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January 2010

January 28, 2010. Heroines and Heroes. The arrival of Haitian orphans who were in the process of being adopted by U.S. families has been well chronicled by various media outlets. Less well known is the role played by Citizenship and Immigration Services' officials in the homecoming of these children. The efforts of CIS staff members have truly exceeded what anyone could possibly expect. In particular we would like to mention two people. The first is Whitney Reitz who is heading up CIS' Washington D.C. team effort on behalf of Haitian children eligible to come to the U.S. This is not Ms. Reitz's first effort on behalf of potential adoptive parents; last summer Ms. Reitz played an important role in the resolution of the TB testing issue which particularly affected adoptions from China and Ethiopia. From the time the earthquake hit, Ms. Reitz has worked ceaselessly, with speed, skill and kindness, to help Haitian PAPs in this very difficult time. Her generosity of effort and spirit have played an incalculable role in the reuniting of Haitian orphans with their adoptive parents. Without the round the clock work of Pius Bannis, the permanent CIS official in Haiti, the orphans eligible for humanitarian parole would not have received the documents necessary to travel home. We all owe Ms. Reitz and Mr. Bannis, and their colleagues, a great deal.

January 26, 2010. Beware of Adoption Scams and Non-existent Programs. The Haitian earthquake crisis reminds us that while tragedies bring out the best in the people, they also encourage conmen and crooks who eagerly attempt to take advantage of desperate people and dire situations. The Haitian earthquake aftermath is no different. We have received reports of families being recruited for new Haitian adoption programs. There are no new Haitian adoption programs. We have learned about people calling in-process U.S. families and telling the families that for a fee the families can get their U.S. embassy paper work expedited. There are no such legitimate programs. We are aware of people pretending to be parents with previously referred Haitian children. We urge everyone involved in the adoption field to beware of schemes and false promises. We are happy for anyone with questions about a particular person or entity to contact us at our website.

January 25, 2010. Haitian Government Requires New Exit Documents for Haitian Orphans. We have learned that the government of Haiti has announced that its officials must approve the departure of any child from Haiti. This new Haitian exit document requirement will affect orphan children who qualify for visas or humanitarian parole from the U.S. government. We further understand that the U.S. government is discussing with the Haitian government today the manner in which the Haitian government exit document requirement will be implemented. Today, the U.S. embassy in Port au Prince is not distributing any travel documents for Haitian orphans although embassy staff are continuing to work on related files. We respect the concern showed by the Haitian government for its children and deplore wholeheartedly any illegal or unwarranted movement of Haitian children. We are working to make sure, however, that Haitian children who were approved for adoption to U.S. vetted parents prior to the earthquake will be able to continue to come to the United States in an expeditious manner.

Updates on Haiti can be found on the Center for Adoption Policy's Facebook Webpage and also at: http://centerforadoptionpolicy.blogspot.com/.

January 21, 2010. U.S. Families Offer Homes to Unparented Haitian Children. Many U.S. families have contacted us offering to adopt Haitian children who have been orphaned in the terrible earthquake. We so appreciate the loving concern shown by these families. However, at this time our efforts are concentrated on helping Haitian children who were referred to U.S. parents before January 12, 2010. We will keep everyone posted should this policy change.

January 20, 2010. Statement by UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman on the situation of children in Haiti. We are pleased to announce that UNICEF has endorsed the granting of humanitarian parole for Haitian children who have been previously referred to U.S. families; as Ms. Veneman said: "Screening for international adoption for some Haitian children had been completed prior to the earthquake. Where this is the case, there are clear benefits to speeding up their travel to their new homes." For more on the Haiti crisis, see our Haiti Bulletin page.

January 19, 2010, Haiti Updates and Humanitarian Parole Policy for Certain Haitian Orphans. The Department of Homeland Security, together with the Department of State has granted humanitarian parole for orphaned children who have previously been referred to U.S. families. The details of the humanitarian parole and the requirements are set forth under our Haiti Bulletin button. We will be updating the Haiti page as developments occur. Please also check for updates at the Center for Adoption Policy's Facebook group page. We salute everyone who worked so hard to reach this point.

Update on Haitian Crisis and its Effects on Children

We can report, through contacts with Department of State and CIS officials, that a small number of Haitian children whose adoptions were on the verge of being finalized and whose adoptive parents were in Haiti at the time of the earthquake have received their visas to enter the United States.

We are also glad to report that DOS and CIS are working very hard to find a way to bring children with final adoption decrees to the U.S. as soon as possible. We will apprise every one of any new DOS or CIS procedures as soon as we receive information. We can state with full confidence that DOS and CIS are doing everything they can for these families and that officials are aware that time is of the essence.

We urge PAPs not to travel to Haiti at this time as individual efforts may be counterproductive. Instead they should register with Joint Council for International Children's Services Haiti Adoptive Families & Orphan Database. The registry can be found on the Joint Council website at www.jcics.org. By providing information on your adoption, Joint Council and various agencies within the U.S. government will be able to provide emergency assistance to orphanages and to assist in uniting you with the child you are adopting.

We are receiving reports of plans to airlift Haitian children to the U.S. and to place them in foster care here. Additionally many U.S. families are seeking to start new adoptions of Haitian children. We applaud the wonderful spirit behind these initiatives. However, best practices for the welfare of children dictates against either idea. Bringing children to the United States in an ad hoc fashion can lead to fraud, abuse and trafficking. Many apparently unparented children have been separated from parents or family members; they should be cared for in-country. Those who would like to help victims of the Haitian earthquake should contact authorized relief agencies and contribute to the effort to provide food, water and shelter. The Center for High Impact Philanthropy at the School of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania provides information and guidance. See http://blog.impact.upenn.edu/2010/01/14/haiti-how-can-i-help/.

Finally, we would like to thank the Department of State and CIS officials, as well as members of Congress and their staffs, who have been working so hard through this difficult week.

Contact: Diane B. Kunz, Executive Director, Center for Adoption Policy, (919-309-0371); dianekunz@msn.com.

January 14, 2010. Highlights of CAP's Forthcoming Conference in Permanency For Children. We have an excellent series of speakers lined up for the Seventh Annual Adoption Law and Policy Conference to be held on Friday, March 5, 2010 at New York Law School: They include: Professors Elizabeth Bartholet and Charles Nelson from Harvard University, Professor Joan Hollinger of University of California, teams of lawyers from Skadden, Arps and Wilmer, Hale, Department of State and CIS officials, Dr. Jane Aronson and Tom Difilipo of JCICS. We urge all members of the adoption and child services community to join us in Tribeca. Registration Details to follow soon.

January 13, 2010. New Reports Confirm Shortage of Girls in China Will Cause Demographic Crisis in Future Decades. According to a study by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, gender imbalance is the most serious demographic issue facing China. While nationally 119 boys are born for every 100 girls (the number should be 101 boys for every 100 girls), in some areas the disparity exceeds 130 to 100. Ironically China's one child policy, introduced in 1979, was intended to limit calls on government social services but the creation of at least one generation of unmarried males will place significant strains on China's social fabric. The growing Chinese official consciousness of this problem also may explain the drastic slowdown in the Chinese non-special needs adoption program. More Information.

January 12, 2010. Landmark Gay Marriage Trial Begins in California: Initial Focus on Children. The case which could do for gay marriage what Loving v. Virginia accomplished for interracial marriage began yesterday in San Francisco. Perry v. Schwarzenneger represents a legal attempt to strike down the Proposition 8 banning of gay marriage in California. This case may well be finally decided by the Supreme Court; if the Supreme Court decides to strike down the California ban on gay marriage, the debates around this contention issue will be moved to a completely different level. Interestingly, much of the first day was taken up with questions regarding the effect on children of a ban on gay marriage: did it mean that fewer children would know the care and benefits of growing up in an two parent household or would such a ban shield them from inappropriate knowledge and lifestyle information. More Information.

January 11, 2010. Australia Suspends Adoption from Ethiopia. The Australian government suspended international adoption from Ethiopia at the end of December because of concerns that Ethiopian IA could be violating human rights law and anti-child trafficking laws. This decision follows an Australian Broadcasting Company story about bad practices in Ethiopian adoption. Adoptions from Ethiopia account for around 13 percent of Australia's 300 international adoptions annually. The Australian attorney-general is conducting an investigation of adoption from Ethiopia. More Information.

January 7, 2010. Last Year Was A Difficult Year for International Adoption. Looking back on 2009 the conclusion is unmistakable: international adoption as a method of finding families for unparented children is an endangered option. The official numbers from the Department of State, now posted on our site under the Facts and Figures button, tell the story. As expected IA drastically declined; the total number of 12, 753 reflects a one year drop of 25 percent and represents the smallest number of international adoptions since 1997. But even that number is artificially high because it includes over 1,000 children adopted from Guatemala and Vietnam, both of which are now closed to international adoption. Moreover the numbers do not reflect the change in direction of the China program. Still our largest sending country, (although less than half the size it was five years ago) the Chinese IA program is now over fifty percent a waiting child program. What can we do? We must continue to press the case for international adoption to be welcomed as a choice for unparented children. At the same time we need to ensure that our international adoption practices are transparent, honest and accountable. We must create and maintain the best adoption system possible -- our responsibility to children demands that it be so.

January 6, 2010. DOS Posts Guatemalan IA Update. The State Department has posted on its website a briefing of various issues relevant to international adoption from Guatemala. It contains an enumeration of the status of children who lived in specific hogars (foster homes) as well as an explanation of the new procedures for continuing a grandfathered adoption in Guatemala to completion. These new requirements emanate from the Guatemalan Central Authority for Adoption (CNA) but include meeting the new world-wide DNA testing requirements instituted by DOS and CIS. Of equal importance the update discusses DOS's letter of interest in response to CNA's call for receiving countries to make written requests to be included in Guatemala's as yet inchoate new IA pilot program. Interested families should take to heart DOS's caution that: "This expression of interest on the part of the United States does not mean that new adoptions from Guatemala will start any time soon, and prospective parents should not make any plans to start new adoptions in Guatemala at this time. Our expression of interest does not in any way signal that DOS has found Guatemala's intercountry adoption procedures in compliance with the Hague Convention on Adoption. There is no pilot program yet, only a statement of intent from the CNA to start one. Although the United States has expressed interest in learning more about the proposed pilot program, we cannot commit to participating until we know more about the details of the program. We do not know if the CNA will accept the United States as one of the participants. We also cannot predict how the pilot program will affect grandfathered cases currently being processed by the Guatemalan government." More Information.

January 5, 2010. CCAA Responds to Horrific U.S. Case as Does Center for Adoption Policy. Some of you may be aware of the Whisenhunt case from Washington State where the father of a 7 yr old adopted from China pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree child rape. The mother was also charged sexual abuse of their daughter but has not yet entered a plea agreement.

This case has come to the attention of the China Center for Adoption Affairs which has issued a statement that can be found by clicking here.

It seems to us that it is very important for adoption stakeholders, with the help of DOS and CIS, to demonstrate to the China Center of Adoption Affairs that we take this dreadful situation extremely seriously and to devise pre and post-placement procedures that demonstrate our iron clad devotion to honesty, transparency and protection for every child adopted from China and elsewhere.

In this regard, it should be noted that that anecdotal evidence would suggest that there is a rise in disruptions of adoptions from China to the United States but that these cases are discovered only by looking at domestic adoption statistics rather than international figures.

We at the Center for Adoption Policy are ready to help in any way to reassure CCAA that the commitment of the U.S. adoption community is to the protection of the best interests of children, first, last and always.

January 4, 2010. Should There Be Regulation of Assisted Reproductive Technology? We were pleased to be able to contribute to the recent Room for Debate discussion on the New York Times website on this topic. We have long been interested in ARTs technology; in 2006 our annual conference was on Science, Technology and Adoption. To read our contribution as well as those of the other writers, please see Click here.

Center for Adoption Policy (CAP)
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