December 17, 2015. U.S. Supreme Court Issues Emergency Order in Parental Rights Case. The Alabama Supreme Court has refused to recognize the Georgia adoption by V.L., the non-biological mother, of the three children she and her partner, the biological mother E.L. had raised from birth. The Supreme Court this week issued an emergency order allowing V.L. visitation rights to the children. V.L. has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the Alabama Court ruling. A number of organizations, including CAP, have signed amici briefs supporting V.L.'s petition, both on full faith and credit grounds as well as the right of children to have final parentage determinations. This case may directly concern a lesbian couple but if allowed to stand will undermine the rights of all families created by adoption. More Information.
December 16, 2015. Chinese Orphanages Will No Longer Give Abandoned Children Orphanage Names. For over a decade Chinese orphanages have given the children placed in their care orphanage last names, generally the first syllable of the county in which the orphanage is located or "Guo" which means the "State" or "Dang" which means "Party." This practice labeled and stigmatized the child as an orphan forever since the Chinese population share surnames which number in the hundreds. Moreover, women keep their surname whether or not they are married. Now the Ministry of Civil Affairs has announced that it will issue regulations banning this practice and thereby freeing unparented children from this discriminatory label. More Information.
December 15, 2015. Country Differs and Counties Differ on Adult Adoptee Access to Birth Records. During the second half of the twentieth century, most birth parent records were sealed to adoptees unless cumbersome consents were given and other procedures followed. In the last decade an adoptee rights' movement has taken shape. One of its chief goals is for all adult adoptees to have acesss to any of their records, whether or not birth parents consent. As this is a matter of state law, the response has varied greatly. The series of articles linked below reflects the current situation in Missouri. More Information.
December 14, 2015. Russian Ban on International Adoption Into Its Third Year. This week marks the second anniversary of the Russian ban on international adoption to the United States. While Russian domestic adoption has increased since that time, hundreds of thousands of unparented Russian children languish in orphanages. Courageous Russian film makers have produced an excellent documentary on the passage of the adoption ban and the toll it has taken on the most vulnerable children. The documentary is called Children of the State and you can find out how to rent or buy it here: childrenofthestate.net
December 10, 2015. China to Allow Invisible People to Become Legalized. One of the ways the Chinese government has tightly controlled its population is by requiring the "hukou" registration. Without a hukou it is not possible to go to school, to get a regular job or even to buy a train or plane ticket. However, millions of unregistered people have hidden from the system. These include extra children, born in contravention of the one-child policy as well as homeless people or those who have left their villages for urban settings without getting official permission. Now the Chinese government has announced that it will allow these unregistered people to obtain the necessary hukou, the government stating that "It is a basic legal right for citizens to lawfully register for hukou," the statement said. "It is also a premise for citizens to participate in social affairs, enjoy rights and fulfill duties. . .We will deal with and protect every citizen's rights to permanent hukou registration according to the law." Besides benefitting each person, this new policy will inject an estimated 13 million people into the work and consumption economy. More Information.
December 9, 2015. Texas Foster Care Ruling May Be Imminent. A year ago a federal district court heard evidence that Texas Child Protective Services violated Texas' foster children civil rights. Lawyers for both sides expect a ruling soon. This class action lawsuit was brought by Children's Rights, Inc., a New York based NGO, on behalf of foster care children in Texas and makes the argument that Texas' over-burdened case workers cannot provide adequate services for children who, additionally, are relocated too far from family. This case has ramifications which reach far beyond Texas' borders. More Information.
December 8, 2015. New Kentucky Case to Try Decide Who Is a "Parent." Nine Years ago two lesbian partners decided to have a child. The child was conceived by the biological mom with the assistance of sperm donor. The other "mother" was called "nommy" by the child, and has nommy's middle and last name. All three lived together until 2011, when the girl was four and the women ended their relationship. The biological mom married a man who is now trying to adopt the girl. "Nommy" has petitioned the Kentucky Supreme Court to block the adoption. This case does not fit inside any neat box or legal rubric. It is one of the spate of cases coming before courts in the wake of last year's Supreme Court decision. The Kentucky Supreme Court hearing is on Thursday. More Information.
December 7, 2015. Growing Number of Marshall Island Women Making Adoption Plans in Northwest Arkansas Raises Concerns. Citizens of the Marshall Islands have an unrestricted right to travel in the United States. The largest concentration of Marshall Islands' citizens live in Northwest Arkansas. Increasingly cases involving Marshallese birth mothers have dominated family courts in this region. Washington County Circuit Judge Doug Martin was worried enough about this trend that he met with state legislators several months ago to discuss the issue. "I didn't have a single Marshallese adoption" in 2009-10, Martin said. "I spent two years working in Little Rock, and when I returned in 2013, all of a sudden about 90 percent of those adoptions were Marshallese." Attorney Marsha Woodfruff from Fayetteville stated that she didn't see any Marshallese birth moms for the first 25 years of her adoption practice but now 75 percent of her cases involve Marshallese babies. Both Martin and Woodruff worry that the birth mothers may have been coerced or misled into thinking that U.S. adoption was equivilent to the foster care arrangements that are common in their home country rather than the full severing of all ties that is U.S. adoption. More Information.
December 3, 2015. Vietnamese Government Takes Steps to Connect Adopted Vietnamese Children With Homeland. Vietnam's Minister of Justice has approved a multi-layered initiative which will serve to connect children adopted from Vietnam with their birth country. The first project, a homeland trip for Vietnamese children adopted by French parents, will take place in August, 2016. Another part of the of the project is creating a data base of Vietnamese foreign adoptees and their birth parents. This data base will preserve the records, currently existing only on paper, and make it easier for adoptees to search for their birth parents. Yet another milestone in the growing transparency of international adoption. More Information.
December 2, 2015. Government and Other Notices: Colombia. On November 4, 2015 Colombia's Constitutional Court ruled in favor of permitting adoptions by gay potential parents. In response, the Department of State has contacted Colombia's Central Adoption Authority, Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar (ICBF), to find out how this ruling affects U.S. potential adoptive parents. Up to now, U.S. gay and lesbian PAPs have not been permitted to adopt from Colombia. More Information.
December 1, 2015. International Birth Family Search and Reunion. Twenty years ago, the notion of international birth parent search and reunion seemed out of the question. But the development of the internet and smart phones, combined with changing conditions in sending and receiving countries, has led to growing numbers of international adoptees interested in searching for and connecting with foreign born birth parents. This article by international adoptee and adoption agency executive Susan Soonkeum Cox provides an excellent starting place for adoptees and their parents interested in learning more about the process. To read the article, please click here.
Center for Adoption Policy (CAP)