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February 2011

February 24, 2011. Government Notices and Updates. The Department of State has announced increased adoption processing times in Lesotho. Consular officers are mandated by law to complete an I-604 "Determination on Child for Adoption," (or orphan) determination for all international adoption cases. In Lesotho the time frame for this investigation is lengthened partly because the immigration visa is processed in Johannesburg, South Africa. Furthermore, for IA from Lesotho, the I-604 investigation is only begun once the prospective adoptive parents have appeared before a consular officer to sign the petition. The U.S. embassy in Lesotho also requests that families share any concerns about their adoption as "the Embassy takes all allegations of fraud or miscounduct seriously." In fiscal year 2010, 13 children were adopted by American parents from Lesotho. More Information.

February 23, 2011. Fire in Estonian Home for Disabled Kills Ten Children. A devastating fire in a home for disabled children in Estonia has killed ten children, most of whom were orphans. The one-story wooden structure burned rapidly and the fire spread. The residents were all under 18; the youngest victim was apparently four. Most of the children were severely disabled and in wheel chairs. "Fire safety in Estonian social service homes is bad," was the headline in the Estonian newspaper, Paevaleht. The survivors have been taken to a homeless shelter. More Information.

February 22, 2011. British Government Significantly Changes Adoption Guidelines: Goal is to Accelerate Process of Finding Permanent Families for Children. In one of the biggest shakeups in adoption policy in decades, the British Conservative-Liberal government has informed local councils that they must eliminate some of the restrictions placed on potential adoptive families. Education Secretary Michal Gove, under whose department adoption falls, decried the limitations matching children with parents on the basis of ethnicity, sexual orientation, age and faith as "social engineering of the worst kind." Furthermore, the number of adoptions in the UK has decreased over the past two years while more children are waiting long to be adopted. This crisis is particularly acute in the black community. In Mr. Gove's words again: ''What I do find difficult to accept is that we've created over time a web of rules that mean that we are not always putting the interests of children first. ''We all know that the length time which children spend in institutional care once they be been taken into care is far too long, when those children could be adopted by loving parents.'' More Information.

February 15, 2011. Emotional Debate on Adoption Continues at Huffington Post. Jennifer Lauck, an adult adoptee, sparked a deeply felt debate with her article: "Abducted Versus Adopted: For 1.5 Million of U.S. Adoptees, What's the Difference?" Lauck was born and adopted in 1963. She was one of the countless people whose unmarried birth mothers were given no choice, having been told that adoption of their children was the only way birth mothers could regain their previous lives, their family's support and society's respect as well as make decent provision for their children's future. Pregnancies were kept secret, babies were delivered in the shadows and adoptive parents were advised that shrouding their children's birth history was the right thing do. Lauck rightly decries her mother's lack of choice and knowledge. Yet as a society we have learned and gotten better. Not enough, perhaps and not always but the changes in American society since the sixties are extraordinary. When Lauck was born, segregation was the practice in much of the United States. Today, a black man is president of the country. Adoption, both international and domestic, has radically changed as well. The eloquent voices of the silenced have taught us that if the creation of a family is not honest, open, ethical and transparent, it is not adoption. But the powerful call of children without permanent, loving families compels our belief that adoption must remain an answer for children. More Information.

February 14, 2011. What Many Don't Know about U.S. Foster Care. The Congressional Coalition for Adoption Institute has posted some very illuminating facts and statistics about foster care in the United States. Currently some 115,000 children living in foster care are eligible for adoption (out of a total of 423,000 children who are living in foster care without permanent homes). Around 40 percent of adoptable children wait over three years before being adopted. Every year almost 30,000 children "age out of foster care." Half of all these children had substance abuse issues and around one out of six of the young women was pregnant. Our children deserve better. More Information.

February 11, 2011. Government Updates and Alerts: Agency That Does Ethiopian Adoption Closed; US Moratorium on International Adoption from Kenya Gingerly Lifted. The Department of State has announced that the Ethiopian government, on December 2010, revoked permission for the Better Futures Adoption Services' agency to operate in Ethiopia because of "the organization's misuse of its license in activities concerning the welfare of children." DOS advises further prospective adoptive parents working with Better Futures to consult an attorney. On a more positive note, DOS has partially lifted the moratorium on IA from Kenya. That country is a Hague county whose legislative procedures still did not conform to Hague Standards. However, Kenya's Department of children's Issues is apparently will to make administrative changes which will bring its adoption procedures into Hague compliance. DOS will accept adoptions from Kenya meeting these standards but warns PAPs that "serious delays, expense, uncertainly and difficulties could still arise...DOS therefore advises American citizens to proceed with caution when deciding whether or not to adopt from Kenya." More Information.

February 8, 2010. Outgoing Cases. The Department of State's 2010 Annual Report also includes information about outgoing international adoption cases - children who have been adopted from the United States to another country. In fiscal year 2010, 43 children were adopted from the United States. The largest receiving country was the Netherlands (20), followed by Canada (19). The largest sending state was Florida, from where 25 children came. More Information.

February 3, 2010. Government Notes and Updates: Moratorium in the Philippines, Pipeline Updates in Guatemala. According to the Department of State, "The Philippine Inter-Country Adoption Board has announced a moratorium on accepting new applications from Adoption Services Providers who submitted more than ten adoption cases per year for the last three years." The rationale given for this partial moratorium is to address the substantial waiting period for potential adoptive parents. The moratorium does not apply to special needs children, intra-family adoptions, PAPs who receive their approval for suitability before January 31, 2011 and ASPs who have not met the quota described above. DOS has also posted about the trip Ambassador Susan Jacobs and Alison Dilworth made to Guatemala in December. The focus of this trip was the status of the pipeline cases - U.S. officials apparently did not discuss Guatmala's plans for a pilot Hague-qualified adoption program with Guatemalan officials. The pace of pipeline adoptions in Guatemala is tragically slow. With hundreds of pipeline children, in FY 2010 only 51 children came home. For more Information on these notices see http://adoption.state.gov/.

February 2, 2011. Department of State Issues Annual Report on International Adoption. The Department of State has issued the "FY 2010 Annual Report on Intercountry Adoptions" covering international adoption from October 1, 2009 through September 30, 2010 (the federal fiscal year). The total number of internationally adopted children who came to the United States during the last fiscal year is 11,059. The largest sending country was China, from which 3,401 children came. Next on the list was Ethiopia with 2,513 and Russia with 1,082. The figure of 11,059 does not include the approximately 1,090 Haitian children in the process of adoption who came to the United States under the humanitarian parole (HP) program in the aftermath of last year's earthquake. The total number of adopted and HP children is 12,149, representing an approximately five percent decline from FY 2009. These numbers however, do not reveal the significant changes in IA over the last few years. The Chinese adoption program is now well over a majority special needs program. The Haitian HP program's numbers will not be indicative of future IA from Haiti. The Russian program has decreased by over two-thirds in the last five years. These are not optimistic times for those who believe that every child deserves a permanent, loving family of his or her own. More Information.

February 1, 2011. Why Adoptive Parents Must Obtain Their Child's Citizenship. A woman adopted from Korea as an infant is now facing deportation. This 31 year old mother of three came to the United States at the age of eight months. She was recently convicted for a second time of theft. Now she is being held at a federal detention facility. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials instituted deportation proceedings against her and have requested a travel certificate from the Korean consulate in Los Angeles. Had the adoptive parents of this woman obtained her citizenship, she would not be facing exile to a nation she has never known. More information.

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