In August 2010, PEAR issued a cautionary statement on adoptions from Kazakhstan. After being contacted with concerns by a prospective adoptive parent, we decided to temporarily remove the announcement, review it before the full board, and we wish to clarify it as follows:
PEAR has become aware of current problems in some regions of Kazakhstan that could affect pending and future adoptions.
Currently there are two separate and distinct issues of concern in Kazakhstan. The first concerns the unexpected refusal of the court in the Taraz region to approve 10 adoption petitions, leaving prospective adoptive parents and the children they have bonded to in legal limbo. There were indications in the media report that the reason for refusal to grant adoptions was due to the determination by the Court that there was not enough effort to find placement in Kazakhstani families before referring children for international adoption. At this time, we do not have confirmation that this was the Court's official ruling. This issue was highlighted by the linked story and we have received reports from other families experiencing the same issue. It is unknown if this is a politically motivated decision that will stand up to legal scrutiny. In the meantime, Kazakhstan is implementing the Hague Treaty on Intercountry Adoptions and is not accepting new applications.
The second issue concerns reports by adopting families in the Taraz and Karaganda regions that their in-country facilitators are requesting additional fees purportedly to pay bribes demanded by the Court in order to approve the adoptions. PEAR has no confirmation that the bribe requests came from the judges, only parent's reports that the in-country facilitators are making this claim.
PEAR reiterates that prospective parents need to proceed with caution in Kazakhstan adoptions in light of these events. PEAR, as advocates for ethical and transparent adoptions, never advises prospective adoptive parents or adoptive parents to participate in corrupt practices. The risk to your personal safety and the integrity of your adoption is too great. Prospective parents need to be aware that by participating in a bribe or any other improper financial influence, you may open yourself up for potential prosecution in the US under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. If your agency recommends that you pay the bribe, they may also be subject to the Act. See: http://www.justice.gov/usao/eousa/foia_reading_room/usam/title9/crm01018.htm for more information.
In addition to the FCPA, you may also be risking possible arrest and imprisonment in Kazakhstan under their criminal laws as well as possibly being issued a NOID (Notice of Intent to Deny ) by the US Embassy in Kazakhstan when applying for your child's visa. For information on NOIDs see: http://www.uscis.gov/USCIS/Laws/Memoranda/Static_Files_Memoranda/Archives%201998-2008/2005/rfe021605.pdf Participation in corrupt practices can also jeopardize the future of adoptions in this country.
We encourage those in the process and those considering adopting from Kazakhstan to ask questions of your agency about any potential problems in various regions. In addition, we suggest that you contact the US Embassy in Kazakhstan for further information at USAKZ@state.gov .
We highly encourage you notify not only your agency, but the US Embassy in Almaty and the US DOS Office of Children's Issues about any unethical or unlawful conduct you are subjected to in-country. Contact information is below. If you wish for PEAR to notify these entities on your behalf, we will, but they respond more quickly when families notify them personally.
Embassy of the United States of America in the Republic of Kazakhstan:
Ak Bulak 4,
Str. 23-22, building #3, Astana 010010
Phone: +7 (7172) 70-21-00
Fax: +7 (7172) 34-08-90
The U.S. Embassy Branch Office in Almaty:
97 Zholdasbekov St.
Almaty, Kazakhstan 480099
Phone: +7 (7272) 50-76-12
Fax: +7 (7272) 50-48-67
Office of Children's Issues
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520
Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.