Friday, November 28, 2008

DOS Notice on Sierra Leone: Nov 28, 2008

Sierra Leone
Adoption Notice

Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________ October 28, 2008

U.S. Embassy Offers Orphan First Program

Due to the high rate of adoption fraud in Sierra Leone, the U.S. Embassy in Dakar is offering prospective adopting parents the opportunity for a preliminary, unofficial review of a child's orphan status. Under the "Orphan First" pilot program, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), in conjunction with the Department of State (DOS), will determine whether or not a child meets the definition of orphan prior to the adoptive parents completing adoption proceedings at the parents' request. It is hoped that this program will prevent situations where U.S. citizens find that they have adopted a child from abroad but the child is not able to immigrate to the U.S. because the child does not meet the definition of orphan under section 101(b)(1)(F) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

*Note: The formal, final determination of whether or not your child meets the definition of orphan still cannot be made until after you have a legal obligation to your child.

Prospective adoptive parents who would like to take advantage of this offer, should fax (011-221- 822-5903) or email ( ) the following documents, if available and applicable, to the U.S. Consul when they request this unofficial review:

1. Completed I-604
2. A copy of the child's official intake form completed at the time the child was brought to the orphanage. The intake form should indicate the circumstances under which the child was brought to the orphanage and any actions taken to confirm the facts.
3. A copy of the child's birth certificate.
4. A copy of a death certificate for any parent who has died.

If the child has one sole or surviving parent, a copy of the statement the biological parent made at the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs irrevocably relinquishing parental rights.

If a parent has abandoned a child or disappeared, copies of the police report, the report by Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs detailing efforts to locate the parent and severing parental ties of the missing parent, and/or a court order making the child a ward of the state.

After reviewing the documents, the U.S. Consul will inform you whether the child you hope to adopt is an orphan if all of the documents are authentic, whether the child is not an orphan, or whether it is likely that a field investigation would be required in order to confirm orphan status.
The U.S. Embassy in Freetown is responsible for field investigations. Due to workload constraints, field investigations are not conducted until the U.S. Consul in Dakar receives a copy of a court order from the High Court of Sierra Leone granting either a full and final adoption (IR3) or leave to adopt (IR4) and evidence of orphan status. Field investigations can take between 3 and 6 months, depending on workload and the availability of witnesses to confirm evidence of orphan status.

With addition questions, contact the U.S. Embassy in Dakar or the Office of Children’s Issues.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

PEAR's Fall Newsletter

Greetings to all of our members, followers, and curious folks wondering what we are up to.

Fall Membership Drive

Our Fall Membership Drive officially commenced on November 20, 2008. An e-blitz to over 400 online and offline adoption information and support groups was undertaken in an effort to make the adoption community aware of the missions and current projects of PEAR and to increase our membership. PEAR has great ideas and lots of work to do but we need the help of dedicated members to get the work done. Please read about our projects below and if you are not yet a member, consider joining us. If you are a member, please consider helping out in one or more of our projects or just drop a line in our members only group and let us know what you would like to see PEAR do to help make adoption practices ethical. For more information on the Membership Drive, please contact Pam Veazie at

Adoption Agency Licensure, Regulation, and Oversight Project

PEAR is commencing a study on the licensing, regulation and oversight of adoption agencies. The purpose of this study will be to better educate prospective adoptive parents, expectant mothers and the general public on the role of adoption agencies, to ensure best practices in adoption, to find appropriate avenues for resolving conflicts among agencies and clients, and to establish the groundwork for a model system that adequately protects the entire triad. The first phase of the study will explore the current laws and regulations governing adoption agencies. PEAR is working with a Pennsylvania Law School to establish a pro bono research opportunity to help us complete this phase by April 30, 2009.

The second phase will explore current systems for resolving conflict, making formal complaints and overseeing the work of adoption agencies. The final phase will analyze the efficacy of the current system, and propose improvements that will better protect the adoption triad. For further information on this project, please contact Gina Pollock: rmprhp @

Post Adoption Services Project

PEAR is pleased to announce the creation of a Post-Adoption Service Project. The first phase of this project will be an Observational Survey of Adoptive Parents on Success, Satisfaction and Types of Post-Adoption Services. To date, there has been no comprehensive survey of this nature ever conducted by any other group. This project has three main goals: to identify Post-Adoption support that PEAR can provide to fill in the gaps that currently exist, to lay the groundwork for a joint clinical, randomized study with a larger, well-established adoptive parent organization, and to demonstrate PEAR's commitment as an organization dedicated to wholly supporting adoptive parents. Our hope is that this project will lead PEAR to work with other organizations to provide a comprehensive “healing roadmap” for adopted children and their families. For further information on this this project, please contact Pamela Veazie: PharmGirl13 @

Call to Action Vietnam

Last November, PEAR launched the Call to Action: Vietnam in response to increasing concerns within the adoption community over the ethical problems surrounding adoptions from Vietnam. Although we were officially barred from the JCICS Summit on Vietnam, we were permitted to comment on their proposed Standards of Practice. While JCICS incorporated many of our comments into the proposal, there many issues left unaddressed, or inadequately addressed, such as fees, paper trails, relinquishment/abandonment, and other issues surrounding ethical practices. A copy of our comments can be downloaded at our website

Throughout the following year, PEAR has offered support and resources to families with children adopted from Vietnam who are facing the difficult realization that their adoptions may have been corrupted. We have also continued to monitor the situation and have offered our perspective to our government officials in Washington and Hanoi. For further information on Call to Action: Vietnam, please contact Karen Moline or Margaret Weeks at reform @

Hague Issues

PEAR has been monitoring the transition to the Hague Process for the past year. We have submitted official comments on the Hague regulations regarding the adoption process and I800 which can be downloaded at our website: We also provided feedback and comments to the COA, Colorado DHS and DOS on applicant and accredited agencies and approved persons throughout the accreditation process. We continue to monitor agencies and approve persons, the applicant process, and complaints against Hague accredited agencies.

In addition to the accreditation and I800 issues, PEAR encouraged the USCIS to properly interpret the federal regulations regarding the grandfathering of transition cases and allow the renewals of I600a approvals. As a result of our efforts and the efforts of numerous adoption advocacy groups and adoptive and prospective adoptive parents, the USCIS changed its position in October to officially permit the continued renewal of I600a's in transition cases.

For additional Information on our Hague related activities, please contact us at

Adoptee Access to Records

PEAR fully supports the right of all adoptees to full and complete access to their birth information. Over the past year, we have written to numerous state legislatures and adoption groups concerning our position and encouraged them to support initiatives and legislation in support of open access. For further information on PEAR's work in support of Adoptee Access to Records, please contact us at

Adoptive Parents Bill of Rights and Prospective Adoptive Parents Bill of Rights

In response to a request at the Ethics and Accountability Conference last fall for a written Bill of Right for Adoptive Parents and Prospective Adoptive Parents, PEAR has been busy drafting and refining a version that respects the rights of adoptive parents, families of origin and adoptees and ensures best practices in adoption and post adoption services. Our committees are currently polishing the final drafts, which we hope to release in early January 2009. For further information on these projects, please contact Gina Pollock at

Nonprofit Status and Corporate Issues

In March of 2008, PEAR became a non profit corporation organized under Pennsylvania law. We completed our 1023 application for 501(c)(3) status which was filed in July of 2008 and are currently awaiting our determination letter. Until we receive a favorable determination from the IRS, donations to PEAR are not tax deductible. However, your financial support is still needed to complete our projects and keep our organization viable! Copies of our corporate documents are available upon request by writing to us at reform @

In the Spotlight

Tidbits of information, resources and articles worth pursuing in the fight for ethical adoptions:

So, sue me! For far too long adoptive and prospective adoptive families injured by unethical practices remained silent believing they had no power to fight the adoption industry. However, a trend over the past two years shows that families have begun to speak up and demand justice. In October of 2006, a civil RICO case was filed against Waiting Angels Adoption Agency in Michigan. Since that time, numerous adoptive and prospective adoptive parents have sought each other out through online adoption support groups, pooled their resources and banded together to seek justice against agencies engaging in unethical and illegal acts. To date, civil RICO complaints have been filed against Waiting Angels, Adoption International Program (AIP/Orson Moses), Project Oz, and Main Street Adoption Services. Further information on these law suits can be found at the website for Fixel Law Offices Remember, each of these cases began by families sharing stories and reaching out in online adoption groups. Use your voice, you would be surprised at the power we have when we join forces!

The Lie We Love. A recent article written by EJ Graff and published in Foreign Policy,, has generated a lot of discussion in adoption groups in the US and abroad. PEAR highly recommends that prospective and adoptive parents read Ms. Graff's article and visit the Brandeis University Schuster Institute website for more information on corruption in international adoption. Prospective adoptive parents should be sure to check out the interactive map available on the website before selecting a country program.

DOS Updated Adoption Site. It's been a long time coming, but the US Department of State has finally updated and revamped its information on international adoption from both Hague and non-Hague countries. Please take some time to peruse the site, especially if you are just starting the process of adoption.

Make a Difference - Join PEAR Now!

Gina Pollock
Parents for Ethical Adoption Reform
526 N President Ave
Lancaster PA 17603

BE the change you want to see in the world. - Gandhi