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March 2013

March 27, 2013. Historic Days at the Supreme Court. Today is Day II for oral arguments before the Supreme Court on gay marriage. The Supreme Court is considering both the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8 gay marriage ban and the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). There are thousands of children, many of them adopted, growing up in gay and lesbian families. These children deserve the protection of marriage as well. For a discussion of the legal issues involved in today's case, please click here.

March 26, 2013. Adoption Attorney Organization Works for National Father Registry. The American Academy of Adoption Attorneys is working to have a national putative father data base. While 34 states now have state registries, the requirements and effects of these data bases differ and they leave gaping holes in national coverage. As AAAA lawyer Mark McDermott put it: "The idea is registries in states ought to talk to each other. . . The federal law is best conceptualized as a repository more than a law. It would provide a central database where it all goes into one place. It would eliminate the problem of going from state to state." Having a national data base would allow for more expeditious finalization of adoptions, giving children a better path to a permanent loving family. More Information.

March 25, 2013. Russian Adoption Update. Around 300 American potential adoptive parents have met and bonded with their children in Russia but have not been able to bring them home since the ban on adoption by U.S. PAPs went into force on January 1, 2013. Foreign Minister Segey Lavrov told the Russia Duma last Friday that Moscow is seeking a data base of all internationally adopted Russian children (with both their Russian and new names) so that the Russian government can track reports of abuse and ill treatment. Lavrov says his government continues to pursue information in the Max Shatto (Russian name Maksim Kuzmin) case; insisting that "we are not going to put up with the fact that we were denied the documents concerning the circumstances of Maksim Kuzmin`s death, including postmortem examination results." More Information.

March 21, 2013. Government Alerts: Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Department of State has posted a warning that it has received reports that children have been taken from DRC orphanages by birth parents or relatives after the Congolese courts have approved the adoption decree and certificate of non-appeal. DOS advises potential adoptive parents that: "Adoptive parents who have already received adoption decrees and certificates of non-appeal, but learn that their child was removed from an orphanage by a birth parent or relative, may wish to seek independent legal counsel in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to learn their legal rights as the adoptive parents under Congolese law." The U.S. Embassy in Kinshasha keeps a list of local attorneys who work with Americans. More Information.

March 20, 2013. Does the Majority of the Russian Cabinet Oppose the U.S. Adoption Ban? The Russian press is reporting that Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said today that "A lot of people in the Cabinet, the majority, were against the legislation, at least in the form it was passed." Dvorkovich is joining Deputy Prime Minister in charge of Social Affairs, Olga Golodets, Science and Education Minister Dmitry Livanov, and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov who have previously publically criticized the December law which bans the adoption of Russian children by U.S. parents. We welcome this news and hope that the Deputy Prime Minister's comments signal a change in Russia's position both about the in process families and also about international adoption to the U.S. in general. More Information.

March 19, 2013. Children Adopted By Gay or Lesbian Couples Do Just As Well. The first study in Britain of gay and lesbian parents, by scholars from Cambridge University, has found that "there was no evidence to support speculation that children's masculine or feminine tendencies are affected by having gay or lesbian parents. Family life and the quality of relationships are very similar for children regardless of their parents' sexual orientation." What matters is a family. This study is very timely considering that the U.S. Supreme Court will shortly consider the DOMA and Proposition 8 cases. More Information.

March 18, 2013. CAP Testifies to Congress on International Adoption. Please go to the Speaking for Children page to read the Testimony of Dr. Diane B. Kunz, Esq. before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, March 14, 2013.

March 13, 2013. Government and Other Notices: Morocco. The Department of State has issued a notice concerning international adoption from Morocco. This notice refers back to the decision of Moroccan Justice El Mostapha Ramid last September to require foreign prospective parents who are seeing Kafala guardianship to reside in Morocco. DOS is asking in process prospective adoptive paps to contact it at AskCI@state.gov, and give the specific information listed in the following link, together with the privacy waiver act form DS5505. More Information.

March 11, 2013. The Ethics of Surrogacy. A troubling case has highlighted the serious ethical issues which can occur in the growing practice of gestational surrogacy. Connecticut mother Crystal Kelley was paid $22,000 for carrying a baby for a couple. This is normal procedure which is permissible in many states. However, when a sonogram revealed that the fetus had significant special needs, the intended parents offered Ms. Kelly $10,000 if she would abort the baby. Kelley refused the abortion and after the baby's birth, another couple adopted the child. Noted ethicist Dr. Arthur Caplan discusses the very difficult issues raised by this case: Click here.

March 7, 2013. "It's A Girl" Highlights Gender-Selective Abortion Crisis. The new documentary highlights the epidemic of gender selective abortions which modern technology, particularly the development of cheap, portable ultrasounds, have made possible. Focusing on India and China, the film looks at the terrible price paid by women such as Dr. Mitu Khurna. Notwithstanding that she is a middle class, educated women, Dr. Khurana was forced by her husband and mother-in-law to find out the gender of her baby when she became pregnant. (The illegality of such a procedure in India was not much of a deterrent.) Upon finding out that she was carrying girl twins and that Dr. Khurana would not have an abortion, her relatives physically abused her to induce a miscarriage. Since going public, Dr. Khurana has faced both death and rape threats. As columnist Noah Berlatsky writes,"The film shows that children's rights rest upon women's rights and that women's rights, in turn, rest upon those of children. If women aren't respected under the law, children won't be, and if children aren't, women won't be either." More Information.

March 6, 2013. "Investing in the Future of our Children." From CCAI's website: "22.5 percent of children live in poverty compared to 9.3 percent of senior citizens." It wasn't always so. Until President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society legislation in the nineteen sixties (Medicare and social security increases), older Americans were much more likely to be poor than other Americans. Now it is the turn of our children. Yesterday, the Washington Post, the WK Kellogg Foundation and the Next Generation convened the "Children and Families Summit 2013." As CCAI has pointed out, foster children are the most vulnerable to poverty. More Information.

March 5, 2013. Congressional Conference Call for Pipeline U.S. Families Adopting in Russia. The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) has issued the following invitation: "Please circulate the following invitation to U.S. families with pending adoptions of children in Russia to join U.S. Senators Roy Blunt and Mary Landrieu and CCAI Executive Director Kathleen Strottman for a conference call on Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 5:15 EST to discuss these pending adoptions. Families, congressional staff, and advocates interested in joining the call will be provided call in details upon completion of this short RSVP Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/RussianAdoptionsConferenceCall. Please note this call is not for media or for attribution."

March 3, 2013. Contacting the Department of State. State Department officials spoke at our Tenth Annual Adoption Law and Policy Conference last week. One of the benefits of that conference is the information we can provide the adoption community. Parents who are in the process of adopting internationally as well as parents who have completed their adoptions often have need to contact the State Department's Office of Children's Issues. DOS officials stated last Friday that the best way to contact theses offices is by email at AdoptionUSCA@state.gov (Convention Questions) or ASKCI@state.gov (Non-Convention Questions). By telephone, the Office of Children's Issues may be contacted at (888) 407-4747 (U.S. and Canada) or (202) 501-4444.

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