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March 2011

March 31, 2011. Government and Other Updates. We are pleased to announce that USCIS has approved the first adjustment of status cases under the Help Haiti Act of 2010 on March 16, 2010 and the children have been issued their legal permanent resident documents (green cards). CAP was active in the campaign to obtain passage of the Help Haiti Act which guaranteed permanent status for the children who came from Haiti to the United States under the special humanitarian parole program following the devastating earthquake on January 12, 2010.

March 30, 2011. A Child Died: Now They Face Criminal Charges. Two New York City employees of the Administration for Children's Services were charged last week in the death by starvation of four year old Marchella Brett-Pierce. Notwithstanding numerous warning signs, case worker Damon Adams never visited the home where Marchella was starved, beaten and drugged. Adams and his supervisor Chereece Bell are charged with criminally negligent homicide, official misconduct and endangering the welfare of a child. In addition, Adams is charged with record tampering and falsifying documents. Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes has vowed to investigate whether ACS has implemented the changes outlined after the death of Nixzmary Brown in 2006, a case Newscap covered at the time. Marchella's mother and grandmother were previously charged in this case. The indictment charging Adams and Bell is the first such prosecution in the history of New York City's child welfare services. More Information.

March 29, 2011. CCAA (aka CCCWA) Announces New Procedures for International Adoption From China. The China Center for Adoption Affairs recently announced new procedures for international adoption. These changes include strengthened home study requirements, additional adoption training, new post-placement procedures and enhanced communication between CCAA and other central authorities. Some notable differences: home study agencies must be COA accredited, there are specified topics for reference letters and CCAA will now require 12 hours of pre-placement adoption training with in-person training required to be the main source of training. Six post-placement reports will now be required at the following intervals: one month, six months, twelve months after adoption and thereafter at the second, third and fifth year. These changes will take effect between August and October 2011. We salute CCAA's efforts to help ensure that IA remains a safe and available method of family creation for unparented children. Many of the new requirements are those previously suggested by CAP. A note about names. CCAA is changing its name officially to Center for Children's Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA). However, because its website and notices its notices still refer to the China Center for Adoption Affairs or CCAA, we will continue to use those names for the present.

March 28, 2011. USCIS Posts Ethiopian Adoption FAQs. USCIS has posted its FAQs guide to the current situation pertaining to Ethiopian international adoption to the United States. We applaud the reiteration of U.S. government support for international adoption from Ethiopia: "Q. Is the U.S. Government planning to close the Ethiopian adoption program? A. The U.S. Government supports the intercountry adoption program in Ethiopia. We will work closely with the Government of Ethiopia and other stakeholders to preserve and protect this valuable program, while also seeking to improve safeguards and ensure the program's integrity." More Information.

March 24, 2011. Government Notices and Updates. This week the Department of State has unveiled its updated website on international adoption. The very streamlined site has easy links to such important data as the various forms needed by potential adoptive parents to obtain visas for their internationally adopted children as well as basic information on the international adoption requirements of each country which participates in international adoption program. Highlighted on the home page this week is a post on adopting from Japan in the aftermath of the earthquake which mirrors our post of yesterday. More Information.

March 23, 2011. Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami: Not the Same as Haiti. That the tragic earthquake and tsunami in Japan has not elicited the humanitarian parole program which followed the Haitian earthquake last year is for good reason. The situations in the two countries could not be more different. Unlike, Haiti, there are not thousands of children in Japanese orphanages in the process of being adopted. (The children who came home through the Haitian HP program were not earthquake orphans but were children who had been relinquished or abandoned and placed with potential adoptive parents prior to the earthquake.) Japan has a highly developed child welfare system which is sufficient to respond to the disaster. Finally, the scope of destruction in Japan is far less than it was in Haiti.

March 22, 2011. How the Historical Record Concerning Adoption Gets Distorted. The successful 2010 humanitarian parole program for Haitian children who were in the process of adoption by U.S. families has occasioned negative responses, both from the NGO community but also from journalists whose accounts misstated or misrepresented what the special humanitarian parole program accomplished. One of the most egregious examples in the latter category was a New York Times article which appeared in July 2010 (and previously discussed on this page). These erroneous accounts undercut both current policy planning and future historical accounts. A report written by Save the Children on adoption in times of crisis demonstrates that the blackening of the historical record has already begun. The report includes the following quote supposedly summing up the Haitian HP program: "'essential steps in the adoption process providing safeguards for children, biological parents, prospective adoptive parents and others were disregarded.'" The source of this quote is the very New York Times article which we, and many others, have was completely refuted. But now it is the source of "fact." More Information.

March 21, 2011. Australian Legal Change Could Identify Sperm Donors. A change in Australian law could make public the names of men who were promised anonymity when they donated sperm prior to 1998. Since 1998, sperm donors in Australia are required to agree that their identities made public. Australian statistics reveal that in the decade after this legal change the number of sperm donors declined by fifty percent, compared to the the previous change. The new Australian change mirrors the discussions and legal changes surrounding both sperm donor identity and birth parent record availability in the United States. More Information.

March 17, 2011. Government Updates. The Department of State has issued an adoption notice about Ethiopia summarizing the March 11 telephone call which DOS and USCIS had with adoption stakeholders and those involved in the Ethiopian adoption program. DOS officials are reconfirming that the Ministry of Women's Children and Youth Affairs (MOWA) are planning to reduce their daily cases load from around 50 cases each day to no more than 5 each day and that if this decision remains in place, significant delays will occur in the Ethiopian international adoption program. This week's notice also dismisses the many rumors concerning the Ethiopian international adoption program that have circulated; DOS cannot confirm the truth of any of them. According to the update, US embassy officials in Addis Ababa are discussing the possibility of "developing a consolidated assistance proposal to MOWA to in out what the resource needs are and find what assistance can be given to allow MOWA to accomplish their goals." For the full test of the notice see http://adoption.state.gov/news/ethiopia.html.

March 16, 2011. U.S. Special Ambassador for Children's Issues to Meet with Asian Officials. Susan Jacobs, the U.S. Special Ambassador for Children's Issues, is traveling to Cambodia and Vietnam this week, accompanied by Alison Dilworth, head of the Department of State's Office of Children's Issues. These envoys will discuss the implementation of the Hague Convention for Intercountry Adoption in both countries. The U.S. government suspended international adoptions from Cambodia in 2001 and took the same step for international adoptions from Vietnam in 2008. It is our hope that these meetings will lead to the reopening of ethical, transparent and accountable international adoption from Cambodia and Vietnam to receiving countries. We will be discussing these issues on Australian radio this afternoon.

March 15, 2011. CCAI Hosts Forum on Congressional Responses to Adoption and Foster Care Issues. Recently the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute hosted a round table discussion which allowed members of Congress, and Congressional staffers to meet with families formed through adoption and foster care. CCAI was fortunate to have Senator Mary Landrieu, Senator James Inhofe, Representative Michele Bachmann, and Representative Karen Bass call for the meeting and to have Senator Roy Blunt, Senator Ben Cardin, and Representative Tom Marino also attend. As we learned during the (successful) effort to obtain passage of the Help Haiti Act of 2010, the Congress plays a crucial role in formulating adoption and immigration policies. More Information.

March 14, 2011. Great News From CCAA: Single Women May Adopt From Special Focus List. We are delighted to post that the China Center for Adoption Affairs has announced that starting officially tomorrow single women will be allowed to adopt from the Special Focus list. The text of the announcement may be found under our "Government Bulletins" button. We had raised this possibility with the then Director of CCAA when we met with him in October, 2009. This is a wonderful development for Chinese waiting children who do not have permanent, loving families.

March 10, 2011. Government and Other Updates: Ethiopia. The Department of State has confirmed the catastrophic slowdown in processing by MOWA of Ethiopian international adoption cases. According the DOS Alert the Ethiopian government attributes this change in policy to "the need to work on quality and focus on more important issues." Furthermore, DOS is unable at this time to ascertain if this slowdown will affect adoptions where MOWA has already approved the matches. In process families can contact the U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa's Adoptions Unit at consadoptionaddis@state.gov.

March 9, 2011. Crisis in Ethiopian Adoption: Transparency Demands the Facts. MOWA, the Ethiopian Ministry of Women's, Children and Youth Affairs, has announced that effective tomorrow, March 10, the ministry will slash the number of international adoption cases it processes by 90 percent. MOWA will process a maximum of five cases per business day, as opposed to the current number, which is up to 50 per day. Over half of the Ethiopian children placed for IA come to the United States. We greatly deplore this new policy which will result in continued institutionalization for thousands of children. As a first step for our government, we urge that the Department of State and USCIS immediately make public the results of their site visit to Ethiopia in January 2011. We cannot understand the situation in Ethiopia in a transparent, ethical and honest manner without this vital information.

March 8, 2011. CAP's Eighth Annual Adoption Law and Policy Conference: A Great Success Intellectually but the Crisis in International Adoption Remains. Thank you to everyone who helped make the Eighth Annual Adoption Law and Policy Conference an important occasion for the adoption law and policy field. We are especially grateful to New York Law School, our co-sponsor and host. Additional conference materials will be posted here and on the NYLS.edu/adoption website. We will also post here as soon as the conference proceedings are available on itunes. We are sad to say that the crisis in international adoption continues. The plummeting numbers of children who came home to their permanent families in FY 2010, grim as they are, do not even fully reflect the difficulties facing those who believe in international adoption as a method of family creation. Please take a minute to read the remarks on this subject delivered at the conference by Ann Reese, co-Executive Director of the Center for Adoption Policy.

March 3, 2011. CAP Adoption Law and Policy Conference Tomorrow. The Eighth Annual Adoption Law and Policy Conference, this year on "The Federal Government and Adoption," co-sponsored by the Center for Adoption Policy and New York Law School is tomorrow. We are proud to say that we have a record number of attendees registered. If you are unable to come, please know that the entire conference proceedings will be available on itunes, free of charge, in approximately six weeks. We will let everyone know when the itunes posting is live.

March 1, 2011. Government Notices and Updates. In its Fiscal Year 2010 Annual Report on Intercountry Adoption, the Department of State reported that one adoption took place of a child from Kyrgyzstan last year. DOS has now corrected its report to indicate that there were no children adopted into the United States from Kyrgyzstan in fiscal 2010. Over 60 American families were in the process of adopting from Kyrgyzstan when international adoptions were closed in October 2008.

Center for Adoption Policy (CAP)
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