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February 2010

February 25, 2010. Federal Court Says to Louisiana Court: Issue the Birth Certificate. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has ruled that the state of Louisiana must issue a birth certificate for a Louisiana born child who was adopted by a same sex couple in New York. Adar and Mickey Smith had adopted their son in New York in 2006 and sought a new birth certificate in Louisiana so that Mickey could add their son to his health insurance. Louisiana's registrar's office refused to issue the birth certificate because Louisiana does not recognize adoption by unmarried parents. The court upheld the plaintiff's request on the grounds that the full faith and credit clause of the U.S. Constitution required that judgments and decrees made by one state be honored in other states. More Information.

February 24, 2010. CIS Releases Directions for Adoptive Parents of Haitian Children Granted Visas and Humanitarian Parole. The Citizenship and Immigration Services branch of the Department of Homeland Security has released an instructional and Q and A document designed to aid parents who have recently brought children to the United States. We appreciate the effort that has gone into this briefing paper and intend to work with CIS officials to clarify the issues left unanswered by this initial statement. To read the document please go to click here.

February 23, 2010. Humanitarian Parole Departures for Haitian Children Currently Halted. On Saturday, February 20, six children who had humanitarian parole and the Haitian Prime Minister's approval for departure as well as all proper documents were blocked from leaving Haiti by Haitian authorizes. They remain in Haiti staying in unicef-supplied tents in a holding facility. The U.S. government is negotiating with Haitian authorizes for their departure. At the same time departures for all children with humanitarian parole and approved travel documents is on hold. The U.S. government and Haitian authorities are attempting to come an agreement on the proper protocols going forward. We have been informed that the U.S. Embassy in Port au Prince is working at the highest levels to resolve these problems and obtain permission to resume flights to the U.S. for children with humanitarian parole and proper paperwork. We hope that this unfortunate situation is resolved as soon as possible.

February 22, 2010. Adoption Policy Conference Details. The Center for Adoption Policy, Harvard Law School Child Advocacy Program, the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute and the Justice Action Center of New York Law School and the New York Law School Law Review present:

The Seventh Annual Adoption Law and Policy Conference at New York Law School, Friday, March 5, 2010.

Registration is FREE unless you want CLE credit, then it is $99.

Speakers include William Bistransky of the Department of State, Dr. Jane Aronson of Worldwide Orphans, Whitney Reitz of CIS, Professor Elizabeth Bartholet of Harvard Law School, Professor Joan Hollinger of the University of California Law School and Kathleen Strottman of CCAI.

Go to www.nyls.edu/adoption2010 for registration and information.

February 18, 2010. Agencies Must Provide More Pre-Adoption Education and Post-Adoption Support. International adoption has changed and what we know has changed as well. Five years ago, many adoptive parents brought home non- special needs infants and toddlers. To be sure, these young children were affected by institutionalization and related issues. But they were younger and did not have identified medical issues. Now the majority of international adoptions are of waiting children with identified medical issues and older children adoption. We now know that three years old is a watershed age-children who had been institutionalized for more than three years may have much larger deficits, some of which may not be completely made up. Older children will also have school-related issues that need to be faced immediately as well as more pressing language issues. As for children 10 and up, parenting any pre-teen or teenage child presents unique challenges. While agencies have provided the mandated Hague-mandated training, they need to provide more education prior to adoption and more support thereafter. Among other things, we hope agencies will consider buddy family programs - pairing in-process families with families who have adopted or parented similarly aged children, providing significant information about parenting resources and programs and requiring at least some adoption training to be in person rather than all web-based. Once families come home, they need information, they need contact numbers in an emergency and they need to be able to speak with non-judgmental peers. We all want adoptions to be successful, for the children most of all, but also for their entire families. That takes a wealth of knowledge and a community of support.

February 17, 2010. Resources for Adoptive Parents of Newly Arrived Haitian Children (and other Adoptive Parents). Parenting is never easy and being an adoptive parent brings its own set of challenges. For adoptive parents of children who came to the United States during the last month from Haiti, the issues can seem daunting. The children have suffered from the earthquake, the hectic nature of their departure and the pre-existing troubles of life in an orphanage. Many families did not expect their children home for quite some time. Education and support are the keys to a successful parenting relationship. We are listing resources for APs on our Haiti page. We also recommend forming a buddy relationship with a family who has BTDT-adopted a child at the same age. And ask for help - agencies, other parents, teachers, religious counselors, social workers, doctors - they are all resources. Tomorrow we will discuss the role agencies must play in supporting newly arrived children and their adoptive parents.

February 16, 2010. CBS News Airs Report About Ethiopian Adoption. CBS News last night reported about a troubling Ethiopian international adoption. The family featured adopted a sibling group where, according to the adoptive parents, everything that they were told by their agency, Christian World Adoption, except the gender of the three girls was false. We don't know enough about this specific case to comment on the details. What we do know is that every agency needs to follow the rules and procedures of both the sending and receiving countries. If it is not ethical, honest and transparent, it is not adoption. More information.

February 12, 2010. Register Now for CAP's Seventh Annual Adoption Policy Conference. Registration is now open for our annual adoption conference, to be held at New York Law School on Friday, March 5, 2010, co-sponsored by Harvard Law Schools's Child Advocacy Program, the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute and New York Law School. The topic is Permanency for Children and speakers include Whitney Reitz from CIS, William Bistransky from the Department of State, Dr. Jane Aronson, Joan Hollinger of the University of California and Elizabeth Bartholet from Harvard Law School. Registration is free unless you want CLE credit and then the cost is $99. Please go to www.nyls.edu/adoption2010 to register.

February 10, 2010. How Many People Does Adoption Touch? Policy is often discussed from the heights as it should be - a concentration on individual cases can make for bad laws and regulations. But it also makes sense to look at the statistics about adoption to see how many people have been affected by adoption in the United States, which has the most adoption-supportive culture of any country. The answer is that the United States has between five and six million adoptees among its population. In the three decades 1971 through 2001, U.S. citizens adopted approximately 265,000 children internationally. These numbers reveal that adoption affects most American families in one way or another. It is also evident that international adoption, although often visible, is not as common as might be supposed. Therefore, the anti-adoption rhetoric which often implies a mission (religious or cultural) on the part of U.S. citizens to scoop up children from around the globe is clearly unsupported by the numbers. More Information.

February 9, 2010. Important Information for Adoptive Parents of Newly Arrived Haitian Children. The vast majority of the newly arrived Haitian children have come to the United States because the U.S. government granted them humanitarian parole. These parents do not have full and final adoptions nor are the children U.S. citizens. The adoptive parents will need, within two years of the date of the arrival of their children to the U.S., to finish their adoptions and complete the process necessary to make their children U.S. citizens. CIS is working on a document that will outline what the nature of each step is and how parents can accomplish each requirement. We are told that summary will be available within the next two weeks. We urge all parents first, not to file any paperwork until this document is released and second, when this document is released, to work quickly to get their new children's U.S. status converted to citizenship.

February 8, 2010. CCAA Sends Out NSN Referrals. The China Center for Adoption Affairs sent referrals for its non-special needs international adoption program last week to families whose dossiers had been logged in with CCAA on April 4 and April 5, 2006. Notwithstanding that only two calendar days of referrals were sent, this batch appears to have been larger than the batches for the previous few months. The children, both boys and girls, were from various provinces and tended to the younger side of referral ages-averaging around seven to nine months. As we have been accustomed to noting, each month that passes has added significant time to the wait for PAPs; anyone who received a referral this month clearly had begun working on their adoption dossier over four years ago.

February 4, 2010. U.S. Missionaries Charged by Haitian Government with Abduction. The ten U.S. missionaries who were accused of trying to take 33 Haitian children to the Dominican Republic this past week without proper papers and without following proper procedures now have been charged with abduction. If convicted, these Idaho residents, face prison terms of up to fifteen years. Up until today, the possibility of returning the U.S. residents, and avoiding a trial in this high profile case, existed but for now that possibility is foreclosed. It would probably not be possible to bring charges against this group in the United States since, according to current reports, apparently no crime was committed here. More Information.

February 3, 2010. Orphans Are Not Necessarily Orphans. The justifiable furor over the attempt by ten Americans from Idaho to remove children from Haiti in total disregard of procedures or paperwork has brought to the forefront a continuing misunderstanding that bedevils discussions about finding permanent homes for unparented children. Reporters and commentators have reiterated over the past few days that some of the 33 children taken to the Dominican Republic border by the Idaho group were not orphans - that they had living parents. This revelation is often made to sound newsworthy in and of itself and has become a conversation ender. In reality the overwhelming majority of adopted children have living birth parents. "Orphan" is a legal and statutory term which describes a child who has been abandoned or relinquished by his or her birth parents. A finding that a child is an "orphan" is necessary before a child can be adopted from non-Hague countries to the United States pursuant to CIS orphan regulations. (The idea is the same but terminology is different under Hague adoptions.) Birth parents must have their parental rights terminated before any child can be adopted domestically. It is not remarkable that the Haitian children at the center of the Idaho case were not orphans in the common understanding of the word - children whose birth parents are dead. What is significant rather is the cavalier and irresponsible attitude shown by the Idaho emissaries for the legal and governmental structures that exist to protect children.

February 2, 2010. The Adoption of Haitian Children. We participated in an online discussion of international adoption and the future of Haiti's unparented children. Much of the media's focus on Haiti in recent days has swirled around the dreadfully misguided attempt by a group from Idaho to take Haitian children to the Dominican Republic without following any of the necessary protocols and procedures. We regret the emphasis on this particular story because it distracts attention from the need for unparented children to have permanent, loving homes through ethical and transparent international adoption, among other options. To read and contribute to the debate, please go to http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/01/haitis-children-and-the-adoption-question/.

February 1, 2010. New Policy Finds Relatives of Foster Children. St. Louis officials are taking family reunification strategies for foster children one step further. Investigators are seeking leads for relatives of children in care who may not even be aware of their new kin. The goal is to find family for foster children who otherwise might age out of care and be left adrift and alone. "The lost relatives are a largely untapped resource for adoption," said Melanie Scheetz, director of the nonprofit Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition.The best result comes when relatives decide to adopt the children. But even if they don't, officials are convinced that creating any relationship with a family member can be of great benefit to foster children. More Information.

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