October 29, 2014. U.S. Government Changes Rules on Citizenship for Children Born Through ARTS. USCIS and the Department of State announced yesterday that they have changed their official manuals pertaining the child citizenship for children born abroad through assisted reproductive technology. From now on children born to gestational and legal U.S. citizen mothers will be automatically entitled to U.S. citizenship whether or not the there is a genetic link between mother and child. We welcome this change. More Information.
October 28, 2014. Tennessee Surrogacy Case Illustrates Need for Clearer Laws. Three years ago a Tennessee woman, acting as a surrogate for an Italian couple, gave birth to a child. One week later, the Tennessee woman changed her mind and decided to try to keep her baby girl, even though she had no DNA connection with the child and the intended Italian father was the sperm donor. The legal action has been winding its way through the Tennessee courts since then as the girl continued to live with the Italian couple. Now the Tennessee Supreme Court has ruled partially in favor of the surrogate, and has remanded the case back to a Nashville Juvenile Court which will decide on the girl's custody and visitation. This tragic case is due, at least partly, said the Supreme Court, to Tennessee's surrogacy law which "lacks a clear process for persons to create, carry out, and enforce traditional surrogacy agreements [leaving] parties to surrogacy contracts and courts ill-equipped to deal with the complex questions that inevitably arise in this area of law." Tennessee is one of four states that does not permit the intended mother, in a surrogacy arrangement where a donor egg is used, to be listed as the mother on the child's birth certificate. Instead, the intended mother must go through a "stepparent adoption" after the child is born. More Information.
October 23, 2014. HHS Announces $9 million grant for Legal Services for Children Coming Across the Border. The Department of Health and Human Services has announced $9 million in grant money will be available for organizations which can provide legal services to children who qualify as unaccompanied minors under the relevant federal legislative framework. This money will be spend on direct legal representation of these children in their immigration proceedings. Interested organizations can find more details by going to the Federal Register/Vol. 79, No. 200 /Thursday, October 16, 2014 /Notices 62159 (202) 401-6984; Shannon.email@example.com or by contacting Jallyn Sualog, Director, Division of Children's Services, Office of Refugee Resettlement, 901 D Street SW. Washington, DC 20447, (202) 401-4997; firstname.lastname@example.org.
October 22, 2014. Free Programs on the Internet Concerning Pro Bono Representation, Trafficking and Other Legal Issues of Interest to Our Community. We have recently become aware that there are many interesting legal webinars available at no cost on the internet. As many public interest law firms and organizations are short of funds, these programs provide a great way for attorneys in this sector to keep up-to-date and offer Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits for every state and Canada as well. A good example is this program which will be held on November 4, 2014: Working with Survivors of Human Trafficking: Learning about Immigration, Criminal, Civil, and Benefits Legal Remedies in California 2014 (Free). More Information.
October 21, 2014. State Department Calls for Release of Huang Family. The Department of State has urged Qatari authorities to allow Grace and Matthew Huang of Los Angeles to leave Qatar. The Huangs have been prisoners in Qatar for almost two years after Qatar authorities accused them of killing their adopted African daughter. The couple was found guilty of the lesser charge of child endangerment in March; yesterday the Qatari court was due to rule on the Huangs' appeal. Qatar does not permit adoption. Authorities concluded quickly that the Huangs had brought their daughter to Qatar with the goal of organ trafficking. More Information.
October 20, 2014. Joint Council and NCFA Ask For Conference Proposals. For the first time Joint Council and the National Council for Adoption are planning a joint conference. The subject is Putting Family First: Family Strengthening to Adoption and will be held in Arlington, Virginia from June 22-24, 2015. Both organizations have posted calls for proposals for hour- long panels (45 minutes plus 15 minutes for questions). Proposals, which are due no later than 5:00 pm, may be sent to https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/JC39SYM_RFP. More information on the Conference and the venue can be found at the websites of Joint Council and NCFA.
October 16, 2014. How Does A New York Court Rule on Whether a Foreign Adoption is Valid. Our discussion of the pending adoption case on Long Island, Matter of Child A (2014 NY Slip Op 24289, Decided on October 2, 2014 Sur Ct, Nassau County McCarty, J. Published by New York State Law Reporting Bureau pursuant to Judiciary Law § 431. http://law.justia.com/cases/new-york/other-courts/2014/2014-ny-slip-op-24289.html) has puzzled readers who have wondered how a New York court could rule on whether a Russian adoption was valid. The answer is that in non-Hague Convention cases, the rule of "comity" applies in New York. Comity means that the New York court may but does not have to recognize the validity of an adoption granted by another country. As to how a court would determine whether a Russian adoption was valid, the case of In Re: the Motion to Vacate the Adoption of John Doe. (Decided on March 26, 2007; http://caselaw.findlaw.com/ny-surrogates-court/1380473.html) is instructive. In this case, which involved a Cambodian adoption, the court explained that " Foreign law is an issue of fact to be found by the court.... The meaning of the [adoption] certificates under Cambodian law is thus a first critical step in untangling a complex and sometimes unsavory set of allegations in this proceeding." Therefore in the Long Island case the parties to the court case will present evidence on whether the requirements of Russian law were followed in the granting of the adoptions and the court make its ruling based on this evidence.
October 15, 2014. Ukranian Adoptees Jailed For Not Wanting to Live with their Adoptive Mother. Ruslan and Elijah Stubbs, 16 and 18 years old respectively, adopted two years ago from Ukraine, told a Rankin County Mississippi judge that they did not want to live with their adoptive mother. In response, he sent them to jail for contempt of court. It is not usual practice to jail children in custody cases. The Ukrainian government has formally protested, writing on September 24 to the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance stated that the judge's decision to incarcerate the children "cannot be considered as 'in the best interests' of these children." More Information.
October 14, 2014. An Amazing Day. Today County Clerks offices throughout North Carolina received gender neutral marriage license forms. Instead of saying bride and groom, the forms ask the names of "Applicant 1" and "Applicant 2." We congratulate all the people who made this day possible. We would like to mention Professor Joan Hollinger of the University of California at Berkeley Law School who has played a huge role in the national litigation that made Gay and Lesbian marriage possible in North Carolina, and other states. Professor Hollinger is also one of the leading adoption law experts in the U.S. and has been a constant presence at CAP Conferences. Most of all, we congratulate the families who will be equally recognized before the law.
October 9, 2014. CAP Compendium of Law Review Articles on International Adoption. We are today posting under our research tab a Compendium of Law Review articles on International Adoption. This thorough survey was prepared for CAP by Charles M. Kunz, a law student at North Carolina Central University School of Law.
October 7, 2014. "The Department of State Strongly Recommends Against Adopting from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) at this time." Yesterday the Department of State issued a strongly worded statement advising prospective adoptive parents against adopting from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Here is the statement in full:
"In light of the DRC's September 26, 2014 announcement that its exit permit suspension for adopted children remains in effect indefinitely, the Department of State has asked all adoption agencies to cease referring new DRC adoption cases for U.S. prospective adoptive parents at this time. The Department of State strongly recommends against initiating an adoption in the DRC at this time, as adoptive children cannot leave the DRC without an exit permit issued by the DRC's Directorate of General Migration, even with a finalized adoption. Congolese courts continue to issue adoption decrees under existing Congolese law, despite the exit permit suspension. We continue to press the DRC government on lifting the suspension so that Congolese children with finalized adoptions waiting for an exit permit can join their adoptive families as soon as possible. We are committed to working with the DRC government to address their concerns and continue to advocate for opportunities to engage on long-term adoption reforms in the DRC."
October 6, 2014. CAP Research on Secondary Placement (aka Rehoming). CAP is delighted today to post research on our website concerning Secondary Placement, also known as Rehoming. This research, which covers both state and federal laws, was prepared for us by Alyse Atkinson Young, a law school student at Duke University. Please go our research tab to access this research.
October 2, 2014. Number of Children Adopted from Public Care in UK rises 60 percent in Four Years. The number of children adopted in Britain since Education Secretary Michael Gove lifted onerous restrictions on potential adoptive parents has risen by 60 percent. Mr. Gove abolished regulations which blocked adoptive parents on race and culture-matching grounds as well as because they were too middle class. Mr. Gove, who left his post in July, was raised by adoptive parents. As his successor has stated, "'These figures show a significant and sustained rise in the number of adoptions - an increase of 26 per cent in the last twelve months. This means thousands more of our most vulnerable of children finding the loving and permanent homes they so desperately need...We also promised to remove delay and frustration from the process for both children and adopters." We say "Bravo." More Information.
October 1, 2014. Democratic Republic of Congo Continues Exit Permit Suspension for Adopted Children. The Department of State has reported that "on September 26, 2014 Director General of the Directorate of General Migration, Francois Beya, announced the DRC's official policy that the exit permit suspension for adopted children will remain in place until further notice. The Congolese government initially issued the exit permit suspension for adopted children on September 25, 2013, indicating that the suspension would be in effect for up to 12 months. " We are saddened that DOS' efforts to have this ban lifted has come to nothing. We are told that prospective U.S. parents are still submitting immigrant applications for adopted and prospective adoptive children from the DRC and that some DRC courts are issuing adoption decrees. U.S. parents must be understand that a DRC adoption does not, in and of itself, permit a family to leave the DRC. For that, the PAPs need an exit permit and the DRC is not at this time issuing them. Any questions on this alert or on a DRC pending adoption should be addressed to the DOS Office of Children's Issues at 1-888-407-4747 within the United States, or 202-501-4444 from outside the United States. Email inquiries may be directed to ExitPermitSuspensionDRC@state.gov.
Center for Adoption Policy (CAP)