Wednesday, March 31, 2010

UPDATE: Guatemala - DOS Adoption Alert


Adoption Alert

Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues

Hogar Listserve Updates

The Office of Children’s Issues provides regular updates to families and adoption service providers specifically affected by legal actions taken regarding hogares or child care centers for children in Guatemala awaiting international adoptions. If you received this e-mail in error and do not wish to receive future updates please notify using the subject line: Remove My Name from the Guatemala Hogar List Serve. Similarly, if you have friends or colleagues who would like to receive these updates, ask them to contact using the subject line: Add My Name to the Guatemala Hogar List Serve. These updates will focus only on recent developments; for a comprehensive review of intercountry adoptions in Guatemala, please consult the Guatemala section of the Office of Children’s Issues general website www.Adoption.State.Gov.

We remind everyone that the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala is not officially notified of investigations of individual hogares. Many of the investigations involve allegations of criminal wrongdoing. The United States Government does not have any official legal standing in these cases; thus we may not be informed and may also be officially barred from receiving routine information.

Casa Quivira

According to our records, adoptions petitions are still pending for 16 of the original 46 children who were taken into custody from Casa Quivira. For several of the cases, the Solicitor General’s Office (PGN) has identified irregularities and these cases will have to be processed as abandonment cases through the CNA. The Guatemalan government has agreed that these cases (if all requirements have been complied with) can be processed as transition cases and will not have to wait for the new procedures to be drafted and implemented.

A decision was issued by Judge Mena in 2009 determining adoptability of the children, including those already adopted and living in the United States. However, some errors were found in the final resolution and the Office of the Solicitor General (PGN) appealed the judge’s decision. The appeals Court, “Sala,” agreed with the decision of Judge Mena and sent the case back to her for the technical corrections. There was no appeal to the Sala’s decision.

Semillas de Amor

Various appeals and motions continue to delay the court hearings, underway since March 2009, to determine the eligibility for adoption of more than 50 children from Semillas de Amor (including some children already adopted and living in the United States). Most recently, on December 4, some prospective adoptive parents challenged PGN requests that some Semillas de Amor children be returned to extended families. If this plan had been accepted by the judge, it would have ended the adoption process for these prospective adoptive parents. One motion was recently decided in favor of the prospective adoptive parents, and several are still pending. Because all Semillas de Amor cases are under one court docket number, these appeals create a new timeline for all cases.

Earlier this year, the presiding family court judge who had been hearing these cases retired and a new judge was appointed. Once all the motions and appeals are decided, the proceedings will resume at the same place where they were stopped on the last day of closing arguments before the previous judge.

Santa Lucia de las Flores

The Embassy learned in 2009 that Asociacion Santa Lucia de las Flores Silvestres had been under investigation by the Guatemalan Attorney General’s office since 2008. The Embassy has been in contact with some of the prospective adoptive parents. We understand there were at least five children indentified for adoption by American citizens being cared for at this home. Many of the children taken from this orphanage are now living in various hogares until a judge decides on their cases. The case is still under investigation.

Asociacion Primavera

On August 13, 2009, the Embassy learned about an action by Guatemalan authorities involving 17 children from the Hogar Asociación Primavera, 16 of whom had been matched with U.S. adoptive families. We have since learned that the children were transferred to the following hogares: Casa Alegría, Casa Bernabé, and Amor del Niño. A police investigation continues, and the judge in Esquintla who approved many of the abandonment cases from Hogar Primavera is now under criminal investigation.

On December 16, the Guatemalan press reported that Susana Maria Luarca Saracho, a facilitator of international adoptions for Asociacion Primavera, was arrested by the Ministerio Publico on charges of irregular adoptions. She was later released on Q50,000 bail (just over $6,000) and is under house arrest.

Rosalinda Rivera’s Hogar

On May 6, 2008 an action was taken against a hogar on 11 Avenida 7-51, zona 11, Quinta Samayoa, Guatemala City. Rosalinda Rivera was apprehended at this location and 9 infants were removed from her custody. Ms. Rivera did not provide the necessary paperwork to prove this was an authorized home. The children are all living in other hogares awaiting a decision on their case.

Embassy and USCIS consultations with the Government of Guatemala

The following are brief updates on issues or related developments on pending adoption cases that are not under investigation or in the courts.

  • Consular officers and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officers in Guatemala City are in regular contact with Guatemalan officials about the current situation and to look for approaches that could streamline the process, coordinate the flow of information to adoptive families, and permit all adoptions to move forward. In some instances, the Ambassador has been directly involved in discussions with Guatemalan officials on the adoption situation in Guatemala. Senior State Department officials also regularly raise adoption issues with their Guatemalan counterparts.
  • In light of allegations regarding the integrity of Guatemala’s former adoption process, Guatemalan Government authorities are making a concerted effort to confirm all aspects of every case. Because of the large number of investigations, progress overall is likely to be slow.
  • The Consular Section continues to process visa applications as soon as the files are complete. From October through December 2009, the Embassy issued approximately 2 adoption visas per week, and in the first two months of 2010 only about one adoption visa per week

The Department would like to inform prospective adoptive parents of the new worldwide DNA procedures for its DNA testing. All second DNA tests for adoptions must be scheduled with the Consular Section. Information is available from the Consular Section at: or

CNA’s announces new rules and procedures for Guatemala adoptions

On October 8, the CNA issued a statement telling parents they should not hire private attorneys or notaries to process their adoptions. The announcement
applies only to cases that the CNA is processing at this time, i.e., pre-Convention abandonment cases or others that cannot be processed by the PGN.

USCIS Updates

  • As of 2/28/10, USCIS Field Office Guatemala City had 433 active files. (Note: This total may include cases in which the petitioner has subsequently decided to abandon the case but did not inform USCIS.) Of these cases:
    • 358 are pre-approved and pending action by the Government of Guatemala
    • 75 are pending pre-approval or final decision by USCIS
    • 9 are pending submission of 1st DNA results
    • 66 are pending USCIS or other petitioner action

USCIS Field Office Guatemala City received final Guatemalan adoption documents for 13 cases during the period from December 1, 2009 to February 28, 2010.

USCIS Field Office Guatemala City also reminds prospective adoptive parents of the new procedures for the 1st DNA test required in relinquishment cases. All 1st DNA appointments must be scheduled by USCIS. For more information or to schedule an appointment for DNA collection, please contact USCIS at:
  • In response to frequent questions regarding transition cases in Guatemala, USCIS developed the attached InfoSheet entitled Keeping Required USCIS Documents Valid for Transition Cases. Please note this InfoSheet is only applicable to intercountry adoption cases in Guatemala as outlined in the

CNA’s Two-year Limited Pilot Program

The Guatemalan National Council on Adoptions (CNA) – the Guatemalan Central Authority–has announced a limited two-year pilot program. One component would seek international placement for a small number of primarily older children, groups of siblings, and children with special needs. (See information in Spanish on the CNA’s website According to the CNA, this program will not affect Guatemala’s efforts to process already–pending Guatemalan adoptions. The pilot will identify a maximum of four receiving countries and one adoption service provider in each country to seek placements for these children.

In late February, the Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues (CI) submitted to the CNA the final information regarding potential U.S. participation in the proposed pilot program. According to a recent press article, a total of ten countries expressed interest. The CNA estimated the selection process would take several months. Even if selected, however, the United States must review the Pilot Program, once the final details are presented, to determine that it is in conformity with the requirements of the Hague Adoption Convention.

Prospective adoptive parents are cautioned not to make any new commitments regarding possible Guatemalan adoptions at this time. The United States
Central Authority has not determined that Guatemala’s intercountry adoption procedures are in compliance with the Hague Convention on Adoption.
Further, it is not known if the United States will be selected to participate, and if selected, which U.S. adoption service provider the CNA will identify to
handle placements. In addition, the CNA emphasizes strongly that the profile of children who would be placed under this pilot program contrasts sharply with the profile of most children previously adopted internationally from Guatemala.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Adoptee Voice: Camryn Mosley

Camryn Mosely recently completed an interview with Guam Family Magazine. The resulting article was published in November 2009 and is now available online at:

Camryn was adopted from Cambodia in December 1999. Her adoption adoption story was highlighted in the Washington Post and People magazine after it was discovered and reported that her history and documents had been falsified. Due to Camryn's bravery and the Mosley's persistence, the agency that arranged Camryn's adoption, Seattle International Adoptions was investigated and finally closed. It's owners, sisters Lauryn Galindo and Lynn Devin, pled guilty to numerous federal criminal charges.

Please take a moment to read Camryn's story.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Monday, March 29, 2010

UPDATE: Haiti & Nepal - ISS March 2010 Monthly Review

Excerpts from the International Social Services March 2010 Monthly Review

HAITI: Update on child protection measures post earthquake
UNICEF has published a short report summarising the situation in Haiti post earthquake, paying specific attention to the needs of children. ISS is working on a report (which is still at a draft stage) with UNICEF on the adoption situation in Haiti post-earthquake. Available statistics indicate that approximately 1120 intercountry adoptions were carried out in Haiti in 2009. As of 23 February 2010, at least 1539 children had been adopted out of Haiti following the earthquake on 12 January 2010. USA, France, Canada, Netherlands and Germany arranged the transfer of approximately 1500 children for the purpose of intercountry adoption. The remaining children were sent to Switzerland, Belgium, Spain and Italy. The latter two countries had suspended adoptions from Haiti in 2007 and only received the final authorisation for the remaining 9 children, from the pre-suspension period, to leave after the earthquake. ISS is concerned that the checks and balances, necessitating a 2 to 3 year period for processing intercountry adoptions under ‘normal’ circumstances in Haiti were not adequately respected post earthquake for all 1539 cases. Furthermore, UNICEF remarks that ‘reports of children being illegally displaced across borders ostensibly for inter-country adoption, care (including medical care) or for exploitation notably in the Dominican Republic, have continued unabated since the very first days.’
Source: UNICEF report,%20compressed).pdf

NEPAL: Hague Conference calls for reforms to prepare the country for its ratification of THC-1993
In November 2009, the Hague Conference undertook a preliminary mission in Nepal in order to assess the needs of the country to prepare itself to the ratification of THC-1993 at the demand of the Nepalese Government. The results of this mission demonstrate clearly that an adequate legal framework for intercountry adoption in Nepal is missing. The Nepalese Terms and Conditions 2008 are not compliant neither with the art.21 of the Convention of the Right of the Child nor with the most important principles of THC-1993 such as the best interests principle, the principle of subsidiarity, lack of support and counselling for the birth parents about the legal effects of relinquishment or abandonment of their child etc. Other challenges include the identification of abuses linked to the declaration of the adoptability of the child, lack of transparency and accountability of the money coming to Nepal, falsification of documents of the child and the absence of a clear policy of intercountry adoption as a child protection measure. In light of these weaknesses, the Hague Conference with a number of receiving countries and other international organisations have offered to provide continued support to Nepal. In particular, the Hague Conference made some key recommendations such as the development of programmes for family preservation, a better regulation of Children’s Homes, the establishment of a new law on adoption integrated in a comprehensive law on child protection, capacity building and the elimination of financial gain form intercountry adoption. The Hague Conference finally underlines that a temporary suspension of intercountry adoption system will be necessary to reform the intercountry adoption system.
Source: Hague Conference Report

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Media: Ethiopia revokes licences of nine charitable organizations

APA-Addis Ababa (Ethiopia)
Ethiopia revoked the license of nine orphanages (charity organizations) who they claim to be involved in ‘illegal’ activities of child rights abuse, APA learns here on Wednesday.
The nine charity organizations have been working to adopt children for the past few years to Europe and America.
However, the office, which is in charge of registering charity organizations at the Ethiopian Ministry of Justice refused to give details as to what kind of illegal activities the organizations were involved with regards to child rights abuse.
Child trafficking is high in Ethiopia where a good number of children are reported to be adopted illegally annually.
The decision to revoke the license of the nine organizations was made while the government was undertaking re-registration of charity organizations and other NGOs that are operating in Ethiopia.

PEAR is attempting to identify which orphanages have closed. We will update the blog as information comes in.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Adoptee Voice: Journee Bradshaw

The below poem was written by Journee Bradshaw. Journee was adopted from Ethiopia and is attempting to come to terms with the circumstances of her adoption.Her story was highlighted in the ABC Australia news story Fly Away Home

We are honored to reprint Journee's poem:

It is Everything ~ Journee Bradshaw

"Hold your head up", they say.
I walk with my head down.
How can I make my way in this world?
I don't want to be here.
They know the truth.
I am not an orphan,
I don't need a family.
I already have a family.
Everything I tried explaining to them
They didn't care and wouldn't listen.
You can't fight what another person says.
I walk away but I know I am not the only one feeling like this.
I miss my family,
I miss everything,
I miss Ethiopia.
For you it might be a third world country
But for me it's my home.
For you it might be a poor place
But for me it is everything.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

UPDATE: DOS Adoption Notice on Cambodia

Adoption Notice

Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues

March 2010

On December 3, 2009, new legislation on intercountry adoption was signed into law in 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 (the Convention) to which Cambodia is a party. This is an important first step in Cambodia's expressed commitment to reform its child welfare system and meet its treaty obligations under the Convention. In order to be able to establish necessary regulations and standard procedures to implement the new Law on Intercountry Adoption, the Cambodian Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation has announced a temporary suspension of the receipt of all new intercountry adoption dossiers until March 2011. This will not adversely affect any U.S cases since no new cases have been submitted in the last several years.

At this time, it is not possible to estimate when adoptions will resume between the United States and Cambodia. In order to implement the new law in full, 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 addressed effectively.

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 Cambodia’s efforts to fully implement the new law on intercountry adoption.

Updated information will be provided on as it becomes available.

Cross posted on

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Ethiopia: Gelgela Orphange

This past weekend, PEAR was forwarded a letter from the US Embassy in Addis to US Adoption Service Providers. We understand that some, but not all agencies have informed their clients of the letter and new USE scrutiny of cases involving the Gelgela Orphanage. We believe it is important for adopting and adoptive families to have this information so we have chosen to reprint the letter here:

Dear adoption agencies,

Recently, the U.S. Embassy has implemented several changes to the adoption visa process, including conducting significant additional review of each case and field investigations. In light of our findings, and recent serious allegations and news reports involving Ethiopian adoptions, we will require additional time to process each case from any agency in which the child was processed through Gelgela orphanage.

Effective immediately, the Embassy will require 8 weeks' processing time for each adoption visa case in which the child was processed through Gelgela orphanage. This means that families will not receive an immigrant visa appointment until 8 weeks after the complete case file is submitted to the Embassy. We will not accept incomplete case files in these cases under any circumstances. It is the agency's responsibility to plan family travel accordingly. Cases that have already been submitted will continue to be processed as previously scheduled.

For cases already scheduled (for which the Embassy already has the case file), those parents should expect potentially lengthy delays in the processing of cases involving children from Gelgela orphanage.


Adoption Unit
U.S. Embassy
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

PEAR put a call out to various organizations and individuals requesting a list of agencies that refer children from Gelgela. The European NGO, ACT (Against Child Trafficking -, provided us with the following list which they compiled from public records:

United States:
Bethany (partners with FTIA ) ***
Christian World Adoption
America World Adoption


Ray of Hope


Eltern fur Afrika

*PEAR has unconfirmed information that Choices in Canada runs their program as a partner with CAFAC - families currently using Choices are advised to consult with them concerning this.

**Please note that Werelderkinderen closed their Ethiopia program due to inconsistencies and unreliability of background information provided about Ethiopian children. EDITED NOTE 3/23/2010 1:56 pm EST: Netherlands agencies Stichting Afrika and Vereniging Wereldkinderen will resume Ethiopian Adoptions per press release of Febriuary 18, 2010 see: for details.

***According to Keith Wallace of FTIA, FTIA has never worked with not placed children from Gelgela

If you are a PAP working with one of the above agencies and you have not been notified about the USE process, please contact your agency for clarification on the orphanage used and any applicability the above notice has to your case. US adoptive parents who have completed an adoption of a child from Gelgela Orphanage and have concerns about the veracity of their child's history should contact the USE in Addis Ababa at:

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

UPDATE: Hague Accredited Agencies

The following agencies received Hague accreditation between October 1, 2009 and March 1, 2010:

Adoption Alliance
2121 S. Oneida Street #420
Denver, CO 80224
Accredited 02/04/2010 to 02/04/2014

Adoption Hope International
284 Shoreward Drive
Myrtle Beach, SC 29579
Accredited 10/20/2009 to 10/29/2013

Catholic Charities North Dakota
5201 Bishops Boulevard, Suite B
Fargo, ND 58104-7605
Accredited 1/15/2010 to 1/15/2014

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago
721 N. LaSalle
Chicago, IL 6061
Accredited 1/15/2010to 1/15/2014

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge
1900 S. Acadian Thruway
Baton Rouge, LA 70821
Accredited 1/15/2010 to 1/15/2014

Catholic Social Services of Fall River
1600 Bay Street
Fall River, MA 02724
Accredited 1/7/2010 to 1/7/2014

Child Adoption Associates, Inc.
200 Swanton Street, #635
Winchester, MA 01890
Accredited 2/24/2010 to 2/4/2014

Children's House International
P.O. Box 1829
Ferndale, WA 98248
Accredited 11/24/2009 to 11/24/2013

Chrysalis House
7395 N. Palm Bluffs, Suite 106
Fresno, CA 93711
Accredited 12/1/2009 to 2/1/2013

Euroasian Adoption Consultants of Illinois
949D Plum Grove
Schaumburg, IL 60173
Accredited 10/7/2009 to 10/7/2013

HOPE Adoption & Family Services International, Inc.
5850 Omaha Avenue North
Oak Park Heights, MN 55082
Accredited 10/20/2009 to 10/20/2013

International Families, Inc.
5 Thomas Circle, NW
Washington, DC 20005
Accredited 1/15/2010 to 1/15/2014

Lutheran Family and Children's Services of Missouri
8631 Delmar Boulevard
St. Louis, MO 63124
Accredited 11/24/2009 to 11/24/2013

Lutheran Social Services of New York
475 Riverside Drive, Suite 1244
New York, NY 10115
Accredited 2/16/2010 to 2/16/2014

Resources for Life
59 349 Olomana Road
Kameula, HI 96743
Accredited 2/9/2010 to 2/9/2014

The Farm, Inc. / TF1 Family Services, Inc.
217 Southeast 4th Street
Topeka, KS 66603
Accredited 1/14/2010 to 1/14/2014

The Lutheran Service Society of New York
6680 Main Street
Williamsville, NY 14221
Accredited 11/17/2009 to 11/17/2013

Tree of Life Adoption Center
5816 SE Powell Boulevard, Ste. A
Portland, OR 97206
Accredited 1/15/2010 to 1/15/2014

The following provider received Hague approval:

MLJ Adoptions, Inc.
5650 W. 86th Street 134-310
Indianapolis, IN 46278
Approved 11/24/2009 to 11/24/2013

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

DOS Adoption Notice - Cameroon Adoption Scams

Adoption Notice

Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues

Internet Adoption Fraud Scams on Rise

March 19, 2010

The Department of State is aware of a growing number of Internet scams offering to match prospective adoptive parents with a child who is allegedly available for adoption in Cameroon. Americans should be extremely cautious about sending money to any individual in connection with adopting a child they have only corresponded with by e-mail. Cameroonian law requires that prospective adoptive parents MUST travel to Cameroon and participate in person in the legal procedures that govern Cameroonian adoptions. Furthermore, in order for an adoptive or prospective adoptive child to come to the United States to permanently reside, the U.S. citizen adoptive or prospective adoptive parent MUST file an I-600A or I-600 application with the Department of Homeland Security, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the child MUST be issued the appropriate immigrant visa by the U.S. Embassy in Yaounde.

The U.S. Embassy in Yaounde maintains a database of aliases and e-mail addresses used by known scam artists that have been brought to its attention. Before sending money to any individual who claims that they can match you with a child in need of a family, please check with the U.S. Embassy first by writing to .

In order to protect yourself and children from the possibility of fraud or other serious problems, prospective adoptive parents are advised to consider first the list of accredited orphanages available through the Ministry of Social Affairs:

Ministry of Social Affairs/High Court (Tribunal de Grande Instance)
Sub-Department of Child Protection (situated at Meki Quarters)
Sous Direction de la Sauvegarde de L’Enfant-SDSE
Tel: 2220-02-16

Should prospective adoptive parents wish to hire a Cameroonian attorney to assist with the adoption, you can obtain a list of attorneys maintained by the U.S. Embassy in Yaounde.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Friday, March 19, 2010

UPDATE: USCIS Centralizes I 600 A/ I 600 Processing

USCIS Centralizes Processing of Orphan Adoptions Change will Streamline Processing

WASHINGTON — U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that on April 1, 2010, it is centralizing processing and adjudication of all new orphan (Non-Hague) petitions with the agency’s specialized adoptions team in Missouri.

Prospective adoptive parents will continue to file their Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative (Form I 600) and Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition (Form I 600A) with USCIS’ Dallas Lockbox facility. The Lockbox will forward the case to the Orphan Unit at USCIS' National Benefit Center (NBC) for processing and adjudication. The applicant will receive a receipt notice with the NBC address and contact information for follow-up correspondence.

While this takes place behind the scenes, adoptive parents will benefit because it allows USCIS to:

  • Process applications and petitions more efficiently,
  • Streamline and standardize work processes, and
  • Offer more consistent service.

Parents will also benefit from the specialized skills and experience of the NBC Non-Hague Adoption Unit, based on the NBC’s implementation of the USCIS Hague Adoption Convention program in 2008.

USCIS has dedicated a toll-free NBC Adoption telephone line, 1-877-424-8374 and published an Orphan Home Study Tip sheet (Form M-760) to aid adoption service providers and prospective adoptive parents.

Local USCIS field offices in the United States will continue to accept requests for extensions and change of circumstances for approved Form I-600A applications in accordance with the current filing instructions. Overseas U.S. citizens may continue to file Form I-600 at a U.S. Embassy, consulate or USCIS office abroad that has jurisdiction to accept the petition. However, in order to file a Form I-600 petition abroad, the petitioner must have an approved Form I-600A and be physically present in the adoptive child’s country.

Prospective parents who reside abroad may continue to file the Form I-600A with an overseas USCIS office or the Dallas Lockbox facility.

For more information on orphan adoptions visit:

Last updated:03/16/2010

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

MEDIA: Guatemala to resume international adoption in June

Guatemala to resume int'l adoptions in June

GUATEMALA CITY — International adoptions will resume in Guatemala this June after a nearly two-year suspension prompted by the discovery that some babies were being sold, officials announced Wednesday.

Four foreign adoption organizations will be selected to be part of the pilot program, said the president of the National Adoptions Council, Elizabeth Hernandez.

Until the door to adoptions slammed shut in 2007, Guatemala was the world's second-largest source of babies to the United States after China due to its routinely quick adoption process.

Authorities suspended adoptions after discovering evidence some babies had been stolen, others had fake birth certificates, and women were being coerced to give up their children.

At least 25 cases resulted in criminal charges against doctors, lawyers, mothers and civil registrars.

As a result, thousands of adoptive parents, most from the U.S., were forced to put their adoptions of Guatemalan children on hold — many after paying thousands of dollars.

Last year, the National Adoptions Council began requiring birth mothers to personally verify they still wanted to give up their children.

Nearly 1,000 of 3,032 cases investigated were dismissed, however, because no birth mother showed up. Prosecutors suspect many of the babies in those cases never existed — that Guatemalan baby brokers registered false identities with the council in hopes of matching them later to babies obtained through fraud.

There will be a significant difference between the old and new systems.

Previously, potential adoptive parents requested children with certain characteristics. Now, the National Adoptions Council will simply present a list of children who are eligible for adoption and ask that its foreign counterparts find families who would be best suited for them.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

PEAR launches Adoptive Parent Survey on Ethiopia Adoptions

Over the past two years, PEAR has received numerous comments and complaints concerning adoptions from Ethiopia.

PEAR has launched a survey for US citizens who are adopting from or have adopted from Ethiopia. The survey requires you to give PEAR your contact information which will not be published.

The survey can be accessed at

PEAR intends to report results on our blog and to governmental authorities to recommend changes in the adoption process that will eliminate ethical concerns and protect the members of the adoption triad. PEAR’s intent is NOT to garner support for the closure of adoptions from Ethiopia.

The survey is 20 to 30 minutes in length. If you would like to contribute to this survey but are short on time, then you can complete the short 5 minute option available after completing the demographic information section.

A fix has been made at 5PM EST for Prospective parents trying to take the survey, so you are able to proceed and complete the survey.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Friday, March 5, 2010

UDATE: Ethiopia - Australian Government Set to Reopen Program

Australian Government, Attorney-General's Office

Future of the Ethiopia–Australian Intercountry Adoption Program

The Attorney-General, the Hon Robert McClelland MP, has decided to lift the suspension of the Ethiopia–Australia intercountry adoption program. The program will recommence accepting new referrals of children in need of intercountry adoption and matching these children with prospective adoptive parents as at 6 April 2010.

The Ethiopia–Australia program was suspended in November 2009 due to concerns that Australia could no longer conduct intercountry adoptions in Ethiopia in a manner consistent with its obligations under the /Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect of Intercountry Adoption. /

In January 2010 an Australian delegation travelled to Ethiopia to discuss the current suspension with the Ethiopian Government and to investigate options for the future of the program. The delegation obtained additional information about the requirement for Australia to
provide development assistance and how this might be done in a manner consistent with the Hague Convention. The visit also provided the Department with an enhanced understanding of the practical challenges facing the program.

Information gathered during the delegation visit was incorporated into the Department’s formal review of the program, which has been underway since June 2009. The Department received over 400 submissions about the program, which were also considered in the review process.

The Attorney-General has decided to lift the interim suspension on 6 April 2010, subject to progressing appropriate safeguards which will ensure the program’s Hague compliance and ongoing integrity. These changes include:

* undertaking additional background checks of children referred to
the program
* establishing relationships with a limited number of specific
orphanages in which the Department has trust and confidence
* commencing the process of entering into formal,
government-regulated agreements to provide broad development
assistance and community sponsorship programs, for projects
unrelated to intercountry adoption (similar development assistance
funds form part of the fees paid for other programs in a Hague
compliant manner), and
* setting a formal, fixed, transparent child maintenance fee for
payment to orphanages for the reasonable costs of caring for a
child (similar fees are charged in a Hague-compliant manner in
some of Australia’s other intercountry adoption programs).

In addition, the Department will be working to finalise a new memorandum of understanding with the Ethiopian Government and a new Service Agreement with an Australian representative.

These changes, which have been identified as necessary for the program’s continuation, will also require a restructuring of fees to reflect actual costs and the need to provide development assistance.

The continuation of the program’s suspension until 6 April 2010 will be necessary to ensure adequate safeguards are put in place.The executive summary of the review is available from the link below. The full document is classified and will not be made public.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Adoption Notice

Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues

Change in Processing Timeline for Adoption Cases

March 5, 2010

The Department of State shares families’ concerns about recent media reports alleging direct recruitment of children from birth parents by adoption service providers or their employees. In response to these reports, the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa has implemented some changes to adoption visa processing. Adoptive parents should be aware that an I-604 (Determination on Child for Adoption, sometimes referred to as “orphan investigation”) must be completed in connection with every I-600 application. Depending on the circumstances of the case, this investigation may take up to several weeks or even months to complete. Therefore, adoptive parents should not plan to travel to Ethiopia until they have confirmed with their adoption agency that their visa interview appointment has been confirmed.

Adoption agencies submit case paperwork to the U.S. Embassy for review before the Embassy schedules the immigrant visa appointment. In some cases the I-604 determination could take several weeks or more from the time a case is submitted to the U.S. Embassy to the scheduling of a visa interview appointment. We understand that in such cases this will result in a longer period before parents are able to bring their adopted children to the U.S. However, this additional scrutiny is required to ensure that the adoption is legal under both U.S. and Ethiopian law. The U.S. Embassy will work with adoptive parents and their adoption agency to ensure that each case is processed in the most expeditious manner possible in accordance laws and regulations. Families should continue to work through their agency to schedule immigrant visa appointments and answer questions regarding pending cases.

If families have concerns about their adoption, we ask that they share this information with the Embassy, particularly if it involves possible fraud or misconduct specific to your child’s case. The Embassy takes all allegations of fraud or misconduct seriously.

The best way to contact the Embassy is by email at Please include your name, your child’s name, your adoption agency, the date of the adoption (month and year), and, if possible, the immigrant visa case number for your child’s case (this number begins with the letters ADD followed several numbers and can be found on any document sent to you by the National Visa Center). Please let us know if we have your permission to share concerns about your specific case with Ethiopian government officials.

We strongly encourage you to register any complaint that you may have about an adoption agency in the following ways:

  • You may file a complaint with the state licensing authority where your adoption agency is licensed and conducts business. The Child Welfare Information Gateway, which is maintained by the Department of Health and Human Services, provides such a list at the link below:
  • You may also file a report with the state’s Better Business Bureau. Following is the link to the Better Business Bureau’s website where you may file a complaint on-line:
  • If your agency is a Hague-accredited adoption service provider, you are encouraged to file a complaint on the Hague Complaint Registry located at the link below. This information will be used by the accrediting entities to evaluate the agency in connection with the renewal of its accreditation status.

    The U.S. Embassy continues to work with the Government of Ethiopia to ensure that appropriate safeguards exist to protect prospective adoptive children, their birth parents, and prospective adoptive parents. Please continue to monitor for updated information.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Media: Vietnam's hill tribe children "stolen" for adoption

Vietnam's hill tribe children "stolen" for adoption

By Simon Parry Feb 23, 2010, 3:08 GMT

Hanoi - High among the jagged limestone peaks that mark Vietnam's border with Laos, Cao Thi Thu squats on the stone floor of her family's hut and pleads, 'Please help bring my daughters home.'

It is more than three years since officials came to Thu's village and offered her the chance to send her daughters - Cao Thi Lan, 3, and Cao Thi Luong, 8 - to be educated in the provincial capital. Instead, they were sold for adoption overseas.

Clutching the only photographs she has of the girls - shots ironically taken at the children's home to send out to prospective adoptive parents abroad - the pain of separation from her daughters is as sharp today as it was on the day she last saw them.

'I am sad and I am very worried,' the 35-year-old said. 'I don't even know which country they are in. I don't know if they are together or apart. They should be with their families here in Vietnam, not thousands of miles away with strangers.'

Lan and Luong were among 13 children taken away from Vietnam's smallest and least developed ethnic minority - the Ruc hill tribe - and then given to adoptive parents in Italy and the US months later in return for fees of around 10,000 US dollars per child.

A police investigation has been launched into complaints from the parents that their children were adopted without their permission but villagers fear it will be a whitewash and want foreign governments to intervene. Those pleas to diplomats have so far fallen on deaf ears.

It was in September 2006 when officials from Quang Bing province's capital Dong Hoi visited the tiny hill tribe, which numbers only 500 people.

They picked out 13 children aged 2 to 9 and offered to house and feed them at a children's social welfare centre in Dong Hoi and return them when their education and vocational training was complete, the families say they were told.

The parents - all poor farmers and most illiterate - agreed and were driven to Dong Hoi with their children where they signed consent forms placing them into the care of the local authority.

Four months later, in the Lunar New Year holiday in 2007, Thu went to visit her daughters. 'They looked well but they missed me very much. They said 'Mummy, please take us home',' she recalled.

'I couldn't bear to see them so sad so I decided to take them home. I took them by the hands and led them out of the children's home towards the bus stop - but the security guards stopped me and told me I couldn't take them away.

'The officials at the children's home said I had signed papers and had to leave them in their care. I was crying and very upset but I believed them and I went home alone.'

A year later - shortly before the 2008 Lunar New Year holiday - Thu travelled to Dong Hoi to visit her daughters again. When she arrived, she was told both girls had been adopted overseas.

'Those men lied to me,' said Thu, who has three other children. 'They said the children would return to the village when they finished school. But they sold them as if they were livestock.'

News of the children's fate spread quickly around the Ruc community villages as other parents discovered that their sons and daughters too had been sent overseas for adoption. Some were even handed photographs of their children with their new adoptive parents.

In the provincial capital Dong Hai, Le Thi Thu Ha, director of the children's home where the 13 children were taken, confirmed a police investigation had been launched into the circumstances in which the Ruc children were adopted overseas.

Ha - who recently replaced former director Nguyen Tien Ngu who handled the adoptions - insisted, 'All of the legal documents (for the adoptions) were in order. It was approved by the provincial ministry of justice and the provincial social welfare centre and it was done with the consent of the Ruc parents.

'The local police force started investigating the case a few months ago when the parents persisted with their complaints. We expect the investigation to be complete and the results announced in the first quarter of 2010.'

By the time the investigation is complete, the children will have been apart from their parents for more than four years. Despite appeals made to them nearly two years ago, neither the US nor the Italian embassies have taken up the parents' cause.

Anthropologist Peter Bille Larsen, who worked in the border area, alerted the embassies in early 2008 and is baffled by the inaction. He argues the children should be sent home however long it takes.

'I would want to see my children again even if they had been sent to the other end of the world,' he said, dismissing the idea that the youngsters were better off in relatively wealthy western families.

Asked why diplomats in Hanoi had apparently done nothing to help the families, Italy's charge d'affaires in Hanoi Cesare Bieller said that his embassy had no powers of investigation.

However, Bieller added, 'We acknowledge the importance of the task you are undertaking and we hope that your story will be received with the importance that it deserves.'

Read more:

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Letter to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Opposing the Families for Orphans Act

Last month, PEAR joined in with Global Action for Children in voicing our opposition to the Families for Orphans Act. The Senate version act is currently sitting in the Committee on Foreign Relations. Below is the letter sent to Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Committee and Senator Richard Lugar , Ranking Member.

February 22, 2010

The Honorable John Kerry
U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
218 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Richard Lugar
Ranking Member
U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
306 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Chairman Kerry and Ranking Senator Lugar,

We are writing in strong opposition to the Families for Orphans Act, S. 1458 and are dismayed that its supporters are using the tragedy in Haiti as cause for moving forward this counter-productive legislation.

We object to the bill for the specific following reasons:

  1. Instead of building on the success of offices that are already working for children worldwide, the bill needlessly duplicates the Orphans Assistance Act (PL 109-95) in some areas and conflicts with the mandate in others to the detriment of children and their families. The Families for Orphans Act calls for the establishment of a separate Office of Orphan Policy, Diplomacy and Development within the State Department. Establishing such an office would be entirely duplicative, not to mention harmful to the successful on-going coordination between U.S. government agencies supporting orphans and vulnerable children and adoption in Haiti.
  2. The Department of State (DOS), Bureau of Consular Affairs, already has statutory authority to handle all child welfare matters that involve intercountry adoption of orphans from Haiti or elsewhere. This existing authority has taken efforts to fast-track adoptions from Haiti that were already in the pipeline and in the past few weeks has issued approximately 900 visas to pre-identified orphans eligible for adoption and in the adoption process —three times the typical number of visas issued annually to children for adoption from Haiti.

    Adding an additional office in the State Department would harm rather than help children in Haiti and elsewhere. The redundancy would confuse and duplicate efforts as well as drain precious funding and resources. A more effective route would be to fund the existing PL 109-95 Secretariat (Orphans and Vulnerable Children office) which is currently, despite being unfunded, doing a heroic job of coordinating all U.S. agency efforts in Haiti on behalf of Orphans and Vulnerable Children.

  3. The bill would impose expensive and impossible-to-achieve requirements on poor countries. This not only burdens already over-burdened countries with red tape, it puts the future of working programs already in place like child survival, maternal health and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in jeopardy. The Families for Orphans Act mandates a biennial census of children without permanent parental care for all member countries of the United Nations including the United States. Not only would such a census be literally impossible for countries to comply with, it would cost billions of dollars to even attempt—billions that could be used to actually assist families to care for their children.

Further, according to this legislation, if countries failed to comply with these untenable requirements, the development assistance they receive from the United States, some of which supports the very children this bill purports to assist, might be cut off.

We are all motivated to assist orphans and vulnerable children in crisis in Haiti and around the world and thank you for your dedication to these too-often overlooked kids. Yet this bill is not the solution they need. We are worried that it is being rushed through Congress without enough public discussion regarding how it will impact longstanding U.S. global programs that are already in place to help these children and their communities grow.

Therefore, we strongly urge you to decline to consider this ill-conceived bill and instead fully fund existing mechanisms, such as the Orphans Assistance Act, that are doing good work on behalf of orphans and vulnerable children around the world.


American Adoption Congress
The Episcopal Church
Global Action for Children
Global AIDS Alliance
Mothers Acting Up
Parents for Ethical Adoption Reform
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church & Society

Victor Groza
Grace F. Brody Professor of Parent-Child Studies
Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences
Case Western Reserve University
Cleveland, OH

Karen Smith Rotabi, PhD, LMSW, MPH

Richmond, VA

cc: Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Senator Russell D. Feingold, Senator Barbara Boxer, Senator Robert Menendez, Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, Senator Robert P. Casey, Senator Jim Webb, Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Senator Edward E. Kaufman, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Senator Bob Corker, Senator Johnny Isakson, Senator James E. Risch, Senator Jim DeMint, Senator John Barrasso, Senator Roger F. Wicker and Senator James M. Inhofe

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

PEAR Releases Second Series of State Directories of Adoption Resources

Link to Directories updated on May 14, 2010
This library is housed at , where you can freely download the pdf directories .

Series 2 has four directories: California, Arizona, Hawaii, and Nevada.

Parents for Ethical Adoption Reform (PEAR) does not officially endorse any listing in these directories. 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.

Each state directory is arranged into four sections: Health, Education, Bureaucracy, and Support alphabetically by city.

Health contains Early Intervention information and licensed practitioner listings. Each listing has a designation for specialty or service with a PEAR. See the index at the beginning of the document for definitions. Residential Treatment Centers are included here.

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

Bureaucracy contains information about:
Apostilles & Authentications
Medicaid waivers
Better Business Bureau
State statutes on adoption
Criminal background check
Recognition of foreign adoption decree, Delayed Certificate of Birth, or Re-adoption
Social Security offices/how to obtain card
Filing consumer complaints
State adoption subsidy
Licensed agency checks
License checks for health professionals
Vital records (birth, marriage & divorce cert.)
Hague Convention information (due diligence and complaints)

Support contains state-based support groups, web-support, and organizations. Respite care is also included here.

Keeping Directories Current
These directories will be updated at least twice yearly. If you know of any resource that assists internationally adopted children and is not on this list or if you have corrections, please email information to

Check back on the PEAR website soon for the release of future state series.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Monday, March 1, 2010

UPDATE: DOS Adoption Alert - Swaziland


Adoption Alert

Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues

March 1, 2010

On February 24, 2010, the Deputy Prime Minister of Swaziland informed the U.S. Embassy in Mbabane that it will not process intercountry adoptions cases while the Department of Social Welfare completes a review of its adoption procedures. Only cases that were already with the Swaziland High Court will be processed during the review. The U.S. Embassy in Mbabane has not been provided with an expected completion date of the review.

Please continue to monitor for updated information.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.