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October 2016

October 31, 2016. Don't Trick or Treat for UNICEF. Every year we write this column, asking families not to trick or treat for UNICEF or to otherwise financially support this organization. UNICEF has been an opponent of international adoption for decades. While UNICEF officials may pay lip service to their tepid support of IA, the truth is that on the ground and in the halls of government UNICEF has worked to end International Adoption as a viable option for unparented children. Given the respected position UNICEF has created for itself, in part through the good works it has done, UNICEF's attitude and actions towards IA have been markedly influential.

October 27, 2016. Why Congress Desperately Needs to Pass the Child Citizenship Act (CCA). Until 2000, international adoptees were not granted automatic citizenship; since then most are. But the law enacted was not retroactive which left many adults, whose parents, either through ignorance, erroneous information or reprehensible behavior, failed to naturalize their children, without U.S. citizenship. These adoptees are subject to deportation under circumstances that never apply to U.S. citizens. We as a society must rectify this situation for children who really are paying for the sins of adults. To read the case of Adam Crasper, a 37 year old who has received his deportation order back to Korea, which he left at age 3, please click here.

October 26, 2016. Truth In Websites. We notice that some adoption service providers have websites which promote international adoption in countries which either have closed or suspended programs. We urge all ASPs to regularly monitor both their home pages and their linked pages and to remove misleading information. For example, we have seen home pages promote adoption from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a country which has had a blocked international adoption program since 2013 and about which the Department of State has warned prospective adoptive parents. We are sure that no agency wants to be accused of using false advertising techniques.

October 25, 2016. Government and Other Notices: Haiti. The Department of State has been notified by the Haitian government that Haitian passport processing is currently delayed. In order to lessen the problems this might cause for adopting families, DOS has made the following announcement: "As of September 22, 2016, the USCIS Field Office and U.S. Embassy Consular Section in Port-au-Prince will accept and adjudicate adoption dossiers for Forms I-600 and I-800, even if the child's Haitian passport is not yet available. For I-600s, USCIS will forward the approved dossiers to the Consular Section for IR3/IR4 visa processing. For I-800s, families must first complete the adoption process and obtain an Article 23 letter from l'Institut du Bien-Etre Social et de Recherches (IBESR). Families may then schedule their IH3/IH4 visa interview at U.S. Embassy Port-au-Prince. Following the visa interview, for both I-600s and I-800s, families should provide the child's Haitian passport to the Consular Section Adoption Unit as soon as possible for final adjudication." More Information.

October 24, 2016. USCIS Fees Will Drastically Rise, Effective December 23, 2016. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which processes all immigration petitions such as citizenship petitions, adoption forms I-600/A and I-800/A, is drastically raising its fees. USCIS states this is necessary to cover its costs and that it has not raised fees for six years. Furthermore, by law USCIS must be self- supporting. While the weighted average fee will rise by 21 percent, some fees, such as the N-600 K, will double. More Information.

October 20, 2016. Government and Other Notices: Poland. The Department of State has passed on the following warning of adoption processing delays from Poland: "U. S. Embassy in Warsaw reports delays in the processing and approval of intercountry adoption cases by the Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Policy, Poland's Central Authority under the Hague Adoption Convention. The process is currently taking approximately 60-90 days to receive approval to finalize the cases in Polish court. This is due in part to a re-organization within the Ministry. The U.S. Embassy is closely monitoring the situation." More Information.

October 19, 2016. A Very Complex Case Tests New York's Expanded Defintion of Parenthood. In August, the New York Court of Appeals (the state's highest court) handed down a decision in the Matter of Brooke S.B. which held that that "'where a petitioner proves by clear and convincing evidence that he or she has agreed with the biological parent of the child to conceive and raise the child as co-parents, the petitioner has presented sufficient evidence to achieve standing to seek custody and visitation of the child." Now a new casež involving a child adopted from Ethiopia is testing the meaning of the Brooke S. B. ruling. The issue presented is whether a person, whose relationship with adoptive parent had ended prior to the time of adoption can claim standing as a co-parent by virtue of her frequent care of the child and her commitment to co-parent. Presiding Justice Frank P. Nervo has drafted these questions for the lawyers in the case: "How formalized was the relationship between Ms. Gunn and Abush [the child] ? What did he think Ms. Gunn's role was? Did Ms. Gunn assume the duties of a parent? What would be the impact on Abush if their relationship ended?" We look forward to the ruling. More Information.

October 18, 2016. New Surrogacy Bill Proposed For Ontario. Canada regulates surrogacy by province, and Ontario legislators are considering a new bill on surrogacy. The All Families Are Equal Act (Bill 28) is intended to end discrimination in surrogacy practices but, according to Toronto lawyer Sara Cohen, who specializes in assisted reproductive technology law, the bill is seriously flawed. Among other things, it does not distinguish between traditional and gestational surrogacy, it gives the surrogate seven days to change her mind after birth, and eliminates judicial overview of surrogacy. More Information.

October 17, 2016. How To Help Endangered Children. The death of six year old Zymere Perkins last month, who had been under the supervision on New York's Administration for Children's Services, has led to the same question being asked as happens each times a child dies in these circumstances. "What can we do better?" Professor Richard Gelles, of the University of Pennsylvania has come up with a surprising answer: Big Data. In a new book, to be published next year, Gelles lays out three top problems: agencies are confused as to who their clients are. Their clients are the children, not the parents. Second, too much information is not shared among agencies. Finally, there is no evidence that more caseworkers or harsher punishment of abusive parents works. What Gelles points to as a possible solution is algorithms-big data. In a test analysis last year, computer algorithms were able to pick up children in danger 90 percent of the time. That was enough to convince Los Angeles county to try this model. More Information.

October 13, 2016. Adoption Rights for Married Same- Sex Couples is Affirmed by New York Court Decision. A New York family court last week ruled that married lesbian couples could still file for second-parent adoptions, even though the fact of their marriage would seem to render second parent adoptions unnecessary. As Susan Sommer, National Director of Constituional Litigation at Lambda Legal explains, "So long as uncertainty persists in this country and abroad about the status of children conceived by same-sex couples using assisted reproduction, children's best interests are served through second parent adoptions confirming what already should be crystal clear everywhere: the legal parental status of the second non-biological parent. Children have a right to both of their parents, and taking a 'belt and suspenders' approach is the best way to secure that right. As this decision confirms, the courts have the authority and responsibility to issue second parent adoptions for children in these families." More information.

October 12, 2016. Israeli Ruling on Assisted Reproductive Technology. One of the most contentious aspects of assisted reproductive technology is the question of who, other than the donor, has rights to preserved sperm, eggs or embryos. For the first time, an Israeli court has ruled in favor of parents who wish to use the sperm of their deceased young son, which was retrieved at the time of his death, to help conceive a child. The parents plan to use a donor egg and hire a gestational surrogate to carry a child. The parents then will raise the child. Prior to this ruling, Israeli courts had reserved the right to so use sperm to the spouse of the decedent. More Information.

October 11, 2016. Warnings About the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopa. Due to civil unrest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia, the Department of State has posted warnings about travel to and from each country. Furthermore, DOS has alerted prospective adoptive parents that adoption processing may be affected in the DRC. DOS urges PAPs in the DRC to to work with their adoption service provider and representatives in country to develop plans for the protection of their children." PAPs should monitor DOS and U.S. Embassy websites as well. More Information.

Center for Adoption Policy (CAP)
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