Monday, January 31, 2011

DOS Adoption Notice: Philippines

Adoption Notice

Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues

ICAB Announces Temporary Moratorium

January 31, 2011

The Philippine Inter-Country Adoption Board (ICAB) has announced a moratorium on accepting new applications from Adoption Service Providers (ASPs) who submitted more than 10 adoption cases per year for the last three years. This moratorium is designed to allow ICAB to focus its efforts on applications already filed and "enable ICAB to address the protracted waiting period for child placement." ICAB has indicated that the moratorium will be lifted once it has determined that it has been able to meet the needs of at least 50 percent of those currently waiting for a child. We will post more information on the effective end date of the moratorium as soon as it becomes available to us.

This moratorium does not apply to the following cases:

  • applications to be matched with special needs children;
  • intra-familial adoptions;
  • applications submitted by families who received their approval for suitability to adopt prior to January 31, 2011; and
  • applications submitted by ASPs that have not reached the cap of 10 adoption cases per year for the last there years. ICAB has provided the names of five U.S. ASPs affected by this suspension to the Department of State, and the Department has notified those ASPs. Please contact your ASP directly to understand whether your case is affected by the moratorium.

If you have any questions about this announcement, please do not hesitate to contact the Office of Children’s Issues by phone at 1-888-407-4747 or e-mail at You may also find further information on ICAB's website at

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

DOS Adoption Notice: Haiti

Adoption Notice

Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues

IBESR Accepting New Adoption Cases

January 31, 2011

Haiti’s adoption authority, the Institut du Bien-ĂȘtre Social et de Recherches(IBESR), has informed the U.S. Government that they are accepting new adoption applications for Haitian children who are either documented as orphans or who have been relinquished by their birth parent(s). The U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince has also resumed normal visa processing. However, prospective adoptive parents should be aware that the already frail adoptions infrastructure in Haiti has been further taxed by the earthquake, creating displacement and family separations that make practical and legal determinations of orphan or abandoned status extremely difficult and create additional challenges to adoptive families.

We encourage prospective adoptive parents to verify that their application is being processed in accordance with Haitian legal requirements and the procedures established by IBESR. For more details on intercountry adoptions from Haiti please see Haiti country specific information. For specific information on how to adopt in Haiti, please email

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Friday, January 28, 2011

MEDIA: Ghana - EOCO has begun investigations into allegations of child trafficking at the Hohoe Christian Orphanage

January 27, 2011

The Economic and Organised Crimes Office (EOCO) has begun investigations into allegations of child trafficking at the Hohoe Christian Orphanage.

The Deputy Executive Director of the EOCO in charge of Operations, Mr Charles Nii Adama Akrong, told the Daily Graphic that his office had reports that the Founder and Executive Director of the orphanage, Mr Nicholas Koku Azakpo, was allegedly engaged in the sale of the children at his orphanage to wealthy buyers in Europe and America.

He said suspected accomplices of Mr Azakpo at the Department of Social Welfare were also being investigated and confirmed that four investigators from the office had been to Hohoe to take statements from Mr Azakpo.

The office had also taken statements from Mr Issa Amegashitsi, the foster father of Delali Papa Amoaku, an eight-year-old boy who Mr Azakpo allegedly attempted to sell to an Italian for $7,000 last year and other persons who knew about the founder's activities, Mr Akrong said.

EOCO officials have also interviewed Mrs Helena Obeng-Asamoah, the Social Welfare Officer in charge of orphanages.

He said the investigations would later be extended to cover the activities of all orphanages and foster homes in the country because the sale of children in the country was believed to be widespread.

Mr Akrong said EOCO would not hesitate to recommend the closure of private orphanages in the country if investigations proved that proprietors had engaged in criminal activities such as the sale or trafficking of children.

Under the Economic and Organised Crime Act, 2010 (Act 804), EOCO is mandated to "investigate and, on the authority of the Attorney-General, prosecute serious offences that involve financial or economic loss to the republic or any state entity or institution in which the state has financial interest, money laundering, human trafficking, prohibited cyber activity, tax fraud and other serious offences".

It is also mandated to "recover the proceeds of crime; monitor the activities connected with the offences to detect correlative crimes; take reasonable measures necessary to prevent the commission of crimes specified and their correlative offences", among other things.

Last year, a tussle ensued between Mr Amegashitsi and Mr Azakpo over Delali when Mr Amegashitsi withdrew the boy from the orphanage, claiming he had heard that Mr Azakpo was about to offer the child for sale to an Italian.

That tussle resulted in Mr Amegashitsi being arrested and locked up by the police on two occasions on trumped-up charges of conspiracy to engage in child trafficking.

He was to be arraigned before an Accra circuit court on September 14, 2010 but minutes before he was scheduled to appear, the Attorney-General's Department, which had wind of it, stopped the trial.

On December 1, 2010, the A-G's Department also ordered that Delali, who had been taken away from Mr Amegashitsi by the police since July 26, 2010 and kept at the Osu Children's Home, should be handed over back to him.

And in August the same year, an American citizen, Mrs Jill Wiggins Smith, accused Mr Azakpo of demanding $7,000 from her to adopt Delali from his orphanage.

Mrs Smith had, earlier in 2008, adopted a two-year-old girl from the same orphanage, for which, she told the Daily Graphic, she had first paid $9,000 to an agency in the US called No Greater Gift.

However, No Greater Gift ceased to exist immediately after she had adopted the little girl.

Mrs Smith alleged that later when she arrived in Ghana to take the child away, Mr Azakpo extorted $2,000 and $300 from her on different occasions at his orphanage.

She said the move to adopt Delali stalled because of her refusal to pay the $7,000 demanded by Mr Azakpo.

When reached by the Daily Graphic for his comments, the founder denied the figures and said, "I just received $100 and another $200 and a few other hundreds later to process the papers".

He declined to answer further questions.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

PEAR's Remarks for the DOS Conference: Ethiopia a New Adoption Agenda

PEAR's Remarks for the DOS Conference: Ethiopia a New Adoption Agenda

The following text was intended to be read to the participants of the DOS conference held on Monday, January 24, 2011. PEAR was to particpate in the first panel discussion, but was unable to attend at the last minute. We were invited by DOS to submit the remarks, as follows, which do not appear to have been read. We feel that the remarks are important in explaining our recent position on Ethiopia adoptions and are publishing them here:

PEAR would like to thank the Department of State for hosting today’s meeting on Adoptions from Ethiopia, and regret that we were unable to personally attend the meeting. We are appreciative of Ambassador Jacobs’ invitation to submit a statement today.

Over the past three years, PEAR has received numerous comments and complaints concerning adoptions from Ethiopia. Investigations by governments and the media increased substantially towards the end of 2009. As PEAR began to see a pattern similar to that of Vietnam and Guatemala before their closures to US adoptions, we decided to conduct a survey of Ethiopia adoptive parents and prospective adoptive parents. This survey took place from March 16, 2010 to April 16, 2010. The purpose of the survey was to identify possible areas of unethical practice and procedure in Ethiopian adoptions, and report them to adoption stakeholders and appropriate authorities so they could be corrected.

Our survey was based upon PEAR’s Mission and our Prospective Adoptive Parent Bill of Rights, which can be found on our homepage at In addition, for comparative purposes, we incorporated some questions that would correspond to the questions asked of adoption service providers via Ethica’s 2010 Survey for U.S. Adoption Service Providers Placing Children from Ethiopia.

The results of our survey were published on October 15, 2010 and shared with members of the international adoption community, government authorities in the US and Ethiopia, and NGOs working in Ethiopia. We have discovered through Voice of America that the Ethiopian authorities were able to confirm our findings through their own investigations. It is our hope that all adoption service providers, NGOs, and government authorities working on adoptions from Ethiopia will take the time to read our survey and incorporate our recommendations in the creation of adoption laws, procedures and policies. It is our sincere desire that those responsible for creating and enforcing policy and law on adoption will do so in a manner that is child centered and emphasizes quality adoptions over quantity adoptions. PEAR also wishes to emphasize the need for those creating and enforcing adoption policies and laws, as well as organizations and individuals involved in the adoption process, to respect that all individuals have a right to knowledge of and connection to their origins.

Currently, PEAR continues to receive complaints and expressions of concern from families who have adopted or are in the process of adopting from Ethiopia. We attempt to guide families and provide them with resources to address their concerns, but have been discouraged by a lack of progress and the continued inability of families to have their concerns adequately addressed. In speaking with these families, we have formulated some specific recommendations for improving adoptions from Ethiopia and avoiding the ethical concerns that many families are currently facing. These recommendations will be shared with Ambassador Jacobs and PEAR is open to discussing our ideas with anyone else interested. We regret that we were unable to personally discuss these ideas today.

Respectfully Submitted,

Gina Pollock

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Republic of Philippines IAC issues Temporary Moratorium

On December 13, 2010, the Inter-country Adoption Board of the Republic of the Philippines issued a resolution approving a temporary suspension in accepting additional applications from foreign adoption agencies. The purpose of the suspension is to regulate the number of applications in order to reduce the backlog of applications.

The moratorium applies to adoption agencies that have sent in ten or more applications per year will between 2008-2010. These agencies will be required to temporarily refrain from submitting additional applications until the average waiting period is reduced to about two years. Applications for special needs adoptions are not subject to the suspension, nor are applications from prospective adoptive families who received approval from US authorities to adopt from the Republic of the Philippines prior to January 31, 2011. According to the IAB, all adoption agencies approved to work in the Republic have been notified of the resolution.

A copy of the Resolution and accompanying letter of notice can be found at: under "Downloads" ->"Forms"

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

PEAR's Statement Following the Conference: Ethiopia, a New Adoption Agenda

On Monday, January 24, 2011, The US Department of State (DOS) hosted a teleconference entitled: Ethiopia, a New Adoption Agenda. The purpose of the conference was to gather a variety of adoption stakeholders, discuss concerns, and find some common solutions to address those concerns. Minutes of the meeting will be published soon on the DOS adoption website:

PEAR participated in the conference via teleconference*. While we are impressed with the DOS in taking action preemptively to encourage transparent, ethical adoptions in the best interest of children, we were also quite concerned with seriousness of issues expressed. Participants from all sectors agreed that these concerns were legitimate and need to be addressed both in the short and long term for the viability of the adoption program in the future. The DOS in conjunction with adoption stakeholders and professionals will be creating a short list of immediate actions before moving on to long term solutions for orphans and vulnerable children. PEAR will be participating in this effort along with other NGOs, adoption service providers (ASPs), government programs, and interested parties. PEAR welcomes participation and discussion by adoptive parents and prospective adoptive parents in presenting solutions as part of this process. Interested persons may contact PEAR at

In the meantime, PEAR is asking prospective adoptive parents and adoptive parents to accept responsibility for addressing issues and relieving some of the pressure on the Ethiopian adoption system by taking the following steps:

Adoptive Parents: We are asking adoptive parents who have suspicion or knowledge of unethical or irregular behavior in their child’s adoption to bring these concerns to the Department of State via . If the issues concern inappropriate or ineffective conduct on the part of your ASP, we ask that you report this to the Council on Accreditation if your agency is Hague accredited or seeking Hague accreditation, or to the DOS through if the ASP is not Hague accredited. PEAR is willing to assist and guide families through this process.

If adoptive parents are concerned with possible retaliatory practices by their ASP, or fear that a disclosure will compromise custody of their child, please feel free to contact PEAR at and we will help address your concerns.

Prospective Adoptive Families: We are asking prospective adoptive families to do the following with the hope of relieving pressure on the Ethiopian system which appears ill-equipped to handle the huge increase in adoption and the underlying concerns expressed at the teleconference.

1. Choice of Program: At this time, due to our serious concerns with the ability of the Ethiopian government and orphanage personnel to properly, thoroughly, and transparently participate in the adoption process, we are asking that prospective adoptive parents refrain from initiating an adoption from Ethiopia, with the sole exception of waiting child adoption programs through agencies that meet the criteria below.

2. Choice of Provider: We are asking prospective adoptive parents to fully screen any agency they choose to provide services to ensure, at a minimum, that the agency meets the following criteria. Prospective parents currently working with agencies who do not meet the criteria should consider a change of provider:
  • Agency is registered with the Ethiopian government to conduct adoptions
  • Agency is Hague accredited
  • Agency does not partner with, provide an umbrella for, or have other relationships with an ASP who is not registered to conduct adoptions in Ethiopia
  • Agency provides full fee disclosure;
  • Agency has an adequate and fair complaint system and does not engage in the practice of non-disclosure or gag clauses in contracts
  • Agency provides pre-adoption education, including full disclosure of how children come into care, cultural concerns and norms for adoption and relinquishment of children, information and tools for parenting traumatized children, effects of malnutrition and poor prenatal care, and consequences of exposure to abuse and neglect
  • Agency provides post-adoption education, follow-up, and support including crisis intervention
  • Agency has no complaints or has properly and fully responded to complaints of inadequate care of children in transition homes or otherwise under the agency’s care or the care of an institution primarily financed by the agency
  • Agency promptly and consistently provides its clients with government updates, warnings, and notices
  • Agency’s website and materials on Ethiopia address the current adoption situation with honesty and fair disclosure of ethical and procedural issues
  • Agency does not permit referrals of children prior to prospective adoptive parents being found suitable under state, local and federal law to adopt
  • Agency does not allow prospective adoptive parents to take custody of the child until the adoption has passed court in Ethiopia.

3. Self-education: We are asking prospective adoptive parents to take responsibility for thoroughly researching the issues currently present in adoptions from Ethiopia, and adoptions in general, with an open mind to the issues and the seriousness of participating in adoption processes that are or may be illegal, non-transparent, and/or outside of the best interests of children. These issues include but are not limited to:
  • The manner in which children come into care. How are the children relinquished, for what reasons and by whom? Are coercive methods used to recruit children from intact families? Financial incentives are not always the motivating factor-- there are often other coercive methods being employed. Do families of origin view adoption in the same manner as we do here in the US?
  • Make yourself aware of the appropriate Ethiopian and US laws and processes you will participate in. Do you know what the adoption laws are in Ethiopia? Do you know what the legal effects of adoption are in Ethiopia? Do you know what your burden is in proving your child’s status as an orphan before the US Embassy? Do you know the procedures utilized to prove orphan status when a concern or anomaly is discovered? Do you have the emotional and financial means to defend a challenge to orphan status?
  • Read the stories of children adopted from Ethiopia. What are their concerns?
  • Thoroughly research the issues of transracial adoption and honestly evaluate whether you, your extended family, and your community are suited to parent, serve, and guide a child of another race.
  • Thoroughly research adoptive parenting and honestly evaluate whether you, your extended family, and your community have the appropriate tools to guide your child through often complex and difficult issues. Are your expectations in alignment with the realities? Are there local resources for: quality adoption education, assistance with post-institutional behaviors, and appropriate medical, educational and behavioral interventions? Are their local cultural resources and language/translation assistance? Do not assume that you can handle everything through love and faith alone.
*PEAR was scheduled to present on Panel One of the discussion, however, a family emergency kept us from sending a representative. We were invited to submit a statement to be read to participants. The text of our statement will appear shortly on our blog.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Friday, January 14, 2011

DOS Adoption Notice: Ethiopia

Adoption Notice

Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues

The Special Advisor for Children's Issues

Ambassador Susan S. Jacobs

invites you to attend

Ethiopia Adoption: Solutions into Action

January 24, 2011

9:00a.m. - 3:00p.m.

To participate via teleconference, please dial:

tel. 888-363-4749

Access Code: 6276702

How do we move forward to ethically and transparently protect children, birth families and

adoptive parents in Ethiopia?

Join us to discuss this important question with other participants, including government

agencies, UNICEF, adoption service providers and NGOs.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

DOS Adoption Alert: Kazakhstan

Adoption Alert

Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues


January 13, 2011

According to the Government of Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Education (MoE), all pending adoption dossiers that were not matched with children by December 15, 2010, will be returned and will have to be re-filed as Hague Convention cases once the Hague Convention is fully implemented. The Department of State will continue to monitor the developments in Kazakhstan and seek the confirmation of the Government of Kazakhstan when the new Hague Convention adoption process is in place. U.S. prospective adoptive parents whose dossiers are returned may refer to the description of the Hague Convention intercountry adoption process (the Form I-800A/I-800 process).

Affected prospective adoptive parents with an approved Form I-600A for Kazakhstan wishing to request a transfer of their approved Form I-600A to enable them to adopt from another non-Hague Convention country should refer to the USCIS website.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

DOS Adoption Notice: Ukraine

Adoption Notice
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues

January 12, 2011

U.S. Embassy Kyiv has learned the proposed bill to place a moratorium on intercountry adoptions in the Ukrainian parliament has once again been postponed. There has been no announcement of a rescheduled date.

In order to best prepare for all possibilities in Ukraine, Embassy Kyiv encourages any prospective adoptive parents with cases currently open in Ukraine to contact the
U.S. Embassy Kyiv Adoption Unit with their case status and contact information. 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.

The U.S. Embassy Kyiv and the Department of State will continue to post updates on their websites as new information is available.

Note from PEAR - Contact Information for Kyiv Adoption Unit:

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Legislative Alerts Concerning Adoptee Rights, Adoption and Open Records: New Jersey, California

The following legislative alerts were issued recently by CalOpen and Bastard Nation concerning pending legislation in state courts.


Heads Up! Issued by Cal Open/ JeanUhrich

Assembly Bill 73, authored by Asm. Mike Feurer, Judiciary Chair, has been

Bill Text:

Synopsis: This bill would express the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation to provide that juvenile court hearings in juvenile dependency cases shall be presumptively open to the public, unless the court finds that admitting the public would not be in a child's best interest. The bill would also include a statement of legislative findings and declarations. Public access to juvenile court hearings has the benefit of ensuring that the child welfare system can be held more accountable, and of educating the public about the needs of the child welfare system.
Bill Status: Active
Next Hearing: May be heard in committee January 21.

I know last year was difficult for so many of us. Watching AB 372 go through so many defective amendments, and then dying for lack of funding.

This year, while AB 73 does not address open records to adult adoptees, it does send California courts into an open mode on juvenile proceedings. This is so fantastic!

This post serves as a heads up! During this very week, I will begin to make contact with Asm. Feurer's Capitol Office, to learn who sponsors the bill, and what we can do to support more openness.

As many of you will remember, Cal Open met with Chair Mike Feurer on AB 372. While we were not successful in swaying that bill in 2010 to match Oregon and Alabama, it is my hope that our conversations and submissions had an impact on his view of needed change to California's child welfare and court systems. However this came about, here comes AB 73. This is a HUGE step in the right direction! 10 years ago, Cal Open partnered with some very large associations, when dealing with the threat of closure of the California Birth Index. I intend to make contact with several of those organizations, including the California Newspapers Association, to get some assistance on supporting this bill.

Within the next 46 days, until February 18th, more bills will be introduced. Cal Open will keep track of pertinent introductions, and notify members here of legislation that may affect adoptee rights and adoption in general. Unlike last year, we should be able to give adequate notice to members for e-mails, phone calls and letters to support the bill.

Jean Uhrich, CalOpen


New Jersey:

Distribute Freely




Read full text of A1406 here.
Read full text of S799 here

A1406 (companion to S799 already passed in the NJ Senate) is scheduled for a floor vote sometime in the next few weeks. Proponents of this bad bill hoped to have it on the schedule for a January 6, 2011 vote, but it's not on the list.

Please contact Assembly members immediately and urge them to VOTE NO ON A1406/S799. (Contact information below.) If you are from or in New Jersey or have a New Jersey connection, mention it in your communication.

Be sure to put: "Vote No On Adoptee Birthright Bill "in the header

Bastard Nation's letter to the Assembly is here.

A1406/S799 is: restrictive, discriminatory, creates a new, special and temporary "right" for "birthparents," and exempts the state's adopted adults from equal protection and treatment regarding the release of the government-generated public record of their births.


*includes a 12- month open enrollment period, starting after the Department of Health releases regs for A1406/S799 implementation, that allows "birthparents," to file disclosure vetoes (DV) before obcs, past and future, are unsealed

*authorizes the state to replace the original birth certificat, of those subjected to the DV with a mutilated copy of the obc with all identifying information, including the address of the parent(s) at the time of birth (if it appears on the cert) deleted.

*requires "birthparents" who file a disclosure veto to submit a family history and a possibly illegal intrusive medical form to activate the veto.

*requires "birthparents" who file a "contact preference form," which, in fact, acts as a disclosure veto, to fill out the same family history and possibly illegal intrusive medical history form to activiate the veto.

*seals by default all "safe haven" birth certificates, even though most "safe haven" babies are born in hospitals to identified mothers.

*requires adoption agencies and adoption lawyers to receive a written veto status report from the state before they can release identifying information to adoptees

*requires the state to mount an "information" campaign to inform "birthparents" of their "protection" options


Bastard Nation: The Adoptee Rights Organization opposes legislation that denies any adult adoptee access to his or her own original birth records on par with all other citizens. Please let the Assembly know that this issue is not about relationships between adoptees and their "birthparents." It is about basic human and civil rights.
Passage of bad legislation is New Jersey could easily undermine efforts of dedicated reformers who are holding the line for adoptee rights in other states.

New Jersey's A1406/S799 is an abomination in light of the restoration of the right of original birth certificate access to all persons adopted in Oregon, Alabama, and New Hampshire, and Maine. Adult adoptees and all who support adoptee rights should stand united for unrestricted access laws and not sell out just to get a bill passed! Disclosure veto legislation is unethical and unjust!

Please e-mail the New Jersey Assembly today and urge members to VOTE NO ON A1406/S799.

(write one letter, cut and past for all),,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, ,,,,,,

Drop a line to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie now and ask him to veto A1406/S799 if it hits his desk. Letters should be no more than 250 words. Use this template :

or contact him at:

Office of the Governor
PO Box 001
Trenton, NJ 08625

Bastard Nation's letter to Governor Christie is here.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

DOS Adoption Notice: Brazil

Adoption Notice
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues


We continue to work with the Brazilian government to establish how the Hague Intercountry Adoption Convention, which entered into force for the U.S. in 2008, will affect future adoptions in Brazil. The Government of Brazil has selected a potential U.S. adoption agency for accreditation in Brazil and is proceeding with its internal accrediting process. As of this date, no U.S. adoption agency has been accredited to operate in Brazil, and it may take a year for the process to be completed. Therefore, parents should expect a lengthy adoption process. Prospective adoptive parents should also be aware that children available for international adoption in Brazil are generally over 5 years of age, sibling pairs, or have special needs.

**Note: on the site this Notice is incorrectly dated January 8, 2010 when it was actually published on December 30, 2010.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.