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January 2009

January 29, 2009. Registration Link to CAP Annual Conference Now Active. We are pleased to announce that the link to registration for CAP's Sixth Annual Conference on this site is now active. The conference, to be held on March 6, at New York Law School is on "International Adoption, the United States and the Reality of the Hague Convention." Attendance is free of charge for those not seeking CLE credit. We look forward to seeing members of the adoption community there.

January 28, 2009. What Happens To the Children? International Adoption ended in Romania five years ago. Periodically we look at what has happened to the lives of children whose birth parents cannot take care of them. This week we learned one answer. According to the Romanian newspaper, Gandul, there has been an overwhelming number of abandonments in Bacau county. In the previous three weeks, more than 140 children have been abandoned but the Child Protective Services of the county could only take 44 of them. (Indeed it only had money and space for 20). According to Sorin Brasoveanu, director of CPS Bacau County, "We are being confronted with an avalanche of abandonments. It's regrettable that it's happening. I think the problem exists because local communities have not gotten sufficiently involve. We have no more room in placement centers and we have room for maybe two children under age two. In all the placement centers, we have only 30% of the personnel help that we need. At this moment, it is impossible to even take one child in an emergency placement." This situation should never have existed in the first place.

January 27, 2009. The Move Toward Hague-Only IA. We were not surprised to learn (as detailed in yesterday's posting) that CCAA is moving toward a wholly Hague system of international adoption. Now comes word that a Russian region wants the Apostille that authenticates documents for a Russian IA to meet Hague standards. Besides the (not small) matter of how an Apostille from an American state would do that, this development reflects the growing trend, supported by the U.S. State Department, for all IA to meet Hague standards. For this reason, we urge prospective adoptive parents to work with agencies which have Hague approval or agencies who are working with supervising Hague-approved agencies.

January 26, 2009. State Department Information Concerning IA from China. The State Department has sent out an advisory explaining the new procedures that have been generated by the China Center for Adoption Affairs. CCAA has proposed to the State Department to treat all international adoption cases from the United States as Hague adoption cases starting on January 1, 2009. The State Department has acceded to this request. However, this change does not affect the way any prospective adoptive parents with grandfathered I-600/A cases will proceed; these cases will be dealt with in the U.S. as non-Hague cases and Hague rules will now apply to them. But CCAA will not send all PAPs, together with their "Letter of Seeking Confirmation from the Adopter," a "Letter of Seeking Confirmation from the U.S. Central Authority." All PAPs must fill out and return the first document but the Central Authority letter is required only for PAPs using I800/A Hague forms. More information.

January 22, 2009. The State of the Union on Gay Unions. In 1996 Congress passed the federal Defense of Marriage Act which "defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman for purposes of all federal laws, and provides that states need not recognize a marriage from another state if it is between persons of the same sex." As of December 2008, 37 states have their own Defense of Marriage Acts (DOMAs). Thirty states have constitutional amendments protecting traditional marriage; three states (Arizona, California, and Florida) passed constitutional amendments in November 2008. While proponents of such legislation proclaim during campaigns these laws will only affect marriage, the legislation often has far-reaching effects on gay rights in general. More information.

January 21, 2009. Potential Adoptive Parents Beware Cont. During this time of constriction in international adoption programs, both potential adoptive parents and international adoption agencies are under great pressure. The normal reaction for PAPS and agencies is to find, begin and participate in new international adoption programs. We support any outreach effort which will bring unparented children together with permanent, loving families. However, it is essential that every member of the adoption community proceed with great caution when embarking on new programs. There are great advantages to being a "pioneer family" but commensurate risks. Agencies should be careful to explain completely to PAPs the potential pitfalls and delays consonant with any new program.

January 20, 2009. Potential Adoptive Parents Beware. In the last months an increasing number of international adoption agencies have either closed their doors or ended their international adoption programs. These agencies run the gamut-Mandela Adoption in North Carolina, a mid-sized international adoption agency, Heritage Adoption Services, a Pacific-coast based agency known widely for a well-run China waiting children program and Hope for Children, a small Christian agency, are just three of the casualties. The closing or constriction of almost every International Adoption program largely contributed to these closings as did the increasing professionalization of the adoption field, as marked by the passage and implementation of the Hague Convention on International Adoption. However, potential adoptive parents need to be aware that many other agencies could face serious financial and other difficulties. It is imperative for any family beginning an adoption to protect themselves legally against the risk of losing its chance to bring home a child because its agency is no longer in business.

January 15, 2008. Presenting the Sixth Annual Adoption and Policy Conference Schedule. On Friday, March 6, 2009 the Center for Adoption Policy, the Child Advocacy Program of Harvard Law School, and the Justice Action Center at New York Law School present: International Adoption, the United States and the Reality of the Hague System. The 2009 conference will address all aspects of international adoption to and from the United States, one year after the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption became effective in the United States. The conference will be held at New York Law School, 47 Worth Street in Tribeca, New York City. Speakers include Elizabeth Bartholet, Professor, Harvard Law School and Director, Child Advocacy Program, Harvard Law School, State Department officials William J. Bistransky, Anna Mary Coburn, and Miki Stebbing, Richard Klarberg of COA, Dr. Jane Aronson, Worldwide Orphans Foundation, Tom Difilipo, from Joint Council for International Children's Services and Kathleen Strottman, Director of the Congressional Coalition for Adoption Institute. The keynote address will be given by Ambassador Jerome J. Shestack, Past President of the American Bar Association. One click registration will be available next week.

January 12, 2009. (Very Limited) International Adoption from Nepal Resumes. The Government of Nepal, through its Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, has announced that International Adoption from Nepal will resume. However, according to the State Department, "only 10 applications will be processed from each Embassy, Mission, or enlisted Agency in 2009." The MWCSW has also announced that there will be no grandfathering of families who had filed adoption applications prior to the 2007 shutdown. Moreoever, again according to the State Department, "It is not clear that the new adoption procedures will provide sufficient safeguards to ensure that intercountry adoption procedures will be transparent and will adequately protect the rights of children, birth parents, and adoptive parents." Moreover, the State Department also believes that there will be further "delays and challenges" to Nepal's IA program. More Information.

January 8, 2009. Harrison Case Roils IA From Russia. The acquittal of a Virginia father in the death of his 21-month old son, adopted from Russia three months before his death, threatens to seriously affect international adoption from Russia. Chase Harrison, originally known as Dmitry Yakolev, died after his father left him unattended in a swelteringly hot car for nine hours. The state charged Harrison with involuntary manslaughter but the judge in this case acquitted the defendant. The reaction of the Russian Foreign Ministry was swift: "We consider it to be repulsive and unprecedented, even if in this case -- unlike in others -- it was criminal negligence that led to a tragic outcome, rather than deliberate ill-treatment. The decision of a judge, who did not see the crime in Harrison's actions and released him without any penalty, goes beyond any legal and moral framework." As has happened before, Russian legislators are calling for an end to all IA to the United States. State Department officials are trying to assure Russian authorities that all steps are being taken to ensure the safety of U.S. children adopted from Russia. More Information.

January 7, 2009. 2008: The Year in Review: Difficult Times. In 2002, the year we founded the Center for Adoption Policy, there were 21,378 children (these are fiscal year numbers) adopted internationally to the United States. ICA to the U.S. peaked two years later at 22,884 and has been declining ever since. In 2008 only 17,438 children came home which represents about a 25 percent drop in four years. These tragic numbers do not even tell the whole story of the precipitous decline in ICA. Over 4,000 of the children who came home last year came from Guatemala, a country whose program is now closed. Vietnam is also closed. Adoption from Russia has declined each year while South Korea is viewing 2012 as a target year to end ICA. China's non-special needs referral time has ballooned from seven months in 2004 to almost three years now. China has also greatly restricted the number of families permitted to adopt. We believe that international adoption is a legitimate and welcome method of family creation and greatly regret the frustrating obstacles wherever we turn. Every child deserves a permanent, loving home of his or her own: that is our goal and what we will work to achieve.

January 6, 2009. 2008: The Year in Review: the Accomplishments. Last year will be remembered as the year the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption became effective in the United States. It took fifteen years for the United States to amend its laws and practice to allow adoption to be governed by an international charter. The Hague Convention's authors intended it to bring uniformity, transparency, and accountability to international adoption and we can see the positive results. This is truly a milestone in the history of international adoption. We at the Center for Adoption Policy are also proud of two accomplishments that we helped bring about. The first is that we were very active in the fight to grandfather the approximately 18,000 families who had filed I-600 applications with CIS prior to the April 1 Hague effective date. Secondly, we were part of the team that worked to have the American Bar Association pass a resolution endorsing international adoption as a legitimate method of family creation. We hope, together with other like-minded individuals and groups, to build on these successes in the coming years.

January 5, 2009. JCICS Issues Call to Action for Vietnam. The Joint Council for International Children's Services has issued a three day "Call to Action." JCICS is asking members of the adoption community to contact their representatives between today and Wednesday to do the following (as posted on the JCICS website).

  1. Contact your Congressional Representatives and Senators and ask them to sign the letter to the Prime Minister of Vietnam regarding the future of intercountry adoptions from Vietnam. Also, note that if they are interested in signing, they should contact Sarada Peri from Senator Landrieu's office (Sarada_Peri@landrieu.senate.gov) by Wednesday, January 7th. For a list of Senators and Congressman that have signed the letter as of the time of this writing, please see below.

    You can find your Senators' phone numbers and email address at www.senate.gov
    You can find your Representatives' phone numbers and email address at www.house.gov

  2. Send a notice of support (and ensure that you receive updates on this initiative) via the Joint Council website. To finalize your message, you will need to follow the steps below.
    • Click here to go to Joint Council's Webpage
      • Please note that this is a donation and sign-up page. This initiative is not an appeal for a donation.
    • Once on this page, please click, "Sign me up for Joint Council news."
    • Under the communications preferences, select the drop down menu for "Newsflashes and Updates."
    • Click "Sign me up."
    • Fill in your information
    • Under the comment section type "Letter to Vietnam Prime Minister."

    Joint Council will also be forwarding the names of individuals who contact us to Senators Landrieu and Coleman.

Click here for more Information.

Center for Adoption Policy (CAP)
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