February 26, 2009. Focus on Children Perpetrators Avoid Jail Time. A U. S District Court Judge declined to sentence Karen and Scott Banks as well as their collegues to jail for their part in the Focus on Children adoption fraud. FOC had misled Samoan birth parents about the adoption of their children and misled American adoptive parents about the orphan status of the children they were adopting. But Judge David Sams decided that this crime "cries out for a sentence that's restorative rather than punitive. We don't want to put these people in prison and have them kept from doing anything. They can address the interests of the children to restore the damage that has been done." Adoptive parents who testified against the Banks and FOC were gravely disappointed at the outcome. There is no question that these lenient sentence can and should spur calls for strict federal laws against fraudulent adoption. More Information.
February 25, 2009. Kentucky Trying to Ban Singles From Adoption. State Senator Gary Tapp (Republican) introduced a bill into the Kentucky legislature which would "prohibit someone who is cohabitating with a sexual partner outside of marriage from becoming a foster parent, providing relative caregiver services, or adopting a child." This proposed legislation is similar to the ban on adoption by singles or people in a relationship outside of marriage which Arksansas voters approved at the polls last November. We regret that such a bill is being contemplated as we know that its passage will limit the number of available permanent loving homes for unparented children.
February 19, 2009. Samoan International Adoption Case: A Terrible Injustice Wreaked on Families. The perpetrators of a terrible international adoption fraud are awaiting sentencing in Utah. Focus on Children adoption agency owners and employees Karen and Scott Banks, Coleen Bartlett, Karalee Thomock and Dan Wakefield have pled guilty to fraud and immigration violations in connection with a scheme to create false orphans in Samoa who would in turn be adopted by U.S. families. Two Samoan citizens were apparently also involved in the crimes but they were not able to be extradited to the U.S. The birth families, the adoptive families and most importantly the children were all victimized by a fraud that can only be described as wicked. We hope that all the perpetrators will be given the maximum sentence allowed by law. More Information.
February 18, 2009. Hague Sanctioned International Adoption from Brazil Not Yet a Reality. The State Department has updated its information on International Adoption from Brazil. When the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption went into effect in the United States last year, there were high hopes that an IA program between Brazil, already a Hague country, and the United States might soon begin. However, while the U.S. government is apparently working closely on IA issues with Brazilian authorities, the State Department is warning prospective adoptive parents to "expect a lengthy process because there is currently no U.S. Hague-accredited adoption service provider working in Brazil. If you are not an immediate relative qualified to adopt via the Brazilian national adoption system, it is unlikely you will be permitted to adopt in Brazil for the foreseeable future." More Information.
February 17, 2009. U.S. Official Speaks on International Adoption from Vietnam. Assistant Secretary of State Janice L. Jacobs gave an interview last week to VietNamNet. According to the account published by VietNamNet, Jacobs said that she expects Vietnam to join the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption soon and that thereafter, she expects international adoption from Vietnam to the United States to resume. Moreover, Jacobs stated that the U.S. has offered technical assistance to Vietnam in order to make its IA law Hague compliant. Among other things she cited the need for increased transparency in fee structures and a reduction in the number of accredited agencies from the 42 U.S. adoption agencies (out of a total of 69) that operated in Vietnam prior to the September 2008 shutdown. More Information.
February 12, 2009. Final Schedule for CAP Conference. We are delighted to post the final schedule for our March 6 conference at New York Law School. We are also pleased to note that we will have a fourth panel on the role of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in facilitating international adoption which will include the District Director of the New York CIS office and her colleague. Please let us know if you have any questions.
Final Schedule of Events: CAP Conference 2009: "International Adoption: One Year After the Hague."
9:00 a.m. - 9:10 a.m.
9:10 a.m. - 10:50 a.m.
11:00 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
1:35 p.m. - 2:50 p.m.
3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
February 11, 2009. CCAA Apparently Makes Waiting Children Adoption Easier. We have seen reports that the China Center for Adoption Affairs has changed its policy to allow potential adoptive parents who are logged in with one agency to change to a second agency in order to make possible an adoption of a waiting child. This policy, as far as we know, will apply to PAPs logged in either through a non-special needs or special needs program and will allow PAPs to proceed with the waiting child adoption without losing their place in the LID queue. Further, PAPs who were grandfathered under the pre-May 2007 rules can take advantage of this new rule without jeopardizing their grandfathered status. Such flexibility on part of CCAA will be warmly welcomed as it accelerates the adoption of waiting children.
February 10, 2009. Has Moldova Closed its International Adoption Program? We have learned of media reports that Vladimir Voronin, President of Moldova, has announced that his country will ban, at least temporarily, the adoption of Moldovan children by foreign adoptive parents. Moldova, a Hague country which used to be part of the Soviet Union (and before that Romania), sent 33 children to the United States last year, up from 20 the year before. However, the State Department contends that a Moldovan government official told his American counterpart that no such ban has been implemented. More Information.
February 9, 2009. Gay Marriage Hopes May Be Dimming in New York. Proponents of marriage for gays and lesbians had high hopes that New York State, with both its legislative and executive branch run by Democrats for the first time in decades, would legalize same-sex marriage this year. Gays and lesbians had contributed hundreds of thousands to campaigns for State Senate seats, partly in the hope that overturning the 43-year Republican leadership would effect policy changes on the issues most important to the gay and lesbian community. But in response to Senate Majority Leader Malcolm's Smith warning that "Although we do not have the number of votes at this time needed to pass the marriage equality gender bill this legislative session, we are committed to pursuing its passage," some gay rights activists remained optimistic. As Alan Van Capelle, executive director of the Empire State Pride group, put it: "Hope doesn't deliver legislation. Hard work does....A Democratic majority in the Senate is not the finish line for marriage equality in New York State; it's the starting line." More Information.
February 5, 2009. No Word on New Guatemalan International Adoption Law. Guatemala closed to new International Adoption on December 31, 2007. Guatemalan officials predicted a Hague complain international adoption law would be developed with deliberate speed. However, fourteen months later, Guatemala does not have such a law, even in draft form. What the country does have are thousands of unparented children in sub-standard care. Yet again, once an IA program closes, the spotlight of public attention moves on but the children do not. They pay the price in their lives, hopes and dreams.
February 3, 2009. Liberia Halts International Adoption. The State Department has reported that the Liberian government halted all international adoption on January 26, 2009. The Liberian President's Special Committee on Adoption had previously recommended this action because of allegations of mismanagement in IA programs. Moreover, the Liberian government the previous week had suspended any adoption activities performed provided by West African Children Support Network (WACSN) and Acres of Hope (AOH). Any American family who has a dossier or pending adoption with either agency should contact the U.S. embassy in Monrovia, Liberia. More Information.
February 2, 2009. How the Adoption Community Keeps on Helping. One of the wonderful facts about international adoption is that the connections made between adoptive parents and their child's homeland is often the beginning rather than the end of a relationship that changes the lives of countless people. Of course the adoptive parents and their children benefit. But so do the many children who are helped by various non-profits created by adoptive parents and family members designed to improve the lives of children who remain in care in their birth country. We would like to announce and celebrate the alliance between two of the best such organizations: Half the Sky and China Care. Half the Sky, founded by adoptive parents, specializes in improving the physical and nurturing quality of life in Chinese orphanages. China Care, began by a 16 year old boy who had lived in China, specializes in providing medical care for orphans. China Care also has numerous campus chapters which not only raise money but work with adopted children. We are delighted to see these two great organizations flourish. More information.
Center for Adoption Policy (CAP)