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October 20, 2016. Government and Other Notices: Poland. The Department of State has passed on the following warning of adoption processing delays from Poland: "U. S. Embassy in Warsaw reports delays in the processing and approval of intercountry adoption cases by the Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Policy, Poland's Central Authority under the Hague Adoption Convention. The process is currently taking approximately 60-90 days to receive approval to finalize the cases in Polish court. This is due in part to a re-organization within the Ministry. The U.S. Embassy is closely monitoring the situation." More Information.

October 19, 2016. A Very Complex Case Tests New York's Expanded Defintion of Parenthood. In August, the New York Court of Appeals (the state's highest court) handed down a decision in the Matter of Brooke S.B. which held that that "'where a petitioner proves by clear and convincing evidence that he or she has agreed with the biological parent of the child to conceive and raise the child as co-parents, the petitioner has presented sufficient evidence to achieve standing to seek custody and visitation of the child." Now a new casež involving a child adopted from Ethiopia is testing the meaning of the Brooke S. B. ruling. The issue presented is whether a person, whose relationship with adoptive parent had ended prior to the time of adoption can claim standing as a co-parent by virtue of her frequent care of the child and her commitment to co-parent. Presiding Justice Frank P. Nervo has drafted these questions for the lawyers in the case: "How formalized was the relationship between Ms. Gunn and Abush [the child] ? What did he think Ms. Gunn's role was? Did Ms. Gunn assume the duties of a parent? What would be the impact on Abush if their relationship ended?" We look forward to the ruling. More Information.

October 18, 2016. New Surrogacy Bill Proposed For Ontario. Canada regulates surrogacy by province, and Ontario legislators are considering a new bill on surrogacy. The All Families Are Equal Act (Bill 28) is intended to end discrimination in surrogacy practices but, according to Toronto lawyer Sara Cohen, who specializes in assisted reproductive technology law, the bill is seriously flawed. Among other things, it does not distinguish between traditional and gestational surrogacy, it gives the surrogate seven days to change her mind after birth, and eliminates judicial overview of surrogacy. More Information.

October 17, 2016. How To Help Endangered Children. The death of six year old Zymere Perkins last month, who had been under the supervision on New York's Administration for Children's Services, has led to the same question being asked as happens each times a child dies in these circumstances. "What can we do better?" Professor Richard Gelles, of the University of Pennsylvania has come up with a surprising answer: Big Data. In a new book, to be published next year, Gelles lays out three top problems: agencies are confused as to who their clients are. Their clients are the children, not the parents. Second, too much information is not shared among agencies. Finally, there is no evidence that more caseworkers or harsher punishment of abusive parents works. What Gelles points to as a possible solution is algorithms-big data. In a test analysis last year, computer algorithms were able to pick up children in danger 90 percent of the time. That was enough to convince Los Angeles county to try this model. More Information.

October 13, 2016. Adoption Rights for Married Same- Sex Couples is Affirmed by New York Court Decision. A New York family court last week ruled that married lesbian couples could still file for second-parent adoptions, even though the fact of their marriage would seem to render second parent adoptions unnecessary. As Susan Sommer, National Director of Constituional Litigation at Lambda Legal explains, "So long as uncertainty persists in this country and abroad about the status of children conceived by same-sex couples using assisted reproduction, children's best interests are served through second parent adoptions confirming what already should be crystal clear everywhere: the legal parental status of the second non-biological parent. Children have a right to both of their parents, and taking a 'belt and suspenders' approach is the best way to secure that right. As this decision confirms, the courts have the authority and responsibility to issue second parent adoptions for children in these families." More information.

October 12, 2016. Israeli Ruling on Assisted Reproductive Technology. One of the most contentious aspects of assisted reproductive technology is the question of who, other than the donor, has rights to preserved sperm, eggs or embryos. For the first time, an Israeli court has ruled in favor of parents who wish to use the sperm of their deceased young son, which was retrieved at the time of his death, to help conceive a child. The parents plan to use a donor egg and hire a gestational surrogate to carry a child. The parents then will raise the child. Prior to this ruling, Israeli courts had reserved the right to so use sperm to the spouse of the decedent. More Information.

October 11, 2016. Warnings About the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopa. Due to civil unrest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia, the Department of State has posted warnings about travel to and from each country. Furthermore, DOS has alerted prospective adoptive parents that adoption processing may be affected in the DRC. DOS urges PAPs in the DRC to to work with their adoption service provider and representatives in country to develop plans for the protection of their children." PAPs should monitor DOS and U.S. Embassy websites as well. More Information.

September 29, 2016. VA Appropriations Bill, Including Increased Support for Fertility Care, Passes Congress. Congress has passed a new appropriations bill for the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs. For the first time the fertility care for veterans, including IVF, will be covered. Previously fertility care was restricted to active duty military. The bill awaits President Obama's signature and all indications are that he will sign this bill very soon.

September 28, 2016. Keep in Mind The Accuracy for Adoptees Act. Recognizing that birth date given for some foreign born adoptees in their sending country documents may be wrong, Congress passed and the President signed thte Accuracy in Adoption Act (P.L. 113-74) in 2014. This law states:

    ''(c) A Certificate of Citizenship or other Federal document issued or requested to be amended under this section shall reflect the child's name and date of birth as indicated on a State court order, birth certificate, certificate of foreign birth, certificate of birth abroad, or similar State vital records document issued by the child's State of residence in the United States after the child has been adopted or readopted in that State."

Adoptive parents and their attorneys should keep this law in mind if they have obtained a State court order which changes the child's birth date.

September 27, 2016. North Carolina's Senator Richard Burr Co-Sponsors the Vulnerable Children and Families Act. We are delighted to announce that Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina (R) has agreed to co-sponsor the Vulnerable Children and Families Act of 2016 (S. 3279). This bill, if passed, would do much to protect unparented children as well as require stricter reporting standards from U.S. government departments about the status of orphans and vulnerable children around the world. More information.

September 26, 2016. Peru Suspends All Adoptions. The government of Peru has suspended both domestic and intercountry adoptions. This suspension will last until the government completes an internal review of its adoption procedures and all cases from the last five years. According to the Department of State, this review is at least partly motivated by the lack of compliance by adoptive families of the post-adoption reporting requirements. More Information.

September 21, 2016. The Confusing State of Canada's Surrogacy Laws. Canada has become an ever-more popular destiniation for couples seeking to parent through surrogacy. This development stems from the closure or drastic reduction of formerly successful programs in Thailand, India and Mexico as well as the perception that Canadian law offers certainty to intended parents and surrogates alike. The article cited below, however, points out that the vagueness of Canada's Assisted Human Reproduction Act has left many areas of surrogracy law in practice extremely hard to predict, posing legal risks for all parties involved. To read the article please click here.

September 20, 2016. U.S. State Department Warns Against Adopting From Congo. The Department of State has issued a strongly worded warning aginst adopting from the Democratic Republic of Congo. As DOS explains, except in rare circumstnace involving pipeline cases, the DRC government has kept its exit permit suspension for adoptions in place. Moreover, "there are no exceptions to the exit permit suspension for adoptions by relatives, prospective adoptive parents of Congolese descent, or any prospective adoptive parents who intend to take their child out of the DRC for the purpose of immigration, even where one parent maintains Congolese citizenship. The DGM and the Interministerial Commission have stated the suspension will remain in effect until new adoption laws are passed and go into effect. The Congolese government has not provided a timeline for when such laws might be passed." Given these facts, an American family would be ill-advised to begin an adoption from Congo at this time. More Information.

September 19, 2016. A Negative View of Orphanage "Voluntourism." Georgette Mulheir, the Chief Executive Officer of Lumos, the NGO created by J.K. Rowling to end chld institutionalization, has written a passionate article condemning so-called "voluntourism," where western volunteers donate their time to work in poorer nations' institutions, such as orphanages or hospitals. Mulheir worries that the opportuniy for orphange directors to profit from an influx of western help and money will encourage family break-ups and the creation of so-called orphans who could instead,with propwer financial help, be living with their birth or extended family. We share Mulheir's condemnation of institutionalized care. We just wonder why she and Lumos do not also support international adoption for unparented children who otherwise are condemned to orphanages. More Information.

September 15, 2016. Government and Other Notices: Congo. The Department of State has posted a notice announcing the impletmenation of the refund provisions of the Adoptive Family Relief Act (PL 114-70). This law, which went into effect in October 2015, allows "immigrant visa fees to be waived or refunded under certain circumstances for children legally adopted by a U.S. citizen or children coming to the United States to be adopted by a U.S. citizen who has legal custody of the child for purposes of emigration and adoption in the United States." It applies to families who have adopted or have custody of children from the Congo under certain circumstances which are detailed in this notice. DOS has also set forth the procedures for obtaining refunds. More Information.

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