June 30, 2009. A Happy Ending. Madonna and her daughter Mercy, adopted from Malawi, are now beginning their lives in London. Mercy is getting to know her new sister Lourdes and her new brothers Rocco and David, also adopted from Malawi. We wish for every unparented child the same ending: a permanent, loving home.
June 29, 2009. Adoption Tax Credit Set to Expire Without New Legislation. The federal adoption tax credit, which allowed a credit for adoption related expenses for families whose income was less than $190,000, is set to expire at the end of December, 2010. Now legislation has been introduced in the House to make this credit permanent. It is crucial to get widespread support for this legislation, known as The Adoption Tax Relief Guarantee Act of 2009, H.R. 213. We urge members of the adoption community to contact their Representatives to obtain the broadest coalition possible in support of this legislation. This link: http://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml allows people to find the name and address of their Congressman or Congresswoman.
June 25, 2009. Sean Goldman Case Shows Weakness in Enforcement of Other Hague Treaty. We normally talk about the Hague Convention on International Adoption. However, this is another child-related Hague Convention: the Hague Convention on Child Abduction. This treaty is meant to stop child snatching by family members who flee a court's rightful jurisdiction and find a country friendlier to their position whose courts will allow the relative to retain custody. Under the Hague Child Abduction treaty, once a valid custody order has been made, other Hague member countries must honor that order. The United States and Brazil are both signatories to the Hague Abduction treaty. American David Goldman and his wife were divorced seven years ago. Thereafter the wife (a Brazilian national) took their son back to Brazil in violation of a court order. Sean has never been returned to his father although his mother is now dead and his step-father is the one fighting to retain the boy. Under the terms of the Hague Abduction treaty, the proper outcome of this case is perfectly clear. Yet despite the intervention of President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton, the Brazilain government has not upheld its responsibilities under the abduction treaty. We salute Representative Chris Smith (R-N.J.) for his stalwart assistance to David Goldman. Congressman Smith has also been a steadfast ally in the fight to keep international adoption available as an option for unparented children.
June 24, 2009. DOS Travel Alert for China. The State Department has issued a traveI alert concerning American traveling to China. This warning relates to quarantine measures the Chinese government has instituted in response to the H1N1 pandemic. Although only a small number of Americans have been detained in a week long quarantine, for those citizens so affected the trip becomes far more problematic. Especially worrying is the State Department's comment that "in some instances, children have been separated from their parents because either the parent or the child tested positive for 2009-H1N1 and was placed in quarantine for treatment. This situation presents the possibility of Chinese medical personnel administering medications to minors without first having consulted their parents." One family who went to China to adopt their daughter has been split; the mother and three children are in a quarantine hotel while the father, who tested positive for swine flu, is in a Beijing hospital. Anyone planning to take their children to China for adoption or heritage trips should consider this warning seriously. More Information.
June 23, 2009. CAP Joins With Other Child Advocacy Groups as Amicus in Florida case. We are pleased to announce that the Center for Adoption Policy has joined with the most highly regarded children's health, welfare and legal groups to file amici briefs asking the Florida appeals court to strike down the Florida statute that bans adoption by gays and lesbians. In the particular case, a gay man and his partner are seeking to adopt two brothers who have been with them for over four years. The best interests of the child standard clearly demands that the petitioners be allowed to adopt the children they have loved and nurtured for so long. Joining CAP in these briefs are, among others, the Child Welfare League of America, the National Association of Social Workers, the American Psychological Association and the Family Law Section of the Florida bar. More Information.
June 22, 2009. CCAA Sends Referrals For Non-Special Needs Children. The China Center of Adoption Affairs has sent referrals to potential adoptive families whose dossiers were logged in with CCAA between March 15 and March 20, 2006. In addition a limited number of expedited referrals were sent for families with dossiers logged in early in April, 2007. The last three months of referrals have been slower than what we are used to; these delays are apparently due to the H1N1 virus. During the first half of 2009 the CCAA has sent 20 calendar days of referral-March 1 through 20, 2006, the slowest the wait has ever been. The ages of referred children range from 6 months to close to two years. Families whose child is close to two years old should check with their agency to learn what the impact of the new TB testing requirement could be on their trip.
June 18, 2009. Alert: Current Status of Proposed TB testing in China. As of today, starting July 1, 2009 (twelve days from now), all children to be adopted from China who are two as of their medical examination day in Guangzhou must be tested for tuberculosis. Families who are in process with referrals of children two or older should discuss the TB testing timing with their adoption agencies in order to adjust their travel plans accordingly. We urge all agencies to discuss their view of the effect and logistics of this requirement, which was instituted by the CDC not the State Department or CIS. More Information.
June 17, 2009. Nepal Reopens to International Adoption. The State Department has verified that the Nepalese government, having enacted new international adoption legislation and appropriate regulations, has reopened its international adoption program. There are important differences between the new procedures and those in effect in prior years, such as the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, not orphanages, will match children with potential adoptive parents and the Ministry will place a much higher value on finding domestic adoptive parents. Nepal is not a Hague country so PAPs should use the I-600/A form. However, the State Department has warned PAPs that "despite the passage of the new intercountry adoption law, procedures for foreign adoptions in Nepal remain unpredictable. More Information.
June 16, 2009. Gender Ratios Among Families of U.S. Born Asians Show Bias Toward Boys. Academics who study census data have found that the Asian proference toward male children has carried on in U.S. families of Asian descent. This trend was particularly noted in the Chinese-American community but also was displayed by families of Indian and Korean descent. In these families if the first child was a girl, it was more likely than random chance would allow that the second child would be a boy. And if the first two children were female, the likelihood of the third child being a boy was fifty percent higher than would be normal. "That this is going on in the United States - people were blown away by this," said Prof. Lena Edlund of Columbia University. Interestingly, this preference does not appear to affect American families of Japanese descent. We are all aware that U.S. culture influences people outside of the United States; these studies are a reminder that foreign cultures change American culture as well. More Information.
June 15, 2009. Mercy for Mercy. We are delighted to report that Malawi's Supreme Court has overturned an earlier ruling denying a petition by Madonna to adopt Chifundo "Mercy" James, and has granted a full adoption. According to the New York Times, Chief Justice Lovemore Munlo, in reviewing the lower court's ruling, said that the first decision was a narrow interpretation based on old laws and that "in this global village a man can have more than one place at which he resides." We agree. Moreover, in our increasingly inter-connected world, a child should not be viewed as the sole responsibility of his country of birth. Together with other individuals and interested groups, the Center for Adoption Policy is proud to have supported the position that the most important determinant in adoption policy should be the best interests of each child. More Information.
June 11, 2009. WHO Declares Swine Flu a Pandemic. The World Health Organization has declared the H1N1 swine flu a Level 6 pandemic, the first time since 1968 that such a declaration has been made. This ranking is WHO's highest level of threat. Many question whether the number of cases and the fatality rate of the H1N1 flu justifies such a high level warning. WHO responds by saying that although this virus is currently generally mild in form, the virus is spreading rapidly and may well mutate into a more lethal virus. There are many ramifications to the potential pandemic. Among them is what the effect on international adoption will be; heretofore the Chinese government has acted very proactively on this issue. We also hope that the swine flu issue is not distracting international health officials from other, equally pressing, issues. More Information.
June 10, 2009. Homeland Security Chief Sets Right Tone On Immigration Questions. Janet Napolitano, the secretary of homeland security, made the following statement about immigration law: "Smart immigration policy balances strong enforcement practices with common-sense, practical solutions to complicated issues." While she was speaking about the plight of foreign-born spouses of deceased U.S. citizens, her views are welcome to us. We all know of the cases where immigration policy relating to international adoption seems to lack the attributes the secretary cites. We look forward to working with CIS on this basis. More Information.
June 9, 2009. Language Matters. We generally take a relaxed attitude toward adoption language issues. But we were shocked this morning to hear Natalie Morales, one of the anchors of the Today show, make the following comments to actress Melissa Gilbert: "You had parents who loved you, you were an adopted child but they took you in as if you were their child..." Ms. Gilbert looked stunned at these statements and we were dismayed. Adopted children are not "taken in." They are not treated as if they were their parents' real child; adopted children are the real children of their parents. We hope Ms. Morales and NBC News understands that they have erred. More Information.
June 8, 2009. News About the Congressional Coalition Adoption Institute. The Congressional Coalition Adoption Institute (CCAI) is an important force advocating for better adoption policies in the belief that every child deserves a permanent loving family. CCAI's goals are "to educate federal policymakers about the need for reform; coordinate Congressional and community efforts to bring about change and facilitate opportunities for communication and awareness." We are proud to say we have worked with CCAI on many projects; CCAI Executive Director Kathleen Strottman was one of the speakers at our annual adoption law conference this year. CCAI has recently re-launched its website, which can be accessed by clicking here.
June 4, 2009. Ukraine Adoption Issues. We understand that a committee of the Ukrainian Parliament (Rada) has recommended that the Ukranian Parliament pass a moratorium on International Adoption. We deplore this development and hope that a moratorium on international adoption it does not become law. Every child deserves a permanent, loving family.
June 3, 2009. Romanian Study Shows Superiority of Foster Care over Institutionalized Care. Melissa Ghera, Peter Marshall, Nathan Fox, Charles Zeanah, Charles Nelson, Anna Smyke and Donald Guthrie, who directed the Early Intervention Project which studied institutionalized children randomly assigned to foster care or institutions, have published their findings in the March issue of Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. They have found that the groups assigned to foster care as opposed to institutions had much higher levels of positive emotion and attention. These findings held true for the children at 30 months of age and also at 42 months of age. The researchers were not able to study adopted children but we can only imagine how well children who were not only raised in a family setting but were given permanence as well would fare. What testimony this report provides for the importance of finding a permanent loving family for every unparented child. More Information.
June 2, 2009. New TB Testing Requirements for Children Adopted From China Starting July 1, 2009. The U. S. Center for Disease Control have announced that as of July 1, 2009 new screening and treatment requirements for Chinese immigrants will go into effect. These requirements will also be applied to children being adopted who are two years and older on the day of their U.S. government required medical exam in Guangzhou. Doctors will be required to give each child a tuberculin skin test. The results must be read 48-72 hours after the test is given. If the results are positive, the child must have a chest x-ray. Thereafter the doctor will assess the child's exam and medical status. In some cases the child might be required to have further treatment in China before entering the United States. Agencies and families should factor in this new requirement in their Guangzhou timing. More Information.
Center for Adoption Policy (CAP)