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March 2010

March 31, 2010. The Hague: Two Years On. What We Can Do To Make IA Continue. The facts are clear: the number of children who are adopted internationally has plummeted. We need to reverse this trend--not for us but for the children who need homes. One clear path is to challenge the views of those who think that international adoption is, in the words of Professor Laura Miller of the University of Arizona, the same as torture in Abu Ghraib. This denigration of IA seems incomprehensible but does only is it true, it colors the policies advocated by many in the NGO world. Every child needs a permanent, loving family. There should be nothing controversial about that. We in the adoption community should be proud of our commitment to finding families for children whose birth families are unable to parent them. International Adoption is not the solution but it must be a solution.

March 30, 2010. Update on Guatemala. The Department of State has posted an update on international adoption and Guatemala. As reported in this column last week, the Guatemalan central adoption authority (CNA) is launching a pilot program for new international adoption which will include four countries, as yet unchosen. This program will apparently be an older children and waiting children program. DOS further reports that the USCIS field office in Guatemala has 433 active cases which break down as follows:

  • 358 are pre-approved by USCIS and pending action by the Government of Guatemala
  • 75 are pending pre-approval or final decision by USCIS
  • 9 are pending submission of 1st DNA results
  • 66 are pending USCIS or other petitioner action

March 29, 2010. Benefits for Haitian Children In the United States with Humanitarian Parole. We have learned from U.S. government sources that the Haitian children who came here after the earthquake with humanitarian parole are eligible for CHEP benefits. This is a federal program, similar to Medicaid, which is designed for immigrants from Cuba and Haiti. We urge all adoption service providers to inform clients that these children from Haiti are indeed able to utilize this support. We also urge all ASPs to offer as much in the way of post-placement services as possible. Haitian children have suffered the trauma of the earthquake as well as the typical experiences of internationally adopted children. As a community we all wish to extend ourselves to families and children who need us.

March 25, 2010. Status of Haitian Children with Humanitarian Parole. The Center for Adoption Policy held meetings yesterday in Washington with adoption stakeholders, lawyers and representatives of CIS and Health and Human Services. Our goal was to reach a global solution which will allow the Haitian children who came here with humanitarian parole to receive full and final adoptions as well as get on track for citizenship. We believe that we have made significant progress toward our objective and will continue to work with colleagues until a solution is reached. While yesterday's meeting concentrated on administrative solutions, at the same time we agreed to work on a legislative fix which would give the children quicker LPR or citizenship status and also offer an answer for the older children who cannot be helped through existing legislation.

March 24, 2010. Where We Stand Two Years on from Hague Effectiveness-Part-I. It is coming up on two years since the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption was effective in the United States. We have seen many changes in the IA world, some for good, some most unfortunate. On the positive side, we have watched as U.S. potential adoptive parents welcome children who are older and with special needs into their hearts and homes. We also have witnessed the extraordinary Haitian humanitarian parole program which, when finished, will have allowed around 1,000 children in the process of being adopted to come to the U.S. in an expedited fashion. At the same time we are saddened greatly by the plunge in the numbers of children adopted internationally - from 19,609 in FY 2007 to 12,753 in FY 2009. What we have learned and what can be done to keep IA as part of the arsenal to provide unparented children with permanent, loving families will be our subject next.

March 23, 2010. New CCAA Waiting Children List. The China Center for Adoption Affairs has released a new shared list of children with special needs or who are older. This list was the biggest yet - between 600 and 700 dossiers. Many of these files were formerly part of agency designated lists. Now that CCAA has apparently ended specific agency lists, all unreferred files have been placed on the shared list. Because of the preference in the adoption community for younger girls, files of boys predominate. We salute CCAA for continuing to empower parents to adopt these children.

March 22, 2010. International Adoption from Guatemala Apparently Not Set to Reopen Yet. The Guatemalan Central Adoption Authority (CNA) has asked for applications from foreign central authorities for its forthcoming pilot program. The Department of State, our central authority, has applied as have other nations. However, we have been told that the recent reports in various newspapers asserting that the CNA will imminently select the participating nations for the pilot program and thereafter re-open an international adoption program are premature. What we understand in that the CNA will not take those steps until the summer. Even then, there is no guaranty that the U.S. will be chosen to participate.

March 18, 2010. When the "Baby Business" Becomes Too Much Like Business. The Genetics and IVF Institute, based in Virginia, as part of its drive to sign up more European clients, held a raffle at an informational session for prospective parents in London: the prize-free donor eggs. Although European Union law forbids the financial compensation of egg donors, this approach passed legal muster because the winning woman will have to travel to the United States for the fertility treatment. In the U.S., states permit payment for donor eggs and sperm. Britain's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, the government body in charge of all fertility treatments, lambasted the raffle, saying: "it trivializes altruistic donation" and runs contrary to regulations "to protect the dignity of donors and recipients." More Information.

March 17, 2010. Regularizing Status of Children Adopted from Haiti with Grant of Humanitarian Parole. Parents who have brought home children from Haiti during the current earthquake-caused emergency by using the Humanitarian Parole option are understandably eager to regularize the legal status of their children. This process has two parts: completing adoptions for the children who do not have full and final adoptions and ensuring that these children become U.S. citizens. While CIS has already produced a statement of required procedures, this document is more in the nature of a draft than a finished roadmap. We are working hard with government officials and stakeholders to finalize the rules parents need to follow and hope that we will be able to have official answers in the very near future. In the meantime we advise parents to hold off on instituting federal or state legal proceedings.

March 16, 2010. Department of State Warns U.S. PAPs to Avoid Nepal. The Department of State "strongly discourages prospective adoptive parents from choosing Nepal as a country from which to adopt due to grave concerns about the reliability of Nepal's adoptive system and the accuracy of the information in children's files." DOS's statement contains links to a negative report on Nepal's adoption system prepared by a delegate of the Hague Conference's Permanent Bureau to Nepal which cites fake documents, improper fees and the absence of a child welfare system as on-going problems. Regardless of whether DOS's view is correctly nuanced, this view is the one that will govern U.S. policy toward Nepalese adoptions at this time. For that reason we urge PAPs who have not started an adoption process to avoid Nepal at this time. More Information.

March 15, 2010. CCAA Announces Changes to Chinese Waiting Children Program. The Chinese Center of Adoption Affairs has announced changes to its waiting children program designed to reduce the time it takes for children to leave institutional care for their permanent families. Most importantly, for a family to be eligible to adopt a child with "minor special needs," their dossier must be completed and have been received a Logged-In Date from CCAA. Moreover, agencies are warned against locking in files for families who have not seen the dossiers and/or do not have an LID date. We applaud these changes as they will avoid children having to wait for unnecessarily long periods of time in institutional care, many times without the medical care they need.

March 11, 2010. Major Changes in Ethiopian International Adoptions. Both the State Department and adoption service providers have announced major changes in the processing of Ethiopian international adoptions. Four adoption agencies are now requiring prospective adoptive parents to make two trips to Ethiopia and we believe this will become the accepted practice. We have long advocated for this change because it means that it is the best practice for PAPs to meet their children before they have a full and final adoption. Moreover, if both parents travel to Ethiopia, the child, on arriving in the United States will receive an IR-3 visa and automatic citizenship.

The Department of State has issued an adoption notice updating its timing and procedures. DOS will conduct rigorous orphan investigations of each case. Because these investigations can take weeks, PAPs are advised not to schedule their trip to bring home their child until the embassy has scheduled the visa appointment. This DOS notice also details steps PAPs can take in the event they believe that their adoption service provider has acted improperly. For More Information see the Ethiopian notice located on our Government Bulletins Page.

March 10, 2010. Seventh Annual CAP Adoption Law and Policy Conference Now History. We are delighted to report that the Seventh Annual Adoption Law and Policy Conference, on the subject of Permanency for Children, co-sponsored by Harvard Law School's Center for Child Advocacy, CCAI and New York Law School, was a great success. Topics ranged over adoption law, general policy issues, various country programs, domestic permanency questions, medical issues and immigration questions. We will let people know when the free podcast is available on I Tunes. And now we begin planning Adoption VIII.

March 2, 2010. Limitations on Grandfathered I-600As. CIS has posted on its website a Q and A detailing the rules pertaining to grandfathered I-600As. This is relevant for families who were in the adoption process prior to April 1, 2008 and wish to use the orphan processing program for Hague Convention countries. We urge all ASPs and families to read this document to see which changes they can make to their I-600As in Hague countries and still retain grandfathered status. In particular we would like to point out that potential adoptive parents can change the country that they sought to adopt from but they may not use the new I-600 to bring home more children than the number approved by the original I-600A unless they are bringing biological siblings home. Therefore if a family with a grandfathered I-600A was approved for one child and now they wish to bring home a second child simultaneously, the family must file an I-800/A for the second child. More Information.

March 1, 2010. Swaziland International Adoptions Halted. We have been informed by the Department of State that on February 24, 2010 the government of Swaziland informed the U.S. government that no international adoption cases will be processed until the Department of Social Welfare finished its reassessment of adoption procedures. The only grandfathered cases are those already in process in the Swazi High Court. Swazi officials have not released an expected completion date for this review.

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