied her application to adopt four year old Mercy James. In response CAP Executive Director Ann Reese stated, "The moral responsibility of the judge is really to look at Mercy's particular situation, to look at the adoption application and to ascertain if it's in her best interest," says Ann Reese, co-executive director of the Center for Adoption Policy. "Every child deserves a permanent family. A permanent family is not an (orphanage)." More Information.
April 2, 2009
ACT for Adoption
This week a Malawi court will make a life-changing decision about Mercy James. Will Mercy be allowed to grow up in a permanent family with Madonna as her adoptive mother?
Spokesman for Save the Children, UK, Dominic Nutt, says that Mercy and other children in her position should remain in a Malawi orphanage. For no better reason than that these children may have living relatives, he believes that they should always remain in their original communities. Unfortunately, Nutt ignores the fact that these children's presence in an orphanage is the surest indication that their relatives are deceased or, if alive, unable to care for them.
The usual justification for Save the Children's approach is that children who remain in their country of origin can enjoy their racial, ethnic and national heritage. But children doomed to grow up in orphanages or on the streets cannot expect to enjoy their cultural heritage in any meaningful way. And the real choice today for most existing homeless children in most of the countries of the world is between life - and often death - in orphanages or on the streets in their home country and, for a lucky few, life in an adoptive home abroad. Research on children who started their early life in orphanages demonstrates vividly the damage such institutions do.
International Adoption has come under fire recently from UNICEF and others who share Save the Children's views. But International Adoption provides children the possibility of finding the permanent nurturing homes they need to thrive, homes that are typically simply not available in their countries of origin. And International Adoption is completely consistent with other positive social responses to the problems of unparented children, bringing new resources into poor countries to support such efforts, and developing new awareness of and concern for the plight of poor children and poor communities worldwide.
We are not in possession of all the facts relevant to appropriate resolution of Mercy's particular case. But we urge policy-makers, including judges making decisions in such cases, to review and consider the International Adoption Policy Statement and Supporting Report, endorsed by the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, the Center for Adoption Policy, and the Harvard Law School Child Advocacy Program.
April 1, 2009. A Wonderful Site for Adoption History. The Adoption History Project was started by Professor Ellen Herman at the University of Oregon. It is a wonderful compilation of on-line material which includes an adoption timeline, documentary archives and articles on adoption history. A brief time spent reading selections from the archive will convince anyone that the place of adoption in our society has definitely shifted over time. To access this great resource go to http://www.uoregon.edu/~adoption/.
Center for Adoption Policy (CAP)