Center for Adoption Policy
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November 2011

November 30, 2011. Swiss Citizens Call for Apologizes, Reparations from Their Government. From the 1880's through the 1960's Swiss authorities removed children from poor or one-parent families and auctioned them off as contract labor. Children whose mothers were labeled "morally destitute" were particularly at risk. These Verdingkinder endured terrible conditions, including physical and sexual abuse, which worsened further if they tried to run away from often cruel employers. Swiss government officials estimate that around 30,000 of these former Verdingkinder are still alive, including at least one U.S.-born man whose mother returned with him to her native Switzerland when his father died. More Information.

November 29, 2011. New Victim in ARTS Baby Fraud Case We have previously written about the terrible scheme hatched by three fertility lawyers which involved deceiving surrogate mothers and potential intended parents as well as blighting the lives of children born through this nefarious plan. Now Sharp HealthCare in California has sued as well. Sharp claims that lawyer Theresa Erickson, who has admitted her guilt to charges of fraud and conspiracy, used its hospital for seven babies and owes over $600,000 to the hospital. According to the hospital, Erickson deliberately either misstated the cost of the hospital care to the intended parents or told them that she had medical insurance which would pay these bills. More Information.

November 28, 2011. CBS News Does a Powerful Story on International Adoption. CBS News aired an excellent report on the decline in U.S. international adoptions on Thanksgiving night which unfortunately was not seen in the eastern time zone. Click here to view the story.

November 23, 2011. Government Notices and Alerts: Vietnam Ratifies the Hague Convention on Interncountry Adoption. The Department of State has announced that the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption will go into enter into force in Vietnam on February 1, 2012. This is an important step on the road to U.S. recognition of Vietnam as a Hague nation. However, as DOS states "important steps must still take place before intercountry adoptions between the United States and Vietnam resume. We further caution adoption service providers against initiating, or claiming to initiate, adoption programs in Vietnam until they receive authorization from the Government of Vietnam." Just because a nation says it is a Hague-effective country does not mean that the U.S. government will agree. The Hague Convention entered into force in Cambodia several years ago but international adoption between the U.S. and Cambodia remains closed. More Information.

November 21, 2011. NPR Article on Fall in International Adoption Portrays a Misleading Picture. We were trouble by the recent NPR piece on international adoption, believing that the context was distorted and was misleading for the general public. For example (NPR article quotes are in italics):

Evidence of corruption within Ethiopia's adoption system means the Franklins and other American and European couples are facing much longer wait times and greater difficulty in bringing children back from that country.

But there is no evidence of corruption other than the allegations made by DOS/Unicef. All cases submitted in 2010 (2,500) were approved by DOS/USCIS.

But clearly the market forces of supply and demand have been at work.

A country opens its doors to prospective parents, whether because of war, natural disaster, civil strife or chronic poverty. Adoption agencies and their clients rush in, suddenly turning a small country such as Kazakhstan or Nepal into a major exporter of children.

Neither country was a "major exporter" of children--look at the numbers.

The demand for healthy babies is extremely high among American and European parents.

It has been a long time since international adoption focuses on healthy babies. IA kids are special needs and older now and as you know children from orphanages are special needs by virtue of that fact alone.

What we see is a country becoming fashionable," says Susan Jacobs, the State Department's special adviser for children's issues. "People go to the countries where it's easiest to adopt, where the rules are lax and you can do an adoption quickly and perhaps get a baby."

To speak of adoptive parents as if they were fashionistas is both disrespectful and disingenuous.

There are no penalties for failing to enforce the Hague's protections.

This statement is just wrong. A non-compliant Hague country loses the privilege of working with Hague countries in international adoption.

We yield to no one in our desire to make sure all IA is ethical, transparent and accountable but we equally want to ensure that IA remains viable and available. Based on current trends, the latter will be harder to accomplish than the former. More Information.

November 17, 2011. It is Official: International Adoption to the United States Fell Again in 2011. The Department of State issued its FY 2011 Annual Report on Intercountry Adoption (October 1, 2010 through September 30, 2011). The total adoption numbers dropped to 9,320 - the smallest total since 1995. Virtually every country showed declines. Among other statistics, the number of adoptions from China dropped almost 30 percent, to 2,589, Russian adoption declined to 970 and adoption from South Korea was down to 736. If only we thought that the falling numbers of international adoptions meant that many fewer children needed permanent loving families. More information.

November 16, 2011. USCIS Update on Ethiopian Cases. We are thankful to USCIS for sending the following update on pending international adoption cases from Ethiopia:

"A USCIS team of four officers arrived in Ethiopia and began working at Embassy Addis Ababa on November 7, 2011. As of the date of this notice, the team has received 63 'not clearly approvable' cases from Embassy Addis, and expects to receive at least 1 more case before they depart on Friday, November 18, 2011. The following provides a summary of the results of the team's review of the cases as of November 15, 2011:

Approvals Issued:   36
Requests for Evidence Issued:     9
Notices of Intent to Deny Issued:     1
Under USCIS Team Review:     9
Pending Birth Relative Interview:     8
Pending Physical Transfer:     1

During the team's first days in Addis, they began reviewing the cases and established procedures necessary for completing adjudication and issuing notices. Embassy Addis is providing the resources necessary for USCIS to be able to adjudicate the not clearly approvable cases. Although the team has encountered some technological challenges, the team has been issuing decisions and notices as soon as they are able.

All cases that the team is able to approve before they depart from Addis Ababa will stay with the Consular Section in Embassy Addis Ababa, for immediate scheduling of immigrant visa processing. Families that receive an approval notice will be contacted directly by the U.S. Embassy within three business days. We strongly recommend that families wait to be contacted regarding an immigrant visa interview before making travel arrangements. Cases that require a Request for Evidence or a Notice of Intent to Deny will be sent to the USCIS Rome District Office for further processing.

Each family that received a Request for Evidence or a Notice of Intent to Deny should carefully read the instructions regarding where to send additional evidence to avoid delays in processing that could be caused by sending the evidence to the incorrect USCIS Office. USCIS has decided to utilize additional resources at the Rome District Office in the ongoing processing of some of the affected cases in an effort to ensure that they are processed to completion as quickly as possible."

November 15, 2011. Supreme Court to Rule on ARTS Related Case. The Supreme Court has agreed to rule on whether twins conceived from assisted reproductive technology and born 18 months after their father died are entitled to social security survivor benefits. The federal government has refused to give the children social security benefits on the basis that the children could not have inherited under the relevant state statute. The legal position put forth by the wife/mother of the twins is that the question is a simple one: if children are the biological survivors of a parent with social security benefits, they are entitled to them, no matter how or when conceived. The appeals courts have split on this question. Now the Supreme Court will resolve the matter. More Information.

November 14, 2011. HHS to Focus Public Service Announcements on Preteens Available to be Adopted from Foster Care. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, together with Adopt USKids and the Ad Council are focusing attention on the 26,000 preteens who are available to be adopted from foster care. Pre-teen children are over-represented in the foster care population. While children in this age group are harder to place than younger children and present special challenges for adoptive families, there are many services to support potential adoptive parents who are interested in adopting older children. The multimedia link supporting this outreach program can be accessed here.

November 10, 2011. Voters in Mississippi Reject Personhood Amendment. Mississippi has become the second state to reject a state constitutional "personhood" amendment which would have declared that life begins at fertilization. Notwithstanding that both candidates for governor supported the initiative, 55 percent of voters rejected the proppsed amendment. Opponents had stressed that if passed not only all abortions but assisted reproductive technology (ARTs) as well as various forms of birth control would have become illegal. Any such amendment would have also brought an immediate U.S. constitutional challenge under the decision set forth in Roe v. Wade. Colorado voters had rejected a similar amendment in 2010.

November 9, 2011. We Agree With the Secretary of State. As Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said at yesterday's The Way Forward Project Summit, "Every child needs a permanent, loving home." The Secretary's public commitment to international adoption as part of the panoply of options for unparented children is of the greatest importance to the millions of children around the world living outside parental care.

November 7, 2011. Why Is Adoption Such a Problematic Issue asks U.K. Newspaper Columnist? As British journalist Cristina Odone [colorfully] puts the matter, "We've got our nappies in such a knot over adoption." Odone's focuses on the relative ease of family creation by assisted reproductive technology versus the ever greater difficulties faced by potential adoptive parents. The disparity is greater in Britain because ARTs is government controlled in the same way adoption is so the private/public difference between ARTs and adoption apparent in the U.S. does not apply. British Education Secretary Michael Gove, who has campaigned for breaking down adoption barriers agrees with Odone's ideas; as Gove recently stated, his adoptive father's smoking would today have disqualified him from adopting which would have robbed Gove of the wonderful family he had. More Information.

November 2, 2011. U.S. International Adoptions Plummet Again in 2011. Special Ambassador for Children's Issues Susan Jacobs has announced that "Last year [Fiscal Year 2011] U.S. citizens adopted more than 9,000 children." This statement (made in a video to mark November as National Adoption Month) is our first glimpse into the FY 2011 international adoption statistics. By comparison, in FY (federal fiscal years run October 1 through September 30) 2008, Americans adopted 17,458 children internationally, and in FY 2004 Americans adopted 22, 991 children from outside the U.S. This year's total is the lowest number for U.S. international adoption since 1995.

November 1, 2011. Dave Thomas Foundation Releases Findings on Foster Care to Adoption Programs. Foster care to adoption programs are clearly an appropriate and desirable goal. But traditional adoption program models may fail this population of older children who often has significant mental, emotional or medical issues. The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption has just released a five year study which supports its Wendy's Wonderful Kids child-focused model. According to this study, conducted by the organization Child Trends, children served by WWK have a 1.7 times greater chance of being adopted successfully than children treated according to traditional patterns. The benefits are even higher for children with mental challenges. Key components of the WWK model include: creating individual relationships with the children to be adopted, thorough adoption preparation for both children and potential adoptive parents with frequent meetings prior to adoption and making clear where responsibility for adoption preparation lies. More information.

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