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May 2017

May 31, 2017. Risks of Surrogacy. A recent story from the Netherlands illustrates one of the many risks of gestational surrogacy. A gay couple in the Netherlands found a gestational surrogate online. She agreed to carry a baby for them, using their sperm and her eggs. She gave birth to a healthy girl and the couple were elated. However everything changed when it was discovered through DNA testing that that the girl was the biological daughter of the surrogate's husband. The surrogate and her husband decided to keep their daughter, which they have every right to do. More Information.

May 30, 2017. Update on Ethiopian Adoption Suspension. On May 26, the Department of State issued an update on intercountry adoption suspension from Ethiopia last week that is a "must read" for all prospective adoptive parents who are involved in Ethiopia. As of that date, the Ethiopian Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs (MOWA) was set to reopen but only for the issuance of negative/denial letters. DOS also reports that the Prime Minister's office has been unresponsive to U.S. government requests for high level meetings. Of very great importance are the following two warnings. The first is that PAPs who have not yet committed to Ethiopia should carefully consider other countries. The future viability of adoption from Ethiopia is unknown at this time. PAPs already in process in Ethiopia must consider this second warning: "during the suspension of adoptions from Ethiopia, individuals in Ethiopia may approach prospective adoptive parents or adoption service providers offering to assist with their adoptions and/or obtain related documentation (such as birth certificates and passports). These individuals might not be employed by, or supervised by, a U.S. accredited adoption service provider. We would like to remind you that under the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA) and the Universal Accreditation Act of 2012 (UAA), any non-governmental agency or individual providing or facilitating adoption services in an intercountry adoption to the United States must in general be accredited, or supervised by an accredited U.S. agency. Individuals who provide adoption services in an intercountry adoption to the United States without being accredited, approved, supervised, or exempted may be subject to civil or criminal penalties. Any attempt by adoptive parents or adoption service providers to circumvent Ethiopia's process or regulations may result in dangerous situations for adoptive families and/or negatively impact the future of adoptions from Ethiopia, and may also result in delays in processing of your adoptive child's petition and/or immigrant visa." More Information.

May 25, 2017. Government and Other Notices: Adoption Service Provider Accreditation/Approval Expiration or Relinquishment. The Department of State, which is the U.S. Central Authority for International Adoption, has posted a list of adoption agencies which whose approval to perform primary services as an adoption provider has either lapsed or was relinquished. All potential adoptive parents should consult this list because these agencies may now only work in the field of adoption services if they do so with an accredited provider. To access the list, please click here.

May 24, 2017. Foster Parent Crisis As Drug Overdoses Increase. The combination of the availability of synthetic heroin and creation of closer monitoring of prescription drugs has caused an epidemic of opiod addiction which has, among other things, led to a nationwide-increase in the number of children needing foster care. The U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) believes "that the opioid crisis could exacerbate child abuse and neglect given that we're seeing a link nationally. State child welfare systems have reported that they are experiencing an increase in families coming to their attention with substance use problems impacting their ability to safely parent." In a time of decreasing budgets for health care and family services, children are ever more at risk. More Information.

May 22, 2017. Short Staffed State Department Hurts International Adoption. The Department of State is empty. Seven out of the nine senior State Department positions are vacant and the two that are filled are Obama holdovers. There are around 200 key DOS positions that remain unfilled. As Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) noted, "I think it's incumbent for the president and the administration to get people nominated and confirmed," Those of us who work in international adoption feel this situation keenly. The Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs position is vacant, the Special Advisor to the Secretary of State for Children's Issues leaves at the end of the month and is traveling during this month and last week, three other key people were on vacation. We literally have no one to speak to which makes working on issues such as the Ethiopian adoption suspension very difficult More Information.

May 18, 2017. The Political Situation in Ethiopia. The adoptive and potential adoptive parents with children in Ethiopia should be aware of the very negative political climate which exists in Ethiopia today. The Ethiopian government declared a state of martial law (which suspends many laws) in October and, in early April, extended the state of martial law for four more months, Ethiopia today has virtually no political freedom: the ruling coalition controls all the seats in Parliament, "there are virtually insuperable constraints on civil society and independent media, and anyone not actively supporting the government lives in fear of harassment and arbitrary detention. That during largely peaceful demonstrations last year, Ethiopian security forces killed more than 500 people serves as an example of what Ethiopians are facing. More Information.

May 17, 2017. DOS Gives Tragic News on Ethiopian Suspension: "Adoption Alert: Update on Suspension of Adoptions from Ethiopia:

"U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa has been informed that the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs (MOWA) will resume its processing of intercountry adoption cases, but that it will only issue denial letters. This will apply to all intercountry adoption cases, regardless of their stage in the process or the nationality of the adoptive parents. To date, the Ethiopian government has not provided the Office of Children's Issues or the Embassy any formal communication regarding the suspension of intercountry adoptions.

Additionally, the Prime Minister's Office is holding government-wide, minister-level meetings with various Ethiopian government ministries throughout the month of May. Due to those meetings, high-level officials in relevant ministries have been unresponsive to requests for meetings with U.S. government officials. The Office of Children's Issues and the Embassy will urge the Ethiopian government to release additional information following the conclusion of those meetings. We will also continue to urge the Ethiopian government to allow continued processing of cases that were in progress prior to the April 21 suspension.

The Department of State will continue to advocate for intercountry adoption from Ethiopia. However, given the uncertainty of the future of adoptions there, prospective adoptive parents should consider other countries. If you have questions about your pending case, please contact your Adoption Service Provider and continue to monitor adoption.state.gov for updated information on intercountry adoption in Ethiopia."

May 16, 2017 Texas House of Representatives Passes Discriminatory Adoption Agency Bill. The Texas State House of Representatives has passed a bill (94-51) which would permit adoption agencies which receive government funds to discriminate on any grounds whatsoever, including religion or sexual orientation. As many of the Texas agencies that receive state funding are Christian organizations, in practice that means that these agencies can deny services to Jews, Muslims, Gays, atheists, and anyone else they choose to exclude. According to the report quoted below, "National Adoption Council public policy vice president Megan Lestino told PBS it isn't illegal for faith-based agencies to discriminate, so long as there are other opportunities for non-Christians to adopt." We disagree. The bill needs one more step before it moves to the Texas State Senate. For More Information.

May 15, 2017. Today is Post Placement Day: Send in Those Reports! Most adoptive parents are required, by their agreement with their child's birth country, to send post-placement reports. Many parents do not fulfill this obligation. The failure to send these reports has a negative effect on international adoption. The Deparment of State has designated today as Post Adoption Report day with the goal of cutting the backlog of missing reports. Please take the time to read DOS's linked message, send in your reports and urge all the people you know to send in their reports. To reach the DOS post, please click here.

May 11, 2017. Potential Adoptive Parents Should Take Ethiopian Suspension Seriously. We hope that any potential adoptive parents who have not decided on a country from which to pursue an international adoption should understand the seriousness of the Ethiopian Suspension. The Prime Minister's office declared a world-wide suspension of intercountry adoption from Ethiopia on April 21, 2017. There has been little information as to what motivated this suspension or how long it will last. We observe that adoption service providers do not appear to be posting warnings about the troubling Ethiopian suspension on their Ethiopian pages. We believe that any potential adoptive parents who has not already joined an Ethiopian adoption program should read the Department of State Alert cited here.

May 10, 2017. Senator Todd Young Raises Ethiopian Question in Congress. Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, raised the issue of the Ethiopian adoption suspension during the confirmation hearings for John Sullivan, who has been nominated to be Deputy Secretary of State (the second highest position in the State Department.) Click here for the interchange.

May 9, 2017. Department of State Ethiopian Call Raises More Questions Than Answers. The Department of State, together with USCIS, held a conference call yesterday to discuss the Ethiopian government's suspension of international adoption. We were disappointed that Trish Maskew was not available to be on the phone as she is the New Chief of the Adoption Division and we were dismayed that neither DOS nor USCIS had much information to offer. From other sources, we understand that the suspension has left between 15 and 20 families who are the legal parents of Ethiopian children unable to bring their children home to the U.S. and around another 210 families in various stages of the process. As usual, it is the children. who suffer the most. If families have any other questions, they may contact us through this site.

May 8, 2017. Proposed Texas Law Would Permit State-Funded Adoption Agencies to Reject Applicants on Basis of Religion and Sexual Orientation. Legislation has been introduced in the Texas legislature that would allow state funded as well as private agencies to reject potential adoptive parents on the basis of religion or sexual orientation. As Catherine Oakley, senior legislative counsel for the Human Rights Campaign put it, "This would allow adoption agencies to turn away qualified, loving parents who are perhaps perfect in every way because the agency has a difference in religious belief... This goes against the best interest of the child." Moreover, in our opinion, discrimination on the basis of religion would violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964, at least as applied to agencies which receive state funds. More Information.

May 4, 2017. Government and Other Notices: Communication with EAC Adoption Agency. The Department of State has become aware of the fact that some prospective and adoptive parents who were formerly clients of European Adoption Consultants, Inc., have been unable to obtain records even though they followed the DOS advice given in its April 6, 2017 notice. DOS now states that that that "individuals whose letters to EAC are returned may wish to submit the correspondence to the agency's registered agent: John A Carbone Co. LPA, 614 West Superior Avenue, Suite 800, Cleveland OH 44113." PAPs and APs in this position may also want to consult the Ohio Secretary of State's website. More Information.

May 3, 2017. Department of State Updates Ethiopian Information. Here is the latest information on the Ethiopian Intercountry Adoption Suspension: " This updates our April 21, 2017 Adoption Alert to provide additional information on the Government of Ethiopia's recent suspension of adoptions. On April 21, the Ethiopian Prime Minister's Office declared an immediate suspension of intercountry adoptions. The U.S. Department of State does not yet know how long this suspension will last. The Office of Children's Issues and the Embassy are working with the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs (MOWA) and the Prime Minister's Office to seek more information on the terms of the suspension. We are urging the Ethiopian government to allow continued processing of cases that were in progress prior to this suspension. If you have questions about your pending case, please contact your Adoption Service Provider. You may also write to ConsAdoptionAddis@state.gov if you have questions about an adoption-related visa application or immigrant petition. You may copy the Office of Children's Issues at Adoption@state.gov on your email to the Embassy if you wish. More Information.

May 2, 2017. Petition to Aid U.S. Citizen Guatemala Adoption Advocate. Nancy Bailey, an American who has lived in Guatemala, was arrested in 2014 and charged with child-trafficking. Bailey had run a foster home called Semillas de Amor (Seeds of Love) which had cared for many children who were adopted by U.S. families. International adoption from Guatemala was suspended at the beginning of 2009 but Bailey continued to run her children's home. When Bailey was first arrested, she was kept in house arrest but has been imprisoned for the last year. Now her trial will begin soon. This petition, filed by her U.S. supporters requests that Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congressman Jared Huffman intervene to:

  1. Immediately contact the U.S. Ambassador in Guatemala to request a U.S. Embassy Official observe her trial to ensure its fairness and legality,
  2. Personally explore the circumstances of Nancy's situation further as it concerns the global criminalization of the noble act of adoption and the unjust judicial treatment of Americans abroad. Given the politicization of international adoption in Guatemala, having a U.S. Embassy observer at any proceedings seems a necessary protection.

To read the petition, please click here.

May 1, 2017. Adoption Becoming Much More Difficult. A recent ABC.go article highlighted the growing difficulty facing potential adoptive parents. The dramatic decrease in international adoption is partly responsible for the drop of adoptions from 133,737 adoptions in 2007 to 110,373 in 2014. Chuck Johnson, CEO of the National Council for Adoption, states that approximately 1 million Americans are attempting to adopt at any given time. Ironically, a societal shift, allowing gay marriage, has increased the desire to adopt children at the same time as the societal acceptance of single parenthood has further limited the number of babies and children who need adoptive homes. More Information.

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