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May 2009

May 28, 2009. What Happens When International Adoption Ends. New international adoption from Vietnam to the United States ended last September. Other countries, such as Ireland and Sweden, have also let their IA programs with Vietnam expire. Now we have a Vietnamese report describing a "tide of unwanted newborns" overwhelming health care centers in Ho Chi Minh City, the largest city in the country. According to Ngo Mihn Xuan, the head of Tu Du Obstetrics Hospital's Pediatric and Newborn Department, 40 babies were abandoned at the hospital in the first three months of this year, compared with 120 babies for all of last year. This 25 percent rise, at the hospital where many babies adopted internationally were cared for has left hospitals unable to provide basic services; at Tu Du Hospital 160 beds house 327 children, included 30 who were abandoned. What is tragic is that IA opponents last year proclaimed that the number of abandoned babies in Vietnam had risen because of the growth of International Adoption. Now International Adoption has ended and the number of abandoned babies continues to increase. Isn't it time to rethink the anti-International Adoption view - for the sake of the children? More Information.

May 27, 2009. Ethiopian Court Stops Adoptions of Abandoned Children. The Ethiopian First Instance Court has stopped accepting cases involving abandoned children living in orphanages is the capital city, Addis Ababa. The Court says that it has taken this step, which the State Department has termed "temporary", because of the increase in the number of abandoned children and the possibility that some of these adoptions could involve unethical practices. Neither the Ministry of Women's Affairs, the government department responsible for international adoption, nor First Instance Court will accept any abandonment cases from Addis Abba until the related inquiry takes place. We urge anyone considering newly applying for an Ethiopian adoption program at this time to exercise caution. More Information.

May 26, 2009. California Supreme Court Upholds Ban on Gay Marriage. As expected, the California Supreme Court, by a vote of 6 to 1, upheld Proposition 8, which overturned an earlier California Supreme Court decision, and banned gay marriage. However, the Court also held that the almost 18,000 marriages between same sex couples which took place after the Court's first ruling in May 2008 but before Proposition 8 blocked gay marriages should be allowed to stand. In upholding the ban, the Supreme Court rejected arguments that the ban on single-sex marriage violated the federal and state constitutions. It is ironic that on matters of gay and lesbian marriage, California is now less welcoming than Iowa. More Information.

May 21, 2009. Benefits Challenge Made by Same-Sex Couples. Although gay marriage is legal in various states, gay spouses and survivors are finding it difficult if not impossible to obtain marital and survivor benefits from the federal government because of the Defense of Marriage Act, signed in 1996 by President Bill Clinton. Now seven gay couples and two gay survivors are challenging their exclusion from such benefits. What makes these plaintiffs unique is that all of them are or were legally married in the state of Massachussetts, where the federal lawsuit was filed this past March. Constitutional scholars give the case a good chance of succeeding; the consensus is that this precise and limited attach on DOMA will fare better than broader challenges have done. More Information.

May 20, 2009. CCAA Sending Out Referrals and More TAs. We have received reports that the China Center for Adoption Affairs is sending out non special needs referrals for dossiers logged in with CCAA between March 9 and March 14, 2006. The interval between NSN referrals this month was two weeks longer than usual; a delay most observers are attributing to fears concerning swine flu. We are delighted that families are receiving their referrals, particularly since these families have waited for their referrals more than three years and two months from their LIDs. We are also hearing that more Travel Approvals are arriving at agencies-good news indeed for families waiting to pick up their children.

May 19, 2009. Vietnam's Goal: Become a Hague Country by January 2011. Vietnamese officials have informed their Irish counterparts that the Vietnam government will try to join the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption by January 2011. These high level discussions came in the wake of the May 1 expiration and non-renewal of the bilateral agreement on intercountry adoption between Ireland and Vietnam. (The United States and Vietnam did not renew their bilateral agreement which expired in September 2008.) As with the expiration of the U.S.-Vietnam agreement, prospective Irish adoptive parents have been caught n the middle as the grandfathering provisions are not generous. Minister for Children Barry Andrews said that the U.S. State Department's findings concerning adoption problems from Vietnam had influenced his views as well: "No one is going to thank us if we sign without exercising due caution. We have to absolutely satisfy ourselves that the best standards apply. "In 15 or 16 years these children will see the American report and ask what we did to ensure their interests were protected." The Vietnamese decision to pursue Hague ratification will likely mean that intercountry adoptions from Vietnam will remain closed to U.S. as well as Irish citizens until Hague ratification. More Information.

May 18, 2009. Unique Perspective of Prospective U.S. Ambassador to China. Governor Jon Hunstman of Utah is President Obama's selection to be the new U.S. ambassador to China. Governor Huntsman is a fluent Mandarin speaker who lived in Taiwan while he participated in LDS missionary work; he later served as Ambassador to Singapore during the administration of the first President Bush. Of special interest to the adoption community is the fact that Governor Huntsman is the father of Gracie Mei, adopted by Huntsman and his wife from China and Asha Bharati adopted by the Hunt family from India. We think Governor Hunstman, if confirmed as expected by the Senate, will take an active interest in adoption issues.

May 14, 2009. Victory for Children in Florida. The Florida Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that Florida must honor second-parent adoptions granted by other states to gay and lesbian parents. The Florida ruling held, correctly, that Florida must obey the U.S. constitution and grant these adoptions full faith and credit. The National Center for Lesbian Rights led the legal team that won this victory; Legal Director Shannon Minter (a CAP Conference speaker) said "This is the tip of the iceberg -- we're going to see many more of these cases in the country." While the opponents of recognizing out of state second parent gay adoptions could theoretically appeal to the Florida Supreme Court, the decisiveness of the Court of Appeals' ruling makes a further battle unlikely. More Information.

May 13, 2009. Swine Flu and China Adoptions. The H1N1 flu strain has complicated international adoptions from China. No non-special needs referrals have yet been received for the month of May even though the month is almost half over. Some agencies are reporting that the China Center for Adoption Affairs will not give any referrals until the questions swirling around this flu are settled. (The Chinese government reaction may be partly due to the criticism it received for its initially slow response to the SARS epidemic.) Travel approvals appeared to be delayed although some waiting children TAs have arrived in the last few days. We have seen confirmed reports that some adoption agencies have been unable to make appointments for their clients holding TAs with provincial officials to adopt their referred children. Affected provinces as of now included Jiangxi, Shanxi, and Guangdong. We have also heard that adoptive parents currently may not visit the orphanage from which their child came. We hope that this situation is clarified in the days to come.

May 12, 2009. New York Times.com Discusses International Adoption. "Room for Debate," an internet discussion forum, addressed the subject of international adoption yesterday. We were pleased to join the debate, which also featured Professor Elizabeth Bartholet of Harvard and noted adoption doctor, Jane Aronson. From our contribution:

"I share the concerns of international adoption critics about corruption, accountability and the lack of transparency in some countries. And I believe that every child has a right to know and appreciate her birth nation and heritage. But my primary concern is for best interests of the individual child.

Madonna is, by all accounts, an excellent mother who is devoted to her children, including, David, her Malawi-born adopted son. Her foundation, Raising Malawi, has brought much-needed international attention to Malawi and provided significant assistance to its people. In Madonna's care, Mercy will have the love of a mother, brothers and a sister while at the same time retaining a connection to her birth family and her birth country. She will receive the education and nurture that will allow her to fulfill her potential, be it in Malawi or wherever her dreams take her. Instead of assailing Madonna, we should be saluting her."

The entire article, as well as the other contributions to the series and the numerous comments left by readers, may be found by clicking here.

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