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March 2012

March 29, 2012. Government and Other Notices. Adoption Suspension From Bhutan. The Department of State has announced that the all international adoption from Bhutan has been suspended pending the passage of new legislation. The Bhutanese National Commission for Women and Children cannot give a timeframe for the new law but feels confident there are no pending cases of adoptions of Bhutanese children by an American family. Prospective adoptive parents who believe that they are affected by this suspension are urged to contact Bhutanese officials at admin@ncwc.org.btto. More Information.

March 28, 2012. USCIS Posts Revised Rules for Grandfathered I-600/A Cases. USCIS has posted to its website the revised procedures for families with grandfathered I-600/A cases. These procedures, which apply to families who had applied to USCIS in connection with an adoption from China or Guatemala prior to the U.S. effective date of the Hague Convention for Intercountry Adoption, were first discussed with the adoption community on January 31, 2012. The posted information is very detailed and very helpful. We urge all affected families to consult this post as soon as possible. To access the post, please click here.

March 27, 2012. New Report Heralds Openness in Adoption. How times have changed. A new report by Deborah H. Siegel. and Susan Livingston Smith entitled "Openness in Adoption: From Secrecy and Stigma to Knowledge and Connections" examines the major evolution in the thinking and practice of domestic adoption. Fifty years ago adoption was shrouded in secrecy and silence. Today, 95 percent of adoption agencies offer open adoption while completely closed adoptions are around 5 percent. The majority of both adoptive parents and birth parents meet and birth parents select the adoptive parents, rather than, as formerly, delegating this crucial decision to intermediaries. We believe that the international adoption should and will follow the same path. For More Information on this report, prepared for the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute click here.

March 26, 2012. CAP Comments on Celebrity Adoptions. CAP Co-Executive Director Ann Reese was interviewd by the Huffington Post last week on the issue of whether celebrities receive special treatment if they choose to adopt. As she said: We see no evidence that the adoption process is easier for celebrities. ..[other than] by nature of their assumed financial position, [they] may have an advantage in being able to pay for a broader search in order to find a possible match." Moreover, said Reese: "We think that successful celebrity adoption is a good thing, because we think that adoption should be a viable method of forming families," she said. "The more positive media coverage there is of families formed through adoption, the better chance that children in need of parents will find them." More Information.

March 22, 2012. Government and Other Notices: Cambodia. The Department of State has issued a notice concerning international adoption from Cambodia. Following the trip of Ambassador Susan Jacobs to Phnom Penh in January, the Cambodian Foreign Ministry announced that "the Cambodian government has decided to delay the date that it will begin receiving adoption petitions until January 1, 2013. The Cambodian government is still working to establish the necessary internal child welfare structures to function as a Hague partner." More Information.

March 21, 2012. Proper Special Needs Chinese Adoption. Thousands of children have come home from China through the Special Needs adoption program which places children with identified medical needs or children over the age of six. The program has grown in popularity as it has established a track record and in the wake of the virtual end of China's non-special needs program. However, we join other organizations in the call for all special needs placements to be honest, ethical and transparent. In particular, we urge full disclosure concerning children's medical history, appropriate training for potential adoptive parents and scrupulous practices by every adoption service provider.

March 20, 2012. Another ARTs Case: American Who Gave Birth Through ARTs Finds Out Her Children are Not Citizens. An American woman living in Israel found out the hard way that U.S. law and practice has not kept up with Assisted Reproductive Technology. Ellie Lavie conceived twins using ARTs in Israel and carried them to birth in Israel. When she went to get their citizenship at the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv, she was asked by an embassy official, "Are these children yours?" She answered truthfully that her children were conceived using donor eggs and sperm and was then told that unless she could prove that one of the donors was a U.S. citizen, her children would not receive citizenship. As Michele Koven Wolgel, a lawyer who specializes in these cases, put it: it is difficult to contemplate that U.S. immigration law is designed to "to prevent a woman who carried a child for nine months, who gave birth to the child and whose name appears on the birth certificate from transferring her U.S. citizenship to the child." What this case demonstrates anew is the way in which the law has not caught up to reproductive medicine. More Information.

March 19, 2012. Supreme Court Hears Arguments About ARTs and Social Security Benefits Today. Oral arguments will be heard by the Supreme Court today in the case of Astrue v. Capato. Karen Capato conceived her twins, using her husband's sperm, after her husband died. They were born in September 2003 and Capato filed for survivorship benefits from Social Security. The position taken by the Social Security Administration is that eligibility depends on whether the relevant state law permits a child conceived posthumously to inherit property if the deceased parent had died without a will. The lower court ruled for the Social Security Administration but that decision was reversed by the Court of Appeals. Many other parents have filed for survivorship benefits in anticipation of this ruling. More Information.

March 16, 2012. Government and Other Notices: Senegal. The Department of State has announced that Senegal has temporarily suspended all new international adoption applications as part of its evolution as a Hague Convention adoption Country. U.S. embassy officials met with Senegalese counterparts in February to clarify which U.S. adoption cases would be considered pipeline cases and therefore be permitted to continue under the I-600/A process. The decision of the Senegalese government is that any case with a filed I-600 or I-600A prior to December 1, 2011 will so qualify. There is no information as to when intercountry adoption will resume from Senegal. More Information.

March 14, 2012. U.S. Children Caught in Deportation Trap. Isaiah, Adrian, and Angel Montes were born in North Carolina to an American citizen mother and a Mexican father who was here illegally. Felipe Montes was deported back to Mexico two years ago and his children remained in the custody of his wife. But Marie Montes collects disability for an unspecified mental illness and after her heat and power were cut off she has lost custody to the county department of social services. Montes has been unable to visit his children since his deportation and wants his sons returned to him in Mexico. North Carolina officials, however, seek to keep the children in the land of their birth and citizenship and have begun working to terminate his parental rights. These officials say that Montes' house in Mexico does not have running water although Mexican social services authorities state that it does have a refrigerator, satellite tv and a microwave. The North Carolina foster family is apparently interested in adopting them. More Information.

March 13, 2012. Israeli Judge Recognizes Legal Status of Children Born Through Surrogacy. A family court judge in Tel Aviv has recognized as the legal parent a woman whose children were conceived with her eggs but born through a surrogate overseas. Israeli law grants legal parenthood for parents whose children were born through surrogacy contracts in Israel but is silent on children born abroad to surrogates In this case twins were born in the Tblisi, Georgia to a husband and wife who are both Israeli citizens. After this ruling Israeli genetic mothers will be able to establish maternity through a DNA test, a route previously available only to genetic fathers. As Judge Judge Shifra Glick stated, "that a biological mother must adopt her natural children, is intolerable and defies common sense". More Information.

March 12, 2012. Prime Minister (and President Elect) Vladimir Putin Says International Adoption from Russia Should be Last Resort. Current Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, in one of his first public comments generally released since winning a new term as President, stated that "We should try to ensure that most [Russian] children find their families here in Russia. . .foreign adoptions should become a rare exception, a last resort." Putin also criticized U.S. adoption agencies, for their "lack of cooperation." Russia and the United States signed a bilateral agreement on international adoption on July 13, 2011. The agreement is not yet in effect because it has not been ratified by the Russian parliament. We are concerned that the public criticism of international adoption by Putin, who is the most powerful man in Russia today, will jeopardize the future of the bilateral agreement on international adoption. More Information.

March 8, 2012. Government and Other Notices. The Department of State has posted notices about India and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. CARA, the Indian Central Adoption Authority, is again accepting new applications for international adoption, under revised guidelines. All IA applications must be sent to CARA. DOS warns that some adoptive families in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have had great difficulty assuming physical custody of their children although these adoptive parents do have full legal custody and immigration visas to the United States. More Information.

March 7, 2012. Updates on China Adoption Programs. As most readers of this column know, the China Non-Special Needs Program is all but defunct. This past month the CCCWA sent referrals for families whose dossiers were logged in with CCCWA between August 16 and 21st, 2006. We are hearing multiple rumors that the special needs and special focus programs will be slowing down in the near future as well. Both those programs had become more popular both because of the dearth of available international adoption programs and also because the CCCWA had eased the requirements for adoption from those programs, notably allowing prospective adoptive parents to adopt two unrelated children at a time and allowing PAPs to reuse dossiers.

March 6, 2012. Surrogate Twins Born in India Receive French Nationality. A French Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court decision granting civil status which is akin to citizenship, to twins carried by a gestational carrier in India for French intended parents. This decision contradicts a French Supreme Court decision issue just last year in France which, in that case, dealt with twins born in the United States for a French couple. Surrogacy is illegal in France. The Appeals Court in the new case held that Article 47 of the French Civil Code which states that "any act of civil status for French or foreign citizens made in a foreign country and written on the relevant documents should be upheld" governs. Last year the French Supreme Court rejected this argument. It is not yet know if the French Public Prosecutor will appeal this latest decision to the French Supreme Court. More Information.

March 5, 2012. Thank You Everyone! We want to thank everyone who participated in the Ninth Annual Adoption Law and Policy Conference. It was a great success and we are most grateful to the Harvard Law School Child Advocacy Program as well as to the Diane Abbey Law Center of New York Law School for their co-sponsorship and New York Law School for the hosting of the Conference. We will let everyone know when the proceedings are available on itunes. See you in New York next year.

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