May 31, 2011. Second Annual Chinese Child Welfare Week Begins. May 30 marked the beginning of the second annual Chinese Child Welfare Week. This conclave is a collaboration of UNICEF, the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs, and Beijing Normal University. The centerpiece of the gathering is the Child China Welfare Modeling Project (2010-2015) which according to one account "has benefited more than 80,000 children from 120 villages in 12 counties in five provinces, especially Sichuan, Henan, Xinjiang, Yunnan and Shanxi." Every community included in the project will work through a Child Welfare Director whose first task will be to register all the children so that all the children will have an identity and then will be able to receive rights and benefits. We find it very interesting that the China Center for Children's Welfare and Adoption or CCCWA apparently is not involved in this Project, especially since one of the reasons CCAA changed its name to CCCWA was to expand its responsibilities to include child welfare. More Information.
May 26, 2011. No Government Updates on Ethiopia (Or Any Other Country This Week). We are still waiting for the Department of State to issue an update on the current status of intercountry adoption from Ethiopia. The huge slowdown of IA processing by MOWCYA is of utmost concern. We are also seeking updates on IA in general and on various specific issues concerning Russia, Haiti, Kyrgyzstan, Guatemala and China. We hope to receive some answers next week.
May 25, 2011. When A Child Was Adopted From Vietnam... Yesterday we wrote about the attempts by potential adoptive parents to bring home children from Vietnam. Today we are linking to the story of one infant who came from Vietnam to an adoptive family as an infant. Phillipp Rosler was adopted by a German family in 1973. Dr. Rosler, a qualified heart surgeon and the current German Minister of Health, will now become the Minister of Economy and Deputy Chancellor of the German government. Not only he is now the number two person in the German cabinet but Rosler is the youngest member of the German cabinet. Once again, an example that shows the world: having a family makes everything possible. More Information.
May 24, 2011. Senators Block Confirmation of New US Ambassador to Vietnam over International Adoption Issue. Senator Marco Rubio, (R-FL) joined Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) in putting a hold on the nomination of David Shear to be U.S. ambassador to Vietnam. As Andy Fisher, a senior aide to Lugar put it: "Senator Lugar placed a temporary hold on Ambassador-designate Shear's nomination in an effort to secure information about the status of assistance to American families with pending adoption cases in Vietnam...This included responses to requests made by the families to obtain copies of their respective adoption files from the Departments of State and Homeland Security. Unfortunately, the families had encountered innumerable roadblocks in this regard." The families in question were referred children in Bac Lieu over three years ago. Kelly Ensslin, the lawyer for several of the Bac Lieu families (and a speaker at CAP conferences) stated: "For years, the Department of State has been unable to provide complete or consistent answers about these cases, and has been unwilling to help solve the problem." We hope that Mr. Shear, currently Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the Department of State, will also be asked specific questions about the recent $300,000 matching grant given by USAID to the French Committee for Unicef which we are told is to help Vietnam become a Hague accredited country. How can we ensure the transparency and accountability of this grant, especially since the project is being run, we believe, by a French private corporation? More Information.
May 23, 2011. Searching for Birth Parents in China. We have been reading posts concerning prospective adoptive parents attempting to locate birth parents before or during the adoption of children. We caution PAPs to be very mindful of the provisions of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption and the Adoption Law of the People's Republic of China. For the text of the Hague Convention see http://www.hcch.net/upload/conventions/txt33en.pdf.
May 19, 2011. Government Updates (and Lack Thereof). Ethiopian prospective adoptive parents, of whom there are thousands, are rightly concerned to get official word from the Department of State as to whether MOWCYA has implemented the 5 case/day processing limit and what steps DOS and the US embassy Addis are taking concerning Ethiopian IA. We have been requesting that DOS issue an update on these issues; as yet these requests have not been honored. On a different country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, DOS has issued an update concerning changes for adoption procedures for PAPs in process for adoptions. The U.S. embassy in Kinshasa has been verbally informed by the Congolese Immigration Office that PAPs will be required to travel to the Congo in order to adopt their children. The embassy has requested clarification in writing. The full text of the alert may be found below. In the last fiscal year, American adopted 2,511 children from Ethiopia. They adopted 41 children from the Congo. More Information.
May 18, 2011. Study Confirms Institutionalized Care is Bad for Children's Health. Dr. Charles Nelson (whose work is familiar to readers of this column) and his team of researchers from Children's Hospital in Boston and Tulane University have found that institutional care negatively affects the growth of children's chromosome tips, known as telomeres, and accelerating how quickly the cells age. This is the first study to find this correlation and was conducted as part of the Bucharest Early Intervention Project. Previous reports based on this longitudinal study of institutionalized and foster care children in Romania have demonstrated that the amount of time a child spends in sub-standard institutional care is directly related to lower IQ and psychological problems. With scientifically sound data at hand, how can even one policy maker justify any approach that keeps children institutionalized? More Information.
May 17, 2011. New York Law School Law Review Publishes Symposium Issue based on CAP/New York Law School/Harvard Law School CAP Adoption Policy Conference. We proudly quote: "The Seventh Annual Adoption Policy Conference Permanency for Children. This symposium issue features scholarship on the importance of finding permanent parents for children, specifically for those outside of the United States, and how U.S. and international adoption laws and policies can further that goal. The articles address topics such as the right of children to be adopted, the use of criminal law statutes in combating fraud in international adoption, and reflections on international adoption policies and programs. These papers were presented at the Seventh Annual Adoption Policy Conference held at New York Law School on March 5, 2010". More Information.
May 16, 2011. Koreans Debate Wednesday's Child Campaign. The South Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare recently created and had aired a "Wednesday's Child" public service announcement. The spot, similar to what Americans are accustomed to, showed a waiting child in need of adoption, gave basic information about the child and included a contact telephone number. South Korea's government is intent on ending its long-standing international adoption program; this commercial is part of a strategy designed to increase domestic adoption. However, domestic adoption in Korea remains far more secretive in the United States, leading many to decry the ads: Progressive Party (opposition) spokesman declared "In Korean society where open adoption is not common, we remain very skeptical how [the commercial] can have a positive effect in promoting domestic adoption." More Information.
May 12, 2011. Government Updates and Alerts. We have been working this week with the Department of State to obtain clarification about the new rules for international adoption from China set forth by the CCCWC in March. In particular we would hope for more information on the new rules mandating that all home studies be prepared by accredited home study agencies. We will post as soon as we receive information. Please also check our Facebook page for our discussion of a likely explanation for the publication in China's press now of articles on family planning policy and adoption.
May 11, 2011. Surrogacy in Australia. The Parliament of the State of Queensland in Australia has voted to allow what is termed "altruistic surrogacy" and permit the legal parentage of a child to be changed from the birth mother to the intended parents. Queensland also permits the intended parents to be a same sex couple. The vote in Queensland was close - 45 to 36, showing the still controversial nature of assisted reproductive technology. The article quoted below also describes the regrets of a particular birth mother who was both the egg donor and the gestational surrogate. More Information.
May 10, 2011. Illegal Adoption in China. News outlets in the U.S. and in Europe are today circulating a story from Caixin Century Magazine, a leading Chinese investigative journal, about Chinese family planning officials who confiscated children whose parents violated Chinese family planning policy. These children were then sold to Chinese orphanages; some of the children were probably adopted internationally. However, the events related (dating from 2000 to 2005) are not new to readers living outside of China -- they have long been reported in foreign media, including here. Far less well known is what Caixin Century has also reported on: the prevalence of domestic illegal adoption in China. According to the Caixin article, in recent years tens of thousands - if not hundreds of thousands or more - Chinese children have been abducted or illegally transferred for adoption by Chinese families. Zhang Baoyan, director of Babies Going Home, a volunteer organization that helps families find and recover abducted children explains: "You can buy a child without having to worry about consequences, as long as you're willing to give it up if you're discovered," The report details an underground, illegal supply market for children that smoothly delivers children to families seeking them, leaving heartache and grief in their wake. The numbers involved dwarf any international adoption program China has run. More Information.
May 9, 2011. Attention Must Be Paid. Marchella Pierce was a four year old whose entire life was filled with suffering, neglect and abuse. Four people have been charged criminally in connection with her death. We must remember Marchella and work harder to make sure that children are not left in these tragic circumstances. Children need permanent, loving families who will nurture their futures, not end their lives. The investigative account of the series of terrible events can be found if you click here.
May 5, 2011. Government Notices and Updates. The Department of State has reported that last month President Viktor Yanikovych of Ukraine signed a decree transferring the functions and responsibility of SDA, the current adoption authority, to the Ministry of Social Policy. DOS is not yet aware of how this change will affect international adoption in future but at this time SDA is continuing to process adoptions. DOS further states that "We will continue to encourage Ukraine to ensure that adoptions between Ukraine and the United States are not interrupted as the Ukrainian Family Code is amended and the procedural and logistical aspects of the transfer is implemented." DOS currently know of 134 pending cases from Ukraine. More Information.
May 4, 2011. CNN Discusses Sex Trafficking in Cambodia - It is Not Adoption-Related. Last week CNN, as part of its Freedom Project, broadcast a report on sex-trafficking in Cambodia. Interviews with women forced to work in the sex trade as prostitutes or managers of brothels revealed the plight of children as young as five caught in the deathly trap of exploitation and illness. The report contained several references to birth parents selling their children to brothels. The Department of State recently announced that the U.S. would not yet permit the reopening of international adoption from Cambodia. More Information.
May 3, 2011. Senator Landrieu Speaks Out in Guatemala. Senator Mary Landrieu recently returned from a trip to Gautemala where she spoke out against the delays in pipeline adoptions as well as the current closure of international adoption from that country. The Guatemalan newspaper Prensa Libre quotes Senator Landrieu as saying: "If someone in the adoption system is doing wrongful things, close the agency and put them behind bars, but in my opinion, adoption processes shouldn't be closed, because it hurts so many children." ("Si alguien en el sistema de adopciones está haciendo mal las cosas, se cierra la agencia y se coloca detrás de las rejas, pero en mi opinión no hay que cerrar el proceso de adopciones, porque eso daña mucho a los niños.") We salute the Senator for speaking on behalf of unparented children.
May 2, 2011. Chinese Officials And The "One-Child" Policy. A wide-ranging debate has continued in Chinese government and academic circles concerning the decades old one-child policy which has sharply limited Chinese population growth and, among other things, will like mean that within years India will surpass China as the world's most populous country. Last week Prime Minister Hu Jintao informed party leaders that China would "stick to and improve its current family-planning policy and maintain a low birth rate." What is new to this discussion is the academic and public dissent against this policy which has received funding from the U.S. based Ford Foundation. Population planning China remains a very sensitive issue, however. The family planning bureaucracy is huge, generates a large amount of income from fines and, although centrally directed, has great regional variations. This disparities and the harshness of some family-planning officials has led to discontent disseminated on the internet. More Information.
Center for Adoption Policy (CAP)