Wednesday, June 17, 2015

PEAR Advisory Alert for DRC


On June 2, 2015, the Department of State issued a new alert which supersedes the alert of October 6, 2014.  This newest alert strongly recommends against adopting from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) at this time.  This warning is separate from any potential ending of the current suspension on the issuance of exit letters. The Department of State noted that pending legislative changes could invalidate or suspend any future adoption decrees.   http://travel.state.gov/content/adoptionsabroad/en/country-information/alerts-and-notices/DRC15-06-02.html

On December 29, 2012, PEAR issued a Cautionary Statement strongly recommending against adopting from DRC (http://pear-now.blogspot.com/2012/12/pear-ethics-alert-and-cautionary.html).  The reasons behind PEAR's recommendation included: 
1. Lack of proper infrastructure to support ethical adoption practices and thwart unethical, illegal processes
2. Reports of extensive bribes paid to local officials by US adoption agencies and/or their local facilitators
3. Reports that orphanages are not using the money donated by agencies and adopting parents for the care of children
4.  Repeated reports from foreign NGOs and adopting families of child laundering, baby selling, kidnapping, and coercive relinquishment practices called harvesting
5.  Program growing too quickly without being tested for stability and capacity
6.  Inconsistent and inexplicable fees
PEAR continues to stand behind this statement, as the past two and a half years has only seen an increase in the corruption and unethical behavior that prompted the statement in the end of 2012.

In addition, PEAR alerted adoptive parents (APs) of a failed attempt by American families to take their adopted Congolese children out of DRC without authorization by the Congolese government in September 2014 (http://pear-now.blogspot.com/2014/09/american-families-caught-attempting.html).  Since this time, PEAR has received reports of increased smuggling of adopted children by U.S. citizens out of DRC.  PEAR strongly opposes such actions and reminds all APs that U.S. citizens adopting from foreign countries are required to obey the laws and regulations of the sending countries. 

In a November 2014 alert, the Department of State specifically addressed the question of whether there was a method by which Americans could bring their adopted children to the U.S. other than with an exit letter obtained from Congolese immigration authorities (DGM) in Kinshasa.  Their response was unequivocal:  "No. Congolese law requires you to obtain an exit permit for your child. Once your I-600 has been approved and an orphan review is complete, the U.S. Embassy will schedule your visa interview. Please be advised that once you have a U.S. visa for your adopted child, you still must obtain an exit permit for your child to leave the DRC. We want to be clear that any attempts to leave DRC with your child without an exit permit could violate local law and significantly jeopardize the status of pending and future adoption cases between DRC and the United States. We understand the hardship for you and your children as the suspension period remains undefined. We believe that this current uncertainty could make adoptive families more vulnerable to solicitations by individuals or organizations offering inappropriate or illegal means of assistance. If you are approached with offers to help bring your children home that do not include obtaining exit permits by the appropriate DGM office in Kinshasa, we strongly recommend that you inform the U.S. Embassy and ask for clarity on the legality of the proposal before taking any action." (http://travel.state.gov/content/adoptionsabroad/en/country-information/alerts-and-notices/DRC14-11-03.html

Despite this clearly-worded statement, American families continue to either take or have their adopted children taken out of DRC without exit letters issued by DGM Kinshasa. This may include the use of bribes, fraudulent paperwork, and/or illegally moving children across international borders.  These actions are in violation of Congolese law and/or policy (http://www.dgm.cd/infos.php), and are plainly contrary to the goal of ethical adoptions.  PEAR strongly condemns the removal of adopted children from Congo in violation of the exit letter suspension.




Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

DOS Alert: Faith International Adoption Accreditation Suspended

On January 6, 2015, the Council on Accreditation (COA) suspended the accreditation of Faith International Adoptions for a minimum of 15 days and until appropriate corrective action has taken place. COA is the Department of State’s designated accrediting entity for adoption service providers under the Hague Adoption Convention (Convention), the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 and the Intercountry Universal Accreditation Act (UAA).  The suspension is due to COA’s finding that Faith International Adoptions failed to maintain substantial compliance with the accreditation standards at 22 Code of Federal Regulations Part 96 Subpart F. For more information regarding this suspension please refer to information on substantiated complaints and adverse actions on the Council on Accreditation’s website. 

As a result of this suspension, Faith International Adoptions must cease to provide all adoption services in connection with intercountry adoption cases for the period of suspension and until corrective action has been taken.  Please note that this suspension affects Faith International Adoptions ability to provide adoption services in both Convention cases and non-Convention cases subject to the UAA. Faith International Adoptions has adoption programs in Ghana, China, India, and Japan, and has provided adoption services in a number of other countries in which it does not have an established program. Persons with an open case with Faith International Adoptions should contact the adoption service provider directly to find out how the suspension will affect their adoption services.  

The suspension will begin on January 6, 2015, and will last for at least 15 days. In order for the suspension to be lifted at the end of the 15 days, Faith International Adoptions must complete corrective action required by the accrediting entity. Updated information will be provided here on adoption.state.gov.

http://travel.state.gov/content/adoptionsabroad/en/about-us/newsroom/Faith-International-Adoption-Accreditation-Suspended.html


Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Monday, January 5, 2015

DOS Notice : China : Changes to Requirements


The China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA) recently announced changes to their intercountry adoption procedures.  The changes that apply to prospective adoptive parents (PAPs) in China fall into three broad categories:  1) the eligibility requirements for PAPs, 2) post-placement requirements, and 3) China’s fees for intercountry adoption. These changes are effective January 1, 2015.
  1.  Changes to the PAP eligibility requirements:
    a.    The CCCWA will now allow couples in which the individuals are over 50 years of age to adopt a child. The age difference between the child and the younger spouse, however, should be no more than 50 years. Single females must be no more than 45 years older than the child they wish to adopt. Additionally, single females are now permitted to adopt non-special needs children.

    b.    The CCCWA has identified additional medical conditions that would make a PAP ineligible to adopt, including being HIV-positive. For additional information on conditions that would make a PAP ineligible to adopt, please see the section, 
    Who Can Adopt, in our Country Information Sheet for China. The CCCWA also added multiple sclerosis to the list of severe diseases that require long-term treatment and that may affect life expectancy. However, CCCWA indicated that if one of the parents is healthy, and the other parent’s medical condition is manageable with treatment, it will consider an exemption to that ineligibility. Given the complexity of these issues, the Department of State advises all PAPs to seek guidance directly from the CCCWA regarding the changes to the medical ineligibilities for PAPs. Contact information for CCCWA may be found on the last page of our Country Information Sheet for China.
    c.    The CCCWA also provided clarification on income requirements. China still requires that an adopting family's annual income equal at least $10,000 for each family member in the household (including the child to be adopted). CCCWA indicates, however, that this requirement may be relaxed where a family’s annual income is less than $10,000 per family member, but is above the average local living standards of the jurisdiction of residence, and the PAPs can provide valid certification to that effect. The CCCWA also requires PAPs to receive pre-adoption training from their U.S. accredited adoption service provider.

    d.    Adopting couples are no longer restricted to having fewer than five children under the age of 18 living in their home.
  2. Changes to post-placement requirements:
    a.    For cases issued a Notice of Coming to China for Adoption after January 1, 2015, CCCWA requires PAPs to submit post placement reports six months, one year, two years, three years, four years, and five years after the adoption registration. 

    b.    The first three reports must be prepared by the social workers who prepared the home study. The last three reports may be written by the families themselves. 
  3. Changes to adoption fees charged by CCCWA
    a.    Adoption applications are now $1,110.  The fee to adopt a step-child is $800 per application.
This information will be incorporated into our Country Information regarding China. The Department of State advises PAPs and ASPs to contact the CCCWA directly regarding the potential impacts of these changes to each PAPs specific situation.  For any further information, please contact the Office of Children’s Issues by telephone at 1-888-407-4747 (toll free) or 202-501-4444 (from overseas) or by e-mail at AdoptionUSCA@state.gov.

http://travel.state.gov/content/adoptionsabroad/en/country-information/alerts-and-notices/china14-12-34.html


Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Monday, October 6, 2014

DOS Alert: The Department of State Strongly Recommends Against Adopting from the DRC at this time


In light of the DRC’s September 26, 2014 announcement that its exit permit suspension for adopted children remains in effect indefinitely, the Department of State has asked all adoption agencies to cease referring new DRC adoption cases for U.S. prospective adoptive parents at this time. The Department of State strongly recommends against initiating an adoption in the DRC at this time, as adoptive children cannot leave the DRC without an exit permit issued by the DRC’s Directorate of General Migration, even with a finalized adoption.  Congolese courts continue to issue adoption decrees under existing Congolese law, despite the exit permit suspension.
We continue to press the DRC government on lifting the suspension so that Congolese children with finalized adoptions waiting for an exit permit can join their adoptive families as soon as possible.We are committed to working with the DRC government to address their concerns and continue to advocate for opportunities to engage on long-term adoption reforms in the DRC. 


Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Thursday, September 25, 2014

USDOS Office of Children’s Issues Announces New Chief of the Adoption Division


Welcome Trish Maskew, New Chief of the Adoption Division

The Office of Children’s Issues is pleased to announce the appointment of Trish Maskew as the new Chief of the Adoption Division. 
Trish joins the Department of State from the Department of Justice where she worked in the Civil Division for almost six years.  Before joining the U.S. government, she held several positions in the intercountry adoption field: as a program coordinator for an adoption agency; a board member and interim administrator for the Joint Council on International Children’s Services; the founder and President of Ethica, a non-profit organization dedicated to ethical and transparent adoptions; and as an expert consultant to the Hague Conference on Private International Law.  She is the author of “Our Own: Adopting and Parenting the Older Child” and numerous articles on adoption ethics and practice.  She earned her J.D. from American University.


Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/