Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2009 Ethiopia Adoption Program Suspensions and Investigations

Due to the following timeline of events in 2009, we urge caution on beginning an Ethiopian adoption. Furthermore, we recommend that prospective adoptive parents work with agencies that have programs in other countries as a contingency plan should Ethiopia slow down considerably or shut down. It is important to mention that many agencies who currently are working in Ethiopia are not Hague accredited (see accredited list: http://adoption.state.gov/hague/accreditation/agencies.html ) and some have been denied Hague accreditation (see denied list http://www.adoption.state.gov/hague/accreditation/deniedagencies.html ).

Timeline of 2009 Ethiopia Adoption Suspensions & Investigations

January 24, 2009
Austria: http://tt.com/tt/tirol/story.csp?cid=2778626&sid=56&fid=21 (original article)

“INNSBRUCK - After two cases in Lower Austria, where children were taught as a putative orphans have now been halted adoptions from Ethiopia in Austria…” (Google translation)

September 9, 2009
Australia: http://www.abc.net.au/foreign/content/2009/s2686908.htm

ABC Foreign Correspondent airs "Fly Away Children" regarding US and Canadian agency adoptions

September 23, 2009
Netherlands: http://www.ethiopianreview.com/news/6790

“A large adoption agency in the Netherlands, Wereldkinderen, has temporarily stopped adoptions from Ethiopia as a result recent reports about abuse of the system by the government in Ethiopia and local adoption agencies...”

September 25, 2009
Spain: http://www.coraenlared.org/index.php?id=78&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=28&tx_ttnews[backPid]=1&cHash=f8663fb0ad

CORA is a member of the Advisory Council of International Adoption in representing the families in Spain and has mostly adoptive parents as its members.

“CORA requests the suspension of adoptions from Ethiopia
CORA Federation demands in a letter sent to the Adoption Advisory Council is halt the adoption of children from Ethiopia in the absence of control mechanisms to ensure that adoptions in that country are made pursuant to the principles of the Hague Convention.

In recent months, various reports have appeared on adoption in Ethiopia to raise serious questions about the guarantees of the adoption system in this country.

The facts alleged by both the international press for a number of Spanish families are so serious that the Spanish government can not remain pending. They must take action on the matter at all cost to prevent the perpetration of a single defect that involves dragging a child from his family. For the partnerships we form CORA adoption is a means to a family of girls and boys who do not. It is a means of satisfying the desire for parenthood of western citizens can make donations to the third world.

Therefore, from CORA demand a halt to adoption of children from Ethiopia in the absence of control mechanisms to ensure that adoptions in that country are made pursuant to the principles of the Hague Convention.”(Google translation)

September 28, 2009
US: http://www.jcics.org/Ethiopia.htm

Joint Council on International Children’s Services (JCICS) is a US-based adoption service provider organization.

"Joint Council's President, Tom DiFilipo, and Director of Programs and Services, Rebecca Harris, will travel to Ethiopia on October 2, 2009 for nine days. Meetings are currently being arranged with Ethiopian, U.S., and other government officials, adoption service providers, and other NGOs working in child protection and/or children's services. While the goal of this advocacy trip are many, just one is to continue Joint Council's broad-based review of intercountry adoption practices in Ethiopia.

Just as the Summary Statement of September 21 is not focused on one individual or entity, Joint Council's review includes all individuals and organizations practicing intercountry adoption with particular attention to those practices that abuse children and families..."

October 12, 2009
US: http://www.jcics.org/Ethiopia.htm
"Joint Council’s Director of Programs & Services, Rebecca Harris, and President, Tom DiFilipo, conducted an advocacy trip to Ethiopia from October 2 through October 9, 2009.

Meetings were held with officials of the U.S., French, Australian and Ethiopian governments, Joint Council Member Organizations, The Network and other stakeholders. Details of Joint Council activities in Ethiopia will be published soon."

November 12, 2009
PEAR blog: http://pear-now.blogspot.com/2009/11/where-is-jcics-ethiopia-report.html

"...PEAR respectfully asks why there has been such a long delay in posting a response to this mission, particularly as the JCICS said they would “collaboratively identify all abuses, take action consummate with our mandate and policies, and, as appropriate, to demand a thorough investigation by the appropriate authorities...”

November 23, 2009
US: http://www.jcics.org/Ethiopia.htm

“...While some have questioned Joint Council as to why findings of the review have not been published, it remains Joint Council’s policy to publish information only when it is appropriate and incompliance with Joint Council internal policies and procedures and in alignment with our Mission...” (emphasis theirs)

November 2009
Australia: http://www.ag.gov.au/www/agd/agd.nsf/Page/IntercountryAdoption_WhatsNew_WhatNew#visit
“Interim Suspension of the Ethiopia-Australia Program”

“…A key reason for the suspension is a new requirement of the Ethiopian Government that the program enter into a formal agreement to provide community development assistance. The Australian program has previously been exempt from the requirement to provide financial/material assistance because of its unique Government-to-Government arrangement. We have recently been advised that this exemption can no longer continue. The review is considering whether implementation of the new arrangements is consistent with Australia's obligations under the Hague Convention…"

December 9, 2009
Australia: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/12/09/2766965.htm
"Australian couples who have been waiting for years to adopt a child from Ethiopia say they are devastated by the Government's decision to suspend the program..."

December 18, 2009
Australia: http://www.ag.gov.au/www/agd/agd.nsf/Page/IntercountryAdoption_WhatsNew_WhatNew#visit
"Ethiopia-Australia Program–Possible delegation visit to Ethiopia–18 December 2009"

"...The Department has previously committed to completing its review of the Ethiopia-Australia program by the end of 2009. The review of the program is now expected to be completed in early 2010, after the visit..."

December 28, 2009
Australia: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/12/28/2781307.htm
"The Australian Government has suspended all child adoptions from Ethiopia over fears that it could be breaking human rights laws against child trafficking..."

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Australia continues suspension of Ethiopia adoptions until early 2010

December 28, 2009
"The Australian Government has suspended all child adoptions from Ethiopia over fears that it could be breaking human rights laws against child trafficking"

More information can be found at the Australian Government Attorney-General Department's website:

"Ethiopia-Australia Program–
Possible delegation visit to Ethiopia–18 December 2009

As the Department’s review of the Ethiopia program has progressed, it has become apparent that a further visit to Ethiopia may be necessary to investigate some of the issues identified in the review. The Department is hoping to visit Ethiopia in early 2010 (dates to be confirmed). A report of the delegation will be made available on the Department’s website.

The delegation hopes to hold discussions with representatives from the Ethiopian Government as well as our representatives in Ethiopia. The delegation will also visit Koala House and some orphanages associated with the program.

The Department has previously committed to completing its review of the Ethiopia-Australia program by the end of 2009. The review of the program is now expected to be completed in early 2010, after the visit. A decision about the future of the program will be made as soon as possible following completion of the review. The Department is conscious of the importance of completing the review quickly, in order to limit uncertainty for families affected by the suspension.

The suspension will continue pending finalisation of the review. As before, activity during the suspension will be restricted to those children already referred to the program. No new children will be accepted by the program during the suspension."

PEAR looks forward to a timely report from the delegation.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Scientific American December 18, 2009 article

PEAR would like to share an interpretation of a recently released study. We applaud all efforts to study foster and orphanage populations, but wish to caution the adoptive community on making conclusions without understanding the basis of the study, populations and methods used.

Scientific American published a report called Orphanages Rival Foster Homes for Quality Child Care http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=orphanages-rival-homes on December 18, 2009 about a December 18, 2009-published study called A Comparison of the Wellbeing of Orphans and Abandoned Children Ages 6–12 in Institutional and Community-Based Care Settings in 5 Less Wealthy Nations http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0008169

The first sentence of the Scientific American article misinterprets the population of the actual children studied. This was not a comparison of adoptive children (domestic or international) with those in orphanages. This compared children in some orphanages with children mostly in family care settings in select countries. Since 90% of community-cared children were being taken care of by a biological parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle, “foster care” is a grossly misused term. The breakdown of community care is as follows: 55 percent of the community sample was being taken care of by one biological parent, 22 percent by grandparents and 13 percent by aunts or uncles. Seventy-six percent had one parent known to be alive.

Besides looking at six- to twelve-year olds only, they excluded street children and special needs children (those which have repeatedly been identified as suffering cognitively and emotionally without good care) and children deemed for international adoption (the determination of which is unclear), only 10 percent of the sample of children had been institutionalized for greater than 5 years, 25 percent had resided in the institution for less than one year and 75 percent didn't enter the institution life until age 5 or older. The quality or quantity of previous familial care was not ascertained. It is notable that most children were pre-pubescent. There is increasing evidence that puberty is associated with worsening or onset of many mental illnesses.

There was only one measurement of skills taken. One cannot conclude that the child will continue to develop appropriately or if there will be a discrepancy as the child ages compared to those living in foster care in the community.

There was no evaluation of the training of caregivers in either of the settings.
In large institutions, only 20 children were selected, albeit randomly. In small institutions, all children were selected. There was no analysis of caretaker ratio differences in the large and small institutions, just a report of the average.

Human Development (HDI) rankings used to determine countries for this study can be found at http://hdrstats.undp.org/en/indicators/82.html. Five countries were studied. Cambodia represented 12% of the institution sample and placed 0 children to the US (fiscal 2009, http://www.adoption.state.gov/news/total_chart.html). Ethiopia represented 18% of institution sample size and placed 2277 children to the US in fiscal 2009, making it the #2 sending country. Tanzania represented 18% of institution sample and placed 4 children to the US in fiscal 2009. Kenya represented 18% of the institution sample and placed 21 children to the US in fiscal 2009. India had two regions in this study representing 33% of the institution sample and placed 297 children to the US in fiscal 2009 making it the #9 sending country.

We encourage further studies. We would recommend including the following features that are important for the adoptive community.

For population of children studied:
• Studying population groups of ages infant to toddler, primary school aged, pre-pubscent, within a year post-pubescent, teenage years in addition to analyzing due to length of time in institution.

• Getting a baseline measurement and obtaining multiple measurements for a individual child over time.

• Studying children with special needs, “street” children and those that may meet international adoption criteria.

• Omit or analyze separately children being raised by a single parent as there has been no break in attachment for these children.

• Study children in from countries in the low category on the 2009 Human Development Index (HDI), not just the medium category that this study only looked at and in more countries where international adoptions occur, such as China, Russia and the other top 20 sending countries.

For communities:
• Have a baseline measure of quantity and type of training that each caretaker has and include that in the analysis.

• Specifically define the different types of institutions and compare them.

For testing choices:
• Test more categories of cognition, This study reported only the Sequential Processing/Short term Memory and Simultaneous Processing/Visual Processing portions of the Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children-II. It would be useful to understand how children score on the other sections Learning Ability/Long Term Storage and Retrieval, Planning Ability/Fluid Reasoning, and Crystallized Ability or to use a standardized measure for attention, motivation, and memory instead of a modified, non-standardized version of the California Verbal Learning Test.

• Instead of brief behavioral screening tools that have no published data for psychometric properties as the SDQ was used in this study, we recommend using a standardized form that has psychometric properties or first undergoing a standardization process of a form specific to these populations.

• This study had only the children's self-identified primary caregivers respond to surveys about behaviors the children. It does not appear that health professionals trained to identify behavioral issues answered questions about the specific children. We recommend a method more robust than caregiver self-reporting for behavioral issue identification.

• Health issues were caregiver reported only. We recommend some standardized health check given by a health care practitioner.

• Evaluate social abilities, abilities to obtain a vocation and suicide rates.

Due to the exclusion of so many of the features we have identified as important, we do not feel this study has enough data to make conclusions about better care in any situation.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

HIV testing will not be required for obtaining visa for international adoptees

The US Department of State issued an adoption notice on December 22, 2009.

This Final CDC rule is effective January 4, 2010. The full text can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dq/laws_regs/fed_reg/remove-hiv/full-version-final-rule.html

The CDC decision is based on the following “While HIV infection is a serious health condition, it is not a communicable disease that is a significant public health risk for introduction, transmission, and spread to the U.S. population through casual contact.”

Prior to this ruling, all applicants 15 years of age or older had to be tested for HIV as well as those under age 15 if there was reason to suspect HIV infection (for example, if the child had a parent that was HIV-positive).

The US Department of State notice states that this new ruling “does not prevent prospective adoptive parents from getting their own in-depth medical examination done overseas. Prospective adoptive parents may wish to arrange an additional private medical examination with more in-depth testing of the child for conditions not included in the visa medical examination.”

PEAR’s POSitive study showed that only 64 percent of adoptees received HIV testing after returning home.

PEAR agrees with the American Academy of Pediatrics test recommendations that all international adoptees should have a HIV serology test performed. Additionally, PEAR recommends that placing agencies provide information to prospective adoptive parents about the risks of HIV infection in the country that the parents are adopting from as well as information on how to obtain the in-depth medical examination overseas as the Department of State has suggested.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

China announcement -- CCAA

The following Announcement was made by the CCAA on December 22, 2009:

Date of Release: December 22, 2009   

To relevant government departments and adoption agencies in receiving countries,
Since China began working with relevant countries in inter-country adoption, the cooperation has been smooth and tens of thousands of Chinese children have been adopted by foreign families. The majority of them are growing healthily under the care and love of their adoptive parents. However, some media reported on December 14 about an American adoptive father who sexually abused his Chinese adoptive daughter, which have attracted broad attention and caused great shocks. Although this is a very rare case, it has caused negative effects on inter-country in China and is against the healthy development of inter-country adoption.

As the agency entrusted by Chinese government in charge of inter-country adoption, China Center of Adoption Affairs (CCAA) has always attached great importance to the protection of Chinese adoptive children’s rights and great attention to the children who have been adopted into foreign families. On December 16, CCAA met with the Consul-General of the American Embassy in China Ms. Linda Donahue and notified her about our position on this incident. President of relevant adoption agency also telephoned CCAA and expressed his apology. In order to guarantee the rights and interests of Chinese adoptive children and ensure the healthy and sustainable development in cooperation of inter-country adoption, CCAA plans to take the following measures:

1. CCAA will suspend the cooperation with relevant American agency and decide whether to continue cooperation with this agency depending on its treatment of this incident.
2. It is suggested that all the government departments and adoption agencies conduct a following-up research of all the children adopted from China. If problems turn up, relevant parties shall assist in the re-placement of the child affected and notify CCAA accordingly. It is also advised that government departments and adoption agencies do a good job in the post-placement following-up of adopted children in the future.
3. To learn a lesson from this incident, it is suggested that social workers of government departments and adoption agencies evaluate the eligibility of applicants factually and in details. Social workers shall not only evaluate quantifiable factors such as age, profession, education background, income etc., but also evaluate whether the applicants are loving parents and with good personalities, as reflected in feedbacks from schools, communities, churches, social groups, etc. so that the reports provided can serve as dependable reference for CCAA during the reviewing process.
4. CCAA will adjust the present post-placement reporting policies and improve this reporting system, after seeking opinions and comments from different parties, based on the new situation in inter-country adoption.
5. Depending on individual cases, CCAA will suspend or terminate cooperation with agencies that are involved in cases where adopted children’s interests and rights are harmed. Home study reports prepared by social workers who are involved in such cases as well as the social workers themselves will not be recognized by CCAA.
Government departments and adoption agencies shall follow the principle of “everything for the children” and assist in relevant work to guarantee the protection of rights and interests of adopted children and maintain the cooperation in inter-country adoption.

China Center of Adoption Affairs



According to some sources, the case being referred to involves Faith International.




News Articles supporting this conclusion and relating to the case:



Archived News Article in The Olympian: "Kite Girl helped Eddy and Donna Whisenhunt settle on a name for their adopted daughter from China" names Faith International as the adoption agency used by the Whisenhunts to adopt their daughter from China.The article was published February 17, 2005.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

DOS Adoption Alert - Cambodia

Adoption Notice: Cambodia

The following email Alert was sent out by the DOS this morning:

December 24, 2009

On December 3, 2009, a new law on intercountry adoption was signed by the King of the Government of Cambodia. The new law seeks to create a country-wide comprehen­sive child welfare system and an intercountry adoption process in compliance with the Hague Intercountry Adoption Convention. This is an important first step in Cambodia's expressed commitment to reforming its child welfare system and in seeking to meet its treaty obligations under the Convention. Cambodia has indicated that the processing of all intercountry adoptions throughout the country will be suspended until the law is fully implemented and necessary procedures are in place.

At this time, it is not possible to estimate when Cambodia might resume processing
intercountry adoptions or when adoptions will be able to resume between the United States and Cambodia. In order to implement the new law fully, Cambodia will first need to establish the necessary government structures to support it, draft and finalize prakas (Ministerial orders/regulations) , and determine and fill staffing and training needs. Issues related to transparency in fees, procedural safeguards, determination of a child's eligibility for intercountry adoption, criminal penalties and the creation of a strat­egy to formalize and strengthen the domestic adoption system will all need to be effec­tively addressed.

The United States continues to support Cambodia's desire to create a child welfare
system and an intercountry adoption process that fulfills its obligations under the Hague Intercountry Adoption Convention and welcomes its efforts to fully implement the new law on intercountry adoption.

Updated information will be provided on www.adoption. state.gov as it becomes available.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Monday, December 21, 2009

US Embassy in Moscow Holiday Closure Schedule for 2010

The US Embassy in Moscow will be closed on the following dates in 2010. Please take note of the dates when planning travel and visa scheduling for Russian adoptions.

**The “bridge” holiday on November 5 is only tentative; please confirm this holiday with the Embassy.

January 1 Friday US/R New Year's Day
January 4 Monday R New Year's Day
January 5 Tuesday R New Year's Day
January 6 Wednesday (Saturday) R New Year's Day
January 7 Thursday R Orthodox Christmas
January 8 Friday (Sunday) R New Year's Day
January 18 Monday US Martin Luther King's Day
February 15 Monday US President's Day
February 23 Tuesday R Defender's Day
March 8 Monday R Women's Day
May 3 Monday (Saturday) R May Day
May 10 Monday (Sunday) R Victory Day
May 31 Monday US Memorial Day
June 14 Monday (Saturday) R Russian Independence Day
July 5 Monday (Sunday) US American Independence Day
September 6 Monday US Labor Day
October 11 Monday US Columbus Day
November 4 Thursday R Day of Consent & Reconciliation
November 5 Friday R Bridge holiday (tentative)
November 11 Thursday US Veteran's Day
November 25 Thursday US Thanksgiving Day
December 24 Friday US Christmas Day

Email Update December 21, 2009
Immigrant Visa Unit
US Embassy Moscow, Russia

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Friday, December 18, 2009

DOS Releases Official Adoption Statistics for FY 2009

Notice: Visa Statistics For Adopted Children Now Available

December 18, 2009

"The Office of Children’s Issues in the Bureau of Consular Affairs is pleased to announce that the final statistics on the total number of orphan (IR-3 and IR-4) and Hague Convention (IH-3 and IH-4) visas for children adopted to the United States for Fiscal Year 2009 (October 1, 2008 through September 30, 2009) are now available. The numbers may be viewed at our website at: http://www.adoption.state.gov/news/total_chart.html.

This notice has also been posted on our website at Adoption.State.Gov/news/notices.html."

*Please Note: FY 2009 includes the period October 1, 2008 through September 30, 2009

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Attorney Susana Luarca Arrested in Guatemala

Susana Luarca, aka María de la Asunción Loarca Saracho, an attorney who assisted numerous intercountry adoptions from Guatemala was arrested yesterday in Guatemala and charged with trafficking, adoption abnormalities, and falsification of documents in connection with adoptions she handled for foreign families.

The following article explains the charges and circumstances surrounding the arrest:

TRIBUNALES: Se le acusa de trata de personas y documentos falsificados
Capturan a abogada sindicada de ser cabecilla de red de adopciones anómalas, http://www.lahora.com.gt/notas.php?key=59930&fch=2009-12-16

The article is in Spanish but can be translated via Google Translator or other online translation services.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Help PEAR by Running a Search at iGive

iGive.com is going to attempt to donate $5,000 in just 24 hours to Parents for Ethical Adoption Reform.

For each person who joins iGive using the special link below and does just one web search on iGive's site between now and noon Thursday, they'll give Parents for Ethical Adoption Reform a dollar.

5,000 new members, $5,000. No purchase necessary.

Of course, if you search more (or buy something) they'll earn even more money for Parents for Ethical Adoption Reform. Right now, they are donating $.02 per search and a bonus $5 for that first purchase plus the usual percentage.

This is the link:

iGive is really proud of its search capability, powered by Yahoo! They have made tons of improvements over the past four months! If you keep on searching or shopping after testing iGive out, so much the better for us at Parents for Ethical Adoption Reform.

The details:
- Offer active between now and 11:59 a.m., December 17, 2009 (Chicago time).
- New members only (never have been an iGive member previously). All the normal rules of membership, searching, and purchasing apply, the iGive site has the details.
- Once they have given away $5,000, the offer ends.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

UPDATE: Liberia to Commence Clearances on Some Pipeline Cases

Liberia Adoption Alert

Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues

December 8, 2009

The U.S. Embassy in Monrovia has been informed by the government of Liberia that it will soon issue exit clearances, on a case-by-case basis, to children who’s full and final adoption had been completed prior to January 26, 2009 and approved by Liberia’s Ad-hoc Central Adoption Authority. Prospective adoptive parents who believe their case might fall into this category should contact the Consular Section at adoptionsmonrovia@state.gov to discuss next steps in the visa process.

Prospective adoptive parents and adoption service providers are reminded that a consular officer is required, by law, to complete a Form I-604 (determination of orphan status) before issuing a visa in all IR-3 and IR-4 adoption cases. In some cases this may require only a conversation with the birth parent, but in others it may require a full field investigation possibly lasting several weeks. Since verifying the parent-child relationships in Liberia is difficult, we also expect that in most cases where the child was relinquished by the birth parent, DNA testing will be recommended in order to establish a blood relationship between the adopted child and claimed birth parent(s).

The Bureau of Consular Affairs will provide the Consular Section in Monrovia with extra staffing in January and February to help process the expected backlog that will develop as a result of these developments.


Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

UPDATE: Guatemala Pilot Program

Over the past few days both JCICS and Ethica came out with statements confirming that the U.S. Department of State submitted a letter of interest to the Guatemalan government regarding participation in the pilot program announced by the Central Authority of Guatemala. This morning, PEAR received an adoption alert from the DOS confirming that the DOS submitted a letter of interest. We are concerned that the US Department of State, as our Central Authority under the Hague, did not release this information to the public prior to disclosing it to non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

We have read both the JCICS' and Ethica's statements and agree that prospective adoptive parents should not attempt to file an I800a for Guatemala at this time. In light of the reported program condition of having only one adoption service provider selected per participating country, we also call on Hague ASPs to curb their enthusiasm over the potential reopening of Guatemala and refrain from encouraging or assisting prospective adoptive parents in filing I800as, beginning paperwork leading to a Guatemalan adoption, and/or entering into new contracts with prospective adoptive parents for adoption services under this pilot program.

In addition, we are respectfully requesting that in the future the DOS to make timely announcements to the entire international adoption community and the public at large, not just a select few supposed "stakeholders". We would like to remind the DOS that the true stakeholders in international adoption are not ASPs and organizations that represent ASP interests. The true stakeholders are members of the adoption triad: adoptees/prospective adoptees, families of origin, and adoptive parents/prospective adoptive parents. The Hague Convention requires transparency and we are calling on the DOS to honor that by publishing timely information concerning all Hague country programs, processes, and developments on their adoption website and USCA email notices before making these announcements privately to non-governmental, non-accredited organizations.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Study on International Adoption in the European Union

The European Parliament published a requested study on International Adoption in the European Union in March of 2009. The 262 page document offers an analysis of international adoption within the EU with proposals for improvements in intercountry adoption including legal processes, consideration of the rights of children, and proper
pre-adoption preparation and post adoption support for adoptive families and adoptees.

The Executive Summary is particularly detailed in their psycho-social and policy recommendations. Part Two, Chapter III contains helpful summaries of adjustment of international adoptees, including attachment, cognitive, behavioral, mental health and self-esteem aspects.

Although the report concerned intercountry adoption in Europe, some of the principles and findings can be applied across all intercountry adoptions. A copy of the report can be read online or downloaded through Scribd at:

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Results of POSitive Study–Comments

Unlike most surveys, we asked several open-ended questions. There were hundreds of helpful comments. Here is a representative list of recommendations by adoptive parents and issues that still need to be addressed.

• The need to give parents a list of what type of interventions are available, what issues kids have and the order/timing .Screens need to continue throughout several years.

• Sensory issues, speech/language, dietary/toxin, psychology/attachment, infant reflexes and sleep issues screening in first year with learning assessments in subsequent years.

• Pre-adopt and post-adopt education of all of these assessments.

• Concern for cost of therapies.

• Speech screening in native language within first month.

• Respite care as an option in the first few months after gaining custody of child to ease transition.

• Educate pediatricians on possible issues in adopted children.

• Audio and sensory screens before child begins school.

• Older children need counseling immediately for how to function in family setting.

• Details about behavior issues after being in orphanage.

• Specifics on how to address sexual abuse prior to joining family.

• Alcohol related Neurological Disorder (ARND) what to look for, early assessment.

• Break down of disorder frequency by country.

• Dental issues.

• Missed/delayed diagnoses of Post traumatic stress disorder/assume child has PTSD.

• Not enough education about Post-Adoption Depression (PAD).

• Insurance not covering developmental therapy.

• Achieving educational success.

• Want advocate or case manager to go to for customized explanations for child.

• Figuring out agency’s honesty/accountability/getting money back for failed adoption.

• Better list of parent support groups.

• Assertiveness training for parents since they need to advocate for their child.

• Legal issues, such as falsely being accused of abuse.

• Helping the parents, not just the children.

• Support in navigating birthfamily relationships.

• Handling serious attachment issues.

• All aspects of dealing with older children.

• Vaccine scheduling for the internationally adopted child.

• Continued support (including financial) from adoption agencies.

• Issues stemming from child’s history of sexual abuse.

• Trauma from adoption and life before adoption.

• Central website for post-adoption resources.

• Finding/connecting with birthfamily in international adoptions.

• Parental stress/depression post adoption.

• Post adoption subsidies, grants for issues that are not detected immediately after adopting.

• Dealing with situation where it has been found that your child was trafficked/sold into adoption.

• Developmental stages post adoption for kids of all ages.

• Identity issues, especially in transracial adoptions.

• Peer mentors for adoptive parents.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Friday, November 27, 2009

PEAR Questions to US Department of State

PEAR has asked the following questions to Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs, Janice L. Jacobs during the Ask the State Department Celebrate National Adoption Month open questioning period that ends November 30. The State Department will be selecting questions and answering them on their website in December.

1. How can China be considered "Hague-compliant" with open trafficking rampant enough for their government to set up a website to find the parents for trafficked children who have been recovered amid reports that the CW Centers themselves routinely offer hundreds of dollars to Mother's willing to sell their children?

2. How can India be considered “Hague-compliant” when their own laws state CARA may charge ONLY $3000 total in foreign adoption fees yet there is not a single agency in the world that pays them that? In reality no agency can get Cara approval to operate in India without agreeing to donate thousands of dollars for both services and "humanitarian aid” programs.

3. Given the facts that JCICS is a financial supporter of COA, adoption service providers sit on COA's board of directors, and the accreditation process and review is not transparent, how can we have confidence in COA's ability to make unbiased decisions to accredit agencies? Despite numerous promises to do so, neither COA nor DOS have provided publicly accessible disclosure of agencies with pending applications. Why is this?

4. To date, adoptive parents, adoption service providers and adoption advocacy and reform groups have filed numerous complaints against Hague accredited agencies, some dating back over a year yet, according to a recent quote by Richard Klarberg, none of the complaints leading to investigations have been resolved. Is DOS planning on providing assistance to COA in completing these investigations in a timely manner and disclosing the outcomes to the public? What about cases where COA is unable to investigate allegations of Hague violations in foreign countries? Will DOS be providing assistance?

5. Why is the US continuing to allow adoptions from non-Hague countries and are there any plans to demand Hague compliance in the foreseeable future?

6. Will the US be one of the four pilot countries when Guatemala re-opens?

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

ISS Report on Adoption from Vietnam

In November 2009, the International Social Service (ISS) released its "Report on Adoption from Vietnam". The ISS is "an international non-governmental organisation that has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), as well as with UNICEF and other intergovernmental bodies." ISS helps individuals, children and families confronted with social problems involving two, or more, countries as a consequence of international migration or displacement. The report was commissioned by the Department of Adoption of the Ministry of Justice of Vietnam and UNICEF Vietnam to assist the Vietnamese government in formulating an adoption system in compliance with the 1993 Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption.

The full report is very a detailed and thoughtful analysis of the issues facing adoption from Vietnam and includes recommendations for improvement. The report highlights issues that currently plague other adoption programs, therefore its principles and recommendations could well suit consideration by adoption service providers, governments, and adopting families involved in international adoptions. PEAR suggests that interested parties read the entire 68 page report in order to fully appreciate the findings and recommendations. The full report can be obtained by writing to PEAR at reform@pear-now.org or by downloading a copy at: http://www.omc.gov.ie/viewdoc.asp?fn=/documents/legislation/ISS_Report_Adoption_from_Vietnam_Nov_2009.doc

The report has the following sections:

The adoption of Vietnamese children in context.

Main areas of concern in relation to alternative care in Viet Nam including separation of families, adoption and alternative care.

Main areas of concern in relation to adoption in Viet Nam, including determination of the need for adoption, prioritizing domestic adoption, matching, and decision-making.

Characteristics of Vietnamese children adopted abroad including age, disabilities, minorities, adopters’ expectations.

Impact of foreign actors in intercountry adoption practices including governments and central authorities of receiving countries in developing, coordinating and oversight of programs; adoption agencies accreditation, monitoring, influence over policies and influence of money; financial questions of costs, fees, humanitarian aid requirements.

Legislative issues

Main recommendations

Addenda include the intercountry adoption procedure for the non-identified child and the proposal for regulations on foreign adoption agencies in the republic of Viet Nam prepared by International Social Service.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

UPDATE: DOS Adoption Alert - Kyrgyzstan


Adoption Alert

Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues

November 24, 2009

The Kyrgyz government stopped processing all intercountry adoptions in October 2008 due to reports of corruption and fraud in the adoption process. The Kyrgyz authorities are conducting a criminal investigation into these allegations.

At present, the Kyrgyz government is not processing any adoption cases, including at least 65 adoptions by American families that were already in progress when the halt was announced. The Department of State (the Department) has urged the Kyrgyz government to complete its criminal investigation and resolve the pending cases so that eligible children can be placed in permanent homes. Many families have been waiting for over a year to complete their adoptions, and many of the children have serious medical problems. The Department has repeated this message to Kyrgyz officials in Washington and through U.S. Embassy Bishkek. Department officials raised the pending adoptions in a November 12 meeting with the Kyrgyz Ambassador to the United States, and with the Kyrgyz Foreign Minister during his visit to Washington on October 5.

The Department also raised the visibility of this issue, and addressed questions and concerns expressed by Kyrgyz officials and shared by some Kyrgyz citizens, through outreach programs. A U.S. adoption expert visited the Kyrgyz Republic in June to share her knowledge with Kyrgyz officials, nongovernmental organizations, journalists, and others. In May, the Department sponsored an adoption-themed study tour to the United States for three senior Kyrgyz officials. During the trip, the Kyrgyz officials met with representatives of the families with pending cases as well as some Kyrgyz children who had been adopted by Americans. In addition to these efforts, we have encouraged the Kyrgyz government to strengthen safeguards in the adoption process and eventually accede to the Hague Adoption Convention.

The Kyrgyz Parliament is considering a draft bill to reform the adoption process. It is unclear, however, if or when legislation will be passed to allow the completion of the pending cases and the processing of new ones. On November 13, the Kyrgyz Parliament held a closed hearing on intercountry adoption at which experts made presentations. It is our understanding that after the hearing Parliament decided to extend the deadline for government agencies to continue research on the subject. Parliament plans to hold another hearing on adoption by the end of February 2010. We will continue to engage the Kyrgyz government on this issue and will provide updates on this site as new information becomes available.


Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Results of POSitive Study-Testing and Intervention sections

Analyses of testing, and interventions including parenting techniques will be available in 2010.

Here are some general results.

The four most common screening tests that adoptees received include Hepatitis B and C serology (65%), HIV serology (64%), stool testing for ova and parasites (64%) and Tuberculosis screening (57%). The CDC outlines all of the recommended tests that international adoptees should receive at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2010/chapter-7/international-adoptions.aspx

We asked adoptive parents about ninety different interventions. Speech therapy was the most commonly used intervention(39%). Occupational therapy with or without sensory processing specialty was used in 30% of the adoptees. Corrective lenses were used in 21%, physical therapy in 12% and Handwriting without tears program in 9% of the adoptees.

We asked adoptive parents about biomedical testing. Food allergen testing was the most prevalent with blood testing being the most common of those. Heavy metal testing was the second most common type of testing and inhalant allergy testing was the third most common type of testing.

We asked adoptive parents about supplements, nutritionals and chelators. Twenty-two percent used fish oil, thirteen percent used multivitamin ,twelve percent used melatonin, eleven percent used a form of probiotics and nine percent used vitamin C.

Next week we will be sharing a summary of adoptive parent concerns captured in our comment section.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

DOS Adoption Notice: CDC Recommendations Relating to Intercountry Adoption, Hepatitis

DOS Notice for Intercountry Adoptions:
CDC and Prevention Recommendations

November 18, 2009

On Hepatitis A Vaccinations and Hepatitis B Screening

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends hepatitis A immunization for household members (including babysitters or anyone who anticipates close personal contact) with arriving intercountry adoptees from countries where hepatitis A is prevalent. For more information from the CDC click on: Updated Recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) for Use of Hepatitis A Vaccine in Close Contacts of Newly Arriving International Adoptees

Screening for hepatitis B is recommended for persons (including adopted children) who were born in geographic regions where the disease is common. For more information from the CDC click on:

“Recommendations for Routine Testing and Follow-up for Chronic Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) Infection” http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/HBV/PDFs/ChronicHepBTestingFlwUp.pdf

“International Adoptions”http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2010/chapter-7/international-adoptions.aspx

Under current law, children adopted from countries with which the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption is in force for the United States are required to present documentation of having received certain required vaccinations and screenings, including hepatitis B.

More information about hepatitis A and B and specific guidelines is available at http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/



Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Results of POSitive Study-Mental Health, Faith-based and school-based sections

Mental Health
Partial results are as follows. Thirty-four percent of respondents had their child screened or used mental health or attachment services. Of those, 86 percent pursued this based on their own assessment and 19 percent had a primary care doctor recommend it.

Of those using mental health services (multiple professionals sometimes were selected), 42 percent used a psychologist with attachment expertise, 39 percent used a social worker with attachment expertise, 29 percent used a psychologist with no attachment expertise, 25 percent used an educational psychologist, 23 percent used a psychiatrist with no attachment expertise, and 21 percent used a social worker with no attachment expertise .

Of those using mental health services, the conditions that the respondents’ children were labeled with were as follows: 41 percent labeled as ADHD and 5 percent ADD, 31 percent as PTSD, 25 percent as an attachment disorder, 21 percent as generalized anxiety disorder, 18 percent as RAD, 18 percent as ODD, 13 percent as ARND/FAS/FAE, and 11 percent as bipolar. Twenty-one percent were not diagnosed with a condition. For some respondents, the comment space was not large enough to provide all of the diagnoses. Others had questionable diagnoses or had children that were still in the process of being diagnosed.

The following interventions were used: 47 percent used play therapy, 47 percent used rewards systems, 37 percent had parent counseling, 36 percent used behavioral management, 30 percent used some form of parent holding technique, 27 percent used sensory integration techniques, 24 percent used parent support groups, 15 percent used Theraplay, 15 percent used regression with baby bottles, , 13 percent used art therapy ,12 percent used blanket wrap, 12 percent used applied behavioral analysis (ABA).

Eighty-eight percent had services provided in an office. Forty percent of parents provided therapies in their home.

Cost of therapies/lack of comprehensive mental health coverage are often cited as major barriers to therapy. Thirty-eight percent paused therapy due to cost. Twenty-two percent stopped therapy due to cost.

Fifty percent of children were prescribed medicine. Of those, 60 percent have used multiple medications. The most common medications used were clonidine, Ritalin, Strattera, Risperdal, Focalin, Zoloft and Concerta. When asked about positive and negative experiences about mental health providers and interventions, the majority had negative experiences due to expense, not able to find professional that understands the complexity of attachment/ neglect issues, medication side effects and in many cases, great frustration with being lied to or not being fully informed about the mental health condition of the child by adoption service providers or country of origin. The positive experiences were mainly associated with children that have had positive results from use of ADHD medications for ADHD. The negative experiences involved children that have attachment and severe neglect issues.

Faith-Based Services
Thirteen percent used a faith based services with seventy–nine percent being satisfied.

School-Based Services
Seventy-eight percent of respondents have children that are three or older who would be old enough to qualify for a school-based service in the US. Thirty-five percent of those have never had a school-based service. Interventions provided by a school are as follows: 35 percent received a speech assessment, 30 percent received speech therapy, 25 percent received reading assistance, 23 percent received occupational therapy assessment, 20 percent received IQ testing, 20 percent received psychological testing, 19 percent received math assistance, 17 percent received occupational therapy, 17 percent received test-taking modifications, 16 percent received early intervention (public) preschool, 14 percent received English as a second language (ESL) services, 14 percent received homework modifications, 14 percent received special reward system, 12 percent received summer school in a class setting, and 11 percent received screening by a professional outside school system that the school paid for.

Of those who had services, 31 percent had a teacher refer to school services, and 18 percent were referred to school services from their Early Intervention services.

Not all parents feel that school is meeting their child’s needs. Twelve percent of parents feel that the school should be providing occupational therapy for their child, eleven percent would like organizational assistance, nine percent would like speech therapy, nine percent would like tutor in the classroom, nine percent would like reading assistance and nine percent would like therapy by an outside professional.

Thirty-one percent of children have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). An additional twenty-four percent believe their child should have an IEP. Four percent have a 504 plan. Seventy-five percent feel that the school district respects the privacy of their child.

In-depth analyses and complete results will be available in 2010.Next week we will be sharing some testing and interventions results.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Where is the JCICS Ethiopia Report?

According to information posted on the JCICS website, a team undertook a fact-finding mission to Ethiopia from October 2-October 9, 2009.

This mission was partly in response to allegations made by an investigative television show in Australia called “Fly Away Children” about improprieties, trafficking, and "harvesting" of non-orphans from Ethiopia to the US. http://www.abc.net.au/foreign/content/2009/s2686908.htm . One JCICS member agency, Christian World Adoptions (CWA), bore the brunt of the allegations in this program. It is worth noting that the CEO of CWA, Tomilee Harding, lists herself as a current board member of the JCICS, http://www.cwa.org/staff.htm . However, the JCICS website does not include Ms. Harding in its current list of board members. http://www.jcics.org/Board_Directors.htm

On October 12, 2009 , the JCICS claimed that a report on their activities would be published soon. See http://www.JCICS.org/Ethiopia.htm . This report, however, has not been published as of today, November 11, 2009.

PEAR respectfully asks why there has been such a long delay in posting a response to this mission, particularly as the JCICS said they would “collaboratively identify all abuses, take action consummate with our mandate and policies, and, as appropriate, to demand a thorough investigation by the appropriate authorities.”

Prospective adoptive parents considering Ethiopia as a viable and ethical country from which to adopt need to have this information in order to make informed choices about both the country program as a whole and individual agencies working there. Adoptive parents and adoptees concerned about unethical practices surrounding their adoptions are also awaiting this report. We hope the JCICS will release the report in a timely fashion, as their delay poses many questions and answers none.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Results of POSitive Study -Financial, International Adoption Clinic and Early Intervention Sections

Financial planning for expected and unexpected post-adoption issues (health- and education–related) and trusts have been a frustration for some adoptive parents. We asked if agencies, social workers or attorneys provided information prior or after adopting. Twenty-three percent discussed financial planning or trusts prior to adopting with their adoption professional and two percent afterwards. Eighty-eight percent received financial services from their own resources and six percent were unable to get their desired financial services.

Sixty-three percent currently feel that they do not need further information about financial planning. Twenty-four percent would like information on 529/educational trusts, eighteen percent on wills; sixteen percent on trusts; fifteen percent on special needs trusts.

Ninety percent of people never received information about child life insurance from their adoption professional yet thirty-three percent did try to obtain a child life policy. Of those who applied for one, eighty-nine percent were able to obtain one.

We asked adoptive parents what types of financial services should be mandatorily discussed by adoption professionals with prospective /adoptive parents. Forty-one percent feel that financial planning and trusts should be discussed pre-adoption and thirty percent feel it should be discussed post-adoption.

International Adoption Clinic and Primary Care Provider
For those that internationally adopted (90% of our sample), we asked about the use of international adoption (IA) clinics. Fifty-seven percent of people used IA clinics prior to adopting and thirty-one percent never had contact with an IA clinic or doctor with expertise in international adoption. Furthermore, forty-three percent of parents only corresponded with IA clinic via phone, fax or email, likely to review child referral information.

Of those who physically went to IA clinics, thirty-five percent saw a doctor prior to adoption, thirty percent one to two weeks after the child came home, twelve percent saw the doctor three to four weeks after arriving home and ten percent within one to three months after arriving home.

Fifty-four percent saw a general pediatrician first, twenty-nine percent saw a developmental pediatrician first, eight percent saw an infectious disease specialist first. Forty-five percent were not referred to any specialist following IA doctor appointment. Referrals to early intervention providers accounted for 16 percent; to speech therapist for 15 percent; to occupational therapist for 13 percent and to audiologist for 10 percent. Eighty percent of those who used IA doctor services rated their experience as good or excellent.

Seventy-three percent said that their child’s primary care provider took the child’s past history/adoptive status into account when first examining the child.

Primary care providers referred patients to the following types of specialists: speech therapist 18%, early intervention provider 17%, audiologist 12%, pediatric dentist 11%. Eighty-six percent rated their primary care provider services as good or excellent.

Early Intervention
Eighty-six percent of respondents adopted a child 5 years of age or younger while residing in the US. Of those respondents, fifty-seven percent had their child screened or used their state’s Early Intervention services. Eleven percent of parents contacted Early Intervention before their child even came home. Fifty-two percent contacted Early Intervention services after returning home without a health care provider suggestion.

Of those who had their child screened, 60 percent had their child screened for speech, occupational, physical and developmental/educational interventions. The rest did not have assessments in all categories. For those who did not get screening in all four categories, the reasons given were not feeling child needed all the assessments: 43%; childs’ doctor did not feel all assessments were needed: 25%; early intervention services discouraged a full screening: 24%.

Seventy percent of those screened in any category qualified for services with speech therapy at eighty-five percent, developmental/education intervention at fifty-two percent, occupational therapy at forty-five percent and physical therapy at thirty-nine percent. Eighty-two percent of those who had services for their child rated their experience as good or excellent.

While people from some localities reported excellent services, there is a great inconsistency across the US. There were a number of people who did not get services or had to “fight” to get early intervention. Some of the more common reasons for not having services include: that speech services were denied because the child was learning English, uncertainty of child’s true age led to disqualification, international adoption is not a reason for screening, services not adequate or unprepared for developmental services for children effected by trauma, occupational therapy screening missed sensory issues, some localities base services on income, making it very expensive for the adoptive parent, screening too basic, speech services denied because some localities require a delay in another area before speech services are given, no one to assess in child’s native language, program was full and no more slots were available.

Next week we will be sharing mental health, faith-based and school-based services results.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Adoption Alert

Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues

Dear Members of the American Adoption Community:

On November 3, 2009, Ukraine’s central adoption authority, the State Department for Adoption and Protection of the Rights of the Child (SDAPRC) informed the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv that it was suspending the issuances of referrals for both Ukrainian and foreign adoptive parents to visit Ukrainian orphanages due to the increased incidence of H1N1 in Ukraine. According to this notice, no prospective adoptive parents (either Ukrainian or from other countries) will be allowed to visit orphanages to meet their prospective adoptive children beginning November 3, 2009, until the measures taken by the Ukrainian Government are lifted. These measures include a cancellation of large public gatherings and suspension of school and university classes, but do not include travel restrictions. The SDAPRC will keep all pre-scheduled appointments and the adoptive families will still be able to choose children from the database, but these families will not be able to visit children and start the adoption process in the regions. Alternatively, foreign families may cancel their appointments at SDAPRC (they do not need to do anything special to cancel these appointments) and their appointments will be re-scheduled as soon as the Ukrainian government's temporary measures are ended.

As of the posting of this notice, it is unclear how long this suspension will remain in effect, but according to the SDAPRC it may last from three to six weeks, unless the Ukrainian government decides to end the H1N1 measures sooner.

According to the SDAPRC, several foreign families with the referrals issued on November 2, 2009, were already denied access to the orphanages.

The SDAPRC was required to enact this suspension in accordance with the Decree Number 3813 issued by the Ukrainian Minister for Family, Youth and Sports Yuriy Pavlenko, dated October 30, 2009. This decree was issued based on the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine Number 1152, dated October 30, 2009.

We will continue to monitor the situation and will post updates as they become available.


Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Monday, November 2, 2009

PEAR Member and Donation Drive

PEAR’s mission is to provide a voice for prospective and adoptive parents. Join our all-volunteer 501(c)(3) organization to encourage ethics, transparency and support in the adoption process.

Your one-time or monthly tax-deductible donation will help us raise $5,000 during National Adoption Month to ensure a “PEAR is in the Chair” in 2010 to represent prospective and adoptive parents in adoption legislation discussions and to participate at conferences worldwide. Click http://www.pear-now.org/join.php to donate via paypal or mail.

Several levels of donations are available:

Patron level of $25
Encourager level of $50
Associate level of $100
Reformer level of $250

or pledge a minimum of $10 monthly. Email membership@pear-now.org to receive a monthly invoice.

PEAR began as a grassroots group of adoptive and prospective adoptive parents who came together to discuss the lack of a unified, respected voice for adoptive families. Our membership has grown to include adoptees, adoption professionals, and other persons interested in meaningful ethical adoption reform from the adoptive parent point of view. We believe that the existing system needs strong reforms because it does not represent the best interest of the people most impacted by the system: the children and their families, whether original or via adoption.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Results of POSitive Study-Demographics and Adoption Professional Sections

PEAR conducted a Observational Survey on Adoptive Parents Success, Satisfaction and Types of Post-Adoption Services (POSitive study) from January to August 2009. One entry was completed per child with a potential 129 questions covering the areas of adoption professionals, financial advice, international adoption clinics, early intervention (US only), mental health services, faith-based services, school-based services, testing and other interventions. Articles and statistical analyses will be available in early 2010.

On each Monday during National Adoption Month, we will share a segment of the results. This week we will be sharing some demographics and adoption professional results.


The survey had 538 fully-completed entries. Ninety percent of entries were about international adoptions and ten percent were about domestic adoptions.

Fifty-nine percent of completed surveys were about female adoptees.

The top six countries of origin of the adoptees in the sample were Russia (32%), China (15%), Guatemala (10%), US (9%), Vietnam (8%), and Kazakhstan (6%). Ethiopia, India, South Korea and Ukraine each represented two percent of the sample. Thirty-one other countries were also represented.

Only 11 percent of families have moved to a different major city since completing the adoption. Thirty-seven percent had other children living in their home at the time of the adoption.

Twenty-four percent of adoptees had been labeled as "special needs" by the agency, attorney or sending country. Fifty-four percent had their homestudy conducted by a separate entity than their placing agency/attorney practice.

Adoption Professionals

Only 57 percent of those surveyed live in states or localities which require follow-up by adoption professionals. Sixty-seven percent had agencies or attorneys require adoption professional follow-up. Sixty-eight percent of those who had inter-country adoptions had a requirement from the country of origin to have follow-up from adoption professionals. Seventy-eight percent of those who had inter-country adoptions had post-placement reporting requirements.

Seventy-six percent of agencies assist in some way with post-adoption reports with the main help being mailing forms (57 percent). Forty-five percent were provided forms and thirty-five percent had assistance with social worker meetings. A small number were provided with translations, phone consults or reminders. The comment section showed that there was displeasure that some agencies did not assist.

Our questions about adoption professionals giving contact information to adoptive parents for post adoption support for health, education, financial and emotional/peer support showed that this is not a service that is well-provided to adoptive parents. Peer adoption support group contact information was the most likely category of information given (51% ). Only 32 percent received contact information about early intervention resources, 17 percent received general pediatrician contact information, 16 percent received contact information about legal assistance, 14 percent received contact information about mental health professionals or financial assistance and 13 percent received contact information about educational interventions. A small percent received international adoption doctor contact information or re-adoption information.

Next week we will be sharing financial, International Adoption Clinic and Early Intervention results.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Post Adoption Resource: FASD and Brain Differences

Better Endings New Beginnings has developed a free guidebook for families and caregivers to fill out on behalf of their child, and then give to new teachers, therapists, care providers, etc to help others understand their child better.

One is specific to FASD/prenatal alcohol exposure, the other only mentions brain differences – the info is the same in both booklets. These documents can be found at

http://www.betterendings.org/downloads/AAM_FASD.pdf (specific for children with FASD)


http://www.betterendings.org/downloads/AAM_BrainDifferences.pdf (for children with other brain differences)

A checklist of overlapping characteristics is also a helpful tool http://www.betterendings.org/Overlapping_Characteristics.pdf

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Adoptive Families Magazine "A TB Regulation Victory"

Adoptive Families magazine December 2009 issue, Adoptalk New and Notes section, article “A TB Regulation Victory” contains several misleading statements.

The article can be accessed here http://www.adoptivefamilies.com/news.php

Tuberculosis screening criteria and regulations are complex.

The statement “The regulations held adopted children to a higher standard than children born to American parents in another country, or even to tourists” has two flaws.

The first flaw implies that the 2007 TB screening guidelines to obtain an immigrant visa no longer differentiate between guidelines for children adopted internationally by US citizens and children screened in the US. The September 18 CDC updates are minor tweaks to practical screening steps for children aged two to ten years. The regulations still require screening that goes above and beyond screening for TB in children born in the US.

The second flaw is the implication that adopted children should not be held to a higher standard than children born to American parents. PEAR’s Position on Tuberculosis Management in International Adoptees, page 2 at http://tiny.cc/PEARTB describes why adoptees who have been in institutional care should be held to a higher standard. The excerpted passage:

“Children born to American citizens abroad are not and never have been in the same patient population as international adoptees. Differences in international adoptees include use of BCG vaccine, malnutrition, poor hygienic living conditions, institutional settings, being exposed to adult caregivers with TB, and being exposed in their communities to adults with TB and HIV. As a whole, children being adopted from these circumstances have a huge disparity of immune status compared to children born to American citizens abroad. Worse, this point deliberately misleads prospective parents away from the very real problem: the potential of foreign-born children residing in orphanages in high-prevalence TB countries having latent TB, active TB or MDR-TB, and the impact this will have not only on the child, but the adoptive family, and the community once the child has immigrated.

The last paragraph of the article misleads the reader to believe that the waiver process used by the adoptive family was something unique or added after advocacy on September 18, 2009. It actually was built in to the original 2007 TB screening guidelines. PEAR’s Position on Tuberculosis Management in International Adoptees, page 2, describes the waiver process. The excerpted passage:

“The CDC guidelines include a Class A waiver for immigrants with active TB. This waiver allows the parent to opt to bring a child with active TB to the US as long as specific conditions are met. Conditions include a US doctor and state health officer signing the waiver to take responsibility for treatment of the child, the child reporting to the doctor or health facility upon arrival to the US for appropriate treatment, parental agreement to comply with the entire therapy, and parental acknowledgement of financial burden of treatment. The CDC technical instructions addendum that is dated September 18, 2009 includes further details of the Class A waiver system and electronic tracking to ensure complete TB treatment.”

We want to remind the public that that removing country of origin screening removes the safeguard to US citizens. In addition, such a policy shift would put the burden on the adoptive family to infer the necessity of the testing and subsequent cost of possible treatment, which was likely not a planned adoption expense.

The recently-completed survey by PEAR shows that only 37 percent of the 486 international adoptive parent respondents used an International Adoption Clinic or provider with international adoption expertise post-adoption. Only 57 percent of the adoptive parent respondents had their child tested with the Mantoux TB screening test post-adoption

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Post Adoption Depression (PAD)

Many prospective adoptive parents and adoptive parents are not familiar with Post Adoption Depression (PAD). The following blog gives a checklist of symptoms and some predictors of developing PAD.

Additionally, there is a standing invitation to share your story about experiencing PAD. Please consider sharing your story to help others.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

DOS Notice: Vietnam

Vietnam Adoption Notice
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues

October 2009

Nearly all cases for which an official referral was issued before September 1, 2008, have now been processed to completion. The U.S. Embassy in Hanoi and Vietnamese officials are assisting families whose cases are still pending. Questions about these cases may be sent to hanoiadoptions@state.gov.

At this time, adoption service providers and prospective adoptive parents should not seek or accept new (or potential) adoption referrals from Vietnam. We will inform adoption service providers and prospective adoptive parents if/when we believe referrals from Vietnam can resume.

As a positive development, the Government of Vietnam recently circulated an initial draft of a proposed new adoption law. As drafted, the proposed legislation attempts to codify and coordinate domestic and intercountry adoption requirements and procedures. The draft itself represents a significant effort and could be a step towards Vietnam’s stated goal of becoming a Party to the Hague Adoption Convention. At this point, however, it is unclear whether the legislation would achieve this goal and when (or if) the Vietnamese legislature will formally consider it. If the legislation passes, it will take time to establish effective new procedures and regulations.

International and Vietnamese media sources have also reported that the Vietnamese Government concluded its investigation in one of several cases of adoption officials allegedly falsifying paperwork for the intercountry adoption of Vietnamese children. Reports indicate that all 16 officials from one province were found guilty of the abuse of power in their public services positions and were individually sentenced. The United States welcomes the more active role of Vietnamese officials in the monitoring of the local adoption process.
The United States remains in frequent contact with the government of Vietnam on adoption matters. Discussions have focused on the broad range of child welfare responsibilities encompassed by the Hague Adoption Convention, the principles underlying the Convention, and the practical requirements for implementing procedures that the Convention requires. Representatives from both countries agree that intercountry adoptions from Vietnam to the United States cannot resume until fundamental reforms are in place to ensure a transparent child welfare system that has the best interests of the children as its first priority, and that protects the fundamental rights of all parties.

The Governments of the United States and Vietnam are seriously concerned about the inconsistencies and deficiencies that led to a decision not to renew our previous bilateral agreement. Vietnamese criminal investigations and U.S. field reviews revealed evidence of child buying, including forged or altered documents, cash payment to birth mothers (for other than reasonable payments for necessary activities), coercion or deceit to induce birth parent(s) to release children to an orphanage, and children being offered for intercountry adoption without the knowledge or consent of their birth parents. Any effort to predict when the current situation will be replaced with a reliable, transparent intercountry adoption procedure is purely speculative.

In response to U.S. Government inquiries, the Government of Vietnam has reaffirmed that second referrals will be permitted only when the child originally referred for adoption has died. In light of ongoing police investigations and the Vietnamese Government’s current focus on revising its adoption laws and procedures, the U.S. Government accepts this decision on second referrals as final.


Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.