April 29, 2010. Haitian Government Accepting New Applications for Adoptions. The U.S. government has announced that Haiti's adoption authority, Institut du Bien-être Social et de Recherches (IBESR), is now accepting new applications from prospective adoptive parents who are seeking to adopt from Haiti. Eligible children include both children who were available for adoption prior to January 12, 2010 (the date of the devastating earthquake) and children who have been relinquished by their birth parents after the earthquake. The U.S. government, which will accept I-600/As for Haitian adoption as well, also urges PAPs to work directly with IBESR. More Information.
April 28, 2010. U. S. Government Announces New I-600/A Forms. USCIS has released new versions of the I-600/A forms which are used in non-Hague international adoptions. The new forms bear the date "12/30/09 N." The older versions of the forms will only be usable during the transition period, which ends on June 2, 2010. Thereafter only the newest versions of the forms may be submitted. Please go to our government bulletins page for a complete listing of addresses where I-600/ A forms should be filed. More Information.
April 27, 2010. Article Highlights Issues with Russian Institutional Care. A thoughtful piece in the Washington Post shed an interesting light on Russian orphanage practices. We are all aware of the deficiencies of many orphanages due to lack of money, time and employees. But the account by Darshak Sanghavi pointed out that many bad orphanage practices are not a result of neglect but of a Russian adherence to what we in the United States consider an obsolete if not pernicious "medical parenting" style. Popularized in the progressive era as part of the professionalization of various aspects of life, this view of "scientific parenting" was completely impersonal and rigid. Children were to be raised on a strict schedule with parents told that any undue affection (such as kissing more than once a year) would lead to terrible problems. Within two decades scientific parenting in the west had been replaced by attachment parenting - in baby boomer years personified by Dr. Spock. Russian orphanages have apparently not made this leap. More Information.
April 26, 2010. Out of the mouths of babes....... "I wish I could take what I have now and give it to myself when I was little", said Ian Baehr on his ninth birthday. (New York Times, April 18, 2010). What Ian has now are parents, brothers, presents and birthday celebrations. Ian, who was born to an alcoholic mother and spent his early years in a prison orphanage, was adopted two years ago from Ukraine. Another little boy like Ian, Artyom Hansen, captured worldwide attention when his adoptive mother, Torry, put him on a plane back to Russia, saying she could no longer parent him. This irresponsible act sparked a major diplomatic incident, stalling adoptions for thousands of children awaiting the only parents they will ever know.
Focusing on the mother's actions diverts attention from the more important question inherent in Ian's wish: why are these children forced to spend years in institutions before having a chance to be placed in adoptive families?
The science is indisputable. Children need parents to care for them. Pre-natal exposure to drugs, alcohol and malnutrition interfere with normal growth and development. Exposure to an environment of continued neglect and abuse after birth compounds the problem. The longer it continues, the more debilitating and irreversible the effects. The most important predictor of long term success for an adoptive child is the age at which he is placed in a permanent family - the younger the better.
At the same time, a sense of national pride challenges all nations to take care of their own. Cultural ideologues deliberately misinterpret the subsidiarity principle in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which expresses a preference for a child to be raised in his country of birth, if it is in the individual child's best interests. They insist that this requires exploring every domestic option, often sequentially, and having them all fail, before making a child available for international adoption. Never mind that no child living on the street or in an institution has any realistic opportunity to appreciate his culture or heritage; in fact, he is more likely to be an object of scorn and abuse.
At the policy tables, child welfare and government officials are judged by their adherence to these principles. Nowhere are they held accountable for the deleterious effects of warehousing children. U.S. foreign aid pours into countries with absolutely no requirement that they demonstrate that the policies and practices based upon these principles actually result in permanent loving homes for children. So a child born to an alcoholic mother and subsequently abandoned is forced to endure years of continued abuse and neglect, while the adults charged with his protection experiment with the solution du jour.
It is too late to salvage the infancy and early childhood of Ian and Artyom. But we can ensure that future foreign aid programs require partner governments to make it a priority to find permanent families for orphans as early in life as possible, and demonstrate success in doing so.
Nothing, not biology, nationality, race or culture, matters more to a child, or is more important to his development, than a parent who is willing and able to take care of him. Even a nine year old knows that.
April 22, 2010. State Department Update on International Adoption from Russia. The latest Department of State update on international adoption from Russia is available on our Government Bulletin page. While international adoption from Russia is not officially closed, clearly some regions are experiencing significant delays. The Moscow embassy is processing orphan visas normally. DOS and other U.S agencies are sending an official delegation to Moscow which will meet with Russian counterparts on April 29 and 30. DOS has also established a special mailbox for enquiries by in-process families: RussiaAdoption@state.gov.
April 21, 2010. A Sad Case of a Domestic Adoption Which Was Wrong. John Wyatt, a biological father, wanted to raise the baby his girlfriend was carrying. He took all proper steps in Virginia where he lived to claim his parental rights. When his girlfriend, without his consent, took the baby girl to Utah and allowed the child to be adopted there, John believed that the Utah courts would follow the law and recognize his custody order from Virginia. Instead the adoptive parents were awarded custody. We know adoption - this is not adoption but an unlawful taking of a child from the parent who loves her. The Utah Court of Appeals must reverse this erroneous decision. More Information.
April 20, 2010. CAP Releases Best Practices Memorandum. We are pleased to release our proposed framework for "Best Practices in International Adoption." It may be found under our "Ethical Adoption" button. Ensuring that international adoption remain an alternative for unparented children requires that all members of the adoption world commit to a best practices approach at every stage: we are proud to submit this roadmap.
April 19, 2010. U.S Government Officials' Meeting with Russian Counterparts Postponed. A delegation of American government officials from the Department of State and USCIS were to have met with Russian counterparts tomorrow to address issues pertaining to international adoption from Russia to the United States. Unfortunately the virtual stoppage in air travel to Europe has delayed the planned departure of U. S. diplomats. The meeting has therefore been postponed with no new date set as of yet.
April 8, 2010. Long Term Study Shows Dismal Outlook for Children in Foster Care. A just released long term study of children who had grown up in foster care and aged out of it reveals a tragic series of statistics. Less than half of the young adults were employed by their mid-twenties, three-quarters of the women were receiving public assistance of some kind and sixty percent of the men had been convicted of a crime. In every category those who had been through foster care fared worse than the general population. While these facts are not surprising in and of themselves, the quality of the study provides vital evidence for those of us who believe that a foster care is not the same as permanent, loving parents. More Information.
April 7, 2010. Urgent Update on Humanitarian Parole in Haiti. USCIS announced today that on April 14, 2010 it will stop accepting new requests under the humanitarian parole program for Haitian children. Potential adoptive parents who believe that they have a child eligible for this program must get their requests into Haitianadoptions@dhs.gov before that date. Thereafter international adoptions from Haiti to the United States will be processed in the regular manner. A fact sheet outlining the humanitarian parole process is posted on our government bulletins page. We understand that this change has occurred at the request of the Haitian government. We salute USCIS for all that they have done for unparented children in Haiti.
April 6, 2010. CIS Still Processing Humanitarian Parole Applications for Haitian Children. The humanitarian parole program which USCIS began in the aftermath of the massive earthquake in Haiti is still continuing. It applies to potential adoptive parents who can show proof that they were matched with a Haitian child prior to January 12, 2010, who was available for adoption, and that the PAPs had successfully begun their I-600/A orphan process in the United States . Families who meet these criteria should send all available information to Haitianadoptions@dhs.gov.
April 5, 2010. Major Changes Apparently on the Way for Administration of Chinese Adoptions in China. We are hearing that the China Center for Adoption Affairs will become part of a new organization - the China Child Welfare Center (CCWC), under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Civil Affairs. The CCWC will have jurisdiction not only over orphans but also over children with special needs, children of migrant workers, single parent households and impoverished families. CWCC will retain CCAA's commitment to find adoptive families for all children who can be adopted, concentrating on waiting children. CWCC will also reach out in local communities, providing general child development resources and integrating unparented children with the community at large. For those who are part of the adoption world, an important question is what effect will these changes have on China's international adoption program. We will hope to have more information in the days to come.
April 1, 2010. The Hague Two Years On: What Can We Do to Make IA Better. If it isn't honest, transparent and ethical, it isn't adoption. That must be our commitment. Just as we have a duty to fight to retain international adoption as a legitimate method of family creation, we have an obligation to ensure that members of the adoption world are worthy of the responsibility we have been given. We are affecting the lives of children and for that reason should be held to the highest standards. Adoption fraud simply cannot be tolerated and we intend to work to make sure the penalties match the offense. Adoption service providers must be responsible for what they say and do, be open and forthcoming and completely accountable. We urge DOS and COA to share more information with potential adoptive parents and we are working on making universal Hague accreditation a condition for ASPs working in all international adoption, not just from Hague countries. These are just some of our action items with the goal that international adoption be above reproach and continue, as it should, to be a legitimate choice for unparented children.
Center for Adoption Policy (CAP)