October 31, 2011. It's Halloween and We Won't Be Trick or Treating for Unicef. It is that time again - when we publish our annual column explaining why our children won't be carrying the orange and black Unicef boxes that were a staple of our childhoods. As we always point out, Unicef's anti-international adoption policies would have relegated our Halloween celebrating children to an institutionalized life where missing Halloween would have been the least of their deprivations. But this year we are also linking to a column by journalist Claudia Rossett entitled "A Halloween Boo to Unicef." We certainly agree with her that Unicef is a "brilliant exercise in branding." Rossett's further point is that Unicef partners with morally repugnant regimes such as North Korea, Iran (which has just won a Unicef regional broadcast award) and Qaddafi's Libya. More Information.
October 27, 2011. USCIS Conference Call on October 28 For Families and Stakeholders Involved in Ethiopian Adoption. USCIS will be hosting a conference call on Friday October 28 to discuss USCIS processing of Ethiopian adoption cases. Officials will focus on what "not clearly approvable" means and how the processing of such cases will unfold once the cases are referred to USCIS. If you are interested in participating in this call, please contact the USCIS Office of Public Engagement at email@example.com by Thursday, October 27, 2011 referencing "Ethiopian Adoptions" in the subject line of your email and including your full name and your organization or adoption status in the text of the email. Once an RSVP email has been received, USCIS will provide you call-in details.
October 26, 2011. "Personhood" Amendments Could Affect ARTs As Well As Abortions. On November 8 Mississippi voters will have the chance to decide on Proposition 26 -- a state constitutional amendment which would affirm that the definition of "legal person" includes a fertilized human egg. If enacted this amendment would not only ban all forms of abortion (including pregnancies caused by rape or incest), various birth control methods and, at the least, could have a chilling effect on assisted reproductive technology. Both major party candidates in the Mississippi's gubernatorial race have endorsed Proposition 26 which has a very good chance of becoming law. If so, it will no doubt be challenged judicially and could clearly reach the Supreme Court. More Information.
October 25, 2011. "For every child, a loving family". Please watch Senator Mary Landrieu's video of CCAI's annual Angels in Adoption event. Senator Landrieu's eloquent words, echoed by National angel and adoptive mother actress Nia Vangelos will echo with anyone who really cares about children. Watch video.
October 24, 2011. Supporting International Adoption in a Fact-Free World. The New York Times online Opinionator blog is featuring a series called the Stone which is described as "a forum for contemporary philosophers on issues both timely and timeless." Yesterday's entry is entitled "The 'Enabling Violation' of International Adoption" which is the category in which the blog entry's author, Rutgers Professor Drucilla Cornell, has decided to place the adoption of her daughter from Paraguay in 1993. The article is replete with problematic reasoning: for example Cornell says: "I may have violated the people of Paraguay by participating in an adoption process that the vast majority of Paraguayans deeply disapproved of and ultimately sought to end." By using the standard of majority belief as a defining standard, Cornell would also support discrimination and segregation, both of which were at some point embraced by popular majorities. Equally difficult is Cornell's assertion concerning "recent news stories reporting the abduction in China of children for international adoption." The reports which we have followed this year alleged baby taking by population planning officials. International adoption was not the motivation for these decisions. But it has become another non-fact nonetheless with which supporters of finding families for unparented children must contend. We do agree with Cornell on the desirability of promoting open international adoption and will be addressing this topic in depth at The Annual Adoption Law and Policy Conference. To read Cornell's column, click here.
October 20, 2011. Government and Other Updates-Ethiopia. The Department of State has updated the list of Ethiopian orphanages that have been closed by the Ethiopian Charities and Societies Administration. The orphanages which were added to the list are the in Southern Nations state. The children who lived in the closed orphanages have been moved to other orphanages. According to DOS, "Ethiopian officials indicate that cases involving orphanaged children from these facilities which are already pending with the Federal First Instance court will continue to move forward." More Information.
October 19, 2011. Children Have a Right To a Permanent, Loving Home. Professor Elizabeth Bartholet has provided an eloquent explanation of the need for international adoption in a film entitled Abandoned in Guatemala: the Failure of International Adoption Policies. As Professor Bartholet says: If we shut down international adoptions, that's 5,000 kids a year whose lives we are ruining, whose lives could have been wonderful, and we're dooming them by shutting them into these institutions. So, to me, that's fundamental evil." To see this moving film, please click here.
October 18, 2011. DOS Statement Concerning International Assisted Reproductive Technology. The Department of State has prepared a circular explaining the circumstances under which U.S. citizens can transmit their citizenship to children born through assisted reproductive technology (ART). Crucially, "the Department of State interprets the INA to require a U.S. citizen parent to have a biological connection to a child in order to transmit U.S. citizenship to the child at birth. In other words, the U.S. citizen parent must be the sperm or the egg donor in order to transmit U.S. citizenship to a child conceived through ART." DNA testing is the usual manner of proving this nexus. As DOS points out, a child without any biological connection to a U.S. is not entitled to automatic citizenship. Unfortunately, the laws of the country in which the child was born may prevent that child from receiving birth country citizenship. In these tragic cases, the child may be a person without a country. More Information.
October 17, 2011. Birth Fathers Challenge DC Authorities on Child Placement. Two birth fathers have sued the District of Columbia contesting DC's treatment of children whose birth fathers living outside DC. The plaintiffs allege that they were denied custody of their children merely because they live in Maryland. DC authorities take the position that the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC), governs these cases while one of the plantiffs' lawyers, Judith Sandalow responds: "It is illegal and causes irreparable harm to place a child in foster care for extended periods of time when that child has a fit parent willing and able to take care of him. Which side of Eastern Avenue a parent lives on should not determine whether a child gets to live with her parent." More Information.
October 13, 2011. Government and Other Notices. The Department of State has sent a new notice concerning international adoption from Ethiopia. The program has already slowed to a trickle; now DOS is explaining that other delays stem from fears over "possible malfeasance" as well as incorrect and incomplete paperwork. Moreover DOS states that the "The Embassy also has received evidence of unethical recruitment of children from birth relatives and cases involving known birth parents from whom parental rights have not been severed by the Ethiopian courts." This notice further explains procedures in place for international adoptions which are not clearly approvable and provides addresses for prospective adoptive parents who believe that they are the victims of fraud. See Notice.
October 12, 2011. Supreme Court Will Not Consider Adoption Birth Certificate Case. The Supreme Court has declined to review the ruling in Adar v. Smith. This case arose from the refusal of the Louisiana registrar of births to issue a birth certificate in the name of adoptive parents who are a gay couple. The adoption had been finalized in New York which permits adoption by gay couples while Louisiana does not. The federal appeals court had ruled against the adoptive parents. The Center for Adoption Policy was an amici in this case.
October 10, 2011. What Will the Numbers Say? The federal government's fiscal year ended on September 30. The annual totals of the numbers of children adopted internationally into the United States are based on the fiscal year, not calendar year. Therefore, for the purposes of federal reporting on adoption statistics (which is based on numbers of visas granted) 2011 is over. We are not optimistic about the number of children adopted internationally into the United States last year. We believe the numbers will once again decrease, leaving many children without the permanent loving homes that they all deserve.
October 6, 2011. Government Notices and Alerts. The U.S. Embassy in Hanoi has cautioned potential adoptive parents that although Vietnam has signed the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, international adoption from Vietnam to the United States is not yet open. Moreover, once Vietnam has acceded to the Hague Convention, DOS will have to find that Vietnam is conforming to all Hague standards and practices which is not necessarily a given fact. DOS has announced that the suspensions of St. Mary's International Adoptions and Joshua Tree adoptions has been lifted by the Council on Accreditation. COA has determined that both agencies are "in substantial compliance with applicable U.S. accreditation standards." More Information.
October 5, 2011. Chinese Government Finds No "Baby Trading." Chinese investigators cleared family planning officials and orphanages of allegations of "baby trading" and found no evidence that the Hunanese orphanage at the center of recent articles about Chinese adoption had ever paid kickbacks in exchange for children. However because of their "negligence and handling work in a simplistic way," twelve government employees lost their jobs and their Communist party membership. We note that this important exoneration of the Shaoyang Social Welfare Institute did not receive the same front page treatment as did the original allegations. More Information.
Center for Adoption Policy (CAP)