March 31, 2015. India Tries To Reform Adoption System. In a country with an estimated 20 million orphans, India recorded only 2,500 domestic adoptions last year, as compared with 5,700 four years ago. International adoptions declined during the same time from 628 to 271. Now Indian officials are trying to shorten the time domestic adoptions take. Maneka Gandhi, Minister for Women and Child Development "wants to overhaul the system so it takes not more than four months to adopt," not the three or four year period currently required. Gandhi makes a very interesting point: "Earlier, the attitude was if a child got adopted before four years, there must have been something wrong, So they would look for ways to make the rules tighter." We have seen this phenomenon in country after country: ease of process equals assumption of corruption. India is not likely however, to increase foreign adoptions; earlier this month a Parliamentary panel quashed a government attempt to boost international adoptions. More Information.
March 30, 2015. Investigative Article Highlights Major Foster Care Problems. The Minneapolis Star Tribune recently published an investigative report describing frightening problems in Minnesota's foster care system. According to the report, "...that too many abused foster children in Minnesota are returned to their parents too quickly, suffer more maltreatment and end up back in foster care." In 2013, the state failed to meet seven out of the 15 federal standards for acceptable foster care. The problems are only going to increase because the Governor's child protection task force has recommended that children be removed faster from abusive homes while at the same time the number of foster parents is declining. More Information.
March 26, 2015. Disruption: Three Things for Parents To Consider. Amy Flynn Eldridge of Love Without Boundaries Foundation has written an excellent post about adoption disruption. Her three key things for potential adoptive parents to do are: First, "it is essential to talk through every possible scenario you can think of with your family, so you aren't surprised when you get to China," second, "don't ever leave for China without a list of at least three trusted people you can call and be totally honest with after receiving your child," and finally, "don't blame the child online if you disrupt." This advice is in accord with CAP recommendations. To read the entire post please click here.
March 25, 2015. How to Help International Adoption Remain U.S. Government Policy. Congress is currently working on the 2016 Fiscal Year appropriations requests for the Department of State. These requests give Members of Congress an important and quick opportunity to support of children without families. We are part of a group of stakeholders urging Members of the House of Representatives to co-sign Representative Franks' letter which states that "In light of the drastic decrease in the numbers of international adoptions to the US, and ongoing "shutdowns" of ICA programs, including most recently with Russia and the DRC, ...[Congressional] report language urging the State Department to streamline and strengthen our intercountry adoption programs and process, and consider every child as having a fundamental right to a permanent family" should be included in the DOS appropriations legislation. So please write to your Congressional Representative and ask him to sign this letter by contacting Jozsef.Rostas@mail.house.gov. We would also suggest contacting your Senators to make the same request.
March 24, 2015. Significant Number of Formerly Sealed Ohio Adoption Records To Be Unsealed. A law passed in 2013 but only going into effect on Friday, March 27, 2015 will permit adoptees from the state of Ohio to search for their adoption records created between January 1, 1964 and September 18, 1996. However, records can remain sealed if the affected party has made request to keep the records sealed prior to March 27, 2015. The Ohio unsealing of birth certificates and adoption papers is part of a growing national trend to allow adoptees access to information. More Information.
March 23, 2015. Why Russians Abandon Physically or Mentally Disabled Children. A chilling article explain the high rate of Russian abandonment of physically or mentally disabled children. Doctors routinely tell mothers immediately after delivery that their child is hopelessly disabled and that they would be better off neither to see the child nor to raise the child. Moreover, if the parent refuses to listen, getting care for the child later is very difficult. If the child is abandoned to the state, the child has no practical chance to be adopted since Russians do not domestically adopt disabled children and the foreign adoption possibilities have dwindled drastically in the last two years, since Russia stopped adoption to the United States. Ksenia Alferova, the co- founder of a non-profit working with disabled children's issues adds. "In 2013, the number of abortions in Russia increased by 130% compared with 2012 - because of prenatal screenings. Parents trust doctors absolutely." More Information.
March 19, 2015. Government and Other Notices: New USCIS Orphan Forms. USCIS has asked us to distribute this notice: "We wanted to send you a friendly reminder to please help us get out the word about our new orphan forms (dated 2/1/15). Old orphan forms will be rejected starting next week (Monday, 3/23/15). Thus far, only about 27% of Form I-600 filers and 50% of Form I-600A filers are using the new forms. We are seeking your help to spread the word so we can mitigate the risk of high reject rates and delays, especially for families in which time is of the essence and for those who need to properly file before a child ages out."
March 18, 2015. Moscow Region Considers Introducing Baby Boxes. The Moscow government, concerned over the rising number of deaths of abandoned newborns, is considering introducing anonymous baby box safe havens. Between 2010 and 2013, the Russian Interior Ministry states, 532 infanticides has occurred but NGOs believe that the true number is far higher. The organization Cradle of Hope introduced the first baby hatch in a Russian hospital four years ago; they now exist in 11 Russian regions. More Information.
March 17, 2015. "Human Trafficking: What Child Welfare Workers Should Know". We have come upon a very valuable guide to human trafficking issues, meant to alert child welfare workers and all other professionals who come into contact with children about the human slavery of our time. Examples of human trafficking include children forced into underage working without any or little pay or a girl who runs away with her boyfriend who then forces her into prostitution. Trafficked children do not necessarily have to be transported to be classed as trafficking victims. Homeless teenagers, of whom there are over 300,000 in the United States, are particularly at risk. The linked document explains to child welfare workers what signs to look for in dealing with child trafficking and what to do to help victims. See document.
March 16, 2015. Government and Other Notices: Kenya. In November 2014, Kenya declared a moratorium on new international adoptions in November 2014. Now the Department of State reports that the Kenyan government has announced the "establishment and appointment of an Expert Committee to review and develop a detailed policy and legal framework to regulate and manage child adoptions in Kenya." The Expert Committee will review domestic and international adoption procedures. It is also empowered to "review and make decisions on all applications for resident and inter country adoptions that had been initiated before the issuance of the moratorium." More Information.
March 12, 2015. Older Adoptees Need Citizenship Protection Too. The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 now grants automatic U.S. citizenship to most internationally adopted children of U.S. citizen parents. However, the CCA does not apply retroactively so its provisions do not extend to children who were over 18 on February 27, 2001. Most of these children's adoptive parents properly naturalized their children. There are some adoptees, who are now adults, whose adoptive parents did not file the paperwork to make their children citizens. Worse for these adoptees, in many cases the adoptive parents who did not finish the paperwork were abusive parents. Because of the provisions of the 1996 Immigration Reform Act, anyone convicted of a felony can be automatically deported. The terrible effect of these circumstances is currently seen in the case of Adam Crasper. Adam was adopted from Korea. His first adoptive family disrupted the placement and gave him to Social Services. His second adoptive family sexually abused him. Adam did commit crimes for which he was sentenced and served his time. Now he is married, with three children and another one on the way. But the U.S. government is trying to deport him to South Korea, a country where he knows no one. Adam's deportation plight is not the result of anything he did but rather the failure of two sets of bad actor adoptive parents. He should not pay for their sins any more than he already has. The CCA should be amended to apply retroactively. More Information.
March 11, 2015. Happy Ending. Last September former Pennsylvania prosecutor Douglas Barbour and his wife were sentenced for the endangering the welfare of their two Ethiopian adopted children, who were 6 and 18 months old when the Barbours were arrested in 2012. The story of Robert and Didi has a happy ending; they were adopted by the Patterson family, who had previously adopted a child from Ethiopia and a child from India, and found a loving home where they are thriving. One of Ali Patterson's insights is worth repeating to any parent adopting internationally or from foster care: "You can either struggle to change the child in ways that aren't necessary, or you can change the environment." More Information.
March 10, 2010. Arkansas Moves to Address Issue of Unregulated Child Custody Transfers. Two Arkansas legislators filed separate bills to address the issue of unregulated child custody Transfers (UCCT), often referred to (wrongly in our belief) as "rehoming." These bills have gained national attention in the wake of last week's revelations that Arkansas Representative Justin Harris and his wife Marsha had themselves through a UCCT moved two children they had adopted into the home of man who was later convicted of sexually abusing them. More Information.
March 9, 2015. USCIS Unrolls New I-600 A Form. Last month USCIS released its new version of the I-600A form. This form is filed by prospective adoptive parents seeking to adopt a child from a non-Hague country. The new edition is dated February 1, 2015. As of March 23, 2015, USCIS will only accept this edition for processing. We are proud to say that USCIS included our proposal to include a question (#22) which relates to Unregulated Child Custody Transfers (also known as "rehoming). More Information.
March 5, 2015. Baby Boxes. The recently released movie Drop Box has highlighted the use in South Korea and China of anonymous safe havens for abandoned babies. We came across this 2012 article entitled "Spread of 'baby boxes in Europe Alarms United Nations." However UN officials argue that "baby hatches violate key parts of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) which says children must be able to identify their parents and even if separated from them the state has a 'duty to respect the child's right to maintain personal relations with his or her parent.'" We only wish that UN officials were equally welcoming of the right of an unparented child to have a permanent, loving family, wherever that family might be found. More Information.
March 4, 2015. Cambodia to Re-Open its International Adoption Program. The Cambodian Ministry of Social Affairs stated on Tuesday that it "has now opened for duly registered Adoption Agencies in partner countries to apply...for authorization for them to operate inter-country adoption in the Kingdom of Cambodia." Cambodia had closed its IA program in 2011 amidst allegations of corruption. The Ministry has invited interested countries to apply to be part of this new program, which initially will be a small special needs program. The Italian government has already signed an agreement with the Cambodian government and a delegation is arriving in Phnom Penh in April to take the next steps in this process. We look forward to hearing from our Department of State as to the status of U.S. government talks with Cambodia. More Information.
March 3, 2015. For-Profit Foster Care Companies Accused of Improper Regulation and Supervision. While privatization of military services and prisons is well-documented, the growth of privately-run foster care has been far less noticeable. Kansas and Florida now only use private foster care agencies while in Texas 90 percent of foster care is in private hands. Critics allege that much of the private supervision is substandard. One agency in California, (foster care 25 percent privatized) for example, cares for 70 children but has amassed more than 190 violations since 2009. However, the comparable statistics for publically supervised foster care are not readily available. More Information.
March 2, 2015. Department of Justice Admits It Did Not Understand U.S. Citizenship Law. The Department of Justice recently admitted that it misunderstood how "derivative citizenship" works from 2008 until 2015. Briefly, under many circumstances, if a parent becomes a U.S. citizen while her children are under 18, the children become U.S. citizens automatically. By failing to properly apply this rule, DOJ may have wrongly deported U.S. citizens. We urge anyone involved in such a case to look at the DOJ statements to see if the now corrected interpretation applies. More Information.
Center for Adoption Policy (CAP)