Friday, March 25, 2011

DOS Teleconference on Guatemala Adoption

The following notice was published at the DOS website:

Teleconference on Guatemala Adoptions

Thursday March 31, 2011 @ 10:00 am – 11:00 am (EDT)

The U.S. Department of State Office of Children’s Issues Adoptions Division would like to invite prospective adoptive parents, adoption service providers, and adoption stakeholders with an interest in Guatemala adoptions to a teleconference with the Office of Children’s issues and the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to discuss the status of intercountry adoption processing in Guatemala.

The focus of the call will be primarily to provide an updated outlook for resolution of the remaining “grandfathered” adoption cases involving U.S. citizens. This update will include information from a recent trip to Guatemala during which USCIS and the Office of Children’s Issues met with Guatemalan government officials for updates on the status of “grandfathered” adoption cases still pending in Guatemala.

Please join us for this call to learn more about adoption processing in Guatemala.

To Join the Call

If you are calling from within the United States, please dial: 1-888-363-4749
If you are calling from outside the United States, please dial: +1-215-446-3662
The passcode for all callers is: 6276702

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

USCIS Publishes Information on Ethiopian Adoption

The USCIS published the following information on Ethiopian adoption on March 11, 2011:

Q&A: Adoption Processing in Ethiopia

Q. Is the U.S. Government planning to close the Ethiopian adoption program?

A. The U.S. Government supports the intercountry adoption program in Ethiopia. We will work closely with the Government of Ethiopia and other stakeholders to preserve and protect this valuable program, while also seeking to improve safeguards and ensure the program’s integrity.

Q. Is it true that the Government of Ethiopia is planning to reduce the number of adoptions that it processes?

A. On March 9, 2011, the Department of State reported that Ethiopia's Ministry of Women, Children, and Youth Affairs announced that it intends to decrease its current processing rate from approximately 50 cases per day to five cases per day, effective March 10, 2011. If this decision is implemented, prospective adoptive parents who have begun the process to adopt from Ethiopia could experience significant delays. Please check the Department of State (DOS) website at for the most recent updates.

Q. If I have a case pending in Ethiopia now, how will the new procedures announced by the Government of Ethiopia affect my case?

A. If you have already been matched with a child but have not yet finalized your adoption in the Ethiopian courts, this new procedure could lead to significant delays.

Q. Will the U.S. Government take any action in light of the Ethiopian Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs’ recent announcement?

A. The U.S. Government will continue to work closely with the Government of Ethiopia to preserve the adoption program while also seeking to improve the program’s integrity and transparency.

Q. Have any cases been denied in Ethiopia based on findings of fraud?

A. No cases from Ethiopia have been denied based on findings of fraud, and in fact, the vast majority of cases are approved. However, both USCIS and DOS have significant concerns about certain fraud indicators and patterns that suggest possible malfeasance or unethical behavior in some cases.

Q. What was the result of the January 2011 trip conducted by officials from USCIS and DOS to review adoption processing in Ethiopia?

A. The interagency site visit yielded the following observations and conclusions about adoption processing in Ethiopia:

  • In general, the children presented in Ethiopia meet the definition of orphan under U.S. law and meet the evidentiary burden required to approve the Form I-600 orphan petition
  • Various fraud indicators identified through case review suggest that there may be inappropriate activity in terms of how children are identified as available for adoption. More detailed and targeted analysis is ongoing

Q. How many cases have been transferred to USCIS Field Office Nairobi from Embassy Addis Ababa as not clearly approvable in the past year?

A. USCIS Field Office Nairobi has received fewer than 10 cases transferred from Embassy Addis Ababa in the past year. Most were private adoptions of family members.

Q. Why will more cases be sent to the USCIS Field Office in Nairobi now?

A. Due to concerns about the number of cases presented that contain inconsistent or conflicting information, USCIS anticipates that more cases will likely be transferred to USCIS Field Office Nairobi going forward. USCIS and DOS have agreed that cases submitted to Embassy Addis Ababa containing substantive inconsistencies or discrepancies should be transferred as not clearly approvable to USCIS Field Office Nairobi for appropriate action.

Q. How will I know if my case is transferred to USCIS Nairobi and what do I need to do?

A. If your case is transferred, please see the following general steps for what to expect and what may be expected of you:

Step 1Embassy Addis Ababa will inform you if your case is transferred to USCIS Nairobi.
Step 2USCIS Nairobi will confirm that your case has been received.
Step 3USCIS Nairobi will review your case and all supporting documentation and evidence to identify any potential issues, discrepancies, or concerns with such documentation or evidence and then take appropriate action.
Step 4If deemed necessary, USCIS Nairobi will send a Request for Evidence (RFE) or take other appropriate action.
Step 5You will have an opportunity to respond to such RFE or other action by working with your adoption service providers and/or orphanage director to provide the requested documentation or evidence.
Step 6USCIS Nairobi will review the information you provide, and ultimately, make a determination on your adoption petition.
Step 7USCIS Nairobi will inform you of the decision, and if your petition is approved, will return it to Embassy Addis Ababa for visa processing.

Q. If I receive a Request for Evidence, do I need a lawyer to respond?

A. You are not required to retain a lawyer to respond to a Request for Evidence. We anticipate that in a majority of these Ethiopian cases, the issues cited in the RFE can be satisfied through further investigation, clarification or correction of evidence, or gathering of additional evidence. Your adoption service providers, both on the ground in Ethiopia and in the United States, and/or orphanage representatives, should be able to help you to resolve such issues in most cases.

Q. I already began the process of adoption from Ethiopia, can I adopt from a different country now?

A. Yes. If you have already filed or if you still have a valid approval of a Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition, that specifies Ethiopia as the country from which you intend to adopt, you are permitted to request one no-fee change of country. Please click on the Change of Country link to the left for more information.

Last updated:03/11/2011

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

DOS Office of Children's Issues Overhauls Webiste

The US Department of State has redesigned its website - it is worth taking a look. One notable improvement~ all Adoption Alerts and Notices have been archived on each country-specific page for easy and complete access. Prospective adoptive parents may wish to spend some time reading through the abundance of adoption related information contained on the site.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Advocacy Alert: Adoptive Parent Petition to the Joint Council on International Child Services

An adoptive mother of a child from Ethiopia has started a petition to the JCICS to reconsider their "Emergency Campaign" to the slowdown in adoption processing in Ethiopia.

The preamble for the petition states:

This is a response of adoptive parents, prospective adoptive parents, adoptees, and others with an interest and concern in the international adoption programs with Ethiopia to the formal statement issued by the Joint Council on International Children's Services (JCICS) on their web site on March 7, 2011 and their launch of a "Emergency Campaign" on their blog on March 8, 2011.

Adoptive and prospective adoptive parents who support ethical and transparent adoptions that are in the best interests of children may wish to read and sign the petition.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Friday, March 11, 2011

PEAR's Statement on MOWA's Decision to Reduce the Number of Adoptions Processed Daily in Ethiopia

PEAR's Statement on MOWA's Decision to Reduce the Number of Adoptions Processed Daily in Ethiopia

Last week, PEAR was alerted by various sources to the Ethiopian Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MOWA) decision to reduce the number of adoptions it processes daily from 40- 50 cases down to 5 in the near future. According to these sources, the decision was based upon MOWA’s concern about corruption in the intercountry adoption process as well as a need to concentrate its limited resources on addressing the needs of its children who would likely never be adopted. On March 9, the US DOS confirmed the situation in an Adoption Alert - .

It has been PEAR’s opinion that the process in Ethiopia as it currently exists is riddled with unethical actions and policies to the point where it is almost impossible to discern an ethical adoption from an unethical adoption. We issued a statement to that effect in January 2011 and called on prospective adoptive parents to boycott Ethiopian adoptions except in the instance of waiting child (special needs) adoptions with agencies that met our very strict ethical criteria.

If MOWA has indeed committed to a slowdown based upon their concerns about corruption and their need to properly care for the children of Ethiopia, then we support and respect their decision. PEAR believes that intercountry adoption can provide a solution for many children in need of families that respects their best interests. However, PEAR believes that continuing to process large numbers of adoptions is not in the best interests of children when there are severe allegations of fraud and misconduct. We hope that in taking time to properly address each child’s case, the Ethiopian authorities will be able ensure that every adoption is an ethical adoption. The focus needs to be on the quality of adoptions rather than the quantity of adoptions. We would rather see 5 ethical adoption per day than 40 questionable adoptions. We are also pleased that the Ethiopian authorities are increasing their efforts to care for all of their vulnerable children rather than spending a disproportionate amount of their resources on processing assistance that will help only .001%* of its vulnerable child population.

At this point, we would like to urge prospective adoptive parents to exercise caution and restraint in partaking in any “Call to Action”, petition or drive to pressure the Ethiopian authorities to increase the number of adoptions processed. Remember that many of these programs are self-serving and motivated by the financial consequences of slowing adoption programs and not necessarily in the best interest of the children they purport to serve. In addition, placing undue pressure upon the government of Ethiopia to act in accordance with the wishes of non-Ethiopians may do more to harm the adoption process then to help it. Please place the needs, rights and interests of the children before your wishes to parent a child.

*According to a study conducted by the Joint Council on International Child Services, only .001% of Ethiopia’s orphans are served by intercountry adoption.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

PEAR Cautionary Statement About Private Respite Care Providers and Families Adopting from Disruptions Outside of the Child Welfare System

PEAR's Cautionary Statement About Private Respite Care Providers and Families Adopting from Disruptions Outside of the Child Welfare System
PEAR has received numerous accounts about private respite care providers and families adopting children from disruptions who are not reputable. In some cases, there have been very serious abuse allegations against these providers and families.

Adoptive parents in need of respite care or permanent placements for their children should exercise extreme caution when searching for private resources. Over the last few years, there have been several high-profile accounts of abusive "collector" families in the media. PEAR has, however, received many more reports of such families who have not been shut down by state agencies, and who continue to take in children from unsuspecting families in dire need of assistance.

Adoptive parents must know that there is no standard of care. Each state and each county is different in how they handle child abuse and neglect cases. If the allegations we have received about some respite care providers and/or families who take children through disruptions are true, many states are failing to adequately protect these children.

Although we sympathize with adoptive parents facing such a challenging situation, it must be understood that even if a family has not been charged with a crime, this does not mean abuse and neglect is not occurring in their homes.

PEAR fully understands how limited, difficult, and expensive access to good support, care, and post-adoption programs in the United States can be for many children in need. This helps explain why some adoptive parents look for help privately or within the greater adoption community. If you choose to seek out a private care arrangement for your child, please exercise caution and due diligence.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

DOS Adopton Alert Ethiopia

Ethiopia Adoption Alert
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues


Government of Ethiopia Plans Major Slow-Down in Adoption Processing

March 9, 2011

Citing the need to work on quality and focus on more important strategic issues, the Government of Ethiopia’s Ministry of Women, Children, and Youth Affairs (MOWCYA) will reduce to a maximum of five the number of adoption cases it processes per day, effective March 10, 2011. Under Ethiopian adoption procedures, MOWCYA approves every match between prospective adoptive parents and an Ethiopian child before that case can be forwarded for a court hearing. The U.S. Embassy is working with Ethiopian government officials and adoption agencies to learn more about this change in procedures. We will continue to share information as it becomes available.

Given MOWCYA's current caseload, the U.S. Embassy anticipates that this change could result in an overall decline in case processing of some 90 percent. If this change is implemented as proposed, we expect, that parents who have begun the process of adopting from Ethiopia but have not yet been matched with a child could experience significant delays. It is not clear if this change in procedures would have any significant impact on cases in which MOWCYA has already approved matches.

Prospective adoptive parents should remain in close contact with their adoption service provider to obtain updates on individual cases.

The Embassy's Adoptions Unit can be reached at

Please continue to monitor for updated information as it becomes available.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.