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.