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November 20, 2014. An Adoption Month Salute to Senator Mary Landrieu. During November, which is National Adoption Month, we try to give recognition to those who have made a difference to the lives of children who have found their permanent, loving families through adoption. Today we would like thank Senator Mary Landrieu for all that she has done and continues to do for child welfare. Senator Landrieu has been a pillar of advocacy for unparented children. The laws which she has sponsored, in the areas of foster care, domestic adoption and international adoption, have created tangible improvements in the lives of millions of children in the eighteen years Senator Landrieu has served in Washington. Her tireless work for families whose children have been stuck in foreign country limbo has provided a crucial lifeline to so many children. We as a community owe Senator Landrieu a huge debt of gratitude.

November 19, 2014. Government and Other Notices: Adoption Agency Suspended. The Council on Accredditation (COA) suspended the accreditation of Illien Adoptions International, Inc. on November 7, 2014, citing Illien's failure "maintain substantial compliance with the accreditation standards at 22 Code of Federal Regulations Part 96, Subpart F." The suspension will last at least 15 days and until Illien has corrected its violations. Illien has programs in Azerbaijan, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, India, Nepal, and Venezuela, as well as for outgoing adoptions from the United States. More Information.

November 17, 2014. The Dave Thomas Foundation Names Adoption-Friendly Workplaces. The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption has come out with its annual list of the most adoption friendly work places. Not only is there a top 100 companies by industry but also a list of the best companies by size and in the state of Ohio. The Dave Thomas website is an excellent source for adoption-related information as well. More Information.

November 13, 2014. Government and Other Alerts: Mexico. The Department of State has announced that as of January 2, 2015, the Immigration Visa Unit in the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez will process all intercountry adoption visa applications for the adoption of Mexican Children. This includes all I-800 petitions as well as remained I-600 petitions. Until January 1, 2015, the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City will continue to process these applications. The adoption process otherwise remains the same: "After completing the adoption and obtaining a new birth certificate and passport for their adopted child(ren), adoptive parents should plan to appear before the SRE in Mexico City in order to apply for the required Article 23 certificate. Once the SRE issues the Article 23, adoptive parents may then travel to Ciudad Juarez to complete the visa application. Anyone with questions may contact DOS at AdoptionUSCA@state.gov or call us at 1-888-407-4747. More Information.

November 12, 2014. Adoptions Plummet in England. The Adoption Leadership Board has announced that the number of adoptions in England fell by almost half in less than a year. Part of the reason for the drop may be several recent court decisions in adoption and foster care cases. The most senior family court judge chastised social workers for sloppy work and for turning too quickly to adoption. As a result, many local authorities may have decided not to process adoptions at all. The government is being asked for clearer guidance of how best to proceed. For More Information.

November 11, 2014. What Adoption Means to a Child. November is National Adoption Month and in recognition of this fact Huffington Post has assembled "27 Breathtaking Photos Of Adoptive Families Uniting." Take a look at these beautiful pictures. Adoption changes the world of each child who, through this form of family creation, finds her permanent, loving family. The story can be found by clicking here.

November 10, 2014. China's "Baby Hatches" Prove a Useful Refugee for Children Parents Cannot Raise. Two years ago China opened "Baby Hatches," where parents could anonymously leave their babies and children who they could not raise. The Ministry of Civil Affairs has announced that the program will be expanded nationwide during 2015. An analysis of 262 children left in Guangzhou found that all were ill or disabled. Almost half had cerebral palsy, 15 percent had Down's Syndrome and 12 percent suffered from congenital heart disease. These children were placed in local orphanages and may well be available for international adoption at some later date.

November 6, 2014. Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act Provides Funds for Post-Placement Support for Domestic and Internationally Adopted Children. The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act (PL 113-183), which became law earlier this year has among its goals the improvement of post placement services for adopted children. It provides that states must invest at least 20 percent of their savings from increased federal subsidies for adoption assistance into post-adoption and post-guardianship services. Notably, these services are not restricted to children adopted from foster care or state custody but are applicable to any child "who might otherwise enter into foster care under the responsibility of the state." We are delighted to see increased support for these essential support services.

November 5. 2014. U.S. and Canada Investigate U.S. Adoption Agency Beause of Race-Basesd Fee Scale. Reports that a Florida agency charges potential adoptive parents higher fees for white babies than for black babies has officials on both sides of the border reviewing Adoption by Shepherd Care's practices. Jayne Schmidt, from the U.S. Council on Accreditation, which accredits agency on behalf of the Department of State said, "It does raise a lot of ethical questions...We'd like to know more about it." Ms. Schmidt said that she had contacted DOS to ensure that COA as well as agencies are given "appropriate guidance relating to the fee standards," According to a CBC investigative report, Canadian clients were charged fees of $44,000 for a white baby but only $35,000 for a black child. The fee for adopting a biracial child fell between these ranges. More Information.

October 29, 2014. U.S. Government Changes Rules on Citizenship for Children Born Through ARTS. USCIS and the Department of State announced yesterday that they have changed their official manuals pertaining the child citizenship for children born abroad through assisted reproductive technology. From now on children born to gestational and legal U.S. citizen mothers will be automatically entitled to U.S. citizenship whether or not the there is a genetic link between mother and child. We welcome this change. More Information.

October 28, 2014. Tennessee Surrogacy Case Illustrates Need for Clearer Laws. Three years ago a Tennessee woman, acting as a surrogate for an Italian couple, gave birth to a child. One week later, the Tennessee woman changed her mind and decided to try to keep her baby girl, even though she had no DNA connection with the child and the intended Italian father was the sperm donor. The legal action has been winding its way through the Tennessee courts since then as the girl continued to live with the Italian couple. Now the Tennessee Supreme Court has ruled partially in favor of the surrogate, and has remanded the case back to a Nashville Juvenile Court which will decide on the girl's custody and visitation. This tragic case is due, at least partly, said the Supreme Court, to Tennessee's surrogacy law which "lacks a clear process for persons to create, carry out, and enforce traditional surrogacy agreements [leaving] parties to surrogacy contracts and courts ill-equipped to deal with the complex questions that inevitably arise in this area of law." Tennessee is one of four states that does not permit the intended mother, in a surrogacy arrangement where a donor egg is used, to be listed as the mother on the child's birth certificate. Instead, the intended mother must go through a "stepparent adoption" after the child is born. More Information.

October 23, 2014. HHS Announces $9 million grant for Legal Services for Children Coming Across the Border. The Department of Health and Human Services has announced $9 million in grant money will be available for organizations which can provide legal services to children who qualify as unaccompanied minors under the relevant federal legislative framework. This money will be spend on direct legal representation of these children in their immigration proceedings. Interested organizations can find more details by going to the Federal Register/Vol. 79, No. 200 /Thursday, October 16, 2014 /Notices 62159 (202) 401-6984; Shannon.rudisill@acf.hhs.gov or by contacting Jallyn Sualog, Director, Division of Children's Services, Office of Refugee Resettlement, 901 D Street SW. Washington, DC 20447, (202) 401-4997; jallyn.sualog@acf.hhs.gov.

October 22, 2014. Free Programs on the Internet Concerning Pro Bono Representation, Trafficking and Other Legal Issues of Interest to Our Community. We have recently become aware that there are many interesting legal webinars available at no cost on the internet. As many public interest law firms and organizations are short of funds, these programs provide a great way for attorneys in this sector to keep up-to-date and offer Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits for every state and Canada as well. A good example is this program which will be held on November 4, 2014: Working with Survivors of Human Trafficking: Learning about Immigration, Criminal, Civil, and Benefits Legal Remedies in California 2014 (Free). More Information.

October 21, 2014. State Department Calls for Release of Huang Family. The Department of State has urged Qatari authorities to allow Grace and Matthew Huang of Los Angeles to leave Qatar. The Huangs have been prisoners in Qatar for almost two years after Qatar authorities accused them of killing their adopted African daughter. The couple was found guilty of the lesser charge of child endangerment in March; yesterday the Qatari court was due to rule on the Huangs' appeal. Qatar does not permit adoption. Authorities concluded quickly that the Huangs had brought their daughter to Qatar with the goal of organ trafficking. More Information.

October 20, 2014. Joint Council and NCFA Ask For Conference Proposals. For the first time Joint Council and the National Council for Adoption are planning a joint conference. The subject is Putting Family First: Family Strengthening to Adoption and will be held in Arlington, Virginia from June 22-24, 2015. Both organizations have posted calls for proposals for hour- long panels (45 minutes plus 15 minutes for questions). Proposals, which are due no later than 5:00 pm, may be sent to https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/JC39SYM_RFP. More information on the Conference and the venue can be found at the websites of Joint Council and NCFA.

October 16, 2014. How Does A New York Court Rule on Whether a Foreign Adoption is Valid. Our discussion of the pending adoption case on Long Island, Matter of Child A (2014 NY Slip Op 24289, Decided on October 2, 2014 Sur Ct, Nassau County McCarty, J. Published by New York State Law Reporting Bureau pursuant to Judiciary Law § 431. http://law.justia.com/cases/new-york/other-courts/2014/2014-ny-slip-op-24289.html) has puzzled readers who have wondered how a New York court could rule on whether a Russian adoption was valid. The answer is that in non-Hague Convention cases, the rule of "comity" applies in New York. Comity means that the New York court may but does not have to recognize the validity of an adoption granted by another country. As to how a court would determine whether a Russian adoption was valid, the case of In Re: the Motion to Vacate the Adoption of John Doe. (Decided on March 26, 2007; http://caselaw.findlaw.com/ny-surrogates-court/1380473.html) is instructive. In this case, which involved a Cambodian adoption, the court explained that " Foreign law is an issue of fact to be found by the court.... The meaning of the [adoption] certificates under Cambodian law is thus a first critical step in untangling a complex and sometimes unsavory set of allegations in this proceeding." Therefore in the Long Island case the parties to the court case will present evidence on whether the requirements of Russian law were followed in the granting of the adoptions and the court make its ruling based on this evidence.

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