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.