October 29, 2009. CCAA to Get a New Director General. According to the Joint Council for International Children's Services, Mr. Lu Ying, the Director General of the China Center for Adoption Affairs, is leaving CCAA for a post in the Ministry of Social Affairs. Mr. Lu served for eight years. During his tenure the Chinese Non-Special Needs program grew rapidly and then, after 2005, contracted back to the size it was when he first took office. Since the implementation of stricter rules for international adoption in May 2007, the CCAA has concentrated on expanding its waiting child program: approximately half of all international adoptions from China are of waiting children. We do not yet have word on who will replace Director General Lu or whether the appointment of a new Director General will signal a change in the Chinese international adoption programs.
October 28, 2009. Russia Shuts Down International Adoption From Ireland. Russian authorities have blocked any international adoption from Ireland because of the failure of Irish agencies and/or couples to comply with Russia's post-placement reporting requirements. Obtaining compliance with post-placement report requirements has been a major issue for Russia as well as for other sending countries such as China and Ukraine. Russian authorities have blacklisted U.S. agencies for not obtaining compliance but the shutdown of the entire Russian IA program to Ireland is a stiffer penalty, especially for the children who many now be relegated to institutional life. Approximately 100 children are in the process of being adopted by Irish families for Russia. More Information.
October 27, 2009. Why We Don't Trick-or-Treat for Unicef, Again. It's almost Halloween which brings us to our annual explanation of why our children do not trick or treat for Unicef. Over the past decade Unicef officials have been relentless in their opposition to international adoption. Unicef reports and advice favors in-country institutionalization or foster care over IA. Indeed Unicef officials generally dismiss IA as fraudulent, or at best, a band-aid approach that distracts countries from pursuing "better" options. We agree that efforts should be made to support biological families who want to parent their children but for those children whose biological families cannot or will not parent them, ethical and transparent IA should remain a viable option.
October 22, 2009. DOS Responds to Reports of Vietnamese Officials' Conviction in Fraud Involving International Adoption. Parents for Ethical Adoption Reform (PEAR) wrote to William Bistransky, Adoption Division Chief of the Department of State's Office of Children's Issues concerning the possible notification of U.S. families who adopted from Nam Dinh Province. According to PEAR, the three U.S. adoption agencies licensed to work in Nam Dinh were Los Ninos, Orphans Overseas and Faith International. In response to PEAR's question about whether OCI was considering pressing visa fraud charges against these three agencies, Bistransky responded: The Office of Children's Issues does have a role in monitoring and collecting information regarding the activities of U.S. adoption service providers working overseas and when appropriate for referring complaints by U.S. citizens to the State licensing offices with jurisdiction over the adoption agency. I want to assure you that we have taken note of these convictions and, once more information becomes available, will determine what, if any, follow-on action would be appropriate." Bistransky's letter, posted on PEAR's website, also explains how adoptive parents can access their children's adoptive records. More Information.
October 21, 2009. Study Finds that Most States Don't Protect the Legal Rights of Abused Children. A study by First Star and the Children's Advocacy Institute at the University of San Diego School of Law has published a study called, "A Child's Right to Counsel: A National Report Card on Legal Representation for Abused and Neglected Children." The report states that almost 800,000 children were abused or neglected in 2008 and most of these children did not have access to adequate legal counsel. Paradoxically, the parent-perpetrators do generally have sufficient access to a lawyer. The study's authors graded each state and the District of Columbia and 29 states earned a C or lower. We must do better by the most vulnerable of our children. More Information.
October 20, 2009. Could International Adoption From Romania Resume? Last week the Romanian Adoption Office (ORA) recommended to the Romania government that International Adoption from Romania resume. Recognizing that unparented special needs children and children of Roma background were doomed to an institutionalized existence, ORA suggested that if children who fell into these categories remained without parents, they could be adopted internationally. Predictably opponents of IA, such as Baroness Nicholson, well known to Newscap readers, criticized this suggestion immediately. Unfortunately as the Romanian Times reports, Acting Prime Minster Emil Boc, believes the present laws on international adoptions are in accord with international legislation and European standards. We hope his is not the last word. More Information.
October 19, 2009. CAP Obtains Clarification and Consistency from CIS Offices on Grandfathered I-600/As. In response to our reaching out to Citizenship and Immigration Services and Department of State officials last week, we have been assured by DOS officials that all USCIS offices were informed specifically that initial I-600/A filings go to the Texas Lockbox but grandfathered, extension and change of circumstances forms will go to the USCIS field offices. DOS officials also stated that these firm rules will be in effect in all USCIS offices and that during a conference call this week, field offices were reminded again what the new procedures are. We thank the CIS and DOS officials who worked with us to obtain this clarification and standardization.
October 15, 2009. Quebec's Government Considers Very Different Kind of Adoption. Kathleen Weil, Justice Minister of Quebec, is proposing that Quebec's adoption laws be changed to allow some children to be legally connected both to their adoptive parents and to their biological parents. Weil said she was inspired by French legislation. In both cases the goal is to make it easier to find adoptive homes for older children who may be living in foster homes and who retain emotional as well as legal ties with their birth parents. The proposed legislation also provides a legal framework for open adoptions which are becoming the norm throughout much of the world. More Information.
October 14, 2009. HIV positive orphans in Vietnam Barred from School. Children who carry the HIV virus are discriminated against throughout the world. No group faces more barriers than HIV positive children or children who have AIDS. The New York Times today has a heartbreaking story, accompanied by vivid pictures, of children from the Mai Hoa orphanage in An Nhon Tay, near Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Fifteen of them, all infected with HIV, were told, as government rules mandate, that they could finally attend the local school. But prejudiced parents of other children refused to allow the orphanage students to attend classes; by the end of the day the children had been told to leave school forever. International adoption to Vietnam is closed. More Information.
October 13, 2009. CAP Requests Clarification as USCIS Revises Rules for Filing I-600/As. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has altered its rules for filing I-600/A forms. Effective immediately I-600/As should be mailed to a lockbox in Lewisville Texas (mailing address: USCIS, PO Box 299027 , Lewisville , TX 75029; courier or Fed Ex address: 2501 S. State Hwy 121, Bldg 4, Lewisville, TX 75067.) However, it is come to our attention that different CIS offices are giving families and adoption service providers different instructions as to where grandfathered I-600/As should be filed: some states are instructing families to mail all I-600/As to the lockbox while others are informing families that grandfathered I-600/As should be filed at the local office. Making matters more difficult, the penalty for filing in the wrong location is loss of grandfathered status. We have contacted CIS officials requesting timely clarification on this point.
October 8, 2009. Adoption and the Universal Classroom. Gone are the days when a monochromatic sea of children from nuclear families filled American schools. Today's widely diverse school population includes traditional families, transracially adopted children, children of single sex partnerships and children of single parents. Concurrently educational pedagogy emphasizes bringing the personal into the classroom. With the proliferation of assignments requiring children to disclose details from their private life the classroom can become an unhappy place for many students. Assignments which can be particularly tricky for adopted students include the baby picture, the family tree, the story of a child's name and charting personal genetic traits. The keys to making school safe and comfortable for all children are agency and empowerment. Instead of creating mandatory assignments, teachers need to provide a menu of choices which empowers each child to select a topic with which he or she feels comfortable. Every child in the classroom will benefit for a rich assortment of choices; each child will be pleased to know that she can decide what, if anything, about her home life should be shared with others.
October 7, 2009. CAP Attends Meeting with CDC. The Center for Adoption Policy was pleased to be included in a meeting among officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and representatives of adoption community stakeholders. One of the most important goals of the meeting was to create communication channels so that the serious problems caused by the CDC's implementation of the TB Technical Instructions in China and Ethiopia will not reoccur. We were particularly happy to have the opportunity to provide suggestions to the CDC, which is in the process of reaching out much more broadly to the international community, on ways to implement U.S. based medical protocols without stigmatizing or harming unparented children.
October 6, 2009. CCAA Explains to CAP Citizenship Status of Chinese Born Children Adopted Internationally. During our recent meetings with Director-General Lu of the China Center of Adoption Affairs and his staff, we were able to pose a question we have long sought to have answered: what exactly is the citizenship status of children born in China and adopted abroad. Director-General Lu informed us that China does not recognize dual citizenship for any of its citizens. Therefore, when children adopted from China become citizens of the receiving country, in our case, the United States, the children lose any rights to Chinese citizenship. This policy is consonant with Chinese citizenship policy generally. If Chinese graduate students, who intend to return to China, have a child in the United States, that child, an American by birth, is not a Chinese citizen either. If the situation were reversed, the child would be an American citizen. However, the lack of Chinese citizenship for children of overseas Chinese nationals clearly does not affect their sense of identity.
October 5, 2009. International Adoption From Guatemala Remains Closed. We are receiving disturbing reports that some agencies have told clients that international adoption from Guatemala may reopen soon. These reports are, to our knowledge, completely erroneous. We have seen no evidence that Guatemalan authorities have disclosed any plans to reopen IA. Any agency who is discussing Guatemalan IA is acting prematurely, if not dishonestly. We hope that every country can have an open, transparent and accountable IA program. But such a program is not currently available from Guatemala.
October 1, 2009. Americans May Not Adopt From Kenya. The Department of State has announced that adoptions from Kenya by U.S. citizens will not be processed by DOS and therefore is warning U.S. citizens not to begin an adoption process from Kenya. Both Kenya and the U.S. are parties to the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. The Hague Convention requires that both signatory parties follow Hague procedures in order for adoptions to proceed between the sending country and the receiving country. DOS has concluded that the Government of Kenya's international adoption procedures do not comply with Hague procedures. Until the GOK creates the infrastructure and regulations necessary under Hague standards, DOS will not issue the documents that a child adopted from Kenya needs to obtain a U.S. immigrant visa. More Information.
Center for Adoption Policy (CAP)