October 31, 2007. Don't Trick or Treat for UNICEF. UNICEF has a great brand name and a warm place in most people's hearts. After all, it saves children's lives, doesn't it? Unfortunately, UNICEF also has a history of anti-Intercountry Adoption pronouncements and policies. For years UNICEF refused to support ICA as a legitimate method of family formation. Even now, while ostensibly supporting ICA, its officials, both in New York and in-country, are trying to lower drastically the number of children who will be adopted internationally. Parents and children who wish to collect money to improve children's lives will easily be able to find alternative beneficiaries.
October 30, 2007. Chad Government Arrests Sixteen Europeans in "Adoption" Case. Chad government officials arrested seven aid workers from French NGO Zoe's Ark, as well as reporters and charter plane flight crew in the Eastern city of Abeche on October 25. According to the government, the Europeans were attempting to smuggle out 103 Sudanese children for illegal adoption in Europe. Employees of the French charity maintain they were attempting to provide foster care and medical treatment for unparented Sudanese refugees. Neither Chad nor Sudan allow Intercountry Adoption. UNICEF personnel are now caring for the children. If convicted, the NGO's employees face twenty years at hard labor. More Information.
October 29, 2007. New Procedures for ICA from Vietnam. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced that as of today, October 29, 2007, the Ho Chi Minh City CIS offices will have sole jurisdiction over the I-600, Petition to Declare Orphan an Immediate Relative form for ICA from Vietnam. All new forms must be filed with the Ho Chi Minh City CIS office. Moreover, as of November 16, 2007, the office will not expedite the processing of this key document because the prospective parent(s) is already in Vietnam. CIS states that these new procedural requirements arose because of the need to respond to growing questions about the "irregularities in the methods chosen to identify children for adoption in Vietnam." More information.
October 25, 2007. Numbers. So much of the basis of policy can be revealed by looking at the numbers involved. For example, in (FY) 2005, Americans adopted 7,906 children from China. In the same year, 17, 310,000 babies were born in China. Therefore any statement that Intercountry Adoption from China to the United States is a major determinant of Chinese demography appears to be widely off-base. ICA is very important to each family involved and it may play a symbolic role in the Chinese debate on gender imbalance but it terms of actual results, it is decidedly limited. More Information.
October 24, 2007. JCICS Update on Guatemala. The Joint Council on International Children's Services has issued an update of developments with respect to Intercountry Adoption from Guatemala and the effect of pending Hague legislation/ratification in both Guatemala and the United States on currently in-process ICA cases. Among other things, JCICS reports that Guatemalan President Oscar Berger has not made a firm commitment to grandfathering transition ICA cases. The update also states that 70 Members of the House of Representatives and 28 Senators have agreed to sign letters to President Berger and UNICEF supporting a proper resolution to the Guatemalan adoption crisis. More Information.
October 23, 2007. Incident at the PGN. The Procuradoria General de la Nacion of Guatemala (PGN) is the Guatemalan government gatekeeper for Intercountry Adoption. PGN officials must review all aspects of any ICA from that country. On October 18, Susana Luarca, a leading Guatemlan adoption attorney and vocal proponent of ICA from that country, was involved in what she describes as an incident of kidnapping and intimidation at the PGN. Ms. Luarca, who also is a key member of the Asociacion Defensores de la Adopcian, (an organization of Guatemalan adoption attorneys), describes a fearsome ordeal on the Guatadopt website. We regret learning about anything that makes proceedings at the PGN less transparent and above-board. More Information.
October 22, 2007. Program For Adopting Teens Domestically. You Gotta Believe, The Older Child Adoption and Permanency Movement, Inc. is an organization that works to place older children with permanent adoptive families. This not-for-profit has its own television (web-accessible) and radio programs and offers a myriad of opportunities for potential adoptive parents. Information may be accessed at the website listed below. Pat O'Brien, Founder and Executive Director of You Gotta Believe, will be speaking at the Center for Adoption Policy's Fifth Annual Adoption Law Conference on April 25, 2008. More Information.
October 18, 2007. Ireland halts ICA from Ethiopia. The Irish Adoption Board, which governs all Intercountry Adoption to Ireland, has halted any ICA from Ethiopia and Rwanda pending an investigation of the ICA adoption laws and practices of those countries. According to the Board's announcement, this is a precautionary move taken while the Board does a further examination of "a number of legal Issues." Potential American Adoptive Parents are certainly united in their hope that there is nothing in either country's law or practice that warrants such a suspension. More Information.
October 17, 2007. What Does UNICEF say about ICA in Guatemala. UNICEF officials have long been known for their equivocal (to say the least) position on Intercountry Adoption. Now UNICEF officials, Dr. Manuel Manrique and Kelley Bunkers, have given their views on ICA from Guatemala on a blog-radio show, "Creating a Family." Interested readers can listen to a recording of this show by clicking on the link below. Among other things, Kelley Bunkers stated that the Guatemala 5000 campaign launched by JCICS should not have "targeted UNICEF" erroneously. According to Dr. Manrique, UNICEF does endorse ICA but only after all attempts have been made to keep the birth family together. More Information.
October 16, 2007. Website Alert. At this time of turbulence in Intercountry Adoption, it is worthwhile pointing out again that many of the websites of participants in the adoption relationship, that is to say agencies, lawyers, doctors, the State Department, and USCIS, are not always completely up-to-date. No one should rely on information obtained on websites or from chat groups without ensuring the validity and timeliness of the information.
October 15, 2007. CIS Changes Guatemala Procedures. The Citizenship and Immigrations Services (CIS) has announced that effective today it has placed a limit on the number of initial adoption petitions it will accept from potential American adoptive parents wishing to adopt from Guatemala. Only 40 appointment slots will be available each day from Monday to Thursday and only one application can be submitted during each appointment slot. (Previously up to four applications could be submitted at the same time). USCIS also stated that it is increasing the number of staff that will process pending adoption petitions where initial documents have already been filed. More Information.
October 10, 2007. Guatemala's Vice-President Gives His Views. Eduardo Stein, Vice-President of Guatemala, has long been known for his opposition to Intercountry Adoption. Now he has written an op-ed piece in Prensa Libre, expanding on his views. Stein calls the legal cases "a sordid and sinister field of baby business, where mothers are deceived, children are stolen to be commercialized (or even worse, to sell organs), and the stomachs of young women are contracted to have a diversified product year-round." In so doing, he is re-invigoratingthe vicious rumor that Americans adopt children in order to harvest their body parts. It is clear that in its last months of power, the Berger-Stein administration is determined to do what it can to limit, if not end, ICA from Guatemala.
October 9, 2007. Disappointing CCAA Referrals. The China Center for Adoption Affairs sent its monthly non-special needs referrals last week for families whose dossiers had been logged in to CCAA on November 28, 29 and 30, 2005. This is one of the smallest batches of referrals yet and it means that these families will travel to get their children around two years after their papers were first logged in. Even harder for those families, when they began their adoption process, referrals from China were taking about eight months. More Information.
October 8, 2007. Guatemala 5000 Initiative. The goal of the Guatemala 5000 Initiative is to ensure that potential adoptive parents with referrals from Guatemala are grandfathered when new Hague compliant legislation goes into effect. So far the U.S. State Department, the Hague Permanent Bureau and UNICEF Guatemala are supporting amendments of new Guatemalan Intercountry Adoption legislation to permit referred children to come home to their new families. Estimates of children in process range from 3,000 to 5,000. Action items and developments pertaining to this crucial issue can be found at http://www.jcics.org/Guatemala5000.htm#News.
October 3, 2007. CNN to Broadcast on Guatemalan Adoptions Tonight. CNN's Anderson Cooper plans a report on Intercountry adoption from Guatemala on his show tonight. The website teaser is provocative: "Were babies created specifically for sale to Americans? Just one of the allegations made against a Guatemala adoption agency under fire while the destiny of dozens of babies hangs in the balance. " Earlier this year Paula Zahn, no longer with CNN, broadcast a report on adoption from China which was heavily, and rightly, criticized. More Information.
October 2, 2007. New Study Finds Chinese Special Needs Children Adjusting Well. According to a new study, "Special Needs Adoption from China: Exploring Child-Level Indicators, Adoptive Family Characteristics, and Correlates of Behavioral Adjustment," by Tony Tan, Kofi Marfo and Robert Dedrick, published in the current issue of Children and Youth Services Review (Volume 29, Issue 10), there are no important differences in the adjustment of children adopted from China with special needs as compared to non-special needs children adopted from China. These results are even more impressive given that the mean age for waiting children was 47 months, as compared to 15 months for children adopted through the non-special needs program. More Information.
October 1, 2007. State Department Amends Guatemala Communique to include Plea for Transition Cases. The State Department has added the following to its declaration concerning Intercountry Adoption from Guatemala: "At this time, over 3000 applications for adoption from Guatemala are in process with USCIS or the Guatemala government. The U.S. government is asking the Government of Guatemala to allow such cases, now pending, to proceed to completion without additional requirements." We are saddened that more than 3000 families are caught in the middle of the Guatemala ICA crisis and appreciate the fact that the State Department has included this crucial plea. More Information.
Center for Adoption Policy (CAP)