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January 2018

January 31, 2018. NCFA Report on FY 2016 AFCARS. The U.S. Children's Bureau has released its FY2016 Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS). As the National Council for Adoption (NCFA) explains, there are three critical points made in the report: the number of foster children continues to increase, the opioid crisis is fueling this increase, and adoptions from foster care are on the rise, especially by foster parents. To read the NCFA paper, please go to the below link. (Note that it took from September 30, 2016 until January 2018 for the data to be prepared and released.) More Information.

January 30, 2018. Why UNICEF's Views Are Wrong. We have been asked to comment on UNICEF's anti-international adoption position. UNICEF takes the view that, according to its charter and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), it would rather a child have the chance to have a safe and healthy childhood with his or her own family and, in any event, remain in his or her country of origin. The first problem with this statement is that UNICEF interprets these words as meaning that in-country institutional care is preferable to international adoption. We do not. UNICEF has promoted "Permanency." Permanency is a concept which translates into permanent, in-country foster care or group homes. We believe that children are best served by permanent, loving families, where ever they may be found. But UNICEF's solution suits many stakeholders because UNICEF backs up its ideology with money--especially money for group homes. As they used to say in Britain, "jobs for the boys." But the children are the losers.

The second problem is that many countries of origin do not view children from minority groups, such as Roma or indigenous people, as part of their national group. This disparity leads to UNICEF, on the one hand condemning international adoption, and on the other, decrying the treatment of Roma or indigenous people. The children are caught in the middle and get nothing.

Finally, on international adoption, UNICEF references its charter, the Declaration of Human Rights and the UNCRC. Two comments. After the UNCRC was passed, most countries signed and ratified the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption (the "Hague") which, as a legal matter, supersedes the UNCRC. UNICEF avoids referencing the Hague because the Hague supports international adoption over intercountry institutional care. The CRC (arguably) does not.

A further issue with human rights treaties. The various enumerated children's rights do not include the right to family. This problem arose from the drafting of the first of the post-war human rights conventions, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (1948), and persists to this day. The Declaration was written in the shadow of the German Lebensborn program which saw more than 250,000 children from Eastern Europe kidnapped and taken to Germany to be raised as Aryan German children. The 1948 Declaration condemned this action by stating that every child is entitled to his/her nationality. But the Declaration did not include a child's right to a family because in the context of the Lebensborn program, kidnapped children had two families--their birth families and the German ones they were given. By omitting the right to a family, the 1948 Declaration created the negative precedent which then gets embraced in the UNCRC. We have been working to plug this hole for years. We are still trying.

January 29, 2018. Concerns Grow Over Status of Chinese "Orphanage Donation." For over 20 years families who have adopted from China have given an "orphanage donation" as part of their adoption. The fees were set and didn't vary within provinces and only minor differences from province to province. The U.S. Consulate understood that these donations were in fact mandatory and accepted the payment of these fees as a way for orphanages to recoup the cost of caring for the adopted child and supporting those children left behind. Last month, however, the Chinese central authority (CCCWA) announced that the orphanage donation would not longer be fixed but would be up to each family. We have asked for clarification from the Department of State since several families have been told that this change was due to U.S. government pressure. Should families give to orphanages? If they do, will the Consulate then accuse the families of paying improper fees? What is the best course of action for families? We hope the Department of State will answer these questions as soon as possible.

January 25, 2018. New Report Highlights Problems of Changing Placements in Foster Care. A Connecticut study has highlighted the negative effects of changing foster homes on foster children. This report demonstrates that, older youth in foster care have a high chance of multiple placement, that stability of placements correlates both with appropriate behavior and high school graduation and that more frequent placements are also associated with a greater likelihood of criminal behavior. We urge all states to work on increasing foster placement constancy. More Information.

January 24, 2018. Parents File Suit Against Department of State for Their Son's Citizenship. Twins Ethan and Aiden were born abroad to Elad and American citizen husband Andrew last year. Aiden is Andrew's biological child so he received birth citizenship but Ethan, son of Israeli citizen Elad, did not. Aaron Morris, executive director of Immigration Equality, contends that "the State Department is wrongly applying a policy for children born out of wedlock to married same-sex couples: 'If a mother and father walk into a consulate and have a marriage certificate and birth certificate, they're never asked any questions about the biology of the child...But the converse is also true and every same-sex couple will be asked that.' " The Dyash-Banks family maintains that "the children of a U.S. citizen who marries abroad are entitled to U.S. citizenship at birth no matter where they are born and even if the other parent is a foreigner." More Information.

January 23, 2018. Proposed Changes to Korean Special Adoption Laws Roils Adoption Community. A South Korean legislator has proposed amendments to the Korean Special Adoption Laws which will make both domestic and international adoption far more problematic. These amendments would, among other things, make international adoption extremely difficult, end the relationship between the South Korean government and various adoption agencies, centralizing all adoption services in government departments and allow birth families to demand extensive information about their birth child from adoptive families. In short, these amendments, which were suggested without input from adoptive families or agencies, would have a chilling effect on domestic and international adoption, making institutionalized outcomes far more likely for unparented Korean children. More Information.

January 22, 2018. Internationally Adopted Children Face Extra Risks Going Abroad. Today's New York Times article about the arrest of a Swedish-Chinese bookseller highlights a potentially serious issue for internationally adopted children as they grow up, study abroad and work abroad. Countries of origin differ as to whether they consider internationally adopted children to be dual citizens. But U.S. naturalized U.S. citizens may face greater risks if they are arrested or detained by police in the country of their birth than U.S. birth citizens. More Information.

January 18, 2018. Horrific Story of off the Grid Family Shows Need for Monitoring. We are used to reading tragic stories of failed adoptions that demand our attention. The sufferings of the 13 biological children of David and Louise Turpin demonstrate that one common thread linking this story with so many others - the ability of malfeasors to use home schooling as a way to perpetrate evil deeds unnoticed. David Turpin created his own school, the Sandcastle Day School, solely for six of his children. He registered the school with the California Department of Education as required but "In California, almost anyone can open a private school by filing an affidavit with the state. California is one of 14 states that ask parents only to register to create a home school, and in 11 other states, including Texas, parents are not required to submit any documentation at all." When questioned DOE said while it registers private schools, it "does not approve, monitor, inspect, or oversee" such schools despite the fact that schools with more than six students are eligible for some government assistance. Because children in these rogue schools never see anyone outside their family, the children's sufferings go unnoticed. More Information.

January 17, 2018. India Announces New Requirements for Indian Intercountry Adoptions. The Indian Central Authority for Adoption (CARA) has announced that all prospective adoptive parents (PAPs) who wish to adopt from India must include a professional psychological evaluation of the PAPs in their home study. The linked Department of State gives specifics on what the new evaluation must include. This new requirements applies to any PAP who has not yet received the "No Objection Certificate." More Information.

January 16, 2018. Children in Foster Care at Risk from Over Medication. As a New York Times article recently highlights, children in foster care are proscribed psychotropic drugs at a much higher rate than the general population. "Psychotropic medications were being taken by nearly one in five foster children in a 2008 to 2011 survey, the Government Accountability Office said, a higher rate than among privately insured children. "The risks these drugs pose specifically to children are not well understood," the office said in House testimony." Moreover, even when such drugs are clinically appropriate, best practice requires that children prescribed the drugs also receive clinical monitoring and oversight, which, in many cases, foster children do not receive. More Information.

January 15, 2018. Ethiopian Parliament Bans International Adoption. We open the year on a sad note as we report that the Ethiopian Parliament, on January 9, 2018, passed legislation banning international adoption of Ethiopian children. As of now, the Department of State has no idea what the effect of this legislation will be for in process cases. Furthermore, on January 10, 2018 DOS raised the threat level in Ethiopia to Level 2- Exercise Extreme Caution because of "the potential for civil unrest and communications disruptions." More Information.

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