Center for Adoption Policy
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September 2009

September 30, 3009. Important Notice Regarding Adoption From China-II. The Department of State has updated its 2009-H1N1 travel alert. As we enter the winter flu season DOS reminds travelers that quarantine in a Chinese hospital remains a possibility for U.S. travelers showing symptoms of H1N1. Also the advisory reiterates that any of the following may occur: "the possibility of Chinese medical personnel administering medications to minors without parental permission; the unavailability of suitable drinking water and food; unsanitary conditions; lack of telephone access; absence of English-speaking staff; and limited availability of English-language interpreters." Finally DOS states that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not evaluated every H1N1 vaccine that may be available in China. More Information.

September 29, 2009. Important Notices Regarding Adoption From China-I. We have learned of two U.S. government advisories that provide important information for adoption service provides and potential adoptive parents. The first is that the Adopted Children's Immigrant Visa Unit (ACIVU) at the U.S. Consulate at Guangzhou, effective immediately, is requiring that any family making a visa appointment must have a current approval notice from CIS matching precisely the age, gender and health status of the child being adopted. (Previously an updated home study was sufficient if there were discrepancies.) The ACIVU at Guangzhou has therefore advised ASPs not to allow families to travel to China until the CIS approval notice as updated if necessary (I-171H or I-797C) matches the actual child to be adopted. This notice is of great importance to NSN adoptive families who may have received a referral that differs in age or gender from what their home studies specified and to parents from the Waiting Child program whose new son or daughter does not meet the original approval based on the home studies.

September 28, 2009. Will Recession Limit Family-Friendly Policies? We have seen a steady growth in corporate policies such as flex-time, adoption benefits, increased leave time over the last fifteen years. An important question is whether the economic downturn as well as the huge increase in unemployment will motivate companies to trim if not do away with these pro-family policies. For example, Eli Lilly has just announced that it will eliminate the "compressed work" option which allowed employees to work forty hours over four days. It is questionable whether this change would have occurred in a more robust economy. For More Information see September 22, 2009 entry on http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/.

September 24, 2009. Vietnam's National Assembly Considers Draft Adoption Law. The Vietnamese government is considering a draft adoption law to replace the current law which has been criticized for being susceptible to corruption. The draft law will encourage more domestic adoption; over the last five years 20,000 children were adopted, 7,000 of whom were adopted abroad. A major change in the draft law is that only the Ministry of Justice will be allowed to process international adoptions. This centralization follows the rules set forth in the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption which requires the creation of a central authority for international adoption and will make it easier for Vietnam to join the Hague Convention. Vietnamese officials estimate that there are around 200,000 orphans in Vietnam. The total population of Vietnam is 86 million. More Information.

September 23, 2009. Australian Television Report Investigates International Adoption. Foreign Correspondent, a show on ABC, Australia, has done a report on Ethiopian adoption. This story describes practices of one American adoption agency which, if true, clearly violate any IA ethical norm. Joint Council for International Children's Services, a group whose members are adoption agencies and children's issue stake holders and which advocates for children, has put the named agency on notice and is sending a delegation to Ethiopia to investigate the allegations on the ground. We support the actions of JCICS and hope that the evidence uncovered disproves these allegations. More Information.

September 22, 2009. Changing the Culture of the Government. One of the top priorities for the Center for Adoption Policy is to change the culture of the State Department and other U.S. governmental entities. Reflecting society as a whole, government officials and the media relegate women's and children's issues to a far secondary place. Take, for example, columnist Marty Peretz of The New Republic's Spine blog. In a recent post he said when speaking of Hillary Clinton, "... the president keeps her cooped up and when she is let out of Foggy Bottom she deals with women's issues. Hortatory stuff." In other words, because she is focusing attention on women's and children's issues, she's now a second-rater. It is this view that allows the rights of women and children to be ignored and promotes their marginalization. What ambitious official wants to advocate for children's issues if he or she knows it will damage his career? More Information.

September 21, 2009. CAP, Together With other Groups, Convinces CDC to Change TB Instructions. We are proud to announce that after months of discussions, the Centers for Disease Control announced on Friday that it had modified the Technical Instructions for tuberculosis testing for children aged 2 through 10. The revised TIs will much more accurately reflect the medical consensus for pediatric TB, both for testing procedures and for treatment for children who have TB. The Center for Adoption Policy has been working hard on this issue since last spring. We would like to thank Dr Jeffrey Starke, Dr. Jane Aronson and Dr. Danny Benjamin whose medical expertise was invaluable in this campaign. This is not a victory for us but for children in the process of being adopted to the United States. The revised protocol may be found posted under CAP Projects.

September 17, 2009. Don't Believe Everything You Read. Those who work in the field of adoption are used to reading or hearing erroneous news reports. But everyone once in awhile a statement is so egregious that it bears repetition as a reminder of how skeptical we all need to be of what is reported in the media. Today's Daily Beast blog has an article by writer Doree Shafrir entitled "10 Ways to Have a Baby." As Shafir discusses various ways to form a family, she naturally touches on adoption writing that "Dan Savage, editor of the Seattle alt-weekly The Stranger and the writer of the Savage Love sex advice column, adopted his son D.J. from a homeless woman before the child was even born." This statement cannot possibly be true because no adoption of a child can occur before birth. Every state protects birth mothers by ensuring that their adoption plan can only take place and be finalized after the child is born. A cautionary tale to be sure. More Information.

September 16, 2009. CCAA Ends Role of Non-Hague Accredited U.S. Agencies. The Center for Adoption Policy was privileged to meet with Director General Lu of the China Center for Adoption Affairs (CCAA) and other Chinese officials in Washington on September 15. Among other things, Director General Lu announced that as of December 1, 2009 any U.S. potential adoptive family whose papers are logged in with CCAA must be working with a Hague accredited adoption service provider. Therefore, any adoptive family who is currently listed with a non-Hague accredited agency must change to a Hague-accredited agency and notify CCAA accordingly. Director General Lu also confirmed that CCAA will continue to accept I-600/A documents unless the State Department and CIS require that a family change to the I-800/A process.

September 15, 2009. Washington State Will Also Vote about Gay Rights. This November election day Washington voters will vote on Referendum 71 which will either uphold or nullify a recent law which gives domestic partners virtually all the rights of married couples. The vote comes in the wake of a petition drive which gathered 120,000 signatures requesting the referendum votes. Many western states have referendum, proposition or recall provisions: all part of the Progressive era movement to extend to the voting public a major role over legislation. But this progressive legacy of open and participatory government has been partly stymied in Washington because federal district court Judge Benjamin Settle ruled last week that the list of petition signers could be kept secret. We believe that the very spirit of the referendum rule demands that those names be made public: open government tools are being used and correctly so but these provisions should be used openly. More Information.

September 14, 2009. What Josie's Story Can Teach Us About International Adoption. Josie King wan a toddler who died by mistake at Johns Hopkins Hospital in 2001. She was one of an estimated 98,000 Americans who die as a result of medical mistakes in U. S. hospitals. Josie's family decided that the best memorial for their child was to establish a foundation dedicated to preventing medical errors. Their work and the dedication of doctors and nurses who are eager to do anything to avoid being the person who makes a fatal error has led to a new openness in many hospitals: increasingly medical professionals realize that transparency and accountability are the best cures for errors. The effects of sunlight are vital to any process. If we want to see International Adoption continue as a method of finding families for unparented children, everyone who is part of the adoption community must make transparency and accountability a central part of the adoption process.

September 10, 2009. Good News on Child Mortality. Unicef reports that the global child mortality rate has decreased by 25 percent in the last two decades, from 12.5 million children under five in 1990 to 8.8 million last year. As Unicef's executive director Ann Vdeneman put it: "That's 10,000 less children dying per day." The reasons for this progress include better prevention of malaria and measles, smaller families and increased chartiable efforts aimed at childhood health. Experts are now starting to focus on pneumonia and diarrhea, both comparatively neglected. While even one unnecessary death is too much, we are much pleased by this significant progress. More Information.

September 9, 2009. A New School Year. As children start school all over the country, we can all remember how wonderful it was to start school each year with our mothers and fathers cheering us on. But for many unparented children, there is no one who cares, no one who encourages them, no one who will come for picture day. Our hope is that every child has a permanent, loving family who will take the first day of school as a beacon in a life.

September 8, 2009. Unintended Consequences of TB Testing. As reported in this column earlier this year the Centers for Disease Control have been rolling out a more stringent tuberculosis testing protocol on all immigrants to the United States, aged two and over. In July this requirement was made applicable to China and Ethiopia. Children in the process of being adopted by U.S. parents are processed as immigrants, therefore this protocol governs in process adoptions from both countries. Since July adoptive families have been unable to bring their children home because of the unintended consequences of the testing. Making the situation untenable is that no public health interest indicates the need for TB testing for children: medical opinion is virtually unanimous that children develop a different form of TB which is not contagious to either other children or adults. We are actively working to ameliorate if not end the applicability of the TB testing protocol to internationally adopted children.

September 3, 2009. A Personal View About Culture and Adoption. Mei-Ling Hopgood was born in Taiwan and was adopted by American parents in 1974. She grew up at a time when the United States was a much more homogenous society, when there were many fewer Asians and Asian-Americans living in the U.S and when adoption from Asia was relatively rare. Hopgood in her book, Lucky Girl, and in the attached article details her life as an Asian-American from the perspective of someone who feels comfortable in both her cultures and with her adopted and birth family. Her very positive perspective is well-worth reading. More Information.

September 2, 2009. Tragic Death of Child Adopted From China. Lavender Banks was adopted from China as a toddler by single mother Sabrina Banks. She was in the waiting children program as she was cleft-affected. Eighteen months later, in May 2008, at the age of three, Lavender died. Now police in Elk Grove, California have arrested Sabrina Banks and charged her with the murder of her daughter. Because Sabrina Banks was at one time a frequent poster on various China Yahoo groups this death is one an entire community mourns. More Information.

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