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March 2020

March 26, 2019. New COVID-19 Notice from the Department of State. The Office of Children's Issues has related an extensive notice concerning families involved in international adoption who are affected by COVID 19 related closures and quarantines. These include updates on the STEP Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, and the site, linked here, on visa processing updates.

March 25, 2020. Covid-19 and International Surrogacy. The health protection-related international quarantines have left intended parents, gestational carriers and new born children stranded on different continents. Moreover, even if intended parents are with their babies, they are finding it impossible to get the proper travel documents. The linked article tells the story of a British couple who cannot get either a U.S. passport or British travel documents for their newborn son. Please click here.

March 24, 2020. COVID-19 Impact on Travel and Consular Operations. The Department of State has issued the following notice: Because of the current worldwide responses to COVID-19, the Department of State recommends against any travel, as detailed in our Global Health Advisory. Many countries have taken or are taking action limiting traveler mobility, including mandatory quarantines and border restrictions, with little advance notice. On March 18, the Department announced the suspension of routine visa services worldwide. Embassies and consulates will resume routine visa services as soon as possible but are unable to provide a specific date at this time. Intercountry adoption cases remain a high priority for the Department of State. Intercountry adoption cases where the adoptive parents are in country and the case is in the final stages of visa processing may still be processed to the degree that Embassy and Consulate resources and foreign government rules allow. Please be aware that circumstances can change frequently and with limited notice. Therefore, we strongly encourage prospective adoptive parents and their Adoption Service Providers to conduct careful research, including a review of the potential travel restrictions and quarantine requirements imposed by foreign governments as well as an embassy or consulate's ability to accept visa appointments, prior to any decision regarding travel at this time. Please be assured that U.S. Embassies and Consulates around the world are closely tracking travel restrictions and working with the Department in Washington D.C. to keep the public updated, including information about how intercountry adoption cases and travel may be affected. More Information.

March 12, 2020. DOS Announces Temporary Cessation of Hand in Hand's China Program. In a twist from the ordinary, the Intercountry Adoption Accreditation and Maintenance Entity (IAAME) required Hand in Hand to temporarily cease providing adoption services in China. This cessation does not affect Hand in Hand's programs in Bulgaria, Haiti, the Philippines or Brazil. Because the agency remains accredited, Hand in Hand is not required to transfer ongoing cases to another provider at this time if no adoption services will be provided during the cessation. More Information.

March 11, 2020. China Adoptions On Hold. For family in the midst of a Chinese adoption, the COVID-19 virus has been doubly painful. First, they are worried for the child they are in the process of adopting. Secondly, they have no idea how to plan or proceed. To read the account of the Floyd family from Albuquerque, please click here.

March 10, 2020. Chinese Adoptee Finds Two Biological Sisters. A 16 year old Chinese adoptee living in Canada, who used a home DNA testing kit, discovered that she has two biological full siblings living in North America. Abby Grunenberg, who is 16, was adopted from Hubei province when she was 11 months old. Her biological sisters, Carmen Chan and Olivia Maggioncalda, who are 17 and 18, live in Iowa and Virginia, respectively. They were also adopted from Hubei province. To read more, please click here.

March 9, 2020. MLJ Adoptions Relinquishes Accreditation. The Department of State has informed the community that on March 1, MLJ Adoptions voluntarily relinquished their accreditation for international adoption services. As DOS regularly states, "Families working with MLJ should contact them directly with questions about case or record transfer. We also encourage families to review the information published by IAAME about selecting a primary provider/adoption service provider and the accreditation/approval requirements." More Information.

March 5, 2020. British Report Reveals Lack of Follow-Up By Social Services of Abused Children. A shocking British report discloses that half of the children who died or were seriously injured in Britain were already known to social services. Despite each of these children identified as "vulnerable, "they were not afforded sufficient protection. As the report states, "People with a history of child abuse, some of whom had been convicted, were not tracked sufficiently well, nor were new relationships explored properly, to establish whether they were in a relationship and/or living with children." To read more, please click here.

March 4, 2020. A Helpful Resource on Adoption Agency Accreditation. The National Council on Adoption (NCFA) has published in its latest issue of the Adoption Advocate a very informative article on the process of adoption agency accreditation. The author, Jayne Schmidt, was formerly the Director of Hague Accreditation for the Council on Accreditation. To access her article, please click here.

March 3, 2020. Accreditation of Joshua Tree Adoptions Cancelled. The Department of State has announced that the Intercountry Adoption Accreditation and Maintenance Entity (IAAME) has cancelled the accreditation of Joshua Tree Adoptions for failing to maintain substantial compliance with accreditation standards. Any family that has an in- process adoption with Joshua Tree should consult the linked notice as to how they should proceed. Any families that have outstanding post-placement reports should consult Joshua Tree or the DOS website. More Information.

March 2, 2020. Department of State Announces Outgoing Cases' Paperwork Delay. On February 27 the Department of State informed us that the Office of Children's Issues "is currently experiencing technical issues that have caused and continue to cause delays in the issuance of Hague Adoption Certificate (HAC) and Hague Custody Declarations (HCD). Currently, our IT personnel are working to resolve the issue." This delay will be of interest to adoption service providers, public domestic authorities and adoptive parents.

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