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September 2019

September 24, 2019. What We Are United About: The Adoptee Citizenship Act. The attendees at last week's State Department Symposium on International Adoption spoke with one voice on the Adoptee Citizenship Act: This bill needs to be passed in this Congress. Please ask your Senator or Representative to co-Sponsor this legislation which would grant U.S. citizenship to the thousands of adoptees whose adoptive parents failed to naturalize them. The bill may be found by clicking here.

September 23, 2019. Adoption Symposium: The Good News and the Bad. Last week CAP participated in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs' symposium on "Strengthening Practice for the Future of Intercountry Adoption." We were pleased when DOS announced this symposium and had looked forward to a meeting which would represent the adoption community in all its diversity and complexity, allowing us to work together toward a common goal. Unfortunately the panels were unrepresentative of the community, consisting of opponents of international adoption or panelists who did not work in international adoption at all. To take one example, the panel on community representatives of American international adoption consisted of a domestic U.S. birth mother, an Australian adoptee from Vietnam, and an adoptive mother whose Russian born children are greatly suffering from trauma. As Chuck Johnson, the CEO of National Council For Adoption, the sole pro-adoption panelist, remarked, "I did not realize that I would have to defend international adoption at this symposium but clearly I must do so."

September 18, 2019. Update to Honduras Transition Cases. The Department of State is updating its Honduras country information to reflect the information it has received from the Honduran Central Authority that it will continue to process certain adoption cases that were started prior to July 1, 2019, under the non-Convention process (or orphan process) as "transition cases." These cases include those in which a U.S. citizen filed a Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition, or a Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, prior to July 1, 2019. The United States will continue to coordinate with Honduran authorities on issues related to "transition cases." More Information.

September 17, 2019. Accreditation of Catholic Family Center Suspended. The Department of State has announced that the Intercountry Adoption Accreditation and Maintenance Entity (IAAME) has suspended the accreditation of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rochester, DBA Catholic Family Center (Catholic Family Center) for failing to maintain substantial compliance with accreditation standards. As Catholic Family Center cannot perform any adoption services at this time, all families must seek other ASPs. Please consult the linked notice for advice as to how to proceed. The notice is found by clicking here.

September 16, 2019. Did Sperm Donor H898 Spread Autism to Numerous Children? A Washington Post article details an autism cluster of over a dozen children, all conceived with sperm from the same donor but through a number of fertility clinics. Tracking a genetic link to autism is new as is the ability of parents to find each other on Facebook, which is how they connected. These children display varying degrees of autism but many are severe. Danielle Rizzo, a plaintiff in one law suit says that she turned to the court after health-care regulators in New York and California as well as the Food and Drug Administration told her they have no answers for her. To read this story, please click here.

September 12, 2019. What Can Happen If the Fertility Center Made A Mistake. A New Jersey estranged couple, Kristina Koedderich and Drew Wasilewski, are suing the Institute for Reproductive Medicine and Science at Saint Barnabas because the daughter that Ms. Koedderich bore was not, as was represented by the clinic, the biological child of Mr. Wasilewski. According to their suit, because their daughter looked Asian, they had a DNA test which confirmed that there was "0 probability" that Mr. Wasilewski was the father. Last month the judge in the case ordered IRMS to produce a list of men who donated sperm around the time the couple's child was conceived. The child in question is now six. Whether or not the clinic was at fault, we cannot disagree with the clinic spokesman's statement that the court order has "broad implications potentially affecting many more people than the immediate parties involved." More Information.

September 11, 2019. Updated Vaccination Requirements for Ukraine. The Department of State has informed us that because of an ongoing measles epidemic in Ukraine, the Centers for Disease Control have updated their vaccination requirements for Ukraine. According to the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv has updated its measles vaccination requirement, "Effective August 1, 2019, regardless of measles vaccination history, all immigrant visa applicants will undergo a blood test during the medical examination to verify the presence of measles antibodies. If the result of this test is negative, the visa applicant will be required to receive a measles vaccination before obtaining medical clearance to travel. Obtaining measles vaccinations for recently adopted children may be complicated due to the way the Ukrainian medical system works, and this could delay your travel to the United States. If the adopted child has not previously received the full series of measles vaccinations, please make sure that the child gets a booster vaccine prior to the final medical examination. Even if the child's record indicates full vaccination, we recommend a blood test in advance to determine whether the child has active antibodies, and if not, early administration of a booster shot since it can take up to two weeks for antibodies to register on the blood test." More information.

September 9, 2019. State Department Announces Adoption Agency Suspensions. Late last week the Department of State announced that the IAAME, the accrediting body for adoption service providers which perform international adoption services, has suspended the accreditation of Open Seas Adoption Services, Inc and Christian Family Service "for failing to maintain substantial compliance with accreditation standards." Families that are working with either agency should consult this link and the IAAME website if they have any questions. The link is found by clicking here.

September 5, 2019. New York Bill Imperils Adoptive Parents Rights. Awaiting New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's signature is a bill with the innocuous title of "the Preserving Family Bonds Act." This bill would allow birth parents whose parental rights have been terminated by courts for abuse, abandonment or neglect to retain rights over their children even though the children have been adopted by another family. As Bill Baccaglilni, president of and CEO of New York Foundling said of the bill, "It will make adoptions ...very, very difficult. If an adoptive parent ever thought that birth parents - after having their rights terminated - would have the capacity in and out of court to press for visitation, I'm not so sure I'd find adoptive families I so desperately need." To be clear: this bill only would apply to birth parents who have their rights terminated for cause. Moreover, as the New York Attorneys for Adoption and Family Formation explained, "the law may also violate the due-process rights of adoptive parents." More Information.

September 4, 2019. Closure of USCIS South Korean Field Office. The Department of State has announced that effect August 17, 2019, the USCIS Seoul, Korea Field office will not accept or process any new I-600 and I-600A Forms. As DOS explains, "you may continue to file a Form I-600A application or a Form I-600 petition by mail with USCIS lockbox facility in Dallas. The USCIS National Benefits Center will process the application. Additionally, you may file a Form I-600 petition in-person with the appropriate U.S. Embassy or consulate in the child's country of origin." The USCIS Seoul Field Office has more information on its website. In process families should consult with their adoption service providers as to their next steps. More Information.

September 3, 2019. International Adoption Agencies Closing or temporarily suspended. Over the summer the Department of State listed the following agencies as relinquishing their accreditation or allowing it to expire: Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan, Adoptions Limited and the Family Network. Adoptions International, Inc (of Texas) had its accreditation cancelled, and The Barker Adoption Foundation had its programs temporarily stopped in China, Colombia and India. Any families working with these agencies or considering working with these agencies should consult the DOS web pages and attorneys before going forward. More Information.

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