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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.

September 14, 2016. For Parents of Older Internationally Adopted Children. Back to school brings special issues for parents of adopted children. Yesterday we discussed the effects of trauma on schooling. Today we want to point to an excellent resource for parents of internationally adopted children for whom English will be a second language. These children are now known as English language leaners (ELL) and by law they are entitled to services from their public school district. However, many times schools either don't know what their obligations to these chidlren are or are dilatory in their provision of required services. This blog entry from a Holt Interntional site provides very useful information for parents of children in this situation. You may access it by clicking here.

September 13, 2016. Childhood Trauma: What Teachers Need to Know. Children adopted from the foster care system or most children who are now being adopted internationally are children who have suffered trauma. (Internationally adopted children are by and large children who are special needs, are older than six or are part of sibling groups.) We have learned a great deal in recent years about the wide-ranging effects of trauma on all aspects of a child's development. This article explains how teachers can assist these children and, by benefiting the affected child, improve the classroom experience for all the children. To see the article please click here.

September 12, 2016. Marriage Rates Continue to Fall in China Causing Major Changes in Society. In 2015, only 12 million Chinese couples registered to get married. This is the second year these numbers have dropped. Contributing reasons include the one-child policy which limited the number of marriage age young adults, the skewing effect of the one-child policy male preference which limited the number of women as compared to men and the growth in education for women. In 2014 women accounted for over than half the undergraduate population and almost half of all graduate students. Educated women are less interested in marriage for economic reasons and also postpone marriage until they are older and more setled in the career. The effects of these demographic changes on Chinese consumer economics has global implications. More Information.

September 8, 2016. Long-Awaited Proposed Federal Regulations Pertaining to International Adoption Released. The comment period for these regulations expires on November 7, 2016. We urge all members of the community to read and comment on these proposed regulations which establish "parameters for U.S. accrediting entities to authorize adoption service providers who have received accreditation or approval to provide adoption services in countries designated by the Secretary, which will be known as 'country-specific authorization' (CSA). Adoption service providers will only be permitted to act as primary providers in a CSA-designated country if they have received CSA for that particular country. The proposed rule also strengthens certain standards for accreditation and approval, including those related to fees and the use of foreign providers. In addition, the proposed rule enhances standards related to preparation of prospective adoptive parents so that they receive more training related to the most common challenges faced by adoptive families, and are better prepared for the needs of the specific child they are adopting. These proposed changes are intended to align the preparation of prospective adoptive parents with the current demographics of children immigrating to the United States through intercountry adoption. Finally, the proposed rule makes the mechanism to submit complaints about adoption service providers available to complainants even if they have not first addressed their complaint directly with the adoption service provider." More Information.

September 7, 2016. Information for Prospective Adoptive Parents and Adoption Service Providers. The Department of State maintains a special site for Intercountry Adoption. DOS updates this site with information of vital importance to Prospective Adoptive Parents and Adoption Service Providers. The appropriate U.S. embassy or consulate that issues visas for newly entering children of U.S. citizen parents maintain websites as well. Every PAP and ASP should check these sites at least once a week for pertinent information. This information might be in the nature of adoption warnings or notices, such as a change in a sending country's procedures, or it might be information regarding the status of an ASP or news about a Hague Convention accession. This kind of information can prove crucial to the completion of an international adoption. More Information.

September 6, 2016. New York Redefines the Meaning of Being a Parent. In a landmark case the New York State Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, ruled last week "where a partner shows by clear and convincing evidence that the parties agreed to conceive a child and to raise the child together, the nonbiological, nonadoptive partner has standing to seek visitation and custody." This decision reverses a 1991 New York Court of Appeals ruling and puts New York in the mainstream of the nation-wide redefinition of family and parentage. As Professor Nancy D. Polikoff, of American University Washington College of Law, said, "We've seen this all over the country, even in states that might be called gay unfriendly... Many courts have simply said that this person looks like a parent and you cannot just eliminate them from the child's life." More Information.

August 8, 2016. "Babies Without Borders" We are delighted to quote from this week's editorial in the Economist about International Adoption: "Babies Without Borders." We could not say it better ourselves: "Creating a fast, safe adoption system should not be costly. Indeed, it should be cheaper than keeping children in institutions. All it takes is political will, as can be seen from the success of schemes in Peru and Colombia. Public databases that match children with good, willing parents work well locally in some rich countries. (Pennsylvania's is praised, for example.) There is no reason why such systems should not be made international. Children need parents now, not next year." More Information

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