October 29, 2015. China Ends One-Child Policy. The Chinese Communist Party leadership committee announced today that it was ending the one-child policy, enacted in 1980, and permitting all families to have two children. The one-child policy led to a drastic decrease in the rate of China's population growth, a large gender disparity with many more boys than girls being born, and the abandonment of female infants and children, some of whom were adopted internationally. The abandonment of China's non-special needs international adoption program and the easing of the one-child policy in 2013 portended today's major announcement. More Information.
October 28, 2015. Renaming Adopted Children and Haitian Regulations. Our attention was drawn to an online discussion on the subject of renaming adopted children. In this connection it was ironic that during the Department of State discussion last week about Haitian adoption procedures, we were informed that the Haitian government has now made it mandatory for adoptive parents to change their child's name from the child's Haitian name. More Information.
October 27, 2015. Department of State Adoptions' Unit Has a New Email Address. The Department of State announced during its stakeholders' teleconference last week that it has a new email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. It is attempting to phase out all previous addresses and asks that everyone use this address for questions and comments. Please also remember that generally DOS cannot answer questions about individual cases without privacy act waivers.
October 26, 2015. TV Report on Justin Harris "rehoming" case Tells Only a Bit About this Tragic Case. ABC's 20/20 covered the infamous Justin Harris story last week. Harris is the Arkansas state legislator who, with his wife, adopted three girls from foster care and then "rehomed" two of them with a pedophile former employee of Mrs. Harris' day care center who abused the older girl. The ABC story portrayed the Harris family more sympathetically than would seem possible and glossed over or omitted the most damning facts. One of these is that in this case the system tried to work. Both the social worker and the foster parents of the two younger girls strongly objected to the Harris' request to adopt the children. These experienced individuals who knew the children understood that at best, the Harris' were ill-equipped and the wrong people to have custody of these traumatized children. Yet the Harris family prevailed. Why? The 20/20 episode does not discuss this question. A cogent explanation is given by the Arkansas Times, which has covered this story from the beginning: "Rep. Justin Harris had direct influence over the DCFS [Department of Children and Family Services] budget, and emails show that on at least one occasion he flexed his legislative muscle by holding up funding for the division." More Information.
October 21, 2105. DOS Schedules Conference Call Concerning Haitian Adoptions. The Department of State and USCIS will be holding a conference call on Friday, October 23, 2015 to discuss the meetings which recently occurred between Haitian and U.S. representatives regarding the need for U.S. families to obtain plenary rather than simple adoptions in order to complete a Hague compliant international adoption from Haiti. On Friday, October 23, U.S. officials will discuss these recent meetings as well as the conversion process for simple to plenary adoptions and IBESR case processing. Information on how to join the Haiti Teleconference may be found be here.
October 20, 2015. Adoptive Family Relief Act Becomes Law. Last week President Obama signed into law the Adoptive Family Relief Act. This law waives immigrant visa renewal or replacement fees incurred in the process of adopting a child who had been lawfully adopted or was coming to the U.S. in order to be adopted if: "the child was unable to use the original immigrant visa during the period of its validity as a direct result of extraordinary circumstances, including the denial of an exit permit; and such inability was attributable to factors beyond the control of the adopting parent or parents." This legislation will be of great benefit to the hundreds of adoptive families whose children remain in the Democratic Republic of the Congo despite the fact that they have been legally adopted by U.S. families. More Information.
October 19, 2105. A Fascinating Insight into Gay Adult Adoption. In the not-so-distant past, when gay marriage was unthinkable, a number of committed gay and lesbian couples created permanent, legal relationships using adoption statutes. Once one member of the couple adopted the other, both would have the rights of any parent and child which included medical and hospital privileges and inheritance rights. The cited article contains fascinating information on some of the couples who took this route to family creation, including noted civil rights leader Bayard Rustin. More Information.
October 15, 2015. Department of State Description of the Future of International Adoption. Last week the Department of State held a symposium for adoption service providers, "A Collaborative Future for Adoption." At the end of the symposium, DOS posted this summary on its website: "We found these discussions fruitful as we discussed strategies to increase coordination and cooperation in relation to intercountry adoption. The Department's goal is to strengthen our relationships and communication with the adoption community, and this symposium served as a starting place to pursue that goal. The Department believes intercountry adoption should be a viable option for children in each country, and working to ensure the adoption process is ethical, transparent, and in a child's best interests is a Department priority. We believe intercountry adoption can provide children the opportunity to grow up in a loving, protective, and permanent family environment when they cannot be cared for in their country of birth." We have nothing to add to this excellent statement. We look forward to seeing how DOS works to implement its pledge. More Information.
October 14, 2015. Massachusetts State Senate to Take Up Unauthorized Child Custody Transfer question. The Massachusetts State Senate will consider the practice informally known as "re-homing,"--the unauthorized transfer of a child. The proposed legislation would impose fines of from $5,000 to $25,000 for advertising children for unauthorized transfer and calls for prison sentences of up to 20 years for actually so placing a child. Of equal importance, the legislation would mandate that adoption service providers present prospective adoptive parents with the best available information on the child they are considering adopting and also provide post-placement services. More Information.
October 13, 2015. Joint Council's Closure: What Went Wrong? This past July the Joint Council on International Children's Services closed its doors. Joint Council was one of the key stakeholders devoted to improving the lives of children through international adoption and otherwise. Now its last Executive Director, Jennifer Mellon, has published an article giving her reasons for the sad demise of Joint Council. Mellon's chief reasons are: the lack of support from adult adoptees and the failure of Joint Council to do more to help adoption service providers cope with the rapid decline in international adoptions, from 22,375 in 2005 to 6441 last year. The full article may be found by clicking here.
October 12, 2015. Abducted Argentine "Adoptees" and Their Legacy Connects to International Adoption. The military dictatorship that ruled Argentina from 1976-1983 was responsible for the forcible kidnapping and adoption of hundreds of children born to the political dissidents the regime illegally murdered. Thanks, in great part, to the courage and persistence of the Mothers and Grandmothers of the Plazo de Mayo who fought to discover the whereabouts of the children and grandchildren, 117 of the "adopted children" have been reunited with their birth families. We stress that these children were not "adopted" but stolen. But their fate contributed to current international adoption policy as New York Time special report states: "In part because of the Argentine experience, international accords now recognize certain fundamental human rights. The Convention on the Rights of the Child, approved by the United Nations General Assembly in 1989, asserts that nations must "respect the right of the child to preserve his or her identity," a requirement that extends to one's name and family relationships." More Information.
October 8, 2015. Zambia Becomes a Hague Country. The Government of Zambia has announced that the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption became effective in Zambia on October 1, 2015. Therefore, all intercountry adoptions between the United States and Zambia must meet Hague and U.S. law requirements. In particular, do not finalize an adoption or obtain legal custody of a child in Zambia before a U.S. consular officer issues an "Article 5 Letter." DOS is also warning U.S. parents that the implementation of Hague procedures may cause greater delays in Zambian adoptions. In 2014 8 Zambian children were adopted by U.S. parents; the year before 5 children came to the United States. More Information.
October 7, 2015. Government and Other Notices: Cote d'Ivoire. The Department of State has announced that the Hague Convention for Intercountry Adoption became effective in Cote d'Ivoire as of October 1. However as Cote d'Ivoire is still developing its Hague adoption procedures, DOS will process any adoption from Cote d'Ivoire on a case by case basis. Two important points: first, "prospective adoptive families should not finalize any adoption until they have received permission from both the Ivoirian Central Authority and the U.S. Central Authority to proceed with the adoption process in the court." The second point is that the U.S. government will only consider "plenary" adoptions as suitable for U.S. immigration purposes. Therefore, prospective adoptive parents must ensure that the judge does not grant them a "simple" adoptions. This distinction, now also applicable in Haiti, is causing on-going and heartbreaking delays in Haitian adoptions. More Information.
October 6, 2015. Government and Other Notices: DRC Exit Permit Suspension Remains in Effect. The Department of State has announced that the Democratic Republic of the Congo's suspension of exit permits for internationally adopted Congolese children remains in full force. DOS warns U.S. citizens that they "are subject to all laws and regulations in the country in which they are traveling or residing. Any information concerning such efforts could potentially become the subject of law enforcement investigation. Further, U.S. adoptive families of Congolese children are cautioned that attempting to circumvent the exit permit suspension could have severe implications. These implications include placing adopted children and individuals helping children leave in serious harm's way, jeopardizing the validity of the adoption, the possible arrest of parents in the birth country, and potential restriction of parents' ability to visit their adopted children." More Information.
October 5, 2015. Good News for Foster Children. The Annie E. Casey Foundation, one of the leading supporters of family-centered research, reports that since 2000, the number of children waiting to be adopted from foster care has declined by 20 percent and the number of children who wait more than three years to be adopted from foster care has declined by over 30 percent. The improvements have, in part, been ascribed to better monitoring from child service agencies and new strategies of permanence. More Information.
October 1, 2015. And So A New Federal Fiscal Year Begins. The federal government compiles its statistics by its fiscal year which runs from October 1 to September 30. That means for the purpose of international adoption statistics, 2015 has ended. We are all interested in how many children came to the United States this year. In FY 2014, there were 6,441 adoptions to the United States, the lowest figure in decades. Will even fewer children have come home this year? We will have to wait sometime in March to find out.
Center for Adoption Policy (CAP)