Thursday, December 29, 2011

PEAR Website Announcement

Our website will be down December 26 to January 6 for a redesign. Due to this, our web comments, membership forms and donate buttons will be inoperable.

Please direct your correspondence to the following board members:

Comments and requests for assistance:
Gina Pollock
Vice President Advocacy and NGO/Government Relations

Membership Issues:
Shanna Wright
Secretary and Membership Chair

Donations and financial issues:
Margaret Weeks

All other correspondence:
Kimberly Kennedy

Thank you for your continued patience and support!

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Book Review: Finding Fernanda

by David Kruchkow
Board Member of Parents for Ethical Adoption Reform

Where can I start a review of Erin Siegal’s Finding Fernanda? I know Erin Siegal as an online friend and someone who came to me for advice on this book. Why me? Perhaps it is because I made my story public more than a dozen years ago as one of 22 families victimized by an illegal Mexican adoption/baby smuggling ring. At that time, I called for the adoption industry to police itself and remove the cancerous, criminal, profiteering element that infected its underbelly. Back then, I underestimated how deep that infection was. It turns out that it is a systemic infection that pervades all international adoptions, even today and even with the regulations of The Hague Agreement that were intended to prevent abuses.

There are now hundreds of stories that involve most sending countries, like Betsy Emmanuel’s and mine. What Siegal has done with Finding Fernanda that makes her book a must-read is take a purely journalistic approach to the story she presents. She reports on what she learned without passing judgment. The reader can draw his own conclusions about motives, about who the good guys are and who the bad guys are, and the conclusions become devastatingly obvious.

Stories like this are by their nature very convoluted, and Siegal does an amazing job of making the twists and turns as easy to follow as possible. Her preamble includes a section on the cast of characters which can serve as a reference should the reader get confused. A photojournalist by trade, Siegal uses one photo per chapter and each one is carefully chosen to supplement the story appropriately while having the most impact.

What you’ll learn in the book is that international adoption involves a great imbalance of power. The wealth, privilege, and entitlement of prospective adoptive parents in developed Western receiving countries directly impacts the poverty and vulnerability of mothers in impoverished and underdeveloped sending countries, leading to a money-driven market that exploits women and children for the benefit of the middlemen who procure and place the children. This is made abundantly clear in Finding Fernanda. What Siegal has done that is unique is to include the story as experienced by an impoverished, exploited mother who was stripped of two of her children for the adoption trade without her informed consent. Women like Mildred Alvarado have always had no voice, but now, Siegal has given her a voice and presented her view. For that reason alone, every single person who has been touched by international adoption must read this book and go to You will feel the anguish, pain, suffering and strength of Mildred Alvarado when you read her story. This book will make you angry and it will make you cry.

There is one other party that has never had a voice in international adoption, and that is the one that belongs to the exploited children. Readers need to pay careful attention to Siegal’s description of Ana Cristina, the child stolen from Mildred Alvarado’s womb and reunited with her years later. In that description is a harrowing picture of the kind of damage done to children by corrupt international adoptions.

Erin Siegal deserves a standing ovation, if not a journalistic award, for her thorough research, her writing skills, her hard work and her braving of a dangerous, criminal world in order to get this story told. Bravo Erin!

Additional information on Finding Fernanda is available at

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

DOS Adoption Notice: Guatemala Processing Plan for CNA cases

December 12, 2011

Notice: Processing Plan for CNA cases

This Adoption Notice is a follow up to the Notice of September 27, 2011.

The Government of Guatemala's Consejo Nacional de Adopciones (CNA) has agreed to a process for certain adoption applications pending under the CNA's processing authority. The U.S. Department of State and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will contact affected families to provide detailed information regarding the next steps. We anticipate that the CNA may identify additional cases for processing at a later time. The general outline of the planned process is as follows:

  • The CNA will initiate the process by providing the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City with the names of children identified as ready to be finalized.
  • The U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City will then notify the USCIS Guatemala City field office. USCIS Guatemala City will contact U.S. prospective adoptive parents individually to provide detailed instructions regarding the CNA application requirements and final USCIS processing.

This process applies only to cases pending with the CNA's processing authority and not to cases pending with the Procuraduria General de la Nacion (PGN) as "notario" cases. We anticipate that the CNA will process cases on an ongoing basis. Families who have questions about the process may email the Department of State at

Processing questions related to a Guatemalan Form I-600 petition that qualifies as a grandfathered petition under U.S. law should be directed to USCIS at

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

USCIS will hold a follow up to their October 28 Teleconference on Ethiopian Adoption

USCIS will hold a follow up to their October 28 Teleconference on Ethiopian Adoption. The invitation is open to all stakeholders.

Meeting Invitation

USCIS Stakeholder Meeting on Ethiopian Adoptions Friday, December 9, 2011 @ 10 am (EST)
As a follow up to the October 28, 2011, Ethiopian Stakeholder call, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the U.S. Department of State would like to invite you to attend a stakeholder call to discuss USCIS’ November trip to the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa to adjudicate “not clearly approvable” adoption petitions.

After the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, identified a number of adoption petitions (Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as Immediate Relative) that it determined were not clearly approvable (NCA), and thus, must be referred to USCIS for adjudication, USCIS dispatched a team of officers to go Addis to adjudicate the petitions. USCIS and the Department of State would like to discuss the results of the NCA Team’s trip, lessons learned, and the way forward for Ethiopian adoptions.

To Participate in the Session

Any interested parties may participate in this event by telephone. All participants must respond to this invitation. Please contact the USCIS Office of Public Engagement at by Thursday, December 8, 2011 referencing “Ethiopian Adoptions” in the subject line of your email.

Please also include your full name and the organization you represent in the body of the email.

To Join the Call
On the day of the engagement please use the information below to join the session by phone. We recommend calling in 10 minutes prior to the start of the teleconference.
Call-in Number: 1-800-779-1424
Overseas Toll Number: 1-630-395-0144
Passcode: Adoption

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

USCIS Releases Executive Summary of October Teleconference on Ethiopian Adoption

USCIS has published the following executive summary of the October 28, 2011 Teleconference on Ethiopian Adoption. USCIS will hold a follow up teleconference on December 9th at 10 am. Details will be published on our blog and are also available at the USCIS website

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
Office of Public Engagement Washington, DC 20529-2000
November 30, 2011

Executive Summary
Teleconference on Ethiopian Adoptions

On October 28, 2011, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Department of State (DOS) hosted a stakeholder engagement to discuss the increased number of adoption petitions (Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as Immediate Relative) that the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, has found to be “not clearly approvable.” After these petitions are found “not clearly approvable” they are referred to USCIS for adjudication. During the session, USCIS and DOS representatives explained why there is an increase in “not clearly approvable” cases, defined what “not clearly approvable” means, and provided an explanation of how the processing of these cases will unfold once they are referred to USCIS. In addition, USCIS and DOS answered questions from stakeholders, most of whom were prospective adoptive parents, concerning next steps for cases that were found to be “not clearly approvable”. The session was not intended to obtain group or consensus advice.

Under U.S. law, USCIS has responsibility for the adjudication of Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative. A family files this petition with USCIS to seek a determination that the adoptive child has a qualifying relationship with the petitioning parent. After a Form I-600 petition is approved, then the U.S. citizen parent(s) may apply for an immigrant visa for their adopted child through the U.S. Department of State. USCIS has delegated authority to the Department of State to adjudicate Form I-600 petitions on its behalf where there is no USCIS presence at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, such as the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia. The Department of State, however, only has the authority to approve Form I-600 petitions that are “clearly approvable.” If a Form I-600 petition is “not clearly approvable,” then the Department of State must refer the case to USCIS. USCIS then decides if the case is approvable, if more evidence is needed before a decision can be made, or in rare circumstances, if the case should be denied.

Due to the increase in the number of cases identified as “not clearly approvable” by the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia, stakeholders have questioned if there has been a policy change at the Department of State. Department of State officials reported that there has been no policy change regarding Form I-600s, rather there has been a practical change at the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia

Roles and Responsibilities
to ensure that its procedures are in compliance with Department of State procedures. Previously, the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia sent multiple requests for additional information to the Adoption Service Providers (ASPs), giving them several chances to correct deficiencies in the file. The U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia is now in line with Department of State procedures worldwide so that if a case has material deficiencies it is being labeled as “not clearly approvable”, and is then transferred to USCIS. Once a case is transferred to USCIS as “not clearly approvable”, the Department of State no longer has the delegated authority over the case. Therefore, Department of State will not be able to accept further evidence or provide any further information on the status of the case. It is then USCIS’s responsibility to review the file and determine the appropriate next steps.

After a case has been identified as “not clearly approvable,” DOS will refer it to a USCIS officer for review with three possible outcomes. In most cases, the USCIS officer decides either that the case is immediately approvable or that the petitioner has not provided enough information, resulting in the issuance of a Request for Evidence (RFE). An RFE means that further dialogue is needed between USCIS and the petitioner. In rare instances, there is evidence in the file that clearly indicates the case is not approvable. For those cases, USCIS will issue a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID).

It is very common practice for USCIS to issue RFEs in adoption cases. An RFE can notify the petitioner of missing information, request clarification, and/or give examples of what evidence is needed. Once an RFE is issued, the petitioner generally has 87 days to produce the requested information. Please note that USCIS makes each decision on a case-by-case basis according to its own individual merits. Petitioners should feel free to submit as much documentation or evidence as they have and a decision will be made based on the totality of the evidence.
When the Department of State refers a case to USCIS as “not clearly approvable” they do so because they have done everything to adjudicate the case within the scope of authority that has been delegated to them by USCIS. The Department of State does not have the authority to issue RFEs. “Not clearly approvable” does not necessarily mean that the case will be denied. If USCIS does ultimately approve the case, it should not be seen as an indication that the Department of State was wrong to refer the case to USCIS. The Department of State simply adjudicated the case to the fullest extent possible given the evidence submitted at that time under the scope of their delegated authority.

Previously, the U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa had only identified a small number of cases as “not clearly approvable.” Typically, these cases have been sent to the USCIS Nairobi Field Office at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya by diplomatic pouch which often took four to six weeks. When USCIS became aware that the US Embassy in Addis Ababa had identified a large number of Form I-600 petitions as “not clearly approvable,” we immediately began planning with the
Clarifying the Meaning of “Not Clearly Approvable”

Process after U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa Finds a Case Not Clearly Approvable
Department of State to send a team of USCIS officers to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to adjudicate the growing caseload, as a more efficient and timely way to address the situation. In addition, USCIS and the Department of State coordinated to ensure that no additional cases were sent through the diplomatic pouch to USCIS Nairobi prior to the USCIS team’s arrival in Ethiopia.
USCIS and DOS fully recognize that the transfer of these cases needs to happen quickly and smoothly to ensure timely processing of the cases. USCIS is considering a number of options in order to process the cases as quickly as possible, including electronic transmission and sending additional teams of USCIS officers to Ethiopia if necessary.

Form I-600 petitions that cannot be immediately approved by the USCIS team in Ethiopia will be completed by USCIS under normal procedures. If the case was not immediately approved, the petitioner will most likely receive a Request for Evidence (RFE) or in some circumstances a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID). At this point, communication regarding the case should take place between USCIS and the petitioner.

Since the stakeholder call, USCIS has revised its communication approach, as follows:
For general questions about cases that have been approved or that have not yet received a decision from USCIS, please contact the USCIS office in Nairobi using the following address:

For cases that have been issued an RFE or NOID, please be sure to carefully read your notice, and if you choose to respond, send your hard copy response according to the instructions on your notice to the USCIS Rome District Office. For inquiries about a case that has been issued a RFE or NOID, please contact the USCIS Rome District Office at If, following the issuance of an RFE or NOID, the case is ultimately approved, USCIS will inform the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia so that the Department of State’s immigrant visa process can begin. The Department of State will then take the necessary steps on deciding whether an immigrant visa should be issued. Please keep in mind that just because the Form I-600 petition is approved, this does not guarantee that State Department will approve the immigrant visa.
USCIS and the Department of State expect to hold a follow-up engagement around the beginning of December 2011. USCIS can then report on the patterns and trends in cases seen by our officers on their mission in Ethiopia. Hopefully, this will allow USCIS to give petitioners tips on how to make their case more robust and lessen the chance of future petitioners receiving a “Request for Evidence”. The State Department has also begun additional training for Adoption Service Providers (ASPs) on how to avoid deficiencies in case files.

Next Steps
Contact Information:
* For questions regarding cases which after they have been defined as “not clearly approvable,” please contact or as appropriate as explained above
* For complaints about treatment by a Consular Officer at a U.S. Embassy please contact or attorneys may use
* For general questions on the adoption process please contact

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sri-Lanka: Media Updates and Information Concerning Orphanage Raid and Ban on Adoptions

Various media outlets are reporting on the recent raid of an orphanage in Sri Lanka and the subsequent arrest of a nun on suspicion of her involvement in child-trafficking for adoption. The orphanage involved is ‘Prem Nivesa’ at Rawatawatte, Moratuwa. According to the media sources, the Sri Lankan authorities have placed a ban on adoption of children from this orphanage pending the outcome of the investigation. The nun is reportedly scheduled to appear in court on December 15.

At this time, we are unable to directly confirm the ban with the Sri Lankan authorities and the US Department of State. Office of Children's Issues has published nothing concerning the ban or any impact it may have on pending adoptions to US families.

It is our hope that the Sri Lankan authorities will swiftly and thoroughly investigate the issue and make any changes deemed necessary to their child welfare and adoption system that may be needed to protect the best interests of the children.

Media reports:

BBC: Adoption Ban on Prem Nivasa Nov. 30, 2011

The Sunday Times: Vital to focus on the child, Prem Nivesa and the NCPA raid Dec. 04, 2011

The Sunday Leader: Missionaries of Mary do not deal with money...for God Provides Dec. 04, 2011

The Sunday Leader: A Baby Shop in Rawatawatte Nov 25, 2011

Sri Lankan Guardian: Rev Sr Eliza Released on Bail, Dec 02, 2011

US Agencies and other Foreign Bodies with Adoption Programs from Sri Lanka:

US: New Horizons Hague Accredited through COA

Canada: Cornerstone Adoptions in Ontario see:

Australia: Australian Central Authority-

Miscellaneous Information:

US Central Authority Information on Adoption from Sri Lanka:

Sri Lankan Central Authority:

We will update as information becomes available.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

GAO Report on Adoption Tax Credit Audits and Delays

Excerpt: As of August 2011, 68 percent of the nearly 100,000 returns on which taxpayers claimed the adoption credit were sent to correspondence audit. However, of the approximately 35,000 returns on which audits have been completed as of August, IRS only assessed additional tax about 17 percent of the time. The equivalent rate for all correspondence audits in 2010 was 86 percent. The time it has taken IRS to audit these predominantly legitimate adoption credit claims has resulted in considerable delays in the payment of the related refunds. For the 2012 filing season, IRS has options that might allow it to reduce the number of costly audits and issue refunds faster while still maintaining a robust enforcement strategy. One option is for IRS to immediately send a letter to taxpayers who submit returns without any documentation requesting it before initiating an audit.

GAO report is available now:

Accounting Today Article, IRS Faulted for Adoption Tax Credit Refund Delays :\

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ethiopia Update Issued by USCIS Office of Public Engagement

The following letter to Stakeholders was issued by the USCIS Office of Public Engament on November 21, 2011:

Dear Stakeholder:

The USCIS team in Addis Ababa completed its site visit. We are pleased to report that the team was able to complete its review of all of the “not clearly approvable” cases that were awaiting their review. The following provides an overview of the results of their work. It is important to note that approximately 50 percent of the cases approved received additional evidence between the time Department of State referred the case to USCIS and the team’s review, which addressed concerns raised by the Department of State in their referral of the case.

Total # of Cases Referred to USCIS as NCA: 65 (one case that was on the list to be referred was subsequently approved by Embassy Addis Ababa upon completion of the field investigation.)

Approvals Issued: 49

Requests for Evidence Issued: 15

Notices of Intent to Deny Issued: 1

We are aware that a number of families have expressed concern or inquired as to why cases with RFEs or NOIDs will be processed further from USCIS District Office Rome. The USCIS team determined that the District Office in Rome would be a better central location for the ongoing USCIS processing of the cases because that office has more staffing and equipment and better communications connectivity than does USCIS Field Office Nairobi. In an effort to ensure the timeliest processing of all of the outstanding cases, Rome will handle the RFE/NOID responses and share them with the team members so that the cases can be completed. Going forward, as Embassy Addis Ababa identifies new cases that are “not clearly approvable,” those cases will be transferred to Field Office Nairobi unless/until resource constraints again arise such that we determine that we can provide more timely responses by transferring the cases to another location.

Kind Regards,

Office of Public Engagement

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Nepal & India -- Dal Bahadur Phadera & the suppressed UNICEF report

Dal Bahadur Phadera & the
suppressed UNICEF report

UNICEF Nepal's suppressed Humla report is now available on the web.

The reason UNICEF Nepal suppressed (i.e., never published) their 2005 report is unclear.

Nor is it clear why trafficked Nepali children were left at the Michael Job Centre,
Tamil Nadu,
for over six years.

UNICEF FWLD Displacement of Children From Humla 2005:
Here is an extract (one case from the report):

Bikram Bhandari, Thehe VDC

"Bikram Bhandari informed the team that his son (Machche Bhandari now changed to Manish) was sent 6 years ago (Date: 1998) with Kali Bahadur Bhandari from Humla to Katmandu. Ram Bahadur and Gam Singh where 2 other children also sent with Machche Bandari -- they are also now missing however the team did not meet with their parents. Once in Katmandu. Chakra Bahadur Shahi (ex-parliamentarian member) arranged addmition of the children to Bal Mandir (a government organization)

From Katmandu, Machche was sent to a foreign country though Bal Mandir. This information was relayed to Bikram, 3 years ago (Date: 2001) by a member of Bal Mandir when Bikram came to Kathmandu looking for his son.

When Bikram came to know that his child was sent to another country he reqested to meet with his son but the staff of Bal Mandir said that Bikram had to pay 2 lack rupies [lakh rupees]
for this to be arranged.

Bikram explained to the team that the CDO and VDC had prepaired a recommendation letter stating that Machche Bhandari's (Bikrams son) parents where Dead. This was false information.

Bikram would like to meet with his son but is unable to -- he expressed anger about this situation.

Only Kali Bahadur had the information on Bikrams son, however Kali is now dead and Chakra dose not know the information so there is no way of finding out about the child."

For background, see:

On Children's Homes -- Lonely Planet:

Read the full thread -- a horrific, first-hand account of D.B. Phadera.

Here are two extracts (from a Western volunteer):

"The orphanage I Managed was registered, but not once did I ever see anyone check up on it. My orphanage being registered also did not make it a good place. My job was to run the home and do everything I could to protect the children from the owner and his goons. The owner was a known childtrafficker who was above the law. The NGO ISIS had conducted and investigation that traced over 530 girls that he had sold to brothels in India. They turned the investigation over to UNICEF who promptly leaked it giving him time to pay off the right people. He spent all of 2 nights in jail. I really prefer not to get into how horrible this man is to children, but he is just one of many respectable businessmen who have registered orphanages that are just ways for him to earn money through exploiting children. Like at many homes, the term "owner" only means that he had custody over the children, not that he paid for anything or did anything to care for the children. I actually had to stop a group of swiss tourists from handing over 2000 USD directly to one of his goons (who was himself a pedophile)."


"DB Phadera...was the owner of my orphanage. He lived just across the path from me. Words cannot fully describe how horrible this man is. My job involved documenting the hell out of each of the kids in order to try to keep them safe from him- and it wasn't always enough. He is truly the most despicable person i have ever met. When an 8 year old girl disappeared from the home, he smiled at me as he told me she was only there on vacation. When he had disputes with the organizations that funded the home, he would cut off their ability to bring the children food. He literally would starve the children as a bargaining tool. When I first arrived at the home, he was allowing his goons free reign and many would come and demand to sleep in the beds with the kids at night. It took everything I had to put a stop to that practice. He forces children to beg, sells them into servitude, or worse, into brothels. For him it's all an equation of how he can make the most money. The lucky children are the ones he just abandons. Many good organizations in the valley have rescued kids from DB. All of the ones I listed in my previous post are among them. their efforts are noble and deserve support. But DB is a politically powerful man. As long as he remains free, he will continue to bring in more Humli children and subject them to cruelty, abuse, and in the best case scenario simple neglect.

Having to deal with him on a daily basis was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. My kids needed me there as my foreignness did give them some level of protection and the alternative would have been a manager of his choice, but I couldn't rock the boat too much- he had threatened to kill a previous volunteer and she had to leave the country.

Corruption in Nepal creates this culture of impunity which allows traffickers to operate."

See also:

Lt. Col. Philip Holmes explains why his charity rescued Nepali girls from the Michael Job Centre (video) -- PEAR Nepal:

"After the girls' return to Nepal the trafficker who had been involved, DB Phadera, orchestrated a vicious media campaign against the charity."

The Indian preacher and the fake orphan scandal -- Daily Telegraph:

On the Western supporters of the Michael Job Centre (Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India).

Long journey home -- The Nepali Times:

On The Esther Benjamins Trust's rescue of 23 Nepali girls (Tamil Nadu -- September 2011).

A trafficker remains scot-free -- The Kathmandu Post:

On trafficker D.B. Phadera & the Michael Job Centre.

Paper Orphans documentary posted on the web -- PEAR Nepal:

The Terre des Hommes/Image Ark documentary on adoption trafficking in Humla (the NCO/Bal Mandir kidnappings). Some Humli children ended up in India -- others in the inter-country adoption trade.

How our media helps sell children (by asking the wrong questions) -- Ushaft's Blog:

Andrew Undershaft on the media allies of trafficker Dal Bahadur Phadera.

Adhocism and the culture of press-release journalism (part one) -- Ushaft's Blog:

Andrew Undershaft on Anuradha Koirala's curious support of the traffickers.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

DOS Adoption Notice: Ethiopia Procedure for Processing Adoption Cases

November 16, 2011
Notice: Procedure for Processing Adoption Cases

This notice provides supplemental information to the adoption notice of October 7, 2011, adding additional details on the process applicable to orphan petitions filed with a U.S. Embassy Consular Section overseas. While the description has been tailored to answer inquiries specific to Ethiopia, the steps described in this explanation apply to all non-Hague countries. This notice only describes the process for Forms I-600 filed with U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa. For processing information on cases filed domestically with USCIS through the National Benefits Center (NBC), please refer to the USCIS website at

Once adoptive parents are in possession of the final adoption decree from the Federal First Instance Court, approval letters from the Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs, the child’s birth certificate and Ethiopian passport, and all other required Form I-600 supporting documentation, they (or their authorized agent) may file Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, with the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa if they have met the physical presence requirements for filing a Form I-600 petition overseas.

Upon receipt of the Form I-600 and accompanying documentation, the U.S. Embassy begins the Form I-604, Determination on Child for Adoption, orphan status investigation – the process to determine if the child meets the definition of an orphan under U.S. immigration law. The time frame for completion of the Form I-604 determination depends on the circumstances of each case, but can take up to several weeks or months. During this time, additional information or documentation may be requested by the U.S. Embassy for cases with insufficient or deficient supporting evidence to determine orphan status.

In certain cases it may be necessary to interview the child’s Ethiopian birth parent(s) or guardian, or the individual who found an abandoned child, to resolve errors or discrepancies discovered in the case file. The U.S. Embassy conducts such interviews for cases in which the consular officer deems interview(s) necessary to make a determination on the child’s orphan status. Birth relative and other interviews are often an integral part of the Form I-604 determination.

The U.S. Embassy must then determine whether the case is clearly approvable. If a case is clearly approvable, the U.S. Embassy approves the Form I-600 petition and issues an immigrant visa. If there are questions regarding the child’s orphan status or the information is insufficient to make a determination, federal regulation requires that the U.S. Embassy forwards the case as “not clearly approvable” to the USCIS Field Office in Nairobi, Kenya, for further processing. When this occurs, the U.S. Embassy sends out a transfer notice to the petitioners when the case is physically forwarded to USCIS Nairobi, and provides contact information for further questions.

Upon receipt of a petition identified as “not clearly approvable,” the USCIS Nairobi Field Office notifies the parent(s) that the case has been received and issues requests for additional evidence and other notices, if necessary. Upon review of all available evidence including any response to a Request for Evidence or Notice of Intent to Deny, USCIS issues a decision and notify the petitioners. For details of the USCIS process, please visit USCIS’ Ethiopia Q&A page. If the case is approved, USCIS Nairobi returns the case to the U.S. Embassy for visa processing.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

DOS Office of Children's Releases FY 2011 Annual Report on Intercountry Adoption Statistics

The DOS has published it Fiscal Year 2011 Annual Report on Intercountry Adoption. A copy of the report can be downloaded on the DOS Adoption website: by clicking the link under "Latest News" on the left hand side of the screen.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

UPDATE on USCIS and DOS Updates on Ethiopia Processing

The following letter was received today at PEAR today addressed to all Stakeholders on Ethiopia Adoptions:

Dear Stakeholder-

A USCIS team of four officers arrived in Ethiopia and began working at Embassy Addis Ababa on November 7, 2011. As of the date of this notice, the team has received 63 “not clearly approvable” cases from Embassy Addis, and expects to receive at least 1 more case before they depart on Friday, November 18, 2011. The following provides a summary of the results of the team’s review of the cases as of November 15, 2011:

Approvals Issued: 36

Requests for Evidence Issued: 9

Notices of Intent to Deny Issued: 1

Under USCIS Team Review 9

Pending Birth Relative Interview 8

Pending Physical Transfer 1

During the team’s first days in Addis, they began reviewing the cases, and established procedures necessary for completing adjudication and issuing notices. Embassy Addis is providing the resources necessary for USCIS to be able to adjudicate the not clearly approvable cases. Although the team has encountered some technological challenges, the team has been issuing decisions and notices as soon as they are able.

All cases that the team is able to approve before they depart from Addis Ababa will stay with the Consular Section in Embassy Addis Ababa, for immediate scheduling of immigrant visa processing. Families that receive an approval notice will be contacted directly by the U.S. Embassy within three business days. We strongly recommend that families wait to be contacted regarding an immigrant visa interview before making travel arrangements. Cases that require a Request for Evidence or a Notice of Intent to Deny will be sent to the USCIS Rome District Office for further processing.

Each family that received a Request for Evidence or a Notice of Intent to Deny should carefully read the instructions regarding where to send additional evidence to avoid delays in processing that could be caused by sending the evidence to the incorrect USCIS Office. USCIS has decided to utilize additional resources at the Rome District Office in the ongoing processing of some of the affected cases in an effort to ensure that they are processed to completion as quickly as possible.

In the coming weeks, USCIS and DOS will schedule another stakeholder call to provide a briefing on the team’s work in Addis Ababa, and an update on how processing will proceed going forward for any new cases identified by Embassy Addis Ababa as not clearly approvable.

Kind Regards,

Office of Public Engagement

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

USCIS and DOS Updates on Ethiopia Processing

At it's Ocotber 28 Statkeholder Meeting on Ethiopia, USCIS promised to post Notes form the meeting to its website for parents unable to attend the teleconference. The notes were published this week, but leave a lot of room for improvement:

"U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) invited stakeholders to call and discuss USCIS processing of Ethiopian adoption cases which the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa is referring to USCIS as "not clearly approvable". Recently, the U.S. Embassy in Addis Abbaba, Ethiopia, has identified a number of adoption petitions (Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as Immediate Relative) that it has determined are not clearly approvable (NCA), and thus, must be referred to USCIS for adjudication.

USCIS explained what “not clearly approvable” means and how the processing of such cases will unfold once the cases are referred to USCIS."

Today, DOS, Office of Children's Issues released a definition of "Not Clearly Approvable"

"Consular officers at U.S. Embassies and Consulates have limited, delegated authority from the United States Citizen and Immigration Service to approve Form I-600 petitions that are found to be clearly approvable. Clearly approvable means that the petition and supporting documentation clearly establish that the child is an orphan as defined by U.S. immigration law; all criteria identified on the Form I-600A approval regarding the child and any state pre-adoption requirements are met; and there are no concerns of fraud, child buying or other inappropriate practices in the adoption process.

In cases where the evidence is insufficient to establish that the child is an orphan or that the I-600A criteria have been met, the consular officer will allow the petitioner to respond to issues and questions that can be quickly and easily resolved. If issues and questions can be quickly and easily resolved and the case is clearly approvable the consular officer will approve the petition.

All non-Hague cases require an I-604 investigation to determine orphan status. In many instances this is a simple review of the documents and facts in the case. However, in some cases, an investigation by consular staff may be necessary to clarify doubts related to documentation presented or concerns of inappropriate practices. Investigations may include, but are not limited to, visits to the child's town of origin; interviews with birth relatives, orphanage staff, or social workers; DNA testing; and/or a field investigation.

If additional clarification and evidence does not fully resolve the issue quickly, the consular officer must send the petition to USCIS for review and adjudication. USCIS is the only agency with the authority to adjudicate NCA cases. If a case is identified as "Not Clearly Approvable", the consular officer sends the petitioner notification of the transfer to USCIS and provides contact information so that further inquiries may be directed to USCIS."

PEAR would like to suggest that USCIS and DOS publish a statement on how cases will unfold and what adoptive parents can expect if cases are referred to USCIS.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Special Advisor for International Children's Issues Ambassador Susan Jacobs to Travel to The Hague

Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
November 15, 2011

Special Advisor for International Children’s Issues Ambassador Susan Jacobs will travel to The Hague November 17 – 18 for meetings on intercountry adoption and international parental child abduction.

While in The Hague, Ambassador Jacobs will lead meetings with foreign representatives from Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, the European Union, Germany, the Netherlands, South Africa, and Switzerland to discuss ways to further promote The Hague Adoption and Abduction Conventions and assist signatory countries to meet their responsibilities under the conventions.

For press inquiries please contact or (202) 647-1488.

For updates from Ambassador Susan Jacobs, follow her on twitter: @ChildrensIssues.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Call to Action: Citizenship for all persons adopted abroad

One of the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (CCA 2000) was that the adoptee be under the age of 18 its effective date, February 27, 2001. Transnational adoptees 18 and older were not granted citizenship under its provisions.

Korean Focus has created a petition to Congress to amend the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 to include all persons adopted prior to 2001. Please consider reading the petition and if you wish to help intercountry adoptees obtain automatic citizenship, consider signing it. This would have a profound effect on thousands of children and adults adopted abroad prior to 2001.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Friday, November 11, 2011

DOS Adoption Notice: Vietnam Ratifies Hague

November 2011

Notice: Vietnam ratifies the Hague Adoption Convention

The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption will enter into force in Vietnam on February 1, 2012, following Vietnam's ratification on November 1, 2011.

The United States recognizes Vietnam's initiatives leading to this significant development and applauds the Government of Vietnam's renewed commitment to strengthen its child welfare system and the integrity of its domestic and international adoption process. We continue to caution adoption service providers and prospective adoptive parents that, to ensure that adoptions from Vietnam can be compliant with the Convention, important steps must still take place before intercountry adoptions between the United States and Vietnam resume. We further caution adoption service providers against initiating, or claiming to initiate, adoption programs in Vietnam until they receive authorization from the Government of Vietnam.

The Department of State will provide updated information on as it becomes available. If you have any further questions about this notice, please contact the Office of Children's Issues at 1-888-407-4747 within the United States or 202-501-4444 from outside the United States.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

National Adoption Month: Raising Awareness & Rights

Today is the 1st of November, the first day of National Adoption Month, an event centered around raising awareness about adoption. When adoptive families, and legislators, and social workers, and agencies talk of adoption they talk of putting the child's best interests first, of adoption being centered around the rights and needs of children.

If we truly believe this, then we, as adoptive parents, need to put our child's rights first. Are we aware that in 44 US States, people who were adopted have no right to their original birth certificates? No right to their personal history? Are we doing anything about this injustice? Stand up for your children. Take a few minutes to visit the Adoptee Rights Coalition , write a letter to your state legislators, donate a few bucks to the cause. Put the best interests of the adoptee first.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

USCIS Stakeholder Meeting on Ethiopian Adoptions

USCIS Stakeholder Meeting on Ethiopian Adoptions
Friday, October 28, 2011 @ 10:30 am (EDT)
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) would like to invite you to attend a stakeholder call to discuss USCIS processing of Ethiopian adoption cases which the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa is referring to USCIS as "not clearly approvable". Recently, the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, has identified a number of adoption petitions (Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as Immediate Relative) that it has determined are not clearly approvable (NCA), and thus, must be referred to USCIS for adjudication. USCIS would like to explain what “not clearly approvable” means and how the processing of such cases will unfold once the cases are referred to USCIS.

To Participate in the Session
Any interested parties may participate in this event by telephone. All participants must respond to this invitation. Please contact the USCIS Office of Public Engagement at by Thursday, October 27, 2011 referencing “Ethiopian Adoptions” in the subject line of your email.
Please also include your full name and the organization you represent in the body of the email.
Once an RSVP email has been received, USCIS will provide you call-in details.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

USCIS Presentation onTeleconference on Bringing Home Adopted Children

On September 21, USCIS National Benefits Center (NBC) invited interested parties to participate in a national stakeholder meeting to discuss steps that should occur with USCIS after a family returns home to the United States with their adopted child. USCIS has published a power point of the issues covered. The information may be helpful to prospective adoptive parents in preparing for adoption.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Monday, October 17, 2011

DOS Adoption Notice: Ethiopia - More Orphanage Closures Announced


October 17, 2011

Notice: Confirmation of Orphanage Closures in Ethiopia

Ethiopian government officials confirmed the closure of several orphanages in the Southern Nations state due to revocation of the orphanages' operational licenses. Each orphanage in Ethiopia receives an operational license that the Charities and Societies Administration administers and monitors to ensure compliance with Ethiopian regulations. This is an update to the previous Adoption Notice posted on August 3, 2011.

These orphanages are:

  • SOS Infants Ethiopia (Arbaminch, Dila and Awassa branches)
  • Gelgella Integrated Orphans (Tercha and Durame branches)
  • Bethzatha Children's Home Association (Sodo, Hosaena, Dila, Haidya, Durame, and Hawassa branches)
  • Ethio Vision Development and Charities (Dila and Hawassa branches)
  • Special Mission for Community Based Development (Hosaina branch)
  • Enat Alem Orphanage (Awassa branch)
  • Initiative Ethiopia Child and Family Support (Hawassa branch)
  • Resurrection Orphanage (Hosaina branch)
  • Musie Children's Home Association (Hadiya, Hosaina, Dila, and Kenbata branches)
  • Organization for Gold Age (Kucha, Dila, Hawassa branches)
  • Hidota Children's Home Association (Soto branch)
  • Biruh Alem Lehisanat, Lenatochina Aregawiyan (Hosaina branch)

According to officials in the Charities and Societies Agency office, which oversees the licensing and regulation of orphanages in Ethiopia, the children in the care of those facilities have already been transferred to other orphanages.

Ethiopian officials indicate that cases involving orphaned children from these facilities which are already pending with the Federal First Instance court will continue to move forward. The Embassy in Addis Ababa is working closely with Ethiopian officials to determine if children from these facilities who had been previously referred for matches will be allowed to continue in the adoption process. Regional officials have confirmed that the affected children's case files are currently being reviewed on a case by case basis by regional Ministry of Women's Affairs offices.

We continue to ask prospective adoptive parents and agencies that are hearing news of specific closures to inform the Department. Please send any specific information regarding orphanage closures to with the subject line "Ethiopia Orphanage Closures."

Prospective and adoptive parents are encouraged to remain in contact with their adoption service provider to stay up-to-date on any information pertinent to their individual case. The Department will post any confirmation on as we receive it.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Adoption Service Providers Seeking Hague Accreditation, Hague Approval or Renewal of Hague Accreditation or Approval as of 10/1/2011

The Council on Accreditation, one of two agencies appointed by the US DOS to accredit adoption service providers (ASPs) under the Hague, has published it's latest list of ASPs under consideration for Hague Accreditation, Approval or Renewal of Accreditation or Approval. If you have a comment concerning any ASP under consideration, please submit it to the COA by visiting their website: click on "click here" for a list of agencies, then click on the agency name to submit a comment. Or, you may mail or call in your comment to COA:
Jayne Schmidt, Hague Accreditation Project Manager
45 Broadway, 29th Floor
New York, NY 10006
FAX: (212) 797-1428
Phone: 866-262-8088 ext. 203

Information is presented in this order:

Applicant Name
Mailing Address
Under Active Consideration Since

**PEAR has added information on whether each organization is a new applicant, is seeking renewal, or has been previously denied accreditation.

Adoption Service Providers Seeking Hague Accreditation, Hague Approval or Renewal of Hague Accreditation or Approval as of 10/1/2011

ABC Adoption Services, Inc. (reaccreditation)
c/o Carolina Adoption Services, Inc.
301 N. Elm Street, Suite 500
Greensboro NC 27401

Adopt-A-Child, Inc. (reaccreditation)
6315 Forbes Avenue, Suite L-120
Pittsburgh PA 15217

Adoption & Beyond, Inc. (new applicant)
16236 Metcalf Avenue
Overland Park KS 66085

Adoption Advocates International (reaccreditation)
709 South Peabody
Port Angeles WA 98362

Adoption Assistance, Inc. (new applicant)
306 East Lexington Avenue, #3
Danville KY 40422

Adoption Resource Center, dba Adoption ARC (reaccreditation)
4701 Pine Street J-7
Philadelphia PA 19143

All God's Children International
(AGCI), dba Families are Forever International (reaccreditation)
3308 NE Peerless Place
Portland OR 97232

American Adoptions (reaccreditation)
9101 West 110th Street, Suite 200
Overland Park KS 66210

Baker Hall dba Baker Victory Services (reaccreditation)
780 Ridge Road
Lackawanna NY 14218

Bal Jagat - Children's World, Inc. (reaccreditation)
5199 East Pacific Coast Hwy, Suite 204
Long Beach CA 90804

Carolina Adoption Services, Inc. (reaccreditation)
301 N. Elm Street, Suite 500
Greensboro NC 27401

Catholic Charities of Tennessee (new applicant)
30 White Bridge Road
Nashville TN 37205

Catholic Social Services of Southern Illinois (new applicant)
8601 W. Main Street, Suite 201
Belleville IL 62223

Celebrate Children International (previously denied accreditation)
1757 W. Broadway, Suite 5
Oviedo FL 32765

Children's Aid Society in Clearfield County (new applicant)
1008 South 2nd Street
Clearfield PA 16830

Children's Home Society of West Virginia (reaccreditation)
P.O. Box 2942
Charleston WV 25330

Children & Families of Iowa (new applicant)
1111 University Avenue
Des Moines IA 50314

Christian Family Services of the Midwest, Inc. (new applicant)
10500 Barkley, Suite 216
Overland Park KS 66212

Community Residences, Inc. (new applicant)
732 West Street
Southington CT

Dove Adoptions International (reaccreditation)
180 North Maine Street, Suite A
Banks OR 97106

European Adoption Consultants, Inc. (reaccreditation)
12608 Alameda Drive
Strongsville OH 44149

Families United Network, Inc. (reaccreditation)
P.O. Box 264
Muncy PA 17756

Family Resource Center (reaccreditation)
5828 N. Clark Street
Chicago IL 60660

Hillcrest Family Services (new applicant)
2005 Asbury Road
Dubuque IA 52001

Hillside Family of Agencies (reaccreditation)
1180 Monroe Avenue
Rochester NY 14620

Holston United Methodist Home for Children, Inc. (reaccreditation)
P.O. Box 188
Greeneville TN 37744- 9982

Home at Last Adoption Agency, Inc. (new applicant)
1727 N. Atlantic Avenue
Cocoa Beach FL 32931

International Adoption Services, Inc. (reaccreditation)
4940 Viking Drive, Suite 7B
Minneapolis MN 55435

International Family Services, Inc. (reaccreditation)
700 South Friendswood Drive, Suite F
Friendswood TX 77546

Jewish Family & Career Services of Louisville (new applicant)
2821 Klempner Way
Louisville KY 40205

Jewish Family Service of Rochester (reaccreditation)
441 East Avenue
Rochester NY 14607

Miriam's Promise (new applicant)
522 Russell Street
Nashville TN 37206

Saint Mary International Adoption (reaccreditation)
1515 Mockingbird Lane, Suite 204
Charlotte NC 28209

Shepherd Care Ministries, dba Adoption by Shepherd Care (reaccreditation)
5935 Taft Street
Hollywood FL 33021

The Datz Foundation (reaccreditation)
311 Maple Avenue W, Suite E.
Vienna VA 22180

The Sacred Portion Children's Outreach (new applicant)
7104 Bristol Lane
Bozeman MT 59715

Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services (reaccreditation)
3200 Motor Avenue
Los Angeles CA 90034

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Nepal -- Paper Orphans documentary posted on the web

Nepal -- Paper Orphans documentary posted on the web:

Part 1:

Part 2:

It would be useful if the FBI and Interpol took a good look at the Western organizations that worked with these homes.

Some background to the TDH/Image Ark documentary Paper Orphans.

The Terre des hommes/Image Ark documentary Paper Orphans was a major reason so many receiving countries suspended adoptions from Nepal.

Paper Orphans focuses on three NGOs -- Nepal Children's Organization (NCO/Bal Mandir), the Helpless Children Protection Home (HCPH), and the Education Centre for Helpless Children (ECHC).

For background to the documentary, see the following links.

The Nepal premier at Patan Museum (March 2010):

Paper Orphan\Kishan Sharki (Kantipur Daily):

http://pearadoptinfo-nepal. orphankishan-sharki-kantipur. html


Paper Orphans on the Screen (Voice of Children):

The Hague screening (June 2010):

2010 Special Commission of the Hague Releases its Conclusions and Recommendations:

http://pearadoptinfo-nepal. special-commission-of-hague. html


Nepal Children's Organization (NCO/Bal Mandir):

Victims of Balmandir: node/43654


Corruption at Nepal Children's Organization (NCO/Bal Mandir):

(Also discusses NCO/Bal Mandir's new alliance with the Mitrataa Foundation.)


Prachanda Raj Pradhan -- head of the Child NGO Federation Nepal (CNFN):

http://pearadoptinfo-nepal. prachanda-raj-pradhan-head-of- child-ngo.html

The Helpless Children Protection Home (HCPH):

Paper Orphans & The Helpless Children Protection Home: node/43603


Adopted Children always in disputes! (Voice of Children):

Uttar Tamata (interviewed in Paper Orphans) owns the Children's Home (Bal Griha) -- a home at the center of Al Jazeera's recent adoption documentary:

Nepal: Children for sale (Al Jazeera):

Also worth reading (for general background on Nepali adoptions):

Trade of Children (Voice of Children):

http://pearadoptinfo-nepal. children-voice-of-children. html


Orphaned or Stolen? The U.S. State Department investigates adoption from Nepal, 2006-2008

Exclusive State Department internal cables from Freedom of Information Act requests

The Huffington Post:


Swiss National Radio on Nepali adoptions (English translation):

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.