March 23, 2016. Book Shelf: One Child: The Story of China's Most Radical Experiment. Author Mei Fong has written a very important book about China's "one child" policy: One Child: The Story of China's Most Radical Experiment. She discusses the reasons for the policy, its effect on China's people and what the policy, now officially being modified, means for the future of China. Mei Fong's book is unusual in the scope of its coverage and the range of people who were willing to speak that she includes. U.S. parents who adopted children from China will be especially interested in what Mei Fong discusses. More Information.
March 22, 1016. ICWA Strikes Again. Once again, the long arm of a law, in this case, the Indian Child Welfare Act, has snatched a helpless child from a loving family. Six year old Lexi was removed from her birth parents at 17 months; her mother had serious drug problems and her birth father had an extensive criminal record. Since she was two, she has lived with the Page family, who wish to adopt her. The California court ruled that because she is 1/64 th Choctaw, she cannot be adopted by the Page family but must instead go to biological relatives of her father in Utah, in accordance with Choctaw approval. In its decision, the court said, "the Page family 'had not proven by clear and convincing evidence that it was a certainty the child would suffer emotional harm by the transfer.'" The true certainty here is that the best interests of an individual child were ignored in favor of righting a national wrong decades old. More Information.
March 21, 2016. Get to Know CCAI. As it describes itself, The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to raising awareness about the millions of children around the world in need of permanent, safe, and loving homes and to eliminating the barriers that hinder these children from realizing their basic right of a family." CCAI is a major liaison between Congress and members of the adoption and foster care community. Its Angels in Adoption and National Adoption Day programs, among others, are well known. To find out what else CCAI does and to see its new website, please click here.
March 17, 2016. Foster Care Devastates Children's Schooling. Although birth family issues may create the necessity for a child to be placed in foster care, the damage to a child's education that results is heartbreaking. According to one study, "only 50 percent of the 400,000 foster care children in the United States complete high school by age 18. . . by the time they age out of the system, over one third will have experienced five or more school moves." Each moves costs a child around half a year of educational progress which means that the education deficit keeps growing. For children who have already lost so much, it is tragic that the ability to access education is damaged as well. More Information.
March 16, 2016. Bookshelf: New Book on International Adoption. Susan Silverman has written, Casting Lots: Creating a Family in a Beautiful. Broken World. Silverman, an Israeli-American rabbi, has three biological children and two children adopted from Ethiopia. It is a funny book as well as an inspiring and important book and should be read by anyone interested in the rights of the best interests of the individual child. We are seeing a growing bibliography of books on international adoption. Some are scholarly works, others are books written by adoptive parents. Given that the Post-Cold War era of international adoption began in 1990, we expect that soon adoptees will add to this growing literature.
March 15, 2016. Ohio Domestic Adoptees Celebrate One Year of Open Records. One year ago a law went into effect in Ohio that opened up birth records to most adopttees whose adoptions had been finalized in Ohio between 1964 and 1996. (Records before 1964 were already available; records after 1996 were seldom sealed.) As of March 5, 2016, Ohio's Department of Health had answered 7, 284 requests for adoption records. Adoptees, their birth families and adoptive families report that the availability of records has been a wonderful thing; as one birth father put it: "Being able to meet Allison is the best thing that's ever happened to me. . . She's got a little room for me in her life, so I'm tickled to death." More Information.
March 14, 2016. Fiscal Year Clarification for DOS Haitian Adoption Alert. Last week we posted about the quota for intercountry adoptions from Haiti, which is determined for each Haitian government fiscal year. We have contacted the Department of State and can confirm that the Haitian government fiscal year is the same as the U.S. government fiscal year, running from October 1 through September 30.
March 10, 2016. Critical Update on Haiti Adoptions. The Department of State, having returned from meetings with Haitian officials, is holding a series of telephone calls with interested parties on new procedures and interpretations of existing procedures for intercountry adoption from Haiti. In addition, DOS alerts prospective adoptive parents and adoption service providers to various crucial factors which may affect PAPs. One topic is transition cases, on which the new DOS alert contains crucial information. A second factor to bear in mind is that ASP Haitian authorizations to work in Haiti expire in September 2016. IBESR, the Haitian Central Authority, is planning to issue an invitation for new applications in April. Only 18 U.S. agencies will be authorized to operate in Haiti; there is no guaranty that these will be the same ones currently working in Haiti. Finally, IBESR has informed DOS that its quota on Hague adoptions will be strictly enforced as of October 1, 2016. The quota limits each agency to no more than 22 adoptions (a formula of NSN, special needs and relative adoptions) in each fiscal year for a total of 396 adoptions each year. In the words of DOS, "The Department and USCIS caution PAPs who have already submitted or are planning to submit Form I-800A applications seeking to adopt from Haiti that the quota may result in delays of months or longer in dossiers/applications being submitted to IBESR." To read the DOS alert, please click here.
March 9, 2016 Yet Another Example of Why We Need the Adoptee Citizenship Act, S. 2275. Susan Hill was adopted from Columbia as part of a sibling group by Caleb and Gary Hill in 1989. The parents delayed finalizing the adoptions until 1995 and then only finalized the adoptions of the other four siblings, not Susan's. She had been having some issues and was living with family friends. In 1995 the other four siblings also became citizens. Susan had a troubled youth and lived in group homes as well as back with the Hills, who finally adopted her in 2008, when she was 24 but they never obtained citizenship for Susan. As the Hills said, "It was not really on our minds "It was not top priority. We did not feel like it was a necessity immediately to have naturalized those children." Unfortunately Susan was arrested after driving without a license and when she gave her sister's name to the police instead of her own, she escalated the severity of her offense to one that calls for mandatory deportation. She was sent to Colombia in 2011. Her brother Jacob is still trying to find a way to bring her back home to live here legally. Please work for S. 2275 which will help Susan and others like her. More Information.
March 8, 2016. Clarification Begins on the New Uganda International Adoption Process. As we noted last week, Uganda has substantially changed its process for international adoption, imposing what appears to be significant limitations. The Department of State is beginning to clarify what these changes means for U.S. adoptive parents, issuing adoption alerts on March 3 and March 4. Ugandan PAPs should read these alerts, speak to their adoption service provider and also be aware that the process for international adoption from Uganda is not at all certain and that more changes are sure to follow. PAPs who have not yet begun to work on an adoption from Uganda should think very carefully about beginning such a process now. More Information.
March 7, 2016. Supreme Court Unanimously Recognizes Gay Parents' Rights. Today, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in the case of V.L. v E.L. et al. that the Alabama Supreme Court could not refuse to recognize a same-sex adoption which had been granted by Georgia. The Court based its decision on the Full Faith and Credit clause of the U.S. Constitution which mandates that each tate recognize the court judgments of the other. We applaud the Supreme Court's decision. CAP was an amici on this case. More Information.
March 3, 2016. Government and Other Notices: Uganda. The Ugandan Parliament has passed the Children's Amendment Bill 2015 and it appears to be the law. One of its provisions limits legal guardianship of Ugandan children to Ugandan citizens. Some commentators have interpreted this law as banning international adoption from Uganda. Because the Department of State is currently updating its Uganda web page, we were unable to learn more details about the effects of the new law. Clearly, any prospective adoptive parent interested in Uganda should make sure that he or she is fully and accurately apprised of this situation. More Information.
March 2, 2016. Human Rights Commitments and Pledges of the United States. The United States is running for election to the UN Human Rights Council (HRC). As part of its campaign, the Department of State issued a statement outlining the U.S. governments human rights commitments and pledges. While the four page statement mentioned many laudable goals, what struck us was the absence of a commitment to work for the rights of children, who are never in a position to negotiate on their own behalf. To read the statement, please click here.
March 1, 2016. And Now It is March 2016. As this month begins, we await two important briefings from the Department of State. This first is the Fiscal Year 2015 Annual Report which will contain statistical information on adoption for last year--both the aggregate number of international adoptions and the state by state breakdown. We note that as the Federal Fiscal Year ended September 30, 2015, five months has elapsed since the end of FY 2015. The second briefing is long promised draft regulations with respect to pre-and post adoption services. We hope the wait is not too much longer.
Center for Adoption Policy (CAP)