October 31, 2017. DOS Releases Report on IAG Fraud Case in Ethiopia. The State Department has published a report on the adoption fraud case involving the Ethiopian adoption program of the now now-defunct International Adoption Guides, Inc. agency. The investigation involving document fraud and bribery ultimately led to the conviction of four IAG employees. But State Department official Scott Riedmann also pointed out that "Most of the stakeholders involved in international adoptions do excellent work finding homes for children who need them . . . .The department seeks to ensure that intercountry adoptions involving children or U.S. parents take place in the best interests of the child. Taking action against entities like IAG eliminates bad actors and helps to protect all those involved in intercountry adoptions." More Information.
October 30, 2017. Is Surrogacy Always Unethical? In a column posted on the Indian news site Sunday Guardian, Australian lawyer Catherine Lynch makes her case that surrogacy can never be ethical, whether or not it is done for compensation or "altruistically" for a friend or relative. Lynch hangs her argument on Article 9 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which "gives every human being the right not to be separated from their parents." She advocates that all nations enact domestic legislation which explicitly acknowledges that every child has the right to remain with and be brought up by their gestational mother. However, Lynch's citation of Article 9 omits the various qualifications to the right of the child she cites: The first sentence Article 9 in whole states that "States Parties shall ensure that a child shall not be separated from his or her parents against their will, except when competent authorities subject to judicial review determine, in accordance with applicable law and procedures, that such separation is necessary for the best interests of the child." However, Lynch's column is worth reading to understand the arguments that she and others propound. The column may be found by clicking here.
October 26, 2017. Save the Adoption Tax Credit! The Federal Adoption Tax Credit has helped thousands of families to adopt children who would otherwise be unparented. These days most adoptions are of American born children. With Congress looking to end many tax credits, a groups of U.S. organizations has banded together to form "Save the Adoption Tax Credit." To find out how you can help please go to https://adoptiontaxcredit.org/
October 25, 2017. Gender Shift in International Adoption. Readers of this column are well aware of the first, the declining number of international adoptions and second, the fact that international adoptees today either have special needs, are part of a sibling group or are older. But another shift is that for the first time in the modern period of international adoption, the majority of adoptees are boys. In 2016, 52 percent of international adoptees were boys and of the Chinese adoptees (who predominate in international adoption) 51 percent were boys. Historically, while birth parents preferred boys to girls, adoptive parents preferred girls to boys. Moreover, the Chinese program was virtually all girls until 2007. More Information.
October 24, 2017. More Proof That Children Belong in Families Who Can Care for Them. Over the last decade a number of scientific studies have demonstrated the dreadful effect on brain development caused by lack of one-to one interactions between a caregiver and an infant. This was famously documented in the Bucharest Early Intervention Study and now comes another report from UCLA. Professor Allan Schore emphasizes that "the growth of brain cells is a consequence of an infant's interaction with the main caregiver [usually the mother]" and that the evolution of a baby's brain "literally requires positive interaction between mother and infant. The development of cerebral circuits depends on it." In the words of a British Labour MP Graham Allen if we don't address this issue, "...it would mean we are politically incapable of implementing the one policy that will certainly make our society immeasurably better. And what more profound condemnation of our political system could there be than that?" More Information.
October 23, 2017. Foster Care Privatization A Threat To Vulnerable Children. Not a Success. Sens. Orrin Hatch and Ron Wyden, the chairman and ranking member respectively of the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance this month release the results of a two year investigation into privatized foster care with dismaying conclusions. The report's devastating statement "the child welfare system does not always protect children," is backed up by evidence proving that "policies are not always followed; exceptions are made, waivers are granted, profits are prioritized over children's well-being, and sometimes those charged with keeping children safe look the other way. High turnover among staff sometimes makes it impossible to develop case plans to ensure that children are ''on-track.'' Foster parents with questionable backgrounds, who lack the skills to provide care to vulnerable children, are given licenses to parent challenging children, and these children are then inadequately monitored." We owe our most vulnerable population much better protection than they are getting. To access the report, please click here.
October 19, 2017. Government and Other Notices: Haiti. We have received the following notice from the Department of State: "The Department of State, Office of Children's Issues, wishes to advise U.S. prospective adoptive parents and adoption service providers of potential continued delays in the processing time to complete an adoption from Haiti due to multiple strikes within the judicial system throughout the country. U.S. Embassy Port-au-Prince reports that while judges have returned to work, Haiti's clerks are once again on strike. While courts are once again operational and judges are able to adjudicate backlogged cases, court operations and dossier processing will be slow until the clerks return to work." It has been a tough week for international adoption. More Information.
October 18, 2017. Department of State Confirms Ending of Ethiopian International Adoption. The Department of State has informed the adoption community that "Ethiopian officials have informed the Department of State that the Government of Ethiopia plans to cease processing new intercountry adoption cases, but that provisions will be made for in-process cases." DOS has encouraged the Ethiopian government to permit all in-process cases to be completed but has no assurance that the Ethiopian government will agree. We are saddened by this news which confirms yesterday's post. At the same time, we join DOS in urging all potential adoptive parents looking to begin an international adoption to stay clear of Ethiopia which no longer has a viable international adoption program. More Information.
October 17, 2017. Terrible Allegations about Uganda Adoptions. A new report by CNN contains allegations that EACI (European Adoption Consultants Inc.) was involved in trafficking in Uganda - namely promising birth families that their children would be educated in the U.S. while telling American parents that the children being placed have been abandoned or relinquished by birth families. EAC has already been suspended from international adoption by the Department of State. To read the story, please click here.
October 16, 2017. Ethiopia May End International Adoption. An Ethiopian newspaper has reported that the Ethiopian parliament is consider reviewing legislation which would make it impossible for foreigners to adopt Ethiopian children. According to the Ethiopian Reporter, the review is predicated on "widespread case of identity crisis that children adopted by foreign families face and based on the premise that foreign families could not offer relatable family environment to Ethiopian children." We are deeply saddened by this report which, if true, will be devastating to unparented Ethiopian children who will lose one possible means of finding a permanent, loving family. More Information.
October 12, 2017. What Adoption Program is Right For You? With all the changes in domestic and foreign adoption, many families considering adoption are puzzled as to which way to turn. The Creating A Family website has prepared an excellent comparison chart which lists various international programs as well as domestic U.S. adoption from foster care and domestic U.S. private adoption. To access the chart, please click here.
October 11, 2017. In Italy, Killing an Adopted Child is Not Killing Your Child! Andrei Talpais, a 57 year old Moldovan immigrant to Italy was convicted of killing his adopted son Ion in 2013. Ion was trying to defend his mother Elizaveta from her husband's beatings when Talpais knifed his son to death. The trial court and appeals courts convicted Talpais and he was sentenced to life in prison, a sentence customarily given to parents who kill their children. However, the Corte di Cassazione, equivalent to our Supreme Court, has now ruled that the life sentence cannot stand because an adopted child does not count as "offspring" under Italy's penal code. Because the Italian system does not allow for judicial reinterpretation, this ruling may well be legally justified. The fascist era 1930's Italian criminal code, still in effect, does not consider adoptive children the same as biological children. Currently, attempts to change the law have little support because the status of the small number of adopted children has gotten tangled with the question of whether to give birth citizenship to the children of migrants who are born in Italy. More Information.
October 10, 2017. Another Threat to International Adoption. The Council on Accreditation has been the organization that accredits adoption service providers who seek to perform adoption services since the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption went into effect. However, on October 6, 2017 COA sent a Dear Colleague letter to all ASPs indicating that the new requirements imposed by the Department of State on COA "will fundamentally change our responsibilities and role as an accrediting entity and which are inconsistent with COA's philosophy and mission." Moreover, COA states that if DOS' new requirements are not rolled back, COA will no longer be able to serve as the accrediting entity for ASPs. DOS did announce another accrediting entity had been authorized but one that does not have the experience and breadth of COA. This alarming development may well spell the end of international adoption to the United States or, at the least, cause a shutdown while a new accrediting entity takes over. More Information.
October 9, 2017. The Education Crisis for Foster Children. We know that children in foster care face many hurdles. A very large one is their inability to obtain a good education which devastates their chances for success as an adult. According t a University of Chicago survey, a third of foster kids nationally earned neither a high-school diploma nor a GED. Another survey found that 13 percent of California prison inmates had been in foster care. In New York, an innovative school has been opened by The New York Foundling, a non-profit that grew out of the former New York Foundling Hospital. Haven Academy charter school is run for children who are mainly in the foster care system or receiving preventive measures. There are social workers on site, as well as specially trained teachers who understand that misbehavior is a symptom of bigger problems. The results are impressive: "60 percent of the kids are performing at grade level on math and English tests in fourth grade, compared with only 13 percent and 12 percent of foster kids whom The Foundling helps outside of school." To learn more, please to go to The New York Post, 9/19/17, column by Naomi Schaefer Riley.
October 5, 2017. Government and Other Notices: Ukraine. The Department of State once again reminds adoptive parents and adoption service providers that all parents of Ukrainian-born children "must provide post-adoption reports every year for the first three years after the adoption is finalized, and then once every three years until the child turns 18. This reporting must include information on the general welfare, education, upbringing, and health of the child." We urge PAPs not to forget these requirements, which they, themselves, agreed to and on which the future of the Ukraine adoption program partly depends. For more information on how to complete these reports, please click here.
October 3, 2017. Government and Other Notices: Ethiopia. The Department of State has informed stakeholders of delays in in regional Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs (MOWCA) offices' issuance of necessary documents for adoptive children. Sadly, some families have now waited more than a year for their child's regional office documents. DOS states their officials have repeatedly asked for information about the delays and have received no answer. DOS promises to "continue to advocate for intercountry adoption as an option for Ethiopian children in need of permanent homes." We are saddened to learn of these delays and continue to believe that no one should begin an adoption process from Ethiopia, given the uncertain outlook. More Information.
October 2, 2017. And Another Year Ends-What Will the International Adoption Statistics Show? September 30 marks the end of the Federal fiscal year and therefore the end of the 2017 year for international adoption statistics. (Side point-if you adopted from October 1 through December 21 of any year, your adoption is recorded in the next calendar year's numbers). We fear that yet again the numbers of children adopted internationally into the United States will fall. What a tragedy it will be if international adoption, instead of being one of the panoply of options for unparented children, becomes a mere blip on the historical radar.
Center for Adoption Policy (CAP)