Wednesday, December 22, 2010

UPDATE: DOS Adoption Notice Russia

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

December 15, 2010

Delegations from the United States and Russia met December 1-3, 2010 in Washington, D.C. for the fifth round of talks on a bilateral agreement regarding intercountry adoptions. The talks were fruitful, and further progress was made. Several key issues remain under discussion; however, both sides remain committed to reaching an agreement. A decision on scheduling future talks will be taken once both sides complete respective interagency reviews of the draft text.

If you have completed an adoption in Russia and have an immigrant visa appointment at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow:

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow is continuing to schedule and issue immigrant visas for adopted children using normal processing procedures. Contact the Embassy at to schedule an appointment. Please also stay in close touch with your adoption service provider.

If you have a court appointment to finalize your child’s adoption in Russia:

Many adoption cases are continuing to move forward in the courts. We have heard of cases in which a court appointment has been postponed. If your court appointment is postponed by the court, please provide this information to us by email at and Neither the Department of State and nor the U.S. Embassy have the authority to intervene with the Russian courts on any individual case and cannot provide a letter for use in the courts. Adoption service providers and/or legal representatives in Russia may be able to make inquiries about your case on your behalf with Russian courts.

If you do not yet have a court date to finalize an adoption in Russia, but are in the process of adopting from Russia:

Please stay in close contact with your adoption service provider, and check the website regularly for current information about intercountry adoption from Russia.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

DOS Adoption Notice: India

Adoption Notice

Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues

New Procedures for Identifying and Treating Active Tuberculosis

December 20, 2010

On October 1, 2010, the U.S. Embassy’s panel physicians in India began implementing the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC’s) 2007 Tuberculosis Technical Instructions which are required procedures for screening for all immigrant visa applicants, including adopted children. These include requirements that may impact the pace at which some adoption cases can be concluded. Adoptive parents should take note of the following information in their adoption planning.

For most children under 2 years of age, there will be no change in the testing procedure because no Tuberculin Skin Test (TST) is required. However, if the child shows signs of tubercolosis when examined by a panel physician the child will require the additional screening for tubercolosis that may take up to minimum of 8 weeks to complete. The Embassy’s panel pediatricians estimate that many children will show exposure for tubercolosis after the TST, but a very small number will show abnormal chest x-rays. If the child has a normal chest x-ray, no further testing is required.

For the vast majority of children, implementation of these requirements will cause no significant delay in the processing of their cases. Adoptive parents should consult with their adoption service provider if they have concerns.

  • All children between 2-14 years of age require a new TST according to CDC specifications. This TST is currently available at:

Max Medcentre
N - 110, Panchsheel Park
New Delhi

  • If the TST indicates the child has been exposed to tuburcolosis, then the child will need a chest x-ray to check for abnormalities. All children found to have abnormal chest x-rays will require a new screening procedure for tuburcolosis that requires a minimum of 8 weeks to complete. Adoptive parents should be aware of this delay and factor it into their plans. Children whose x-rays are not abnormal will require no additional testing or delay.

  • All applicants with chest x-ray findings suggestive of tuberculosis, or those who are suspected to have laryngeal tubercolosis, shall undergo three (3) sputum examinations. Sputum specimens will be collected at the designated laboratory:

GP-26, Maruti Industrial Estate
Udyog Vihar, Sector-18
Gurgaon, Haryana, India)

If the panel physician receives positive test results from the laboratory, the case will require drug susceptibility testing, and isolates will then be sent from SRL-Religare to:

Quest Diagnostics
A-17 Info City, Sector 32
Gurgaon, Haryana, India).

This new requirement will impose a delay of 45 to 60 days in the processing such cases.

  • Children who have active tuberculosis will be required to submit to six months of Directly Observed Therapy (DOT) provided at the following clinic:

IOM in Max Medcentre
N - 110, Panchsheel Park
New Delhi

It is estimated that fewer than 10 orphans per year will require this treatment.

The CDC is phasing in these 2007 TB Technical Instructions worldwide in order to better identify and treat immigrant visa applicants with active TB. The requirements are not in effect in all countries at this time.

United States immigration law requires the medical examination for immigration purproses to be conducted only be approved panel physicians, prior to the issuance of an immigrant visa. It is the CDC’s responsibility to protect Americans from infectious diseases and the Embassy is required to follow all CDC guidelines. These requirements will greatly improve the Embassy’s ability to identify visa applicants with active TB, and to ensure they receive the most effective treatment for their condition before they are granted visas. Panel physicians who conduct medical examinations are required to verify that immigrant visa applicants have met all of medical evaluation requirements.

For information the October 1, 2009 Technical Instructions for Tuberculosis Treatment and Screening, please refer to:

For a list of Frequently Asked Questions regarding Tuberculosis Screening for International Adoptees, please refer to: for detailed information.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

DOS Adoption Notice: Guatemala

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

December 20, 2010

The Office of Children’s Issues is asking U.S. citizens with active grandfathered adoption cases in Guatemala to send a brief email to including the name(s) of the adopting parent(s), the name and date of birth of the child and the date that your I-600A and/or I-600 petition was filed with USCIS. Please give your email the subject line: “Guatemala Master List” so that it may be properly directed.

Sending us this information will ensure that your case information is included on a master list of pending grandfathered cases that the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala is compiling. We will use this list in regular meetings with a newly formed working group for grandfathered adoptions in Guatemala. This working group is being formed pursuant to directive of the President of Guatemala following his December meeting with Ambassador Susan Jacobs, the U.S. Department of State’s Special Advisor for Children’s Issues, and Adoption Division Chief Alison Dilworth. The working group will consist of representatives of the various Guatemalan government agencies that play a role in Guatemala adoptions, as well as other important stakeholders in the adoption process in Guatemala.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Friday, December 17, 2010

MEDIA: VN signs Hague deal on adoption

VN signs Hague deal on adoption

HA NOI — Viet Nam has signed the Hague Conven-tion on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention).

This is the first convention of the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HccH) to be signed by Viet Nam.

Viet Nam's Ambassador to the Netherlands Huynh Minh Chinh inked the convention on behalf of the Government earlier this month.

The Hague Adoption Convention, one of 38 HccH's conventions, aims to protect children and their families against the risks of illegal, irregular, premature or ill-prepared adoptions abroad. To date, 81 countries have signed the convention.

Minh said joining the convention was a milestone in the efforts of Viet Nam in integrating into the multi-dimension collaboration on international law.

The Vietnamese Government would accelerate the process to complete the legal framework and have this convention put into effect, he said at the signing ceremony.

On January 1, 2011, the Adoption Law of Viet Nam will also start to take effect. Together with the Hague Convention, the country hopes these measures will help protect the rights of children. — VNS

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

MEDIA: Under Pressure, Ethiopia Plans Crackdown on Baby Business

The following article cites the Ethiopia Survey Report conducted by PEAR. The survey report can be found on our website under "Projects & Positions":

The survey was based upon reports of corrupt and unethical practices received by PEAR over a two year period and incorporated the PEAR Prospective Adoptive Parents Bill of Rights (also available on our website). The purpose of the survey and report was to highlight the problems and bring about reforms eliminating those problems and ensuring ethical adoptions. It is our sincere hope that the reforms coming will clearly address those issues.

Voice of America Reports: Under Pressure, Ethiopia Plans Crackdown on Baby Business

Peter Heinlein | Addis Ababa
December 14, 2010

Theodore Lieberman, 2, adopted from Ethiopia, sits between his parents Jamie, right, and Aaron Lieberman, during the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) first ever Adoption Day ceremony,18 Nov 2010

Ethiopia is planning to shut down dozens of orphanages and withdraw accreditation from several foreign adoption agencies, in an effort to halt what critics say is a thriving baby business.

The Bright Hope transition center in Addis Ababa is a showcase child care facility, financed by a faith-based Texas charity. Twenty abandoned children, ranging in age from several months to four years, play in a carefully supervised environment as they wait to be placed in adoptive homes.

Bright Hope Director Getahun Nesibu Tesema says most of these orphans will be taken in by extended family members in Ethiopia.

"Our main focus is to help the children here in Ethiopia," Getahun said. "Adoption, international adoption especially, is our last resort."

But Bright Hope is an exception among foreign adoption agencies, in that it tries to place children within Ethiopia. This year, foreigners will take away about 5,000 Ethiopian orphans, often paying between $20,000 and $35,000 each for the privilege.

Half that number, nearly 2,500, will go to the United States. That is a ten-fold increase above the numbers just a few years ago.

U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, co-chair of the Congressional Adoptions Coalition recently stopped at Bright Hope during a visit to the country that is becoming the destination of choice for Americans adopting overseas. Landrieu says it is easy to see why the number of Ethiopian orphans going to the United States has skyrocketed.

"One of the reasons is because people in America are falling in love with Ethiopian children," Landrieu said. "They love them. It's very simple. They think they're beautiful and smart."

The rapid rise in Ethiopian adoptions has set off alarm bells among children's lobby groups. The U.S. State Department issued a statement this month expressing concern about reports of adoption-related fraud, malfeasance and abuse in Ethiopia.

The statement warns prospective adoptive parents to expect delays in the adoption process. It says additional information may be required to determine facts surrounding a child's relinquishment or abandonment and whether the child meets the definition of orphan, under U.S. Immigration law.

Embassy consular officials say nearly two years of data collection has enabled them to identify individuals and agencies involved in unusual adoption activities.

U.N. Children's Fund in Addis Ababa chief Doug Webb says the large amount of money changing hands in adoptions is a huge temptation in an impoverished country.

"Money is a powerful factor in this country," Webb said. "We're talking about $20-25,000 per adoption coming into the country. And, there is increasing evidence of irregularities within the system of various types of problems at different levels. And, these have been well documented by PEAR."

Parents for Ethical Adoption Reform did a study of Ethiopia, this year, after detecting a pattern of troubles similar to those in Vietnam and Guatemala before they were closed to American adoptions. The PEAR study turned up evidence of unethical practices by adoption agencies and the use of coercive methods to persuade mothers to give up their babies.

Conditions in orphanages were found to be particularly severe. Some had no running water or sanitary facilities. Children are said to have suffered sexual abuse and beatings.

Ethiopian officials say their own studies confirm PEAR's findings. Mahadir Bitow, head of Ethiopia's Child Rights Promotion and Protection Director tells VOA one of the first priorities will be to close dozens of orphanages that appear to have sprung up to meet the demand for children.

"Before 6-7 years there were not a lot of orphanages, like there are now, so the increased number of adoption agencies brought about the increase in the number of orphanages in Ethiopia," Mahadir said. "Most of these orphanages are not orphanages. They are transit homes. They receive children. They give to adoption. They are a (pipeline). So in the future we will not need all these orphanages."

Mahadir would give no time frame for shutting down orphanages that exist simply to fill the demand in the United States and a few other Western countries for Ethiopian babies.

She acknowledges the plan to close as many as 25 percent of the country's orphanages could create temporary havoc, as officials scramble to place thousands of de-institutionalized children. But she says taking away financial incentives should reduce the supply of babies offered for inter-country adoption.

Mahadir tells VOA the government also plans to re-accredit all foreign adoption agencies, using higher standards to weed out those involved in questionable practices. Child care advocates have been urging such a move for years.

Part two of this series will examine whether an impoverished country like Ethiopia, with a weak social services infrastructure, can successfully fight the moneyed interests intent on keeping the baby pipeline open. And, if they do succeed, whether the phenomenon will simply pop up in another part of the globe.

Find this article at:


Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Friday, December 10, 2010

DOS Adoption Alert - Ukraine

Adoption Notice
Bureau of Consular Affairs

Office of Children’s Issue

December 9, 2010

On November 3, 2010, a proposed bill that would place a moratorium on intercountry adoptions from countries without bilateral agreements, including the United States passed a first reading in the Ukrainian parliament. On December 7, the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv learned the proposed moratorium bill has been scheduled for a second reading during the upcoming plenary session on December 16. As the plenary session does have several important agenda items, this schedule may be subject to change depending on the progress of each issue.

Additionally, the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv was informed that a slight, but possibly important, change was made to the text for the second reading. The bill originally stated, “intercountry adoptions will not be allowed for the citizens and permanent residents of the countries with which Ukraine does not have bilateral adoption agreements. The change eliminates the word “bilateral,” which may allow the possibility of multilateral agreements, like the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, to take the place of bilateral agreements.

The Ukrainian State Department for Adoptions (SDA) has indicated that adoption processing will be conducted as usual until mandated by a change in legislation.

The Department of State cannot predict the outcome of the second reading. However, the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv is active in encouraging its counterparts to consider the Hague Adoption Convention as the best means to address concerns in the adoption process and to safeguard cases in progress. The Embassy is monitoring the situation closely. Any prospective adoptive parents with cases currently open in Ukraine are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy Kyiv Adoption Unit. The Embassy maintains a listserv to communicate with U.S. citizen prospective adoptive parents and will use this to send updates as information is available.

Note from PEAR: email address of the US Embassy Kyiv Adoption Unit is

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

DOS Adoption Alert: Guatemala

Adoption Alert
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues

Special Advisor for Children's Issues Ambassador Susan Jacobs to Travel to Guatemala

December 7, 2010

On December 6, 2010 the Department of State issued the following media note:

"Special Advisor for Children’s Issues Ambassador Susan Jacobs is visiting Guatemala December 7 to 11 for meetings on intercountry adoption. She will meet with government officials and nongovernmental adoption stakeholders to discuss the status of U.S. citizen adoption cases that have been pending since the suspension of new adoptions in Guatemala in 2007. She will also discuss Guatemala’s efforts to implement new intercountry adoption safeguards that would provide a path toward future adoption processing. "

The media note is at:

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

UPDATE: DOS Adoption Notice - Ethiopia

Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues

Adoption Processing at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa

December 6, 2010

The Department of State continues to be concerned about reports highlighting adoption related fraud, malfeasance, and abuse in Ethiopia, and acknowledges the concerns expressed by families over the integrity of the adoption process. The U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa actively tracks all adoption visa cases, incorporating information provided by adoption agencies and the Government of Ethiopia, to ensure that the adoption process continues to operate transparently and ethically.

The Ethiopian government requires that adoptive parents must appear at the Ethiopian federal court hearing for their adoptive child in order for the adoption to be approved. If there are two adoptive parents but only one parent can attend the hearing, special permission from the federal court must be obtained in advance,* and the attending parent must have a power of attorney from the other. It generally takes three weeks or more after the court date for the adoption agency to obtain the documentation necessary for an immigrant visa application, including the adopted child’s birth certificate and Ethiopian passport. Adoptive parents can expect to wait at least one month after the court hearing for a visa interview appointment.

Adoptive parents should be aware that in all adoption visa cases worldwide, an I-604 investigation must be completed in connection with every I-600 application. Depending on the circumstances of the case, this investigation may take several weeks or even months to complete. Additional information may be required to determine the facts surrounding a child’s relinquishment or abandonment and whether a child meets the definition of an orphan under U.S. immigration law. The Embassy strongly recommends that adoptive parents who return to the U.S. after the court hearing not travel again to Ethiopia for the immigrant visa process until they have confirmed with their adoption agency that the Embassy has scheduled a visa interview. Those who plan to stay in Ethiopia between the court hearing and interview should obtain Ethiopian visas in advance of travel, and ensure the validity of their visas to avoid immigration proceedings and/or significant fines.

* If only one parent meets the adoptive child before the court date, the child will qualify for an IR-4, not an IR-3 visa (which means that the child will not become a U.S. citizen upon entry to the United States and will have to be re-adopted in the United States).

The Embassy's Adoptions Unit can be reached at

Please continue to monitor for updated information.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Cautionary Statement for Families Considering Special Needs and Older Child Adoption

Cautionary Statement for Families Considering Special Needs and Older Child Adoption

As the landscape of international adoption has changed over the past few years, we've seen an increasing number of families opening their homes and hearts to older children, sibling groups and children with special needs. We at PEAR are certainly heartened by this admirable trend but would be remiss if we did not issue a general caution.

The adoption of older and special needs children is not for everyone because it brings greater challenges and risks. If a family enters into such an adoption unprepared, the result can be a disruption/dissolution or worse. Special needs, multiple placements at once, and older child adoptions create added stress and demands. Families should be thoroughly educated and fully prepared to deal with these challenges before deciding to accept them. Adoptive Parents should engage in honest, realistic introspection and evaluate their emotional and financial capacity to handle the added demands. They should assure that adequate treatment and educational resources exist in their community before accepting any special referral. They should check that medical insurance will cover any specific needs of a child.

When adopting an older child, be aware of the possibility of a history of physical and sexual abuse, even if it is unknown or undisclosed. Realize that victims of abuse often become abusers. Bringing an older child into a home with younger children is inadvisable. Be aware that higher risk placements that fail can result in disruptions/dissolutions, residential treatment, hospitalizations, and encounters with the juvenile justice system. Have an action plan in place before placement for worse case scenarios.

Research shows that parents who are realistically prepared for the unique needs of older, multiple and special children have far better outcomes and greater satisfaction with their adoption. Adopting special children can bring great joy and rewards to both the children and their parents when done with adequate knowledge and preparation.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Legislative Update: International Adoption SImplification Act and Help Haiti Act

Two pieces of legislation concerning International Adoption have recently made progress through the legislature:

Nov 30, 2010 - S. 1376: International Adoption Simplification Act. This was signed by President Obama and bill has become law. The law restores immunization and sibling age exemptions for children adopted by United States citizens under the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. This act allows waivers of the immigration immunization requirements for children adopted from Hague partner countries. It also allows children up to the age of 18 to be adopted and admitted into the US if they are siblings of previously adopted children. This law addresses oversights in the drafting of the Hague Regulations and brings those regulations into parity with existing international adoption law and policy on immunization waivers and sibling adoptions in non-Hague programs. PEAR's position on this legislation can be found here:

Dec 1, 2010 - H 5283/S 3411 Help for Haiti Act. The House passed the Act and it is now awaiting President's Obama's signiture before becoming law. This Act is intended to assist Haitian children who arrived in the US on Special Humanitarian Parole for adoption to achieve an easier path to US Citizenship by easing the process granting them permanent resident status. PEAR's position on this legislation can be found here:

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Updated Media Reports on Russia/US Adoption Talks

The following media reports have come out since the conclusion of the latest round of discussions held in Washington December 1- 3, 2010:

Russia US must agree 4 key points to complete adoption talks - ombudsman
RIANOVOSTI December 3, 2010

Russia and the United States have to work out a common position on four remaining points concerning child adoption in order to complete long-standing talks and conclude an intergovernmental adoption agreement, Russian Children's Rights Ombudsman Pavel Astakhov said on Friday.

"Four points, the most complicated, have yet to be agreed. These are acquisition of citizenship, control over the relocation of children, 'post-adoption,' when the first adoption is abolished and a second comes into force, Astakhov said.

"The fourth point is the ratification of the agreement itself," he continued.


US, Russia need more time to finalize adoption deal

WASHINGTON — US and Russian officials who had hoped to finalize a deal this week on new rules for adoption will need another meeting to complete the details, the State Department said Friday.

Russia imposed a de facto ban on US adoptions of Russian orphans and the two countries began working on a legal framework after a US woman sparked outrage in April by putting her adopted son on a plane alone back to Russia.

"It does not appear as though we will actually finalize the text today," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters as the two sides wrapped up three days of talks on a deal...


Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Friday, November 26, 2010

DOS Adoption Alert: Kazakhstan

Adoption Alert
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues

November 24, 2010

According to the Government of Kazakhstan, the Ministry of Education plans to match all families with pending adoption dossiers with children before December 15, 2010. Once these matches are made, the adopting parents will be invited to travel to Kazakhstan for the mandatory three-week bonding period with the children. Adopting parents who decline to travel to Kazakhstan to bond with the children with whom they are matched will not be able to proceed with an adoption in Kazakhstan under the existing adoption process; their “pending dossier” will be closed.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

MEDIA: Oklahoma - Full accounting of adoptions in Oklahoma sought

Full accounting of adoptions in Oklahoma sought
The co-chairman of an Oklahoma legislative task force says filing adoptions with the court clerk's office in the county where they are finalized would help eliminate questionable adoptions.

Published: November 20, 2010

An accounting of all adoptions in the state is needed to head off the potential for abuse like mothers wrongfully giving up maternal rights or being overcompensated for their babies, a lawmaker said Friday.

Rep. Jason Nelson, co-chairman of the legislative Adoption Review Task Force, said only the number of adoptions through the Department of Human Services is made public.

The agency finalized 1,698 adoptions during the 2010 fiscal year, an agency spokeswoman said Friday.

Adoptions handled by private agencies and by attorneys, who negotiate directly between mothers and the adoptive families, are not made public, said Nelson, R-Oklahoma City.

“We have no idea how many adoptions take place nor do we catalog the types of adoptions,” Nelson said. “Right now we're just flying blank; we have no idea how many of them take place, what the average cost is. We have no clue. We can't even ballpark it.”

A suggestion by a task force member is to require all adoptions be filed with the court clerk's office in the county where they are finalized.

Oklahoma County District Judge Patricia Parrish, a task force member, said during Friday's meeting that she has been told some Oklahoma County attorneys are going to Canadian County to file court papers to terminate birth mothers' parental rights.

“That makes me wonder if they're doing the same thing with these contracts,” Nelson said, referring to contracts attorneys had birth mothers sign stating they would give up their parental rights before the baby is born. “You can't terminate parental rights until the child is born; it's an illegal contract.”

The task force is working on recommendations to beef up a measure authored by Nelson that became law last year. That measure requires public reporting of adoption expenses to allow judges and the public to see the actual costs attorneys charge in adoptions.

It also requires that only one prospective adoptive family at a time be billed for a birth mother's expenses and that all adoptions must be conducted in one of four locations — the home county of the birth mother, the home county of the adoptive parents or in Oklahoma or Tulsa counties.

The law was intended to stop attorneys from shopping for judges who don't ask too many questions about the fees attorneys charge for adoptions and to prevent attorneys from having families bid against each other to adopt a child, Nelson said.

The measure was the result of findings of a state grand jury four years ago that found that some adoptive parents had been forced to pay for vehicles, car parts, traffic tickets, television sets and other items which were masked as adoption costs.

The haphazard regulation of adoption expenses created an atmosphere in which some women and their attorneys effectively sold children, the report states.

Nelson said he is seeking more transparency in the adoption process without compromising the confidential nature of the process.

“Before, the confidential nature of the process allowed these bad practices to creep in and become part of how adoptions were done by some attorneys and judges,” he said.

“It's part of the overall goal here to give everybody confidence that our adoption process in Oklahoma is not corrupt,” Nelson said, “and to make adoption a more attractive option in Oklahoma than abortion.”

Task force members made suggestions to define and exclude expenses that can be considered adoption costs. Housing expenses and necessary utilities, such as electric, gas, water or telephone bills would be considered reasonable and necessary living expenses for the birth mother; purchase of a vehicle would not be.

A draft will be prepared next month and a final report is to be issued in January. Nelson said some of the report's findings likely will be used to file legislation for the upcoming session that begins in February.

Read more:

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

MEDIA: Adoption Simplification Act, S 1376, Passes House

Klobuchar's bipartisan adoption bill now goes to the president

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) announced that her legislation, the International Adoption Simplification Act, has passed the House of Representatives and will now be sent to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

The bipartisan legislation, introduced by Klobuchar and cosponsored by Senators James Inhofe (R-OK) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA), would allow U.S. parents to adopt children who are siblings, even if one of those children is between the ages of 16 and 18, and help protect children’s health during the adoption process.

The bill would restore two exemptions to U.S. immigration law for internationally adopted children that were eliminated when the United States began implementation of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption.


Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Moldova Visa Processing Change

As of November 1, 2010, Moldovan children being adopted to the US will no longer need to travel to Romania to obtain the travel visa to the US.

The press release from the US Embassy in Chisinau can be found here:

Two Excerpts:
“U.S. Embassy in Chisinau Will Begin Processing Immigrant Visas for Moldovans
For the first time, the U.S. Embassy in Chisinau will begin processing U.S. immigrant visas for Moldovan residents. Until now, the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest has processed immigrant visas for Moldovans. This year, residents of Moldova will finally be able to apply in their own country, without having to apply for Romanian visas and travel to Bucharest. Embassy Chisinau will begin processing immigrant visas on November 1, 2010.”


“Any immigrant visa applicants whose cases are pending with the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest may email to request to transfer their cases to Chisinau to finish the process.”

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Friday, November 12, 2010

MEDIA: Pakistan, NGO In Court for 'Child Trafficking'

Although the US does not consider the sale of children for adoption as "child trafficking", it is enlightening to see that other countries do and are willing to take traffickers to court:

GILGIT: The Gilgit-Baltistan Supreme Appellate Court on Wednesday took strong exception to a Gilgit-based NGO Sina Health and Welfare society accused of sending nearly 50 children abroad for adoption over the years without fulfilling legal formalities. The children were sent without birth certificates.

The two-member bench, comprising Chief Judge Justice Nawaz Abbasi and Justice Mohammad Yaqoob, heard the suo motu case that was brought to the court’s notice by the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra).

The NGO was represented by a senior lawyer and the chairman of the NGO, Sher Baz, also attended the hearing. Nadra was represented by an official of its legal affairs department and the police department was represented by DIG police Farman Ali.

The lawyer representing the NGO told the apex court that the organisation had been involved with this humanitarian issue over the past 15 years and that so far, it had placed 103 children, including orphans and abandoned children from Gilgit-Baltistan, under the United Nations convention on child rights.

He said that at present, one child had been adopted by a family in the UK, eight in the US and about 40 in Canada. The chief judge asked the Nadra representative to verify the whereabouts of these children.

The advocate said that whenever the NGO received an abandoned child, they report the case to the police and provide shelter to the child before giving them up for adoption. When the judge asked how many babies they had received so far, the advocate answered in vague terms, saying ‘some’.

The DIG police denied any knowledge of the NGO and said that he had not received any report from them about abandoned children, when he was asked by court to confirm the NGO’s statements.

Justice Abbasi remarked that developed countries had adoption laws and said: “We will have to see if our courts allow such adoption methods.”

The Nadra representative said that birth certificates of the children adopted by foreigners had been sent abroad without official sanction. The chief judge said that this was an offence.

The NGO’s advocate said that the NGO keeps a track and that they have maintained a record of all adoptions. The chief justice asked them to submit complete data before the court by the end of the month.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 4th, 2010.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Monday, November 8, 2010

DOS: Response to Petition2Congress Nepal

Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues
Response to Petition2Congress on Behalf of the American Families Pursuing Adoptions from Nepal

November 5, 2010

The Department of State appreciates the interest of the American public and Members of Congress in the status of intercountry adoptions in Nepal and the concerns of U.S. citizens who are pursuing the adoption of a Nepali child.

The decision to suspend adoptions in Nepal of children “found abandoned" was taken jointly with the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) after extensive investigations in which U.S. Embassy staff observed pervasive problems with the reliability of documentation in Nepal’s adoption system. The level of these problems has made it difficult, if not impossible, to determine whether the children being placed for adoption have, in fact, been abandoned and could be considered orphans under U.S. law. The United States was the last country to suspend adoptions in Nepal.

Starting in February 2010, the Office of Children’s Issues began to warn prospective adoptive parents about potential problems they might encounter when attempting to complete an intercountry adoption in Nepal.

The publication of an independent technical analysis of Nepal’s adoption procedures by the Hague Conference on Private International Law’s Intercountry Technical Assistance Program (ICATAP) in February 2010 solidified our concerns. This report detailed a number of weaknesses in Nepal’s adoption system, including ongoing concern about the falsification of documents, improper financial gain, and lack of a child protection system.

In early August 2010, a joint assessment team from the Department of State and USCIS travelled to Nepal and performed a detailed analysis of the evidence being presented to document the abandonment of children in Nepal. The team found that information presented in support of orphan petitions included vague and self-contradictory testimony and documents. Local officials were often uncooperative or appeared to be attempting to purposefully mislead or deter investigations.

Embassy Kathmandu is working as quickly as possible to investigate the pending adoption cases. Embassy Kathmandu and USCIS are mindful of the effects that any delay might have on children. However, the unreliable documentation, vague information provided in the documents, and lack of cooperation by some parts of the Government of Nepal is slowing down investigations. Most of the pending cases for which the Embassy has completed investigations have been referred to USCIS New Delhi as “not clearly approvable.” USCIS conducts a review of the cases referred to it in order to make a final determination as to whether a petition is approvable or not. In many cases, USCIS asks for additional information from the petitioner before making a determination.

The U.S. government, in cooperation with other countries that are active in intercountry adoptions, has consistently over the past several years encouraged the Government of Nepal to ratify and implement the Hague Adoption Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (the Convention), to which Nepal is a signatory. We have also urged the Government of Nepal to implement the recommendations made by ICATAP. The Convention incorporates the best practices in intercountry adoption, which are intended to protect the rights of children and families.

U.S. Embassy officials first met with Nepali officials in early August to request an extension of the 60-day completion requirement when we announced the suspension of new adoption cases for children found abandoned. At that time, the Ministry gave the Embassy a verbal commitment to extend the deadline. After many meetings and official requests going up to the highest levels of the Government of Nepal, the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare agreed in writing to extend the 60-day timeline by an additional 60 days, for a total of 120 days. The Ministry also indicated that it would favorably consider additional requests for extensions.

The Department has been engaged with Congress. On October 5, 2010, U.S. Ambassador to Nepal Scott DeLisi personally briefed staffers from both Houses. Ambassador Susan Jacobs provided a similar update a week earlier to interested Senate staff. We will continue to work closely with Congress and with interested offices whose constituents are affected by the decision to suspend adoptions in Nepal.

Our Office of Children’s Issues is engaged in daily outreach to prospective adopting parents, adoption service providers, Congressional staffers, and adoption advocacy and stakeholder groups. The U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu is in frequent and direct contact with many of the prospective adopting parents and has made itself readily available to all of the prospective adoptive parents. This outreach includes conference calls, briefings, group emails, and updates on individual cases. Our officers respond promptly to letters, calls, and emails from staffers, Members of Congress, prospective adoptive parents and their advocates. We also post regular updates on adoptions in Nepal through our website,

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

UPDATE: DOS Adoption Notice Ukraine - Possible Suspension Pending

Adoption Notice

Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues

November 3, 2010

The Ukrainian legislature is in the process of voting on a bill that would suspend all intercountry adoptions from countries without bilateral agreements with Ukraine, including adoptions from the United States. The bill passed a first reading and vote, but must still pass a second reading and be signed into law by the president. The second reading could take place in the next few weeks. If the bill passes the second reading, it may be signed into law as early as the end of 2010. The draft bill appears to include suspension of all adoptions in progress.

The Department is will post updates as information becomes available.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Criminal Cases in Adoption: Kevin Cohen Found Guilty

Long Island attorney found guilty in $300K adoption scheme

Last Updated: 3:38 PM, November 1, 2010

Posted: 3:38 PM, November 1, 2010

MINEOLA, N.Y. — A New York attorney who advertised himself as an adoption expert has been convicted of stealing more than $300,000 from prospective parents for babies that did not exist.

Kevin Cohen was convicted Monday in Nassau County Court of grand larceny, forgery and other charges. He faces up to 92 years in prison.

Prosecutors say Cohen, a Roslyn attorney, scammed hopeful couples with fake sonograms and fictitious records on forged stationery from hospitals and doctors. Thirteen prospective parents testified against him at his three-week trial.

Cohen, who represented himself, says he suffers from multiple illnesses including bipolar disorder and was undermedicated at the time.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

DOS: Adoption Alert Kazakhstan

Adoption Alert
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues

November 1, 2010

The Government of Kazakhstan has reinstated the expedited passport service for adopted children. Adoptive parents or their service provider can now pay a fee for approximately $14 to expedite passport processing. The process takes about 7 working days to complete.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Friday, October 29, 2010

PEAR releases Maryland State Directory of Adoption Resources

The 18th directory was released today. You can find the pdf on our website at

PEAR State directories can be used by prospective adoptive parents and adoptive parents looking to find information on health, education, bureaucratic/paperchasing needs and for support for themselves or their children.

Parents for Ethical Adoption Reform (PEAR) does not officially endorse any listing in this directory. The contents are provided for informational purposes only as a community service.

PEAR has no means of certifying the competence or quality of practice of any practitioner. PEAR makes no representations, warranties, guarantees or promises on behalf of or for those listed, and does not assume liability or responsibility for any service or product provided.

The Health section contains listings of licensed practitioners, early intervention contact information, and residential treatment centers.

The Education section contains tutoring, remediation, specialized schools & interventions by non-licensed practitioners.

The Bureaucracy section contains information about apostilles, licensed agencies, social security cards and more.

The Support section contains state-based support groups, web-support, and organizations and respite care locations.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Monday, October 25, 2010

MEDIA: Sierra Leone:Commission to probe Sierra Leone children missing in US

Commission to probe Sierra Leone children missing in US


(AFP) FREETOWN — Sierra Leone's Social Welfare Minister Soccoh Kabia announced a probe Friday into "the unknown whereabouts" of 20 children he said were spirited to the United States without the knowledge of their parents.

They were allegedly taken for adoption from couples who had handed them to a local organisation called Help a Needy Child International (HANCI), for schooling and safety at the height of the country's civil war.

"The investigation will unravel whether the adoption was done in a transparent manner and we have not put a limitation as to what the commission should do with regards to time," he said.

"The commission will establish whether parents had a full understanding and knowledge of the adoption process and whether they willingly gave up their children for adoption.

"In addition, whether the whole process was transparent and fully explained to the parents by HANCI."

Kabia said High Court judge Adeliza Showers would head the investigating commission, assisted by retired civil servant Mustapha Rogers and an educationist, Albert Kanu.

Kabia said that in 1996 HANCI established so-called child survival centres in the northern towns of Makeni, Kamakwie and Mile 91 with the purpose of providing educational services for children from kindergarten until tertiary level.

"The parents gave up their children for the purpose and after the war the parents checked for their children and found that they were gone," he said.

"When HANCI officials were queried they said the parents had supported the organisation to give up their children for adoption. The parents rejected the claim and demanded the return of the children."

The minister said that two officials of HANCI were taken to court 'but were acquitted but not discharged meaning that the case can be reopened at some future date.


Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

RESEARCH: Evan B Donaldson Releases Report on Post Adoption Services

Keeping The Promise: The Critical Need for Post-Adoption Services to Enable Children and Families to Succeed
Author: Susan Livingston Smith
Published: 2010 October. New York NY: Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute
Document Type: Policy Brief (99 pages)

"Keeping the Promise" examines the range of service needs for adoptive families. It describes the challenges faced by these families, examines the research on adoption outcomes, and discusses the risk and protective factors for children and families that predict more positive, as well as more negative, adjustments. To date, there has not been a synthesis of knowledge in the field of post-adoption services that surveys the many clinical and family-support approaches being used and derives insights from research and program evaluations. This report by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute seeks to provide such a synthesis and to identify key directions for the future development of post-adoption services.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Friday, October 15, 2010

PEAR Releases Results of Ethiopia Survey of Adoptive Parents

PDF updated with footnote (see end of post)
Over the past two years, PEAR has received numerous comments and complaints concerning adoptions from Ethiopia. Investigations by governments and the media increased substantially towards the end of 2009. As PEAR began to see a pattern similar to that of Vietnam and Guatemala before their closures to US adoptions, we decided to conduct a survey of Ethiopia adoptive parents and prospective adoptive parents from March 16, 2010 to April 16, 2010. The purpose of the survey was to identify possible areas of unethical practice and procedure in Ethiopian adoptions, and report them to adoption stakeholders and appropriate authorities so they can be corrected.

This survey was based upon PEAR’s Mission and Prospective Adoptive Parent Bill of Rights, which can be found on our homepage at . The results will be discussed in the same order as the survey. Survey-taker’s suggestions that were given in comment areas will be listed at the end.


There were 31 different respondents (27.7 percent) who completed their adoptions and who experienced multiple, serious issues that are completely unacceptable.

PEAR believes that this data showing the inexcusable, including

* unethical practices of adoption service providers,
* coercion of birthfamilies, and
* lies to the adoptive triad

will, if not corrected, lead to the shutdown of the Ethiopia.

If the PEAR Prospective Adoptive Parent Bill of Rights were adhered to by adoption service providers, we feel that none of those serious issues would have occurred.

In light of the recent estimation from that 23% of all intercountry adoptions to the US in fiscal 2010 will be from Ethiopia, we hope that the adoptive community reads this report thoroughly and realizes what is currently taking place in the adoption process in Ethiopia. The 19-page pdf report is accessible on our website at

We encourage all parties to become involved and join PEAR to reform these corrupt activities.

Footnote added to registered agency listing as follows:

The list of registered agencies was published in 2008. It is the only publicly accessible list of registered agencies provided by the Ethiopian government to adopting families and the general public PEAR requested current information from the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington and MOWA on two occasions each (in 2009 and again in 2010) and we received no reply. We understand that Holt and WACAP report they are registered with the Ethiopian authorities and have documents supporting this status, but we have no way of independently verifying their current status without the cooperation of the Ethiopian government.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

MEDIA:18 Preet Mandir adoption cases get HC go-ahead

18 Preet Mandir adoption cases get HC go-ahead

The Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA) has been directed by the Bombay High Court to consider 18 cases of international adoption recommended by Pune-based adoption agency Preet Mandir.

A division bench of chief justice Mohit Shah and justice RP Sondur-Baldota, on Friday, allowed CARA, an autonomous body under the ministry of women & child development, to process the adoption applications of 18 children that were in the pipeline.

The court order came following an application filed by CARA seeking permission to process 18 adoption cases that had been halted due to revocation of Preet Mandir’s licence.

A South African national of Indian origin, who had filed an application for adoption with Preet Mandir, had filed another plea seeking that the application be processed.

In February, CARA had suspended Preet Mandir’s licence on May 20, the licence was revoked following the Central Bureau of Investigation registering a case against the adoption house for alleged irregularities in sending children on inter-country adoptions.

Complete text can be found here:

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

USCIS Fee Increases on Nov 23, 2010

On November 23, 2010 USCIS will increase its fees. You may find the complete announcement here:

Fees for I-600/600A and I-800/800A Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative/Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition are
increasing from $670 to $720

Fees for N-600/600K Application for Certification of Citizenship/ Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate under Section 322 are
increasing from $460 to $600

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

DOS Adoption Alert: Guatemala Pilot FAQ

US DOS Frequently Asked Questions

U.S. Withdrawal of Interest in Participating in Guatemala’s Pilot Adoption Program

October 5, 2010

1.What is the Pilot Adoption Program and why was it initiated?
2.Why did the U.S. Central Authority withdraw its interest in participation in the pilot program?
3.Why is the U.S. pulling out before the CNA announces which countries have been selected to participate in the pilot program?
4.Why haven’t other countries pulled out of consideration for participation in the pilot program?
5.How will this withdrawal affect active “grandfathered” cases that are already in the pipeline?
6.When did Guatemala halt new intercountry adoptions?
7.What does it mean to be a “grandfathered” case?
8.When will new adoptions from Guatemala to the United States begin?

Q: What is the Pilot Adoption Program and why was it initiated?

A: In November 2009, the Guatemalan Central Authority, the National Adoption Council or Consejo Nacional de Adopciones (CNA), announced plans for a pilot adoption program. Under the pilot program, the CNA would work with four countries to process about 200 adoptions of mainly special needs and older children, under an adoption process under development that would meet the requirements of the Hague Intercountry Adoption Convention. The pilot program represents the CNA’s first attempt to start new intercountry adoptions from Guatemala. The U.S. Central Authority and nine other countries submitted letters of interest in the program.

Q: Why did the U.S. Central Authority withdraw its interest in participation in the pilot program?

A: The U.S. Central Authority, under the Hague Intercountry Adoption, Convention withdrew its letter of interest in the pilot program because of concerns that adoptions under the program would not meet the requirements of the Hague Convention. Specifically, the United States is concerned that the CNA has not yet addressed and resolved vulnerabilities that led to widespread corruption and ultimately to the 2007 moratorium on intercountry adoptions. Specifically, the United States believes that more safeguards for children should be in place before the CNA could start processing new intercountry adoptions. In addition, the Guatemalan Government has not yet provided specific details for how adoption cases under the pilot program would be processed under Guatemala’s new adoption law.

Q: Why is the U.S. pulling out before the CNA announces which countries have been selected to participate in the pilot program?

A: When the U.S. Central Authority submitted its letter of interest in joining the pilot program, it would not commit to participating until more information regarding the actual procedures that would be put into place became available in order to enable us to assess the program’s compliance with the Hague Intercountry Adoption Convention. However, we are concerned that after almost one year since the announcement of the pilot program that Guatemala has not yet provided specific details regarding how pilot cases will be processed. Therefore, we have no confidence that the safeguards that would prevent fraud and other problems inherent in the previous notarial adoption process from occurring are firmly in place and that the vulnerabilities of the past have been adequately addressed at this point. We also note that UNICEF, which had been working closely with the CNA towards development of a new international adoption process in Guatemala, recently announced that it is withdrawing its involvement in the Guatemalan adoption process, citing a number of concerns.

Q: Why haven’t other countries pulled out of consideration for participation in the pilot program?

A: The United States has focused much scrutiny on allegations of corruption in Guatemala, and places the utmost importance on its responsibility to ensure to the greatest extent possible that any placement of children with U.S. families is in accordance with international standards. Unfortunately, under the current assessment of the situation in Guatemala, the United States believes that it cannot be assured that the necessary safeguards against abuse exist. It is also our hope that, in withdrawing U.S. interest in participating in the pilot program, we act as a catalyst that will cause both the Government of Guatemala and the governments of other countries considering participation to reconsider their involvement and, instead, focus on the additional measures needed for Guatemala to come into compliance with the Hague Convention.

Q: How will this withdrawal affect active “grandfathered” cases that are already in the pipeline?

A: The United States is only withdrawing its interest in participating in the pilot program at this time. This means that the United States does not wish to begin NEW adoption cases. Withdrawal of U.S. interest in participating in the pilot program should not impact the processing of active “grandfathered” adoptions in progress. In fact, we hope that our withdrawal will result in a shift of resources by the Government of Guatemala towards resolving these pending cases.

Q: When did Guatemala halt new intercountry adoptions?

A: In 2007, due to concerns about widespread corruption and fraud in adoptions, Guatemala placed a moratorium on new intercountry adoptions until a Hague- compliant adoption process could be developed and implemented. A December 2007 law created a new Guatemalan Central Authority, the CNA, for processing most intercountry adoptions.

Q: What does it mean to be a “grandfathered” case?

A: Guatemala’s new adoption law to implement fully its obligations under the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption was approved on December 11, 2007 and went in effect on December 31, 2007. A new Guatemalan Government agency to serve as the “Central Authority” for adoptions, the CNA, was created at that time. Notarial adoption cases that were in process before December 31, 2007 would be permitted to continue but only if the cases were registered with the CNA by spring 2008. Cases that were registered with the CNA would be considered “grandfathered” and allowed to continue their notarial adoption process under Guatemala’s previous law. For relinquishment adoption cases to continue, the CNA and PGN were also required to interview the birth mother by August 2008.
However, it is important to note that any irregularities found in the notarial process of a particular case could negate the “grandfathered” status and prevent the case from being able to proceed.

Q: When will new adoptions from Guatemala to the United States begin?

A: The United States hopes that its withdrawal of interest in participating in the pilot program will encourage Guatemala to dedicate its resources to resolving existing cases and putting in place adequate safeguards to prevent the same type of corruption and fraud that occurred in the past. While we cannot predict when adoptions from Guatemala to the United States will resume, we will continue to work closely with the CNA and the Guatemalan Government to assist them with resolving the pending issues.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.