October 31, 2012. We Don't Trick or Treat for Unicef. Today being Halloween, we publish our annual post about Unicef. We don't collect money for Unicef. Unicef has a wonderful reputation and excellent PR but as an organization it has failed to protect unparented children. By paying lip service to international adoption but working to ensure that IA becomes unavailable as an actual option for children without permanent loving families, Unicef has undermined its responsibilities to children. Indeed Unicef on its website asserts it is "relentless." We regret the truth of this statement as regards international adoption.
October 30, 2012. U.S. Ambassador Jacobs Goes to South Korea. According to published reports, Ambassador Susan Jacobs, Special Advisor for Children's Issues at the Department of State, met with South Korean officials in Seoul last week. A DOS official was quoted as saying, "She will review Korea's plans to accede to the Hague Adoption Convention." South Korea and Japan are the only two members of the Organization of Economic Development which have not ratified the Hague Convention. However, as South Korea has a very well respected international adoption program, it would seem that the usual U.S. government stance on non-Hague countries would not apply in this case. More Information.
October 29, 2012. Nebraska Legislature Considers Problem of Aging Out Foster Children. According to one report, each year more than three hundred teenagers in Nebraska leave foster care without any support. Over half lost their Medicaid coverage immediately. The federal Fostering Connections Act, passed in 2008, was intended to change this dire situation. It allows states to obtain federal matching funds for eligible foster care services extended to youths between the ages of 18 and age 21. Nebraska's Former Ward program, currently in effect, is limited and reached only about one-third of aging out potential recipients. More Information.
October 25, 2012. New Jersey Supreme Court Splits Over Surrogacy. The Supreme Court of New Jersey has split, three to three, on an important issue relating to the parentage of a child conceived through surrogacy. The tied vote means the lower court decision will stand. Therefore in New Jersey now, if both intended parents are genetic parents, a pre-birth order putting the IPs on the birth certificate is permissible but if the egg is from a donor, the intended mother cannot be placed on the birth certificate until she goes through a step-parent adoption. A bill which would treat intended mothers and fathers equally had passed the New Jersey legislature but Governor Chris Christie vetoed it. More Information.
October 23, 2012. What Is Going On With Russia? Russian news sources have been voicing serious discontent with the U.S.-Russia Bilateral International Adoption Agreement, which is set to go into force on November 1, 2012. Yesterday, Russia's Children Rights Ombudsman, Pavel Astakhov, speaking to the Duma, called for a ban on the international adoption of Russian children into the United States. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Rybakov was apparently equally scathing about Russian international adoption to the United States: "We are not even informed of child abuse cases. There is no practical assistance with organizing consular appointments." The United Russia party has sponsored a bill which would alter the international adoption framework by conferring great power and responsibility on Russia's regional governors. We urge the Department of State to use all diplomatic suasion enthusiastically to stand behind the bilateral agreement and do its utmost to ensure that the agreement goes into effect as intended. More Information.
October 22, 2012. British Court Grants Legal Parentage to Couple Without Surrogate's Consent. For what is believed to be the first time, a male couple in the United Kingdom has been granted legal parentage over children even though the formal consent of the gestational carrier (surrogate) could not be obtained. The couple had their children in India but the surrogate disappeared before she had given her legal consent to the parentage proceedings. The couple took custody of the children when they were two days old, obtained passports for them and brought them home to Britain. The couple had used an anonymous egg donor and the sperm of one of the fathers. More Information.
October 18, 2012. Government and Other Alerts: Haiti. Institut du Bien-Štre Social et de Recherches (IBESR), Haiti's central adoption authority has moved back the effective date of its new procedures to November 5, from October 1, 2012. The last day for the applicability of the old procedures is October 31, 2012. According to the Department of State, under the new policies, " IBESR plans to counsel the child's biological parents and to obtain their pre-consent to adoption of their child. This pre-consent will be a prerequisite of IBESR's adoption authorization. . . IBESR plans to oversee matching of the child with the prospective adoptive parents. These procedures may prohibit prospective adoptive parents - except in cases of intra-family adoptions - from establishing contact with the child they are seeking to adopt before they are officially matched to that child." Haiti remains a non-Hague nation. More Information.
October 17, 2012. Florida Schools Create Race-Based Goals. Florida's State Board of Education has created educational goals that discriminate by race. According to one report "by 2018, the state wants 90 percent of Asian students, 88 percent of white, 81 percent of Hispanics and 74 percent of blacks to be at or above reading grade level. The state also wants 86 percent of white students, 92 percent of Asians, 80 percent of Hispanics and 74 percent of blacks to be at or above their math grade level." Refuting the need for these discriminatory standards Patrick Franklin, the president and CEO of the Urban League of Palm Beach County said, "All children should be held to high standards and for them to say that for African-Americans the goal is below other students is unacceptable." We also wonder where these standards would leave children whose parents are bi-racial or trans-racial - would President Obama have been placed in the white group or the black group? More Information.
October 16, 2012. Bilateral U.S.-Russian Adoption Agreement to enter into Force November 1, 2012. We are very pleased to state that the international adoption agreement between the U.S. and Russia will enter into force on November 1, 2012. It was signed by both countries on July 13, 2011 and ratified this year by the Russian parliament (Duma). It does not have to be ratified by the U.S. Senate. We will post more information about the implementation of the agreement in the days ahead. We are grateful to all the members of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Department of State (State) teams who negotiated this treaty and the relevant procedures. Special mention must be made of the contributions made by Whitney Reitz, of USCIS and soon to be on Senator Mary Landrieu's staff, who has again distinguished herself by her dedication to bettering the lives of unparented children.
October 15, 2012. Significantly Fewer U.S. Children in Foster Care. The number of children in foster care fell 29 percent between 1999 and 2011, from 567,000 to 401,000. The rate of children in foster care had increased from 6.2 per 1,000 children in 1990 to 8.1 per 1,000 children but in 2011 had decreased to 5.4 per 1,000 children. The decrease in foster care is even more impressive given that it partly occurred during a time of economic recession. Around half of all foster children in 2011 live in non-relative homes while about one- quarter are in "kinship care". More Information.
October 11, 2012. Government and Other Notices: What Will the Numbers Be? Each year, the Department of State compiles annual statistics detailing the number of international adoptions by country and by state. These numbers are calculated according to the federal government's fiscal year, which runs from October 1 to September 30. Therefore as far as these statistics go, FY 2012 is over. What will these 2012 numbers reveal? Not an international adoption program which has remained viable, vital and available as an option for unparented children. We await the official release of the numbers with sadness.
October 10, 2012. An Amazing Adoptee Journey Via Google Earth. The internet has made so much possible which never even seem remotely realistic. The story of how Saroo, a young man lost at an Indian train station over two decades and adopted by an Australian family, found his Indian birth family, with no records, just his memories as a five year old boy, with the help of Google Earth, shows the connections which now exist for all adoptees, international or domestic. To read about his journey, click here.
October 9, 2012. New York Judge Awards Custody to Partner, Not to Birth Mother. For what is believed to be the first time, a New York judge has award custody of a child to the mother who is not the birth parent after a custody battle. Manhattan attorney Allison Scollar received custody and decision making authority for the six year old daughter she had adopted and jointly raised with biological mother producer Brook Altman. Manhattan Judge Gloria Sosa-Lintner said, "Although . . . Altman is the biological parent, this does not give her an automatic priority over the adoptive parent. This is analogous to a father getting custody of his own child, where only the best interests of the child are paramount." More Information.
October 4, 2012. Government and Other Notices: USCIS Guidance on Grandfathered for PAPs with Grandfathered I-600A forms for China and Guatemala. USCIS has issued detailed FAQ guidance for potential adoptive parents who had filed I-600A forms to adopt from China and Guatemala. The number of families with such forms is dwindling because any one filing their first USCIS form to adopt from China after April 1, 2008 was required to use the I-800A Hague form and Guatemala has been closed to new adoption since December 21, 2007. More Information.
October 3, 2012. International adoption from Ukraine Falls; Domestic Adoption Rises, But Special Needs Are Children Left Behind. Deputy Social Policy Minister Lydia Drozdova stated at a press conference last week that in the first eight months of this year Ukrainians adopted twice as many children (1,300) as foreigners did (530). The number of foreigners adopting children has fallen by half compared to 2005. However, Drozdova also stated that there are over 26,000 children available for adoption in Ukraine's data base. Foreigners, however, are now restricted to adopting children over five or with special needs. Of the 1,600 Ukrainian potential adoptive parents on the adoption waiting list, over 80 percent are only interested in adopting children under the age of five. More Information.
October 2, 2012. Horrific Video of Guangdong Teacher Beating Autistic Child Into a Coma. A CCTV video of a teacher in Qianhui Children's Rehabilitation Services Center in the Panyu area of Guangzhou, China has gone viral on Chinese social media. When 4-year old, Qiu Yaoyao, refused to pay attention to directions, the teacher began beating, punching and kicking her. The vicious acts of teacher Xu Lihuan might never have been exposed if Qiu's father had not pressed the investigation after seeing his child in the hospital. More Information.
October 1, 2012. Deferred Action Helps Adoptees. The Obama administration's decision to grant deferred action on immigration, applications which were available on August 12, 2012, gives protection from the threat of deportation and the opportunity to work for certain categories of children and youth. The Deferred Action Plan (or "DACA") will, under certain circumstances, provide help for adoptees who never received citizenship. To download a detailed fact sheet on this program prepared by First Focus click here.
Center for Adoption Policy (CAP)