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March 2009

March 31, 2009. Georgia May Be First State to Pass Embryo Adoption Legislation. The Georgia House has now passed the Option of Adoption Act which could make Georgia the first state to create a legislative framework for embryo adoption. Potential "adoptive parents" of an embryo would be treated as if they were adopting a child and the law, if enacted by the Georgia State Senate and signed by the Governor, could have enormous implications for diverse areas of the law such as insurance liability, abortion, criminal culpability. Proponents also maintain that person who "adopt" embryos could be eligible for the federal adoption tax credit. More Information.

March 30, 2009. Mercy for Mercy. Will Mercy James will be allowed to grow up in a permanent family with Madonna as her mother, or be relegated to institutional care in her homeland? More broadly, the question is: shall international adoption remain a solution for unparented children or shall the Save the Children UK position - that international adoption is never a good option - become the global standard? Both questions are equally important. Those of us who believe in the validity, usefulness and morality of international adoption believe that the particular - the life of a child, this child - is just as crucial as policy-making in general. If Mercy James has no one to parent her in Malawi, then international adoption can and should provide the permanent loving home every child deserves. More Information.

March 26, 2009. Change in Indian Adoption Procedures. The U.S. embassy in New Delhi has announced that as of April 1, 2009 adoption procedures in India will be centralized. All cases will be processed in New Delhi and not, as formerly, at consulates throughout the country. The State Department is of the opinion that this centralization will be good for international adoption. It will allow the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) and the U.S. embassy to work together in a timely and consistent manner on all IA cases. These new rules affect both Hague and Non-Hague cases. More Information.

March 25, 2009. Guatemala War Orphans Put Up for Adoption During Dirty War. Guatemala's government has conceded that it has found evidence supporting the long believed rumors that children whose parents were killed during the country's three decade long Civil War were sent to orphanages rather than be reunited with suriviving family members. Investigator Marco Tulio Alvarez, who is focusing of the foiles of adults and children who disappeared between 1976 and 1986, the height of the conflict, said that evidence exists that hundreds of children were taken to orphanages and many were placed with American couples who later adopted them. We salute the efforts to trace the whereabouts of these missing children. Adoption can only be the a positive outcome for unparented children if the procedures are transparent and accountable. More Information.

March 24, 2009. Shannon Minter, CAP Speaker and Friend, Named California Lawyer of the Year. Shannon Minter, Legal Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, was named California Lawyer of the Year by California Lawyer magazine. This award recognizes Mr. Minter outstanding service in the fight for Gay rights and specifically in the battle for marriage equality in the state of California. He was instrumental in last year's arguments before the California Supreme Court that resulted in a plaintiffs' victory and in the new case which grows out of the passage by California voters of Proposition 8. More Information.

March 23, 2009. Hopeful Surrogate Parents Find Agency Closed. A popular California surrogacy agency, SurroGenesis, closed last week as did its escrow company. Millions of dollars are missing and almost 100 clients have sustained major financial and emotional losses. For some, the unraveling of SurroGenesis means that they have missed their last chance to become parents. The recent saga of the California mother and her octuplets has focused national attention on the loose regulation of surrogacy agencies in California. SurroGenesis claimed to have 60 global locations where would-be parents could find surrogates. It turned out that many of these addresses were post office boxes. The supposedly independent and bonded escrow agent was revealed to be another corporate incarnation of the same person who began the surrogacy agency. Clearly stricter enforcement of existing rules and the drafting of new ones are called for. More Information.

March 19, 2009. Oregon Puts Moratorium on Sending Foster Children Out of the U.S. Concerns over child safety and compliance with the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption have motivated state officials in Oregon to place a 60 day halt to out of country placements of foster children. This decision immediately affects five children who were slated to be sent to relatives in Mexico who wished to adopt them. The state has hired an international law firm to make sure that its procedures comport with the Hague Convention and the federal regulations on out-going cases. Child welfare officials are also cognizant of two high profile cases involving outgoing adoptions, including the tragic history of a four-year girl who was murdered in Mexico while still under the stewardship of the Oregon child welfare system. More Information.

March 18, 2009. Romanian Orphanages Overflowing Due to Financial Crisis. The Romanian periodical Curentul reports that many poor families are abandoning their children in Romania to hospitals or placement centers. As the spokesman for the Child Protective Services of Iasi County explained, "In rural areas there are many families who have no food and no wood to heat their homes. Consequently, they do not have any way to feed their children or to keep them warm..." Romania has been battered twice over by the world economic recession-its own economy is faltering and many of the millions of Romanian migrant workers who have supported their families by taking jobs abroad are losing their jobs and returning home to impoverished families. Romania remains closed to international adoption.

March 17, 2009. Birth Parent Assistance Act of 2009 Introduced. Representative Jean Schmidt (R-OH) introduced the Birth Parent Assistance Act of 2009 last week. Co-sponsored by Representative Jim Oberstar (D-MN), co-chair of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, this bill would authorize $30 million over five years for new counseling programs and additional post-placement support services for birth parents after they have placed a child for adoption. The funds may also be used for training for social workers and hospital personnel who work with birth parents and adoptive parents. This bill is supported by the American Academy of Adoption Professionals, the National Council for Adoption, the On Your Feet Foundation, and Spaulding for Children.

March 16, 2009. U.S. Not Processing International Adoptions From Guatemala. The State Department is again advising potential adoptive parents and adoption service providers not to begin new international adoptions from Guatemala. Neither the State Department nor USCIS will currently allow any adoption from Guatemala to be completed. Guatemala is a Hague Convention country as is the United States. At this time Guatemala does not have a Hague-compliant procedure for IA. For that reason the State Department cannot issue the necessary documents required by the Intercountry Adoption Act which are a prerequisite for I-800/A visas. Guatemala is working on implementing the Hague Convention but there is no time frame for agency accreditation. The U.S. government agrees that legitimate transition cases begun before December 31, 2007 should be processed to completion under the previous legislation. More Information.

March 12, 2009. What a Wonderful Thing! A Child's Right, which is a Washington state based NGO, has announced that it has both funding and Chinese government permission to install water filtration units in every orphanage in every province and municipality of China. Instead of encouraging the digging of new wells, which can have unintended negative consequences, this foundation focuses on purifying the water from existing sources. A Child's Right was very active in the aftermath of the Sichuan earthquake as well. "This means, simply, that every institutionalized orphan in China will have clean and safe drinking water," stated Eric Stowe, the NGO's Director. We couldn't agree more. More information.

March 11, 2009. Adoption in the Schools. Anyone working in the field of adoption knows that the way in which adoption is regarded and discussed has come along way from the excluding and secretive pattern prevalent a generation ago. But any parent with children in school understands that educational assignments, especially ones purporting to make children more comfortable, can pose problems and cause great discomfort for adopted children. Topics such as discussing where a child's name came from, the request to bring in baby pictures and of course the "family tree" are not the simple homework teachers may assume. Fortunately there is a wealth of information on these issues available to parents and educators. One of the best such studies, Adoption Awareness in Schools: A Guide for Parents and Educators by Christine Mitchell, is available at Tapestry Books: http://www.tapestrybooks.com/product.asp?pID=716.

March 10, 2009. Culture of Corruption Concerning Romanian Medical Care Blights and Costs Lives. Romania has long struggled with corruption. Nowhere are the effects more tragic than in the country's medical system where patients must offer substantial sums of money in order to be treated. The "black" price list is even advertised according a recent article in the New York Times: a simple appendectomy costs $127 while brain surgery could require a bribe of $6,370. The Times' reporter recounts the particularly tragic story of Lungu family. Alina Lungu paid her obstetrician $255 and also gave $32 to a nurse to ensure an epidural and around $13 to an orderly so that he would not drop her stretcher. But apparently this money wasn't enough. When Alina went to have her baby, her doctor did not show up. When another doctor finally arrived he found that her son had the umbilical cord wrapped double around his neck. The baby was born blind, deaf and has severe brain damage. If this is the standard of medical care Romanians with decent incomes receive, imagine what unparented children are left with. More Information.

March 9, 2009. State Department Human Rights Report on Vietnam Highlights Trafficking in Persons Problem. In its annual Human Rights Report, the State Department has turned a spotlight on the significant issue of trafficking in people in Vietnam. According to this report women were primarily trafficked to Cambodia, Malaysia, China, Taiwan, and South Korea for sexual exploitation but also to Hong Kong, Macau, Thailand, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, Eastern Europe, and the United States. Poor, rural women are most at risk and the perpetrators use false advertising, debt bondage, confiscation of documents, and threats of deportation as well as family pressure to achieve their wicked purposes. While the report also records cases of baby selling, clearly the incidence of corrupt adoption practices is far less prevalent than sexual trafficking is in Vietnam. More Information.

March 5, 2009. Oral Argument Today in Legal Challenge to Proposition 8. The California Supreme Court will be the setting today for oral arguments in the case which is challenging Proposition 8, the ballot initiative that successfully banned gay marriage in California in November 2008. Proposition 8 undid the action of the California Supreme Court last spring which struck down the ban on gay marriage. Last year's decision of California's highest court had a significant effect on various election ballot initiatives and referenda around the country. It remains to be seen what will be the fallout from these arguments.

March 4, 2009. CCAA Sends New Referrals for Non-Special Needs Adoption from China. The China Center for Adoption Affairs has sent referrals for potential adoptive parents whose dossiers were logged in with CCAA on March 3, and March 6, 2006. This is the first group of PAPs who have waited three years from the time their dossiers were logged in to the time they received their referrals. This is an unprecedented wait in the history of modern international adoption.

March 3, 2009. Second Referrals In Very Rare Circumstances For Vietnam PAPs. Vietnam's Department of Adoption (Ministry of Justice, Socialist Republic of Vietnam) has acknowledged that the U.S. government has requested that it issue new referrals in situations where the referral was lost for reasons not in control of the potential adoption parents and where the first referral had been issued prior to September 1, 2008. The Vietnamese government has decided not to grant second referrals unless the child referred to the PAPs died after the referral was made. In that limited situation PAPs will receive a second referral. More Information.

March 2, 2009. Arksansas Modifies Consent Revocation Period for Domestic Adoptions. Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe has signed Act 230, effective immediately, which allows birth parents to agree to waive the ten day revocation period for their binding consent to adoption down to five days. The ten day rule has been in effect since 1991. During the revocation period the court cannot hold a hearing on an adoption petition. All states have different laws and procedures for domestic adoption and vary widely on the time limit for birth parents to revoke their consent to the adoption.

Center for Adoption Policy (CAP)
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