Monday, December 31, 2012

DOS Adoption Notice: Re-instatement of Services to U.S. Adoption Service Provider


Ethiopia  
December 31, 2012

Notice: Re-instatement of Services to U.S. Adoption Service Provider

On November 9, the Department of State posted a notice regarding the Ethiopian Ministry of Women, Children, and Youth Affairs’ temporary suspension of services to Adoption Advocates International effective September 12, 2012. 

On December 27, the Ministry informed the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa that as of November 30, 2012, it lifted the temporary suspension on services provided to Adoption Advocates International.

http://adoption.state.gov/country_information/country_specific_alerts_notices.php?alert_notice_type=notices&alert_notice_file=ethiopia_18

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

DOS Adoption Notice: U.S. Department of State Continues to Recommend Against Adopting from Nepal


Nepal 
December 31, 2012

Notice: U.S. Department of State Continues to Recommend Against Adopting from Nepal

The Nepali Ministry of Women and Child Social Welfare (MWCSW) informed the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu that as of December 2012, there are seven U.S. adoption service providers authorized to facilitate adoptions in Nepal at this time, and another ten U.S. adoption service providers whose authorization is pending payment of a $5000 fee to the Nepal Child Right Fund.  According to the MWCSW, the authorization of all adoption service providers, including those currently authorized and those with pending authorization requests, expires on December 31, 2012.  The MWCSW is currently soliciting new or renewed accreditation by international adoption service providers for dossiers submitted during a two-year period beginning on January 1, 2013.

Before embarking on an adoption in Nepal, prospective adoptive parents are strongly urged to confirm with the MWCSW that their adoption service provider is authorized to facilitate adoptions in Nepal.  Contact information for the MWCSW may be found on the Country Information Sheet for Nepal.  A copy of the MWCSW’s current list of Nepali authorized foreign adoption service providers may be obtained by writing to the U.S. Embassy at adoptionsnepal@state.gov

By way of background, on August 6, 2010, the U. S. Department of State and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) suspended processing of new adoption cases from Nepal involving children claimed to have been found abandoned because documents presented in support of the abandonment of these children in Nepal were unreliable.  Cases involving relinquishment by known birth parent(s) were not affected by the suspension.  In December 2011, the Government of Nepal informed the U.S. Department of State that there may be a small number of children who will be found eligible for intercountry adoption by the Government of Nepal as relinquishment cases.  The U.S. Department of State continues to strongly recommend that prospective adoptive parents refrain from adopting children from Nepal due to grave concerns about the reliability of Nepal’s adoption system and credible reports that children have been stolen from birth parents, who did not intend to irrevocably relinquish parental rights as required by INA 101(b)(1)(F).  We also strongly urge adoption service providers not to accept new applications for adoption from Nepal.

The U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu continues to encourage the Government of Nepal to work with the international community, including the Hague Permanent Bureau, to implement the Hague Adoption Convention and reform its adoption process to protect children and families. 

We will continue to keep you updated through adoption.state.gov as additional information is received.  This link will also provide additional information and past adoption notices and alerts on the detailed concerns found in Nepal adoptions.  Please refer to USCIS.gov for Special Instructions for How and When to File Adoption Petitions on Behalf of Nepali Children.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Saturday, December 29, 2012

PEAR Ethics Alert and Cautionary Statement on Adoptions from Democratic Republic of Congo

PEAR Ethics Alert and Cautionary Statement on Adoptions from Democratic Republic of Congo



PEAR has received a number of reports from adopting families and NGOs on the ground in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) regarding unethical conduct by adoption agencies, adopting families, local facilitators/attorneys, orphanage personnel, and officials in the DRC. These reports have come to us over the past year via informal notifications (individual emails, adoption chats, facebook postings), agency website information, blogs, media, NGO reports, US Department of State and Embassy communications, and direct communications with adopting parents and NGOs working with families and children on the ground in the DRC.

Due to the seriousness of these reports, the rapidly increasing interest in adoption from this country, and the continuing abuses of the process in the DRC, it is PEAR’s recommendation that families do not initiate new adoption applications at this time. We also recommend that those families currently in process either switch to another program, consider sponsoring a child, or, at a minimum, exercise extreme caution in pursuing adoption from DRC.  We encourage families who have recently completed or are currently in process to:
  • keep themselves aware of ethical issues and red flags for abnormal process;
  • honestly evaluate paperwork; 
  • question information they receive from orphanages and agencies;
  • question fees, especially fees above the average for an agency-assisted adoption and any “mandatory donations” made without a written receipt from the donee;
  • request itemized receipts for payments, including donations, in the US and abroad;
  • be aware that using a Hague Accredited agency does NOT guarantee an ethical and/or legal, adoption experience; and,
  • report any misgivings or suspicions concerning illegal or unethical conduct to appropriate US and Congolese officials.

In addition, we urgently call on the governments of the DRC and the United States to investigate allegations of corruption thoroughly and take any and all measures necessary to address these issues with honesty and transparency in order to protect Congolese children and families as well as US citizen prospective adoptive families. It is the duty of the US Embassies abroad to protect US citizens. Withholding critical information concerning adoption agencies, facilitators, and case trends from US adopting families is placing them at risk of involvement in illegal and/or unethical adoptions.

Ethical concerns include:

  1. Lack of proper infrastructure to support ethical adoption practices and thwart unethical, illegal processes. The DRC was recently named a “failed state” by Foreign Policy and the Fund for Peace  http://www.foreignpolicy.com/failed_states_index_2012_interactive. The lack of a proper infrastructure for child welfare, legal processes, and criminal prosecutions leaves an open invitation to the unethical conduct of adoption agencies known for unethical practices in other countries, agencies such as Celebrate Children International (an agency denied Hague accreditation despite numerous attempts, it was involved in the book about Guatemalan adoption corruption, Finding Fernanda). Although the DRC has a Child Protection Code in place, that code is rarely enforced,  earning them a Tier 2 rating by the US DOS for the 5th consecutive year. United States Department of State, 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report - Congo, Republic of the, 19 June 2012, available at: http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/4fe30cd5c.html [accessed 16 September 2012]. Additionally, frequent reports of harassment, beatings, arbitrary arrests and detentions have increased for those who attempt to  investigate and report human rights violations. 2011 Human Rights Report: Democratic Republic of the Congo Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor 2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2011/af/186183.htm
  2. Reports of extensive bribes paid to local officials by US adoption agencies and/or their local facilitators (in addition to the direct information we have received from concerned adoptive families and NGO’s, the bribery situation is openly discussed and has been for quite an extensive time, on adoption chats such as Babycenter and adoption blogs, see http://congoadoptions.blogspot.com/ for a blog roll). In fact, in their 2010 report on Human Rights on Congo, the US DOS stated: “The law provides for criminal penalties for official corruption; however, the government did not implement the law effectively, and officials engaged in corrupt practices with impunity.” http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2010/af/154341.htm the 2011 Report contains similar concerns for all levels of government, including the judiciary and police. PEAR would like to remind US agencies and families who participate in this bribery of foreign officials are subject to criminal prosecution under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, http://www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa/
  3. Reports that orphanages are not using the money donated by agencies and adopting parents for the care of children. Donations run anywhere from $800-10,000 for "humanitarian aid" and "upkeep" of the child while in their care.  These same orphanages are not accountable for their funds and repeated visits by adopting parents reveal the children in a continued neglected state and gift donations no where to be found. PEAR has received numerous notifications from both adoptive families and NGOs on the ground in DRC concerning this issue.
  4. Repeated reports from foreign NGOs and adopting families of child laundering, baby selling, kidnapping, and coercive relinquishment practices called “harvesting”.  See both What Happened? Delighted In The Lord Blog, 9/27/2012,  http://delightedinthelord.wordpress.com/2012/09/27/what-happened/) and Combatting Corruption in Congo, MLJ Adoption Blog, 6/20/2012, Sonja Brown,  http://mljadoptions.com/Media.aspx?articleID=512 for referral to criminal conduct in adoption.
  5. Program growing too quickly without being tested for stability and capacity, creating huge potential for ethical/legal issues due to unrealistic expectations by PAPs and agencies and increasing pressure on local authorities to produce “adoptable” children. In 2008, there were 9 adoptions from DRC to the US. In 2011, that number increased to 133. We have received preliminary reports that numbers for 2012 are at least double. Historically speaking, when an increase of this magnitude happens, the ethics of the program decrease as participants engage in exploitative measures to increase profits. This recently happened in Guatemala, Vietnam, and Ethiopia. While there are many vulnerable children in need of care, the competition in intercountry adoption programs for young, healthy children with “documentation” invites the use of unethical and illegal practices both in finding children and filling orphanages that are merely holding places for children destined for intercountry adoption.
  6. Inconsistent and  inexplicable fees. According to the US Embassy in Kinshana, the following fees are typical within DRC for the purposes of completing an adoption: Court fees for an adoption case average between $100 and $300.  Lawyer fees can range from $1,000 to $2,500. http://kinshasa.usembassy.gov/adoption.html Currently, some US agencies are listing “Foreign Fees” that far exceed the costs enumerated above while others appear to reflect true costs. For example, Wasatch International’s foreign fee for DRC is $15,000, whereas Lifeline lists their foreign fee as a mere $1000. MLJ Adoptions does not breakdown an exact amount for the foreign fee, listing it instead as combined with in-country services for the child pending adoption, hotel costs for the family while incountry, and deposits on post placement visits ($500), the total of which is $24,000. The average annual income in DRC is $675 per year (compare to USA $45835.5 in 2008). Lawyers fees for adoption are $1,000 to $2,500, where is the remaining money going to?

We are dismayed to make this recommendation in light of the high numbers of children in need in DCR. However, we believe that the focus in DRC has shifted from finding solutions for children in need of families to finding children to fit the needs of an increasing number prospective adoptive parents. We suspect that some agencies are unrealistically recruiting families into DRC programs to fill the financial gap caused by recent closures and slow downs in previously high-volume countries.

We encourage those interested in DCR adoptions to read the articles cited above as well as  reports contained here:


If, after reading the above, you are determined to adopt from DRC, please do everything in your power to ensure that your child is a true orphan in need of intercountry adoption as the only viable option of alternative care. Follow the tips and suggestions for those adopting from Congo that are found here: http://kitumaini.blogspot.com.

PEAR continues to monitor adoption from DRC and will update our recommendations when believe adequate controls have been put into place to ensure ethical adoptions.



Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Friday, December 28, 2012

DOS Adoption Alert: Russian President Vladimir Putin Signs Legislation to Ban Intercountry Adoption by U.S. Families into Law


Russia 
December 28, 2012

Alert: Russian President Vladimir Putin Signs Legislation to Ban Intercountry Adoption by U.S. Families into Law

On December 28, President Vladimir Putin signed Federal Law No. 186614-6 which prohibits the adoption of Russian children by U.S. families.  This law will go into effect on January 1, 2013.
The Department of State remains actively engaged with the Russian government to determine how this will impact the resolution of adoptions by U.S. families in various stages of the adoption process.  In keeping with the spirit of the current U.S.-Russia adoption agreement, we have urged the Russian government to ensure that U.S. families in the process of adopting a child from Russia will be able to complete their adoptions so that these children may join permanent loving families.
 
The Department continues to encourage U.S. families in the process of adopting a child from Russia to provide information regarding where they are in the adoption process to the Office of Children’s Issues using the subject line “Intercountry adoption in Russia – family update.”  An email address has been set up for this correspondence: Russiaadoption@state.gov.  Those families that have already provided information to AskCI@state.gov do not need to resend their information.   As more information is obtained we will reach out directly to families that have provided their contact information.  Further information regarding intercountry adoption from Russia will also be posted on www.adoption.state.gov.

In Russia, U.S. citizen adoptive parents who completed an adoption, received a Russian passport for their child, and have filed or are ready to file Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, and apply for the immigrant visa at U.S. Embassy Moscow should call +7-495-728-5000 or email the Moscow U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Field Office at Moscow.dhs@dhs.gov to request assistance.  Absent additional information about the impact of the law, families who have received immigrant visas for their children should make every effort to depart Russia before January 1.

http://adoption.state.gov/country_information/country_specific_alerts_notices.php?alert_notice_type=alerts&alert_notice_file=russia_6


Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Russian Adoption: Important Information for Families in Process

The US Department of State, Office of Children's Issues and the USCIS are requesting that families in process of adopting from Russia use the following contacts for issues surrounding the adoption ban.


1. For families currently in Russia who have all documents needed for filing the I600 (birth certificate, adoption decree, Russian passport for child), or who will be able to obtain all documents by the close of business on Saturday, December 29, please contact the US Embassy in Moscow immediately. A task force has been set up to process your child's I600 and visa within one day. Email: moscow.dhs@dhs.gov

2. For families in process of adopting at any stage of the adoption, please register your information with DOS Office of Children's Issues by using the following email address: russiaadoption@state.gov. Please place "Intercountry Adoption Russia - Family Update" in the Subject line. Please discontinue using the ASKCI@state.gov address for family registration. Please do not use the russiaadoption@state.gov address if you are not a family in process.

PEAR strongly encourages families to reach out to the DOS/OCI and the US Embassy in Moscow for direct communication and advocacy of your cases. There is little need at this time to register your information with other organizations. DOS will have the information needed before any other entity and will be sure to provide consistent and vigilant advocacy on behalf of waiting families. PEAR will closely monitor developments and may suggest other courses of action in the coming days.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

President Putin Signs Legislation Banning Adoption to US Citizens

US DOS Press Release: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2012/12/202401.htm

Statement on Russia's Yakovlev Act


Press Statement
Patrick Ventrell
Acting Deputy Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
December 28, 2012


We deeply regret Russia’s passage of a law ending inter-country adoptions between the United States and Russia and restricting Russian civil society organizations that work with American partners. American families have adopted over 60,000 Russian children over the past 20 years, and the vast majority of these children are now thriving thanks to their parents’ loving support. The Russian government’s politically motivated decision will reduce adoption possibilities for children who are now under institutional care. We regret that the Russian government has taken this step rather than seek to implement the bilateral adoption agreement that entered into force in November. We are further concerned about statements that adoptions already underway may be stopped and hope that the Russian government would allow those children who have already met and bonded with their future parents to finish the necessary legal procedures so that they can join their families.
The limitations imposed by the Act on Russian civil society’s ability to work with American partners will also make it more difficult for Russian and American non-governmental organizations to cooperate in areas as diverse as human rights advocacy, open government, and electoral transparency. The United States remains committed to supporting the development of civil society and the democratic process around the world, including in Russia.


PRN: 2012/2019

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

DOS Adoption Alert: Federation Council approves Legislation to Ban Intercountry Adoption by U.S. Families


Russia  
December 26, 2012

Adoption Alert: Federation Council approves Legislation to Ban Intercountry Adoption by U.S. Families


The Department of State continues to follow developments in Russia related to Federal Law No. 186614-6 and remains actively engaged in discussions with the Russian government regarding concerns that, if signed into law, this legislation will needlessly remove the opportunity for hundreds of Russian orphans to join loving families each year.  The Federation Council (the upper house of the Russian Parliament) approved the legislation in a unanimous vote on December 26 and it will now go to President Vladimir Putin for signature or veto.  The Department of State has not received any notice that adoptions to the United States are suspended, and both the Department of State and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services continue to work closely with Russian authorities on intercountry adoption issues as set forth in the U.S.-Russia adoption agreement.

U.S. families currently in the process of adopting a child from Russia are encouraged to reach out to the Department of State at AskCI@state.gov to provide information regarding where they are in the adoption process.  We encourage families to use the subject line “Intercountry adoption in Russia – family update.”  We will seek to provide information directly to families that contact our office through email as it becomes available.  Information regarding the passage of any legislation that affects U.S. citizens who are in the process of adopting a child from Russia will also be posted on adoption.state.gov.

http://adoption.state.gov/country_information/country_specific_alerts_notices.php?alert_notice_type=alerts&alert_notice_file=russia_5

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Saturday, December 22, 2012

PEAR’s Statement on Russia’s Potential Ban of Intercountry Adoption by United States Citizens

PEAR’s Statement on Russia’s Potential Ban of Intercountry Adoption by United States Citizens


On December 21, 2012, Russia’s legislature overwhelming supported the proposed Federal Law No 186614-6, also known as the Dima Yakovlev Law, which includes dissolving the current Bi-lateral Agreement on Adoption and bans the adoption of Russian children by US Citizens. The proposed Russian law contains other provisions that bar travel and the running of NGOs by US citizens. Dima Yakovlev Law was written in retaliatory response to the U.S. passage of the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act, which imposes sanctions against Russian officials perceived by the U.S. to be guilty of human rights violations in Russia.

We at PEAR are deeply concerned with the manipulation of children’s issues as a retaliatory weapon and wish to express our opposition to such practices. We understand the Russian government’s concern with the past death and abuse cases by American adoptive parents, and agree that much more should be done to vet adoption agencies, adoptive parents, and post-placement issues. However, the U.S. and Russian governments, with the assistance of numerous children’s rights and adoption advocacy organizations, spent years carefully crafting a bi-lateral agreement to expressly address those concerns and prevent further instances. This agreement was approved by both governments and came into force on November 1 of this year. The Dima Yakovlev Law is not a response to Russia’s concerns over the safety of its children--it is the misuse of a highly emotional children’s issue in attempt to manipulate the U.S. government.

At this point, the Dima Yakovlev Law will become the law of Russia upon the approval of the Federation Council and the signature of President Vladimir Putin. We call on both the Federal Council and President Putin to withhold approval and remove all adoption related provisions. Children should not be used as political pawns.

We suggest that U.S. citizens wishing to advocate for the continuation of adoption from Russia contact the Russian Embassy in Washington DC with your concerns as well your U.S. representatives and senators. In addition, you may wish to participate in a petition, authored by a U.S. citizen adopted from Russia, supporting the continuation of adoptions. That petition, entitled Voice of the Child, can be found here:  http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/voice-of-the-child.html.


Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Friday, December 21, 2012

DOS Adoption Alert: Status of Russian Adoption Legislation


Russia  
December 21, 2012
Alert: Legislation to Ban Intercountry Adoption by U.S. Families Passes the Russian Duma and Moves to the Federation Council for Review 

The Department of State continues to follow developments in Russia’s legislature related to Federal Law No 186614-6 and remains actively engaged with the Russian government.  We are concerned by measures in the bill, approved by the Russian Duma with overwhelming support today, that ban the adoption of Russian children by U.S. families.  In order for this legislation to become law it requires approval by the Federation Council (the upper house of the Russian Parliament), and the signature of President Vladimir Putin.  The Department has expressed concern to the Russian government that, if signed into law, this legislation will needlessly remove the path to families for hundreds of Russian children each year.  To view the public statements by Ambassador Michael McFaul and the Department of State’s Spokesman on Federal Law No 186614-6, please visit the U.S. Embassy in Moscow’s website at: http://moscow.usembassy.gov/ and www.state.gov.

The Department of State has not received any notice that adoptions to the United States are suspended, and both the Department of State and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services continue to work closely with Russian authorities on intercountry adoption issues as set forth in the U.S.-Russia adoption agreement.  The United States is committed to upholding the provisions of the agreement negotiated between the U.S. and Russian governments, to strengthen procedural safeguards in the adoption process.

Information regarding the passage of any legislation that affects U.S. citizens who are in the process of adopting a child from Russia will be posted on www.adoption.state.gov as it becomes available.

http://adoption.state.gov/country_information/country_specific_alerts_notices.php?alert_notice_type=alerts&alert_notice_file=russia_4

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

DOS Adoption Notice: Vietnam Update


Vietnam December 2012
Notice: Special Advisor Jacobs Visits Vietnam 

Special Advisor for Children’s Issues Ambassador Susan Jacobs recently met with host government officials in Vietnam to discuss Vietnam’s current progress on adoption reform to meet obligations under the Hague Convention and improve child welfare.  Vietnam became a party to the Hague Adoption Convention (the Convention) February 1, 2012, and is working on fully implementing a new adoption law, related decrees, and a public information strategy.  On September 7, 2012 the Prime Minister of Vietnam approved the three-year National Project designed to implement the Convention.  The United States continues to support Vietnam’s efforts to enhance its child welfare system and intercountry adoption process. 

Based on the information gathered from the Government of Vietnam and other adoption stakeholders, the Department is currently assessing whether consular officers will be able to certify that individual adoptions will comply with the Convention, the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000, and U.S. implementing regulations.

We continue to caution adoption service providers and prospective adoptive parents that important steps must still take place to ensure that adoptions between Vietnam and the United States will comply with the Convention, U.S. law, and implementing regulations before intercountry adoptions between the United States and Vietnam may resume.  Adoption service providers should not initiate, nor claim to initiate, adoption programs in Vietnam until they receive notification from the Department of State that it will resume processing Convention adoption visa applications in Vietnam.
Updated information will be provided on adoption.state.gov as it becomes available.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

DOS Adoption Notice: Re-instatement of Services to U.S. Adoption Service Provider


Ethiopia  
December 11, 2012

Notice: Re-instatement of Services to U.S. Adoption Service Provider

On November 9, the Department of State posted a notice regarding the Ethiopian Ministry of Women, Children, and Youth Affairs’ temporary suspension of services to International Adoption Guides effective September 12, 2012. 
On December 4, the Ministry informed the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa that as of November 30, 2012, it lifted the temporary suspension on services provided to International Adoption Guides.

http://adoption.state.gov/country_information/country_specific_alerts_notices.php?alert_notice_type=notices&alert_notice_file=ethiopia_16

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

DOS Adoption Notice: Status of EthioStork International Social Service Consultants


Ethiopia  
December 11, 2012

Notice: Status of EthioStork International Social Service Consultants

The Ethiopian Ministry of Women, Children, and Youth Affairs requested the Department of State provide clarification to U.S. families on the licensing of the organization, EthioStork International Social Service Consultants.  The Ministry informed the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa that the organization EthioStork is not licensed to facilitate intercountry adoption by the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Charities and Societies Agency.  The organization is licensed to provide consultancy services by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and social affairs counseling services by the Addis Ababa City Administration Trade and Industrial Development Bureau.
For additional information on agencies licensed in Ethiopia to provide services related to intercountry adoption, please refer to the List of Adoption Agencies Registered in Ethiopia on the website of Embassy of Ethiopia in Washington, D.C.

http://adoption.state.gov/country_information/country_specific_alerts_notices.php?alert_notice_type=notices&alert_notice_file=ethiopia_17


Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

DOS Adoption Notice: Update on Intercountry Adoptions in Guatemala


Guatemala December 11, 2012
Notice: Update on Intercountry Adoptions in Guatemala
 
The following is an update on issues and developments in Guatemalan adoptions.  We also take this opportunity to remind adopting parents and others that the U.S. government is not a party to these pending adoption cases and cannot represent the interests of parties in private legal matters.  Thus, we may not be informed of or be entitled to receive information pertaining to proceedings in specific cases.

Joint USCIS-State Delegation to Guatemala October 23-25

From October 23-25, a joint USCIS-Department of State delegation traveled to Guatemala to meet with government officials from the Ministerio Publico (MP), the Procuraduría General de la Nación (PGN), the Guatemalan National Council on Adoption (CNA),and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  In case-by-case discussions of the “Universal List” of all known pending grandfathered adoptions of Guatemalan children by U.S. citizen prospective adoptive parents, the visiting delegation encouraged Guatemalan officials to quicken resolution of all these cases in the best interests of the children, and to complete those cases while the PGN still has additional investigators funded through the end of 2012.      
During these discussions, Guatemalan authorities reiterated that some of the notario cases may not be able to proceed under the notario process when the investigation reveals that the case does not fall within the parameters of the relevant law.  However, if a judge makes a finding of adoptability for the child, such a case may be considered eligible under the CNA’s acuerdo process.  USCIS and the Department of State continue to work closely with Guatemalan authorities to bring pending cases to resolution. 

CNA Acuerdo Update

Since January 2012, the CNA has referred17 cases to the U.S. Embassy for final adoption processing as acuerdo cases, and has identified others that it considered eligible to move through the acuerdo process. 
Note:  Only the CNA can determine whether cases are eligible under the CNA Acuerdo.  The Office of Children’s Issues, USCIS, and the U.S. Embassy, if informed in a specific case, can only comment on whether or not the CNA has initiated the case, and if so, what documents the CNA requires.  The Office of Children’s Issues can also provide general information on the CNA process.

Other News

The PGN and CNA have informed the U.S. Embassy of approximately 85 children who are no longer available for adoption because the child was either reunited with the biological family or placed in domestic adoption.  Upon receiving written confirmation of this from the Guatemalan government, USCIS informed the U.S. families associated with those cases.

Visas statistics

From May 1, 2012, until today, the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala has issued five IR-3 adoption visas.  These visa statistics represent only the cases which have completed all processing steps with Guatemalan authorities, USCIS Guatemala, and the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy.  

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Monday, December 10, 2012

DOS Announces Colorado Department of Human Services to end role as accrediting entity

Colorado Department of Human Services to end role as accrediting entity

December 10, 2012
 
The U.S. Department of State and the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) signed a final one year extension of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that designates CDHS as an accrediting entity for Hague adoption service providers. The MOA will expire on November 29, 2013, or the date when the Council on Accreditation (COA) assumes oversight of all adoption service providers currently accredited by CDHS, (whichever date is earlier). CDHS will discontinue its role as an accrediting entity after the MOA expires. The U.S. Department of State, CDHS and COA are working closely to implement a smooth transition plan for the eight CDHS accredited adoption service providers, and will convey detailed information directly to the affected adoption service providers.

http://adoption.state.gov/about_us/colorado_human_services_end_accreditation.php


Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Ambassador Jacobs, Special Advisor for Children's Issues Travels to Ethiopia

Special Advisor for Children's Issues Travels to Ethiopia
Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
December 6, 2012



Special Advisor for Children’s Issues Ambassador Susan Jacobs will visit Ethiopia from December 7-13. She will meet with Ethiopian Government officials to discuss intercountry adoptions and the implementation of the Pre-Adoption Immigration Review (PAIR) program. Jacobs will also meet with non-governmental organizations to discuss the importance of standards of practice to protect children and families.
For more information about children’s issues, please visit: ChildrensIssues.state.gov
For updates on Special Advisor Jacobs’ trip, follow her on Twitter: @ChildrensIssues
For press inquiries please contact CAPRESSREQUESTS@state.gov or (202) 647-1488.


Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Kyryzstan Update: Reports Indicate Minister Aquitted, Assistant Guilty in Bribery Cases

24.kg media is reporting that Ex-minister of Social Development Ravshan Sabirov was acquitted and his assistant Takhir Mirzakhmedov was sentenced to 6 years of imprisonment in the bribery cases uncovered this summer. http://eng.24.kg/community/2012/11/21/26577.html

This updates previous posts to PEAR's blog: http://pear-now.blogspot.com/search?q=kyrgyzstan


Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

DOS Adoption Alert: The Hague Adoption Convention Enters into Force for Lesotho

Lesotho
December 5, 2012

Alert: The Hague Adoption Convention Enters into Force for Lesotho

On December 1, 2012 the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-Operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Convention) entered into force for Lesotho.  However, the Government of Lesotho notified the U.S. Embassy in Maseru that the Government of Lesotho is suspending receipt of new adoption applications from all receiving states until March 1, 2013, to give the country time to put a fully functional Convention process in place. 

Adoptions initiated prior to December 1, 2012 may be considered transition cases, and therefore will be able to complete the pre-Convention adoption process.  Transition cases are defined as those in which:
  • Prior to December 1, 2012, a prospective adoptive parent filed a Form I-600A with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services identifying Lesotho as the country of origin, filed a Form I-600, or completed the adoption; and
  • The child was “officially matched” with prospective adoptive parents prior to December 1, 2012.  The Ministry of Social Development defines an official match as one in which the match was made during a matching meeting chaired by a Ministry official, and involving representatives of Lesotho childcare facilities and adoption service providers.
We caution adoption service providers and prospective adoptive parents that intercountry adoptions between the United States and Lesotho will not resume until steps are taken to ensure that intercountry adoptions from Lesotho comply with the Convention.  Adoption service providers should neither initiate nor claim to initiate adoption programs in Lesotho until the Department of State notifies them that the Government of Lesotho has lifted its temporary suspension of intercountry adoptions and that Lesotho’s procedures meet the requirements of the Convention.

The Department of State will provide updated information on adoption.state.gov as it becomes available.  If you have any 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.  Email inquiries may be directed to AdoptionUSCA@state.gov

http://adoption.state.gov/country_information/country_specific_alerts_notices.php?alert_notice_type=alerts&alert_notice_file=lesotho_1

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Friday, November 30, 2012

DOS Adoption Alert: Freeze on New Intercountry Adoption Applications

India
November 30, 2012

Alert: Freeze on New Intercountry Adoption Applications

Effective December 1, 2012, India will not accept new applications for intercountry adoptions from the United States. or other foreign adoption service providers until further notice, in order to clear a backlog of existing cases.

Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) will continue to process applications registered prior to December 1, 2012.  We will provide an update when CARA begins accepting new applications.
If you have any questions, please contact us by phone at 1-888-407-4747 or e-mail us at adoptionUSCA@state.gov.  

http://adoption.state.gov/country_information/country_specific_alerts_notices.php?alert_notice_type=alerts&alert_notice_file=india_1

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

DOS Adoption Notice: Update on Inter-country Adoptions in Cambodia

Cambodia
November 30, 2012

Notice: Update on Inter-country Adoptions in Cambodia

The Special Advisor for Children's Issues, Ambassador Susan Jacobs, met with host government officials in Cambodia on October 28 and 29 regarding Cambodia’s efforts to meet obligations under the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption (the Convention).  The United States continues to support Cambodia's efforts to improve its child welfare system and intercountry adoption process.
We welcome Cambodia's efforts to implement fully its new law on intercountry adoption.

The Cambodian government has indicated that it intends to begin accepting adoption petitions on January 1, 2013.  Based on this information, the Department of State is currently assessing whether consular officers will be able to certify that individual adoptions will comply with the Convention, the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000, and U.S. implementing regulations.  The Department has made no decision as to when intercountry adoptions between the United States and Cambodia will resume.

We continue to caution adoption service providers (ASPs) and prospective adoptive parents that important steps must still take place to ensure that adoptions between Cambodia and the United States comply with the Convention, the U.S. law, and implementing regulations before intercountry adoptions between the United States and Cambodia may resume.  ASPs should not initiate, nor claim to initiate, adoption programs in Cambodia until they receive notification from the Department of State that it will resume processing Convention adoption visa applications in Cambodia.
Updated information will be provided on adoption.state.gov as it becomes available.

http://adoption.state.gov/country_information/country_specific_alerts_notices.php?alert_notice_type=notices&alert_notice_file=cambodia_4
Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Monday, November 26, 2012

DOS Adoption Notice: New Malian Law Potentially Restricts Intercountry Adoptions

Mali
November 26, 2012

Notice: New Malian Law Potentially Restricts Intercountry Adoptions
In December 2011, the Malian National Assembly passed a new Code of Person and the Family. The Code includes a provision that could be interpreted to mean that only Malian nationals would be allowed to complete intercountry adoptions of Malian children. While the Malian Presidency did not issue a decree that the law is in effect, the U.S. Embassy in Bamako notes that some local officials and judges are applying the law. U.S. prospective adoptive parents who are adopting from Mali may encounter delays because of the confusion about the Code.

The U.S. Embassy in Bamako is seeking clarification from the Malian central authority, Direction Nationale de l’Enfant et de la Famille, on when the law will take effect and whether the relevant provision would prevent U.S. citizens who are not also Malian nationals from adopting from Mali. We encourage adoption service providers and prospective adoptive parents considering initiating new adoptions from Mali to refrain from starting the process until further information is available.
The Department of State will provide updated information on adoption.state.gov as it becomes available. If you have any 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. Email inquiries may be directed to AdoptionUSCA@state.gov.

http://adoption.state.gov/country_information/country_specific_alerts_notices.php?alert_notice_type=notices&alert_notice_file=mali_1

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Friday, November 23, 2012

Adverse Action: Children of Africa Enterprises/Hope Adoption Agency loses Hague Accreditation

DOS Notice: Children of Africa Enterprises/Hope Adoption Agency loses Hague Accreditation
November 20, 2012

On November 8, 2012 the Council on Accreditation (COA) canceled the Hague accreditation of Children of Africa Enterprises/Hope Adoption Agency (“Hope”) for failing to maintain substantial compliance with the U.S. accreditation standards at 22 Code of Federal Regulations Part 96 Subpart F.  Prior to this date, Hope was a Hague accredited adoption service provider authorized to operate in both Hague and non-Hague countries.

As a result of this cancellation, Hope must cease to provide all adoption services in connection with cases covered under the Hague Adoption Convention.  This adoption service provider currently operates in Ethiopia.  Please note that according to U.S. regulations, this cancellation will not affect Hope’s ability to work in non-Hague countries.  Persons with an open case with Hope may contact the adoption service provider directly to find out whether and how the cancellation may affect your adoption services.

The cancellation of accreditation for Hope was effective on November 8, 2012. Updated information will be provided on the adoption.state.gov website.

http://adoption.state.gov/about_us/children_of_africa_loses_accreditation.php

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Saturday, November 10, 2012

DOS Adoption Notice: Ethiopia - Suspension of Services to U.S. Adoption Service Providers

Ethiopia
November 9, 2012

Notice: Suspension of Services to U.S. Adoption Service Providers

The Ministry of Women, Children, and Youth Affairs informed the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa that as of September 12, 2012, the Ministry temporarily suspended services to International Adoption Guides and Adoption Advocates International.  This suspension follows reports of abuse to Ethiopian adoptees placed with U.S. families by these agencies.  This suspension of services applies to new cases only.  While court hearings may be assigned, the suspension of services may prevent a final decision from the Federal First Instance Court, or a final decree from the Ministry, from being issued.  The Ministry indicated that this action is temporary, and that a final determination will only be made once the Ministry has sufficient opportunity to investigate the abuse cases and to review the actions taken by the agencies to address the situation.
The Department of State will post further information regarding this matter as it becomes available on adoption.state.gov.
http://adoption.state.gov/country_information/country_specific_alerts_notices.php?alert_notice_type=notices&alert_notice_file=ethiopia_15

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

DOS Adoption Notice: Morocco Ministry of Justice Provides Prosecutors New Instructions on Kafala Guardianship Decrees

Morocco
November 6, 2012 
 
Notice: Ministry of Justice Provides Prosecutors New Instructions on Kafala Guardianship Decrees 
 
On September 21, 2012, Justice Minister El Mostapha Ramid published a notice instructing Moroccan Prosecutors to formally oppose a petition filed with a juvenile judge seeking the granting of Kafala guardianship decrees to prospective adoptive foreign parents who are not resident in Morocco.  In his notice, he asks the Prosecutors to emphasize the importance of in-country residency for the Kafala guardianship with the court judges, verify whether the prospective adoptive parents reside in Morocco, and request that judges not issue Kafala orders to foreign prospective adoptive parents (PAPs) who are not residing in Morocco.  The notice states that it is difficult for the courts to ensure that conditions of the Kafala guardianship are met when the child is taken abroad by foreign parents and notes it needs to be possible for courts to cancel the guardianship in cases of failure to comply.  The Minister’s notice appears to indicate that Kafala guardianship should only be granted to Muslim families who are long-term residents in Morocco.

The notice states that its purpose is to ensure the implementation of the existing law.  It does not contain any provisions addressing already pending Kafala guardianship petitions.  At this time, it is unclear whether prosecutors will formally oppose petitions for Kafala guardianship decrees filed by U.S. citizens which were already pending with the Court at the time the notice was issued.
 
U.S. citizens wishing to obtain Kafala guardianship of Moroccan children should be aware that the Prosecutors are now obligated to confirm the prospective parents’ Moroccan residency and the courts are requested to deny Kafala orders to foreign PAPs who do not reside in Morocco.  Please continue to monitor adoption.state.gov for updated information.

http://adoption.state.gov/country_information/country_specific_alerts_notices.php?alert_notice_type=notices&alert_notice_file=morocco_2

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Thursday, November 1, 2012

DOS Alert: Russia - Text of Agreement and FAQ

Russia
November 1, 2012 
 
Alert: Department of State and Russian Authorities issue joint statement on Adoption Agreement's entry into force
The Agreement between the United States of America and the Russian Federation Regarding Cooperation in Adoption of Children (the Agreement) entered into force on November 1, 2012, following the exchange of diplomatic notes between the U.S. and Russian governments. 
The Agreement will provide additional safeguards to better protect the welfare and interests of children and all parties involved in intercountry adoptions.  To find out more about the agreement, please visit the Department of State's FAQs.

http://adoption.state.gov/country_information/country_specific_alerts_notices.php?alert_notice_type=alerts&alert_notice_file=russia_3

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Two DOS Adoption Notices for Lesotho Published Today

DOS has published two Adoption Notices concerning Lesotho today. One concerns adoption agencies wishing to assist with adoption from Lesotho and the other concerns information for families looking to adopt. Lesotho has become a Hague Partner Country and the Hague Convention will enter into force on December 1, 2012 for adoptions from Lesotho. Recent adoption statistics from Lesotho show a small number of adoptions each year: FY 2011- 10; FY 2010 - 11; FY 2009 - 2; FY 2008 - 1; FY 2007 - 0; FY 2006 - 4. We caution adoption service providers and prospective adoptive parents against overwhelming the country's new Hague program with an abundance of applications.


Lesotho
October 31, 2012 
Notice: Ministry of Social Developing Accepting Applications from Hague Accredited Adoption Service Providers that Wish to Facilitate Adoptions in Lesotho
On June 18, 2012, the Kingdom of Lesotho deposited its instrument of accession to the Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption Convention (Hague Adoption Convention) with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the NetherlandsOn August 24 the Kingdom of Lesotho designated the Ministry of Social Development as the Central Authority for the Convention.  The Hague Adoption Convention will enter into force for Lesotho on December 1.

The Ministry of Social Development, Lesotho’s Central Authority under the Hague Adoption Convention, is accepting applications from Hague accredited adoption service providers who wish to facilitate the adoption of eligible Mosotho children by qualified U.S. citizen prospective adoptive parents.  The Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho wishes to select an adoption service provider who meets the following criteria:
  • Hague accredited;
  • Experienced in helping the sending country establish and run a successful domestic adoption program;
  • Experience working in Africa;
  • Experience working in a country with a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS; and
  • Experience working in a country of orphaned and double-orphaned children.
Interested adoption service providers may submit their application, or direct inquiries, directly to:

Mrs. Limakatso Chisepo
Principal Secretary
Ministry of Social Development
Parliament Road
Maseru 100, Lesotho
Telephone:  226 58038783
Email:  selloaneqhobela@yahoo.com
Please continue to monitor adoption.state.gov for updated information.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Thursday, October 25, 2012

DOS Adoption Notice: Taiwan - PAIR Process

Taiwan
October 25, 2012 
 
Notice: United States and Taiwan to Discuss Implementation of a Pre-Adoption Immigration Review (PAIR) Process
 
From September 17–24, 2012, a joint Department of State and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) technical team traveled to Taiwan to discuss the intercountry adoption process between Taiwan and the United States.  The team met with the Taiwan authorities regarding the possibility of implementing a Pre-Adoption Immigration Review (PAIR) process.  This process would provide Taiwan courts with information regarding the child’s likely eligibility to immigrate to the United States before the court enters an order establishing a permanent legal relationship between the U.S. citizen parents and the child.  Taiwan authorities indicated a desire to implement the PAIR process in Taiwan soon.

The PAIR process would provide systematic safeguards for prospective adoptive children and parents.  Under PAIR, USCIS reviews a child’s eligibility to immigrate to the United States before a final adoption order or custody order transfers rights to adopting U.S. parents.  Such a review can prevent situations in which U.S. families cannot bring their adopted child to the United States.  Additionally, the PAIR process will minimize the possibility of long separations from the child after the adoption or custody decree is issued while waiting for the U.S. authorities to review the child’s immigration eligibility.  However, per U.S. law, the definitive finding of the child’s immigration eligibility would still be made at the time of the adjudication.

To implement PAIR, Taiwan authorities intend to require all licensed adoption service providers operating in Taiwan to submit evidence to the Taiwan courts in each adoption case that USCIS has conducted a PAIR review.

If Taiwan authorities make this procedural change, USCIS will implement a process to allow prospective adoptive parents to obtain a PAIR determination before submitting adoption cases to the appropriate court in Taiwan.  Specifically, the PAIR process would allow prospective adoptive parents adopting from Taiwan to file their Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, with all supporting documentation except the final adoption decree, with USCIS before filing their case with the courts in Taiwan.  After reviewing the child’s immigration eligibility, USCIS would issue a preliminary determination to prospective adoptive parents of the child’s immigration eligibility.

USCIS and the State Department will continue to update the public of any new developments on PAIR processing in Taiwan.

http://adoption.state.gov/country_information/country_specific_alerts_notices.php?alert_notice_type=notices&alert_notice_file=taiwan_1


Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

DOS Adoption Alert: Honduras

Honduras
October 25, 2012 
Alert: The Honduran Adoption Authority, Instituto Hondureño de la Niñez y la Familia (IHNFA), has Resumed Normal Operations
This alert updates the alert published on October 17, 2012 regarding the temporary closure of the Instituto Hondureño de la Niñez y la Familia (IHNFA), due to a labor strike.  U.S. Embassy Tegucigalpa confirmed that as of Friday, October 19, 2012, the strike ended and IHNFA is operating normally.  Prospective adoptive parents with cases currently pending with IHNFA are encouraged to seek updates on their cases from their adoption service provider.

http://adoption.state.gov/country_information/country_specific_alerts_notices.php?alert_notice_type=alerts&alert_notice_file=honduras_1


Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Updates from Philippine Adoption Authority (ICAB)

The Australian Central Authority under the Hague has published the following information on its intercountry adoption web pages. Please note that despite the fact that the Australian government states this information was made available to all Central Authorities in September 2012, the US DOS has not published any updated information concerning the Philippine program since the winter of 2011.  For US families and agencies considering a Philippine adoption program, PEAR recommends that you contact the US DOS Office of Children's Issues to confirm the information provided in the statement below. Phone: 1-888-407-4747; 202-501-4444    E-mail: AskCI@state.gov


Key points:
The Intercountry Adoption Board of the Philippines (ICAB) has:
  1. introduced a quota system
  2. lifted its moratorium on adoption applications for children below the age of 25 months, and
  3. revised their definition of an 'older child'.
Details:
Introduction of a quota system
ICAB has advised all of its partner organisations of the introduction of a new quota system.

ICAB has advised each organisation, including each of Australia's State and Territory Central Authorities, of the number of:
  • applications they may send to ICAB over the remainder of 2012 and in 2013, and
  • adoption placement proposals they may expect from ICAB in 2012 and 2013.
ICAB plans to re-assess the quota for 2013 in March 2013.

Through this quota system, ICAB aims to reduce waiting times to an average of 1.5 years by ensuring the number of applications received from a partner organisation does not exceed the average number of placement proposals made through that organisation.

NOTE: The quota system does not apply to applications to adopt a child with special needs, an older child or a sibling group. Please also note the information below regarding ICAB's revised definition of 'older child'.

For more information about the quota in your jurisdiction, or about adopting a child with special needs, please contact your State or Territory Central Authority.

Lifting of moratorium
ICAB have also advised that they have lifted the moratorium on adoption applications for children below the age of 25 months.

This means that, subject to the quota system outlined above, ICAB will now accept applications from Australian families approved to care for children aged 0-24 months.

The moratorium was introduced in 2009 in response to the large number of applications ICAB had received to adopt children aged under the age of 25 months, compared to the relatively small number of children in this age group in need of overseas families.

Definition of 'older child'
ICAB have revised their definition of an older child.

Previously, a child was considered to have special needs on the basis of age if they were over 8 years old.

ICAB have advised us that a child who is over the age of 6 will now be considered to have special needs on the basis of age.

Please contact your State or Territory Central Authority if you have any questions about the changes to the Philippines program.

http://www.ag.gov.au/Intercountryadoption/Whatsnew/Pages/default.aspx#PhilippinesSept12

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

DOS Adoption Notice: Colombia's revised procedures for determining children's eligibility for intercountry adoption

Colombia
October 22, 2012 
Notice: Colombia's revised procedures for determining children's eligibility for intercountry adoption
 
Colombia's Institute for Family Welfare (ICBF) recently announced revised procedures for determining a child’s eligibility for intercountry adoption, which may affect some adoptions involving U.S. families. This process is known in Colombia as the “re-establishment of rights.” ICBF implemented these new procedures as a result of a November 2011 Constitutional Court ruling that ICBF was not fully considering the rights of, and opportunities for placement with, biological and extended families before placing a child for domestic or intercountry adoption.

To comply with the Constitutional Court decision, ICBF has been reviewing approximately 1,300 declarations of adoptability to ensure they meet the revised procedures. ICBF has identified a number of cases in which the adoption eligibility determination for a child does not meet the new standards. ICBF has placed an administrative hold on these cases until it is satisfied that the adoptability determination is evaluated as to whether there might be an extended family member who could care for the child.  ICBF will notify prospective adoptive families that have been matched with children whose cases require evaluation. For privacy reasons, ICBF cannot inform the prospective adoptive families of the specific reasons for the review, and ICBF cannot offer any guarantee of the final outcome of the review.

As of September 2012, the U.S. Embassy in Bogota is aware of six instances involving U.S. families whose adoption proceedings required review; one adoption has since been finalized. These reviews represent a small percentage of the total number of intercountry adoptions between Colombia and the United States, and the Embassy continues to work with ICBF to encourage timely resolution. Families who learn that their adoption has been placed on hold should inform the U.S. Embassy in Bogota by contacting IVBogota@state.gov.

In addition to these formal reviews, both ICBF and the Colombian family court system appear to be scrutinizing proposed adoptions more carefully. Prospective adoptive families may experience delays while ICBF evaluates a family’s suitability before finalizing the match with an available child. The issuance of the adoption decree by a family court judge may also take longer than in the past. Families should anticipate spending six to eight weeks in Colombia to obtain the final adoption decree. Given these delays, the Embassy strongly advises all families with less than three months’ validity left on USCIS fingerprint results to make arrangements with USCIS (NBC.Hague@dhs.gov) to update these before traveling to Colombia to complete the adoption.

The Department of State will provide updated information on adoption.state.gov as it becomes available. If you have any 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. E-mail inquiries may be directed to AdoptionUSCA@state.gov.

http://adoption.state.gov/country_information/country_specific_alerts_notices.php?alert_notice_type=notices&alert_notice_file=colombia_1

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Thursday, October 18, 2012

DOS Adoption Alert: Haiti Update


October 17, 2012 
 
Alert: Update On Haiti's New Adoption Procedures
 
This alert updates the Department of State’s September 14, 2012 notice pertaining to Haiti’s new administrative adoption procedures.

Haiti’s adoption authority, Institut du Bien-Être Social et de Recherches (IBESR), has postponed the effective date of the new administrative adoption procedures from October 1 to November 5, 2012.  Although these new procedures are part of the Government of Haiti’s efforts to become a Hague Adoption Convention partner, Haiti is not yet a party to the Convention.  The U.S. government will continue to process visas for adopted children under the non-Hague system until the Convention enters into force for Haiti.

IBESR has indicated that it plans to process adoption applications for which a completed file is submitted to IBESR prior to October 31* under current adoption procedures and cases filed on and after November 5* under the new procedures.  Since November 1-4 is a long holiday weekend in Haiti, IBESR’s offices will be closed those days.

Under the new procedures, IBESR plans to counsel the child’s biological parents and to obtain their pre-consent to adoption of their child.  This pre-consent will be a prerequisite of IBESR’s adoption authorization.  Prospective adoptive parents will likely be required to work with a U.S. Hague accredited adoption service provider that has been authorized by the Government of Haiti to participate in adoptions involving Haitian children.

Note that with the new procedures, IBESR plans to oversee matching of the child with the prospective adoptive parents.  These procedures may prohibit prospective adoptive parents – except in cases of intra-family adoptions – from establishing contact with the child they are seeking to adopt before they are officially matched to that child.  For further clarification on IBESR’s requirements, please work closely with your adoption agency or facilitator.*

The U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince continues to seek clarification on the new procedures and the information in this update is subject to change.  Please refer to our website adoption.state.gov for updates on adoptions in Haiti.

http://adoption.state.gov/country_information/country_specific_alerts_notices.php?alert_notice_type=alerts&alert_notice_file=haiti_4

*Emphasis added by PEAR

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

DOS Adoption Alert : Honduras - The Honduran Adoption Authority, Instituto Hondureño de la Niñez y la Familia (IHNFA), is Currently Closed due to a Strike


October 17, 2012 
 
Alert: The Honduran Adoption Authority, Instituto Hondureño de la Niñez y la Familia (IHNFA), is Currently Closed due to a Strike
 
As of October 2, 2012, employees of the Instituto Hondureño de la Niñez y la Familia (IHNFA) are on strike and IHNFA is closed.  The IHNFA is Honduras’ Child Welfare Authority and as such, it oversees adoptions.  IHNFA provides referrals to prospective adoptive parents and approves adoption applications.  At this time, due to the strike, the IHNFA is not performing these functions.  It is unclear how long the strike might last.  Please note that the Honduran Family Court is operating normally at this time.

The U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa is monitoring the strike.  Department of State and USCIS officials in Tegucigalpa will continue to accept and adjudicate complete Form I-600 adoption petitions and immigrant visa applications.

Please monitor adoption.state.gov.  We will provide more information as it becomes available.  Prospective adoptive parents are also encouraged to seek clarification on their individual cases from their adoption service provider.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Monday, October 15, 2012

DOS FAQs: Bilateral Adoption Agreement with Russia October 15, 2012

FAQs: Bilateral Adoption Agreement with Russia October 15, 2012





Q: Why is there a Bilateral Adoption Agreement with Russia?
Each year, thousands of children find loving, nurturing homes through intercountry adoptions, and the lives of thousands of American families have been enriched by welcoming Russian orphans into their homes. Although the vast majority of U.S. adoptions of Russian children have resulted in positive experiences for everyone involved, there have been several tragic cases. As a result, in April 2010, the U.S. and Russian governments began negotiating the Agreement between the United States of America and the Russian Federation Regarding Cooperation in Adoption of Children (the Agreement) to strengthen procedural safeguards in the adoption process between the United States and Russia.

Q: When was the Agreement signed?
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov signed the Agreement on July 13, 2011, in Washington, D.C.
Russia required ratification. The Russian Duma approved the Agreement on July 10, 2012 and the Russian Federation Council approved the Agreement on July 18, 2012. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the Agreement into law on July 28, 2012.

Q: When will the Agreement enter into force?
The Agreement will enter into force on November 1, 2012 following the exchange of diplomatic notes between the U.S. and Russian governments. A copy of the joint statement on the Agreement’s entry into force date is available on the website of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.

Q. Does entry into force mean that all provisions of the Agreement will apply as of November 1, 2012?
Certain provisions in the Agreement only apply if required by either the United States or the Russian Federation. The provisions regarding new authorization procedures for adoption service providers in Article 5 and pre-processing requirements in Article 10 will not take effect as of November 1, 2012 as these new requirements may only be established following entry into force of the Agreement under Russian law. Please refer to the below Q&A’s for more information on the anticipated timeline for effectiveness of these provisions.

Q: What if my case started before entry into force?
Prospective adoptive parent(s) whose documents are registered at a Regional Authority in Russia at the time of entry into force are not affected by the terms of the Agreement and may complete the process under the current (pre-Agreement) procedures. The Russian government will compile a list of all prospective adoptive parent(s) whose documents have been registered at the time of entry into force on November 1, 2012.
Prospective adoptive parent(s) working with a non-Hague accredited U.S. adoption service provider whose documents were not registered at a Regional Authority in Russia at the time of entry into force will be required to identify and use the services of a Hague accredited adoption service provider that is authorized to provide services in Russia if they wish to continue with their adoption. That new U.S. Hague accredited adoption service provider will be required to submit
documentation confirming that they have taken responsibility for working with the family to carry out their obligations in completing the adoption.

Q: Does this mean that the United States does not want Russia to join The Hague Intercountry Adoption Convention?
No. The United States continues to believe that the Hague Adoption Convention includes the best available procedures for processing intercountry adoptions. The United States continues to encourage Russia to join the Convention. The United States and Russia negotiated the Agreement in order to promote stronger safeguards for adoptive children and parent(s) in the intercountry adoption process between our two countries. The Agreement incorporates several fundamental principles of the Hague Adoption Convention.

Q: Whom does the Agreement cover?
The Agreement will cover adoptions to and from the United States and Russia. It applies to children up to the age of 18 who are citizens of and habitually resident in one country, and who are adopted in their country of origin by spouses habitually resident in the other country (at least one of whom is a citizen of that country), or by an unmarried individual who habitually resides in and is a citizen of the other country.
Prospective adoptive parent(s) should also be aware that the Agreement only covers adoptions where both spouses, or the individual (if unmarried), have seen and observed the child in person prior to adoption and personally participated in the decision-making procedures by the court issuing the adoption decree.

Q: Will the Agreement change U.S. visa processing for adopted children?
The Agreement will not significantly affect visa processing for children adopted from Russia. The processing of an adopted child’s U.S. visa occurs after the adoption in Russia and the approval of the orphan petition (Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative) by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Information on how to adopt from Russia is available on www.adoption.state.gov.

Q: What will change in how USCIS processes petitions as a result of this Agreement?
USCIS must ensure that the laws of the country of origin are followed in adjudicating a Form I-600 Petition. At the time of entry into force, the Agreement will have the effect of establishing new legal requirements in Russia, and USCIS will review each petition to ensure that the requirements have been met and the various provisions become effective. The following provides an overview of the most significant changes:
New Independent Adoptions Prohibited
Effective immediately upon entry into force, the Russian government will no longer permit prospective adoptive parent(s) to begin new independent adoptions (i.e., adoptions where the prospective adoptive parent(s) elect to act on their own behalf without facilitation by an adoption service provider), unless a child is being adopted by a relative. (Relatives, for the purposes of the Agreement, are defined in accordance with Russian law.) After entry into force, USCIS will only be able to approve Form I-600 petitions for independent adoptions grandfathered under Article 17 of the Agreement or for adoptions in which the child is adopted by a relative. Please refer to the Q&A on adoptions initiated prior to entry into force for more information.
A New Pre-approval Process, Effective on or about March 1, 2013
The Russian government intends to establish and require a new pre-approval process as described in Article 10 of the Agreement. This process will not be required immediately upon entry into force and will not apply to cases grandfathered under Article 17 of the Agreement.
Under Russian law, the new pre-approval requirement may be established only following entry into force of the Agreement. The Russian government plans to establish this requirement and expects it to become effective on or about March 1, 2013. Following Russia’s establishment of a pre-approval requirement, cases involving Russian children being adopted by U.S. prospective adoptive parent(s) whose adoption documents were not registered with the Regional Authority in Russia at the time of entry into force, will be required to undergo a pre-approval process with USCIS after the match but before the Russian adoption is completed. Prospective adoptive parent(s) in these cases will be required to present the Russian courts with a document from USCIS confirming pre-approval to be able to complete the adoption in Russia.
To implement pre-approval, USCIS will require prospective adoptive parent(s) to file their Form I-600, Petition to Classify an Orphan as an Immediate Relative, before completing the adoption procedures in Russia. USCIS will provide further information on the new filing procedures and how the new process will work as soon as possible, and in advance of March 1, 2013.

Q: How will the Agreement affect U.S. adoption service providers’ ability to work in Russia?
This Agreement will add no additional accreditation or authorization requirements under U.S. law for adoption agencies seeking to provide adoption services in Russia.
Under Russian law, new authorization requirements may be established only following entry into force of the Agreement. The Russian government has assured us that it plans to establish new authorization requirements for adoption service providers and expects them to become effective on or about March 1, 2013. On the date of entry into force, as an interim measure, the Russian government will consider all U.S. adoption service providers which are currently authorized to provide adoption services in Russia and which are U.S. Hague accredited to be authorized (pending implementation of the new authorization requirements). These agencies may continue processing both existing and new cases. The Department of State has agreed to provide the Russian Ministry of Education and Science with the list of U.S. adoption service providers accredited or approved in the United States to provide services under The Hague Adoption Convention, as a means of confirming their Hague accreditation/approval.
Non-Hague accredited U.S. adoption service providers operating in Russia prior to entry into force of the Agreement will not be able to initiate any new cases following November 1, 2012. However, these agencies may continue processing those cases that were registered at a Regional Authority in Russia at the time of entry into force.
Following the Russian government’s establishment of new authorization requirements, authorized adoption service providers will have 60 days to submit additional information required under the new regulations to continue providing adoption services in Russia. The Ministry will make a decision about an adoption service provider’s authorization within 30 days of receiving the required information. Adoption service providers that do not submit the required documentation for re-authorization within 60-days of Russia’s establishment of
new authorization regulations will lose their authorization to provide adoption services in Russia. These adoption service providers will be allowed to apply for re-authorization after one year.
After entry into force, adoption service providers seeking authorization to begin providing adoption services in Russia will need to meet the requirements under the new authorization procedures. Adoption service providers may apply for authorization to provide adoption services in Russia at any time, but the Ministry of Education and Science encourages new adoption service providers to wait until after the implementation of the new authorization procedures to do so. Under the Agreement, the Ministry of Education and Science must make a decision about a new adoption service provider’s authorization within 60 days of receiving the application.

Q: Does the Agreement impose any new or more stringent responsibilities on U.S. adoption agencies?
Yes, the Agreement allows the Russian government to establish several new or expanded requirements for adoption service providers to receive and maintain authorization to provide adoption services in Russia which are expected to become effective on or about March 1, 2013. Adoption service providers authorized to provide adoption services in Russia will need to meet the requirements established by the Russian Ministry of Education and Science or by Russian law in order to obtain and retain authorization to provide services in relation to intercountry adoptions in Russia. Adoption service providers will be required to submit documentation assuring that they will comply with certain requirements, including the following:
Post-adoption requirements
•    To inform prospective adoptive parent(s) of Russia’s adoption procedures and post-adoption reporting requirements (including in the case of a dissolution and/or subsequent placement of a child with another family);
•    To monitor the living conditions and upbringing of adopted children as required by the Russian government. The monitoring will have to be carried out at the family’s home by the authorized organization’s social worker, or by another licensed social worker or organization;
•    To provide periodic reports following an intercountry adoption to the Russian authorities. The reports will have to contain information about the child’s psychological and physical development and adaptation to his/her new life;
•    To confirm an adopted child’s lawful entry into the United States and the child’s acquisition of U.S. citizenship.
Adoption disruption and dissolution requirements
•    To notify Russian authorities and the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues as soon as reasonably possible if a case in which it provided services (even cases facilitated before the Agreement entered into force) is pending dissolution or has dissolved. The notification may need to include information on any proposed placement or new adoptive family, the expected (or completed) timeframe for the U.S. court’s decision (or any decisions reached by the U.S. court). At the same time, for cases still pending a court decision, the authorized organization may be required to request the consent or non-consent of the Russian authorities to the proposed re-adoption, and if a statement is provided by the Russian authorities before the re-adoption decision is made by the court, present the Russian consent or non-consent information to the court for its consideration.
Authorized organization requirements
•    To notify the Russian authorities and transfer any pending cases or post- adoption reporting responsibilities to another authorized organization in the event that an authorized organization chooses to cease operating in Russia or loses its authorization to do so.

Q: Is any part of the Agreement effective retroactively?
Under the Agreement, Russia may impose requirements on adoption service providers regarding the disruption or dissolution of adoptions which they facilitated and which took place prior to entry into force of the Agreement. For example, an authorized organization may be required to report a disruption or dissolution as soon as reasonably possible after it discovers that an adoption may be dissolved or has dissolved, regardless of when the intercountry adoption was completed.

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