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May 22, 2019. Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2019 Introduced. Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo), together with Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Senator Mazie Hirano (D-Hawaii and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) have introduced the Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2019. We believe that every child who was lawfully brought to the United States and adopted by U.S citizen parents should be a U.S. citizen. Unfortunately, until the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 was passed, citizenship for internationally adopted children was not automatic. But the law passed in 2000 did not cover all international adoptees, leaving some adoptees without U.S. citizenship and the rights and privileges of which, as the children of American parents, they should have. The Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2019, if passed, will rectify this gap and right an injustice to adoptees that has existed for too long. To read the Press Release on this vital piece of legislation, please click here.

May 20, 2019. Colorado Passes New Adoption Subsidy Law. We are pleased to report that Colorado has passes a new adoption subsidy law. Seth Grob, a speaker at the CAP/Duke Law School Conference last year, outlines the highlights of the legislation which "(1) prevents counties from having a two tiered foster/adoption subsidy rate system; (2) allows the subsidy rate to be negotiated up to the foster care rate (which was recently raised across the board to about $1,100 per month); (3) eliminates the reasonable effort requirement for private agencies to seek to find an adoptive family willing take the child without a subsidy where the birth parents designate an adoptive family; (4) allows past adoptive families who have been receiving a subsidy to renegotiate a new subsidy based upon what the child currently would receive if the child was placed in foster care; and (5) clarifies that children previously who were in the child welfare system who are now being adopted privately be eligible for adoption assistance.

May 16, 2019. ABA Center Legal Resource for Families First Act. The Family First Prevention Services Act became law in February 2018. Its implementation may result in major changes in the way the child welfare system in the United States operates. The American Bar Association's Center for Children and the Law has posted valuable information on the roles which legal professionals can play in the Act's implementation. To access this survey, please click here.

May 15, 2019. Department of State Update on Sierra Leone. The State Department has informed us that it will be issuing an update "regarding the six-month fostering and residency requirements for potential adoptive parents from Sierra Leone." We will post further information as it becomes available.

May 14, 2019. Good News From Congress. We have learned that the Adoptee Citizenship Act will be reintroduced later this spring. The ACA is intended to confer citizenship on international adoptees whose adoptive parents brought them to the United States with the proper USCIS and Department of State approvals but who then did not complete the final paperwork which would have gotten their children citizenship. Not to give these (now mainly former) children U.S. citizenship is truly a case of visiting the sins of the parents on the children. More updates will follow.

May 13, 2019. Real Housewife Story Illustrates a Citizenship Problem. We don't often discuss the Real Housewives series but the jam Joe Guidice is facing is one common to international adoptees. Joe, husband to Teresa Giudice of the New Jersey series just completed a 41 month sentence for fraud. Joe was born in Italy and came to the United States as a baby. His parents did not naturalize him and he did not file for citizenship once he married Teresa. Joe is now facing imminent deportation. This plight is familiar to the thousands of international adoptees whose adoptive parents did not complete their naturalization process for the children. More Information.

May 9, 2019. DOS Appeals Same-Sex Citizenship Case. The Department of State has appealed the decision of a California federal district court that recognized the citizenship of Ethan Dvash-Banks. As one article states, the government refuses to recognize the validity of Andrew and Elad Dvash-Banks' marriage, and continues to defend its discriminatory policy, which conditions the recognition of birthright citizenship on a biological link to a U.S. citizen parent. Andrew Dvash-Banks, a U.S. citizen, and Elad Dvash-Banks, an Israeli citizen, had twin sons via surrogacy. However, the State Department only recognized Aiden's citizenship because of his biological connection to Andrew, and denied Ethan's. Immigration Equality challenged the decision on behalf of the family, and the district court determined that as a child born to a married U.S. citizen parent, Ethan Dvash-Banks was entitled to birthright citizenship." More Information.

May 8, 2019. Finding an African-American Sperm Donor is Not Easy. The linked article details the difficulties an African-American same-sex couple had in finding a donor that was African-American. The world of assisted reproductive science is constantly evolving with new issues coming to the fore such as DNA testing, donor confidentiality, and donor availability. To read the article, please click here.

May 7, 2019. New York Foster Children At Risk. A New York City Comptroller's report has revealed that the Administration for Children's Services continually sends abused and neglected children to foster parents without requiring proof of appropriate background checks or on-site visits on such parents. The report delineates that 89 out of 110 foster homes were not properly vetted. Some of the foster homes were allowed to operate for over a year without proper checks. As Comptroller Scott Stringer said, "ACS's lack of oversight enables a deficient foster-care system, where children can be placed in homes that don't measure up or meet their needs." Foster homes cost New York taxpayers around $1.1. billion annually. To read the report, please click here.

May 6, 2019. Adoption Accreditation of New Star Kefala Cancelled. IAMME (the accrediting body for the Department of State in its capacity as the U.S. Central Adoption Authority) has cancelled the accreditation of New Star Kefala "for failing to maintain substantial compliance with accreditation standards." DOS informs families as follows: "As a result of this cancellation, NSK must immediately cease to provide adoption services in connection with intercountry adoption cases. If you have an open case with NSK, please contact them directly to find out how the cancellation will affect your case. NSK is required to transfer its cases to another accredited provider. In addition, the agency must issue any reimbursements or refunds due to clients in accordance with 22 CFR 96.33(e) and 96.40(h). Families working with NSK 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.

April 30, 2019. Two Attorneys General Move To Shutdown a Surrgacy Operation. The attorneys generals of Florida and Maryland have moved to close Florida based The Surrogacy Group. This outfit, which has received an "F" rating from the Better Business Bureau allegedly defrauded both intended parents and surrogates. Moreover, it is still operating as a corporation even though it was dissolved last year. We strongly urge anyone who chooses adoption or surrogacy to do their research including insisting on speaking to other families or surrogates who have worked with the potential provider during the last eighteen months. More Information.

April 29, 2019. Third Circuit Denies Preliminary Injunction in Philadelphia Social Services Case. Last week, the Federal Appellate Court handed down an important ruling in n a case which pitted Catholic Social Services against the city of Philadelphia. CSS had refused to certify same-sex couples as foster parents because such a certification would violate its religious views, although the City's Fair Practices Ordinance prohibits such discrimination. In denying the injunction which CSS sought on the basis that the Philadelphia ordinance violates the Constitution's free exercise clause, the Court stated that while "religious belief is always protected, religiously motivated conduct enjoys no special protections or exemption from general, neutrally applied legal requirements." To read the entire ruling, please click here.

April 25, 2019. Honduras Ratifies the Hague Convention The Department of State has announced that "on March 6, 2019, Honduras ratified the Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption Convention (Hague Adoption Convention.) The Convention will enter into force for Honduras on July 1, 2019. The Department is determining if the United States may process Convention adoptions with Honduras pursuant to U.S. law." By this last statement DOS is warning the adoption community that it does not automatically accept that a country has met its Hague obligations. Rather DOS will now evaluate Honduras' procedures to ascertain if the procedures meet DOS' interpretation of the Hague Convention. For that reason, families considering adopting from Honduras should consult with their adoption service provider as to whether they should proceed at this time. More Information.

April 24, 2019. Another Case of Secret Siblings. In a familiar fact pattern, a number of Dutch adults have found out that they are half siblings because their mother's fertility doctor used his own sperm to impregnate patients. Dr. Jan Karbaat, who died two years ago, helped over 6,000 women have more than 10,000 children through his long career. According to the Defence for Children organization, which represents parents and children who were Karbaat's patients, at least 49 adults have found that they are half siblings. Dr. Karbaat probably did not envision DNA home testing kits. To read the article, please click here.

April 23, 2019. The Tens of Millions of Missing Women. A Singapore research team has found that gender bias and China's one child policy have left 11.9 million women missing from China and 10.6 million missing from India. The peak year of China's gender bias-linked discrepancy was 2005 when its birth sex ratio was 118 males born for every 100 girls. The normal ratio is 102 males for every 100 women. Male children have traditionally been favored in Asian society but for the Chinese population has been manipulated by the government since 1949, when the Communist government took over. Between 1950 and 1960, Mao's encouragement to the populace to have large families led to 200 million births, a figure equal to one third of the Chinese population in 1949. In 1973 the Chinese government changed course and imposed a draconian one-child policy which remained in effect until recently. More Information.

April 22, 2019. Guyana Accedes To the Hague. The Department of State announced today that the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption will be effective regarding adoptions from Guyana on June 1, 2019. DOS currently "is determining if the United States may process Convention adoptions with Guyana pursuant to U.S. law." Guyana will be the 100th nation to join the Hague Convention which became effective as respects the United States 11 years ago this month. In 2017, 22 children were adopted from Guyana to the United States. To read more, please click here.

April 18, 2019. Department of State to Issue New Regulations on International Adoption. The Office of Children's Issues of the Department of State has served notice that it will be issuing new regulations pertaining to international adoption in the very near future. We understand that draft regulations are already circulating among Departments. Readers of this column may remember that previous DOS regulation, were issued for comment in the autumn of 2016 but then were withdrawn, following extensive (and negative) comments from stakeholders, adoption service providers and families.

April 15, 2019. Vancouver Island's Last Adoption Agency Closes. Citing the declining number of international adoptions, Vancouver's only adoption agency, Choices Adoption and Pregnancy Counselling, is shutting its doors. The drastic fall in international adoptions has driven many adoption agencies out of business. In turn the cascade of closures results in worse services for potential adoptive parents which makes international adoption less safe for children which leads to more failed adoptions. To read about how the closure has affected a Canadian family, please click here.

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