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November 11, 2015. Support the Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2015. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.) and Jeff Merkeley (D-Ore.) have introduced S. 2275, the Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2015. Long overdue, this bill will grant citizenship to that group of adoptees with U.S. citizen parents, primarily, but not exclusively adopted prior to 2000, who never received U.S. citizenship. Prior to the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, internationally adopted children only received green cards when they came to the United States. Children, whose parents did not take the steps to naturalize them, therefore lost their legal status when their green cards expired. We all need to support this bill. Its text may be found by clicking here.

November 10, 2015. Adoption Reform Gathers Momentum in Australia. Australia has over 43,000 children in foster care yet last year there were only 89 adoptions in the whole country. Among others working to change these dismal statistics is Australian actress Deborra-Lee Furness, child advocate and adoptive mother. As columnist Jeremy Sammut recently put it: "Child protection authorities in Australia repeatedly fail to properly protect children because the overemphasis on "family preservation" at almost all costs exposes them to prolonged abuse and neglect by dysfunctional parents. When finally removed as a last resort, many children are further damaged by highly unstable foster care and repeat breakdowns of family reunifications. More Information.

November 9, 2015. Michigan Nurses at Heart of US Supreme Court Gay Marriage Case Jointly Adopt Children. Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer, a now married couple, began their legal journey to be a family in 2012, when they sued the state of Michigan to overturn its restrictions on gay adoption. Their case eventually became part of the landmark Supreme Court lawsuit which made gay marriage legal in all 50 states. This Thursday, Judge Karen McDonald in Oakland County allowed the spouses to legally adopt each other's adopted children and to jointly adopted the foster child they had been caring for. "What a long road," said Judge McDonald. And what a happy ending. More Information.

November 5, 2015. Open Records for Adoptees. National Adoption Month draws the wider world into adoption issues. This month's Costco Connection magazine features as its "Informed Debate" topic, "Should it be mandatory to give adult adoptees full access to their birth records if they want it?" Stating the affirmative position is April Dinwoodie, chief executive of the Donaldson Adoption Institute. Dinwoodie points out that 95 percent of domestic adoptions today are open adoptions and that today, best practices in adoption supports open adoption. Megan Lestino, director of public policy and education for the National Council for Adoption, speaks against mandatory birth records disclosure notwithstanding NCFA's support for openness in adoption, it believes that "it is crucial to continue to honor and advocate for those who prefer confidentiality." More Information.

November 4, 2015. Department of State Announcement Concerning National Adoption Month. Michele Thoren Bond, the Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs, has made the Department of State's annual proclamation for November's National Adoption Month commemoration. She said: "On the occasion of National Adoption Month, I want to highlight that maintaining intercountry adoption as a viable option for children in need throughout the world is a top priority for the Department of State. We are advancing new initiatives for intercountry adoption and strengthening our relationships with the adoption community. We appreciate hearing from you about ways that we can continue these efforts." More Information.

November 3, 2015. How Can We Do Better? Montgomery County Circuit Court Records reveal that Brian O'Callaghan, a former division chief of the National Security Agency, is planning to plead guilty to child abuse resulting death. O'Callaghan, was facing murder charges in the beating death of his 3 year old son Madoc, adopted from South Korea. This plea agreement leaves O'Callaghan subject to a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison but usually results in a sentence of 12 to 20 years. O'Callaghan and his wife, who have another child, passed the home study and received the adoption preparation required by Catholic Charities for families seeking to internationally adopt a child with special needs. More Information.

November 2, 2015. DRC Government Allows 69 Internationally Adopted Children to Leave. The government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo announced today that 69 internationally adopted children could exit the country because their dossiers " were perfectly in order and so the children could be authorized to leave." Of these children, fourteen are from the U.S. while others have parents from Italy, Belgium, Canada, Germany, France, the Netherlands and Switzerland. DRC Justice Minister Alexis Thambwe Mwamba further stated that: "All the other adoption dossiers will wait until the new law on adoptions currently under debate is finalized. "Until the new law is approved, we will no longer discuss these international adoption cases." More Information.

October 29, 2015. China Ends One-Child Policy. The Chinese Communist Party leadership committee announced today that it was ending the one-child policy, enacted in 1980, and permitting all families to have two children. The one-child policy led to a drastic decrease in the rate of China's population growth, a large gender disparity with many more boys than girls being born, and the abandonment of female infants and children, some of whom were adopted internationally. The abandonment of China's non-special needs international adoption program and the easing of the one-child policy in 2013 portended today's major announcement. More Information.

October 28, 2015. Renaming Adopted Children and Haitian Regulations. Our attention was drawn to an online discussion on the subject of renaming adopted children. In this connection it was ironic that during the Department of State discussion last week about Haitian adoption procedures, we were informed that the Haitian government has now made it mandatory for adoptive parents to change their child's name from the child's Haitian name. More Information.

October 27, 2015. Department of State Adoptions' Unit Has a New Email Address. The Department of State announced during its stakeholders' teleconference last week that it has a new email address: It is attempting to phase out all previous addresses and asks that everyone use this address for questions and comments. Please also remember that generally DOS cannot answer questions about individual cases without privacy act waivers.

October 26, 2015. TV Report on Justin Harris "rehoming" case Tells Only a Bit About this Tragic Case. ABC's 20/20 covered the infamous Justin Harris story last week. Harris is the Arkansas state legislator who, with his wife, adopted three girls from foster care and then "rehomed" two of them with a pedophile former employee of Mrs. Harris' day care center who abused the older girl. The ABC story portrayed the Harris family more sympathetically than would seem possible and glossed over or omitted the most damning facts. One of these is that in this case the system tried to work. Both the social worker and the foster parents of the two younger girls strongly objected to the Harris' request to adopt the children. These experienced individuals who knew the children understood that at best, the Harris' were ill-equipped and the wrong people to have custody of these traumatized children. Yet the Harris family prevailed. Why? The 20/20 episode does not discuss this question. A cogent explanation is given by the Arkansas Times, which has covered this story from the beginning: "Rep. Justin Harris had direct influence over the DCFS [Department of Children and Family Services] budget, and emails show that on at least one occasion he flexed his legislative muscle by holding up funding for the division." More Information.

October 21, 2105. DOS Schedules Conference Call Concerning Haitian Adoptions. The Department of State and USCIS will be holding a conference call on Friday, October 23, 2015 to discuss the meetings which recently occurred between Haitian and U.S. representatives regarding the need for U.S. families to obtain plenary rather than simple adoptions in order to complete a Hague compliant international adoption from Haiti. On Friday, October 23, U.S. officials will discuss these recent meetings as well as the conversion process for simple to plenary adoptions and IBESR case processing. Information on how to join the Haiti Teleconference may be found be here.

October 20, 2015. Adoptive Family Relief Act Becomes Law. Last week President Obama signed into law the Adoptive Family Relief Act. This law waives immigrant visa renewal or replacement fees incurred in the process of adopting a child who had been lawfully adopted or was coming to the U.S. in order to be adopted if: "the child was unable to use the original immigrant visa during the period of its validity as a direct result of extraordinary circumstances, including the denial of an exit permit; and such inability was attributable to factors beyond the control of the adopting parent or parents." This legislation will be of great benefit to the hundreds of adoptive families whose children remain in the Democratic Republic of the Congo despite the fact that they have been legally adopted by U.S. families. More Information.

October 19, 2105. A Fascinating Insight into Gay Adult Adoption. In the not-so-distant past, when gay marriage was unthinkable, a number of committed gay and lesbian couples created permanent, legal relationships using adoption statutes. Once one member of the couple adopted the other, both would have the rights of any parent and child which included medical and hospital privileges and inheritance rights. The cited article contains fascinating information on some of the couples who took this route to family creation, including noted civil rights leader Bayard Rustin. More Information.

October 15, 2015. Department of State Description of the Future of International Adoption. Last week the Department of State held a symposium for adoption service providers, "A Collaborative Future for Adoption." At the end of the symposium, DOS posted this summary on its website: "We found these discussions fruitful as we discussed strategies to increase coordination and cooperation in relation to intercountry adoption. The Department's goal is to strengthen our relationships and communication with the adoption community, and this symposium served as a starting place to pursue that goal. The Department believes intercountry adoption should be a viable option for children in each country, and working to ensure the adoption process is ethical, transparent, and in a child's best interests is a Department priority. We believe intercountry adoption can provide children the opportunity to grow up in a loving, protective, and permanent family environment when they cannot be cared for in their country of birth." We have nothing to add to this excellent statement. We look forward to seeing how DOS works to implement its pledge. More Information.

October 14, 2015. Massachusetts State Senate to Take Up Unauthorized Child Custody Transfer question. The Massachusetts State Senate will consider the practice informally known as "re-homing,"--the unauthorized transfer of a child. The proposed legislation would impose fines of from $5,000 to $25,000 for advertising children for unauthorized transfer and calls for prison sentences of up to 20 years for actually so placing a child. Of equal importance, the legislation would mandate that adoption service providers present prospective adoptive parents with the best available information on the child they are considering adopting and also provide post-placement services. More Information.

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