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March 2014

March 27, 2014. The DOS FY 2013 Annual Report on Intercountry Adoption. The Department of State released its FY 2013 annual report last Friday. We noted the total dismal number of adoptions into the United States - 7,094 - in the analysis we posted on Monday. Here are some of the key numbers: Adoptions from China down to 2,306 (2,696), adoptions from Ethiopia down to 993 (1,567), adoptions from South Korea down to 138 (627), and adoptions from Taiwan down to 94 (177). The numbers in parentheses are the figures for FY 2012. Why these precipitate drops? We know at least part of the answer. Download the report.

March 26, 2014. Brave New World: Three Genetic Parents? California, in January, enacted a new law which permits a child to have more than two legal parents. Now the Food and Drug Administration is considering human clinical trials for an assisted reproductive technique call mitochondrial replacement, which would cause the child to have DNA from three parents. As the authors of an op-ed on this procedure explained: "The technique would enable women who carry harmful mutations in their mitochondria to have a child without those harmful mutations. As with all human reproduction, the child would carry a combination of genes from one male and one female. However, in this technique, the nucleus of the mother's egg would be injected into a "third parent's" nucleus-free egg containing healthy mitochondrial DNA. As a result, the child would inherit the characteristics of the original male and female but have healthy mitochondria from a third person." Whether or not approval is given now to this procedure, one thing is clear: our legal system has a lot of catching up to do. More Information.

March 24, 2014. International Adoption to the U.S. Plummets to Barely 7,000 in FY 2013. Here Is Why. Over the last five years the USG has taken a consistently negative approach on international adoption. The Department of State has adopted UNICEF's policy which is that international adoption is to be shunned. It is DOS and UNICEF which advance the proposition that countries should reject international adoption as a method of family formation. When speaking at international forums such as the Fifth International Policy Conference on the African Child: Intercountry Adoption: Alternatives and Controversies (May 29-30, 2012; http://www.africanchildforum.org/ipc/), DOS and UNICEF speak with one voice, defining international adoption as cultural genocide, a sign of national failure or as a cover for fraud. As the USG has funneled billions of dollars of aid through UNICEF in the last five years, it is no surprise that developing countries are following this prescription. Read more...

March 20, 2014. Updates on Adoption from Armenia and Azerbaijan. The Department of State reports it has been told that that prospective adoptive parents wishing to adopt in Armenia are being given erroneous information about adoption service providers in Armenia and concerning children who are eligible for international adoption. PAPs are urged by DOS to contact the Armenian Ministry of Justice for accurate information. We have received information that the Azeri government has made changes to the international adoption process from Azerbaijan. The information we have seen is sketchy and not yet confirmed by DOS. More information.

March 19, 2014. Adoption Subsidies. Not everyone is aware of the very large role adoption subsidies play in domestic and foreign adoption. These subsidies can be in the form of adoption assistance payments for parents adopting children from foster care or for families whose children have behavioral, emotional or physical disabilities. Subsidies can cover medical assistance, tutoring, therapy, special equipment and other tools which will enable at risk children to reach their full potential. The Adoption Tax Credit is a major financial subsidy for adoption and is available to qualifying adopting families for both domestic and international adoption. For extensive information on various programs click here.

March 18, 2014. A True Advocate for Children is Gone. Miki Stebbing passed away on March 6 at the age of 71. Miki's whole career was dedicated to serving children, as a social worker, as a lawyer and as an officials at the Department of State. Miki didn't come to her important career easily. Not many people knew that Miki was born in one of the U.S. government-administered Japanese relocation camps in 1942. Her family lived and worked in the United States when Pearl Harbor catapulted the U.S. into World War II and Miki and her family were collateral damage. Miki was also born with a cleft lip and palate which in those days was more difficult to treat. But Miki transcended these hardships. She dedicated her life to helping children without families, in Washington D.C. working with the Administration for Children and Families, and in her work at the Office of Children's Issues. Recently she had been working with the families of children who had been wrongfully adopted from American Samoa. Miki was kind, caring and brave. We will miss her greatly.

March 17, 2014. CHIFF Answers the Questions Asked. Professor David Smolin has just released his latest article on international adoption: "The Corrupting Influence of the United States on a Vulnerable Intercountry Adoption System: A Guide for Stakeholders, Hague and Non-Hague Nations, NGOs, and Concerned Parties." While we do not agree with many of the things Professor Smolin says, we do concur with his idea that protection for unparented children is the first and foremost goal of an sound international child welfare program. We also agree that international adoption should be part of a panoply of timely, ethical and transparent child welfare solutions. We believe that the Children in Families First Act accomplishes these goals. Professor Smolin's article will be published under the joint auspices of the Journal of Law and Family Studies and the Utah Law Review and may be found by clicking here.

March 14, 2014. Government and Other Notices: Ukraine and Croatia. The Department of State has issued notices concerning international adoption from Ukraine and Croatia. As we reported last week, DOS has not seen any delays in the IA process from Ukraine in the wake of the tumultuous events in that country. Both the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv remain open and are reported to be working normally. U.S. families, however, are urged to communicate directly with the U.S. embassy at KyivAdoptions@state.gov or DOS at AskCI@state.gov. Concerning Croatia, the U.S. Embassy in Zagreb is hearing reports that "prospective adoptive parents are receiving misleading information about which children are eligible for intercountry adoption and who is authorized to provide adoption services in Croatia from individuals representing themselves as authorized service providers." Adoptions in Croatia can only be completed through direct contact with the Ministry of Social Policy and Youth. No ASPs are authorized to provide adoption services in Croatia. More Information.

March 12, 2014. Where Are the Numbers? By law the Department of State is required to issue a fiscal year Annual Report on Intercountry Adoption. This report tracks international adoptions which occurred during each federal fiscal year which runs from October 1 through September 30. The federal fiscal year 2013 therefore ended on September 30, 2013, almost one half a year ago. Traditionally the community receives the adoption numbers a short time before the Annual Report is released which for the FY 2012 Fiscal Year was in January 2013. But DOS has neither given us any numbers nor released its report, even though it is almost mid-March. Sound policy requires all available statistics and information so we ask again, can we please have the FY 2013 international adoption statistics?

March 11, 2014. New Resource for the Adoptive Families and Others. Sherrie Eldridge, author of the well-regarded Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew and Twenty Things Adoptive Parents Need to Succeed, has just launched a new web-column: 20 Things Adopted Kids Wish Weekly. The first edition features articles on attorneys' fees in adoption, good vacation spots for transracial adoptive families and helping hands for foster children. We welcome this new source of information. More Information.

March 10, 2014. CAP/NYLS Conference a Great Success. We are pleased to report that the Eleventh Annual Adoption Law and Policy Conference was a stimulating and informative day. We would like to thank Professor Carlin Meyer, the Director of the Diane Abbey Law Center for Children and Families for partnering with us and Abbey Center Associate Director Lisa Grumet for all the time and effort she spent to make the Conference the success that it was. The Conference proceedings will be available on iTunes in the spring and we will be posting various links before that time.

March 5, 2014. Onward to the CAP/NYLS Conference. Friday is the Eleventh Annual Adoption Law and Policy Conference which will be held at New York Law School beginning at 9 am. This year's topics: gay marriage and adoption, the Indian Child Welfare Act going forward and international adoption and child welfare issues, are sure to excite intellectual and political interest. We hope to see you all there and for those who cannot make it, the proceedings will be available on iTunes later this year. To register, click here.

March 4, 2014. New York State Legislature considers New Bill on Surrogacy. State Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblywoman Amy Paulin have introduced the Child-Parent Security Act (A.6701/S.4617) which is designed to create a legal framework for compensated surrogacy in New York state. Among other things, the bill will create legal definitions of terms such as artificial insemination, assisted reproductive technology and providers, and collaborative reproduction. It will "also set new rules for determining the parentage of a child born through a surrogacy agreement. The bill would allow parentage to be determined before birth but not take effect until after birth. It would also define who would be allowed to petition for a judgment of the parentage of the child." Assemblyman Charles Lavine, a co-sponsor of the bill aptly explained the need for the bill at this time: "We have learned so much from science over the past 20 years involving gestational surrogacy. We know there is a lot more that can be done for families. It is certainly time for it to get done." More Information.

March 3, 2014. Update for U.S. Adopting Families in Ukraine. We spoke with Department of State officials on Friday and were told that "the Department of State has received information from the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs that it remains open and that delays are not currently expected in the issuance of Ukrainian passports to adopted children beyond the normal 10 day processing timeline. The U.S. Embassy also remains open and is providing full consular services including the issuance of immigrant visas to adopted children. U.S. families that are in Ukraine completing an intercountry adoption are encouraged to be in direct communication with the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv at KyivAdoptions@state.gov. Additional questions regarding intercountry adoption may also be directed to the Office of Children's Issues at AskCI@state.gov."

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