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September 18, 2014. State Laws on Surrogacy Differ Widely. The federal system of U.S. law has left many issues of family law to the states to decide as each government sees fit. Nowhere is the pattern more varied than in the case of surrogacy law. States have struggle even to catch up with the ever-changing technology, not to mention attempting to come to terms with various ethical dilemmas occasioned by the world of choices made possible by assisted reproductive technology. In this New York Times article, the reporter lays out some of the issues and provides an excellent chart detailing what states consider permissible, from California, which has been labeled the "Wild West of reproductive law" to New Jersey where the effects of the 26 year old "Baby M" case have left the state with very restrictive case law. For the article, click here.

September 17, 2014. UNICEF Executive Board Meets in New York--What Topic is Omitted? Unicef's executive Board met in New York last week with its attention focused on child protection. We wholeheartedly agree with the emphasis on the importance of a family to the well being of children and endorse the statement of UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake that: "[N]o matter how good the staff or how modern the institution, children need more than what any institution can give them . . . They need homes. They need a family - not just people who care about them, but people who are physically there, giving them the individual attention they need and a constant presence that reminds them they're more than cared for: they're loved." But what was Mr. Lake's solution: "The better solution . .."is to place children in loving foster homes, and the best solution is to return them to a responsible family member." Neither domestic nor international adoption is an answer that Mr. Lake considers appropriate. Here we have a roadmap for unparented children to be victimized twice over. More Information.

September 16, 2014. Gay Parents Face Special Challenges in Custody Battles. A New York ruling the past June demonstrated that the Marriage Equality Act does not grant parental status to a non-biological parent of a child, even though a heterosexual partner would probably have had his or her rights recognized in similar situations. In this case the judge ruled that the non-biological mother had no standing to seek custody because the law did not recognize her as a parent. Judge Judge Edmund M. Dane acknowledged "inequity" and "imbalance" in the law but ruled against the mother anyway. Had the non-biological mother adopted her son as a second parent adoption, her rights would have been protected. "I always like to say to my clients, they have to think 1950s," says lawyer Carol L. Buell. . ."The only way your family will be protected is if you think like the 1950s: Make an honest woman of your partner, marry her before you have children. I sound like a very conservative person every time I give advice. But there's a whole category of children who are now illegitimate." More Information.

September 15, 2014. Vietnam Reopens Tomorrow for Special Needs Adoption to the United States. Starting tomorrow, September 16, 2014, the Department of State will process Hague Convention adoptions for U.S. citizens from Vietnam. These "Special Adoption Program" placements will be of children with special needs, children five and over and biological sibling groups. Vietnam's Ministry of Justice, which is its central authority, has designated only two U.S. agencies to work in Vietnam. These agencies are Dillon International, Inc. and Holt International Children's Services, Inc. DOS will only process adoptions from Vietnam that fall within the guidelines of the Special Adoption Program and are done using one of these two authorized agencies. More Information.

September 11, 2014. Government and Other Notices: UAA In Effect. The Intercountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act of 2012 (UAA) went into effect on July 14, 2014. Put simply, UAA means that the accreditation requirements and standards applying to Hague Convention adoptions now also apply to international adoptions from non-Hague countries. Potential adoptive parents who are in the process of adopting from non-Hague countries should check with their agencies to make sure that the adoptions are either grandfathered under the old rules or meet the new requirements. This is a matter of vital importance since non-compliant adoptions will not be approved by the Department of State. More Information.

September 10, 2014. Parental Kidnapping Accusation Diverts China Bound Fight. A United Airlines flight bound for Beijing was returned to the United States last week after the father of a child onboard convinced U.S. authorities that his former wife was defying a custody order by removing their son from the United States. It is a federal crime for one parent to removed a child from the U.S. in violation of a court order. The United States is also a signatory to the Hague Abduction Convention which governs international abduction issues but like the Hague Adoption Convention, the Abduction Convention only applies if both countries involved are signatories. China is not a signatory to the Convention. More Information.

September 9, 2014. South Korea Changes its Adoption Law. South Korea has amended its adoption law in many important ways. For the first time the law states: "The Government shall endeavor to reduce the number of Korean children adopted abroad, as part of its duties and responsibilities to protect children." Since the Korean War ended in 1953, over 160,000 Korean children were adopted internationally. Many of those children are grown with strong views about international adoption, both in favor of it and against it. A number of them have had significant input into the writing of this new legislation. For an excellent summary of the debate within the Korean adoptee community, click here.

September 8, 2014. Summer Vacation is Over and We Return to Newscap with a Wonderful Story about Adoption. Jennifer Bricker is a 26 year old acrobat and aerialist who has performed around the world. Jennifer was born without legs but that has not stopped her from being a great success at her chosen career. Adopted as a newborn, Jennifer was given steadfast support and love from her parents who believed that Jennifer could do anything she determined to accomplish. As a child Jennifer's idol was U.S. Olympic gymnast Dominique Moceanu. How amazing then that at 18 Jennifer discovered that Dominique was her biological sister. Watch Jennifer's account by clicking here.

June 16, 2014. Important Information for Potential/ Adoptive Parents with Children in the DRC. Families who are in the process of adopting children from the Democratic Republic of the Congo must look at the important alert sent by the Department of State yesterday. DOS reports that the Congolese officials (DGM) have agreed to review documents for children whose cases appear to meet the requirements for exceptions set out in DOS's October 23, 2013 Adoption Alert. For a case to be reviewed, the family must provide the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasha with a long list of documents by June 25, 2014. Families should immediately go to the website below and follow the very specific instructions given. Click here.

June 5, 2014. DACA Renewal Process. USCIS has created a renewal process for people with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status. The relevant form is revised Form I-821D which is what individuals should use for both initial and renewed DACA requests. USCIS urges individuals who currently hold DACA status to submit their requests for renewals approximately 120 days before the expiry date of their DACA and employment authorization. More Information.

June 3, 2014. British Scientists Call on Government to Allow Three-Parent Babies. The British government's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) reports that after examining "voluminous" information, it had concluded that the techniques of using three genetic parents for babies was "not unsafe" and potentially useful." This procedure involves taking donor DNA for a second woman's egg which is then implanted into the intended mother's egg to prevent children from suffering serious illnesses such as muscular dystrophy and mitochondrial disease. Many people are eager to be candidates for this procedure but HFEA cautions that experiments on human embryos are needed as the next step. More Information.

June 2, 2014. USCIS Provides New Information on Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. USCIS has now posted new educational resources on Special Immigrant Juvenile Status or (SIJ) which is a unique immigration classification that under certain circumstances presents a way that foreign-born children in need of humanitarian protection who are in the United States can immediately apply for lawful permanent resident status. These resources are:

To access these postings go to

May 29, 2014. New Jersey Allows Adoptee Access to Original Birth Certificates. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, on May 27, 2014, signed into law a bill which will allow adoptees to have access to their original birth certificates. The law is a compromise between what legislators had originally proposed and what the governor was willing to sign. It does allow for retroactivity, permits birth parents to redact portions of the original birth certificate for any adoption finalized before August 1, 2015 and includes contact preferences. Under certain circumstances it also requires birth parents to file updated health information. To download the text of the bill, click here.

May 28, 2014. DRC to Issue A Limited Number of Exit Permits. The Department of State has announced that on Monday, the Congolese General Direction of Migration (DGM) told various embassies that it is now prepared to issue exit permits to 62 Congolese children whose cases fully meet the requirements of Congolese law. Of these 62 cases, 15 are children who were adopted by U.S. families. The U.S. Embassy in Kinshasha is contacting those families by email. The DGM further announced that " all other children adopted by foreigners will not be issued exit permits until a new law reforming intercountry adoptions enters into force, even if their cases met the DGM's previous exception criteria (as outlined in the Department's October 23, 2013 Adoption Alert). This new law has not yet been drafted and Congolese authorities are not able to commit to a particular timeframe in which they expect to develop and implement any new law(s).." Furthermore because the new law may include retroactively effective provisions, DOS is warning U.S. PAPs that "While the courts may continue processing adoptions, the children adopted during the suspension will not be able to obtain exit permits to depart the country and are not guaranteed to be eligible for exit permits once any new law is promulgated. More Information.

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