Monday, May 14, 2012

DOS Adoption Notice - Guatemala Update

May 14, 2012
Notice: Guatemala Update
This Adoption Notice is a follow up to the Notice of December 12, 2011.

Universal List
In March 2012, after months of meetings to gather information, U.S. officials presented a list of known pending cases to Guatemalan officials.  This list is a compellation of USCIS records of all properly grandfathered Form I-600A applications and pending Form I-600s filed by U.S. citizens on behalf of Guatemalan children, and lists provided by each of the adoption processing entities in Guatemala.  This “Universal List” reflects all known Guatemalan records of pending cases involving U.S. citizen prospective adoptive parents.  The goal is a consistent and universally agreed upon list of cases for both U.S. and Guatemalan officials to work from, allowing officials to focus on the necessary steps to bring each of the transition cases to resolution.  The initial response has been positive, with all Guatemalan agencies agreeing to work from this Universal List.

Senator Mary Landrieu and Representative Karen Bass Led Delegation to Guatemala April 10-14, 2012
Senator Mary Landrieu and Representative Karen Bass led a congressional delegation to Guatemala April 10 -14, 2012.  USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas traveled with the delegation along with the Office of Children’s Issues Guatemala Adoption Officer.  The delegation attended meetings with President Otto Perez Molina, Vice President Roxana Baldetti, Foreign Minister Harold Caballeros, the Attorney General, the Ministerio Publico (MP), the Comisión Internacional Contra la Impunidad en Guatemala (CICIG), the Procuraduría General de la Nación (PGN), the National Adoption Council (CNA), UNICEF, and Ministry of Social Development.
Senator Landrieu provided all of the above officials with a copy of the Universal List of cases.  Senator Landrieu urged Guatemalan officials to resolve all of the pending cases by the end of 2012, and to move forward with adoptions involving U.S. prospective adoptive parents where there is no evidence that the child was taken fraudulently from his or her birth family.  USCIS Director Mayorkas offered to return to Guatemala to learn more about the Guatemalan adoption investigation process and to encourage Guatemalan authorities to continue to complete cases.  President Perez-Molina expressed his hope that the pending cases will be resolved within the next 6 to 12 months, and all other Guatemalan authorities -- as well as CICIG -- generally agreed that the pending transition adoption cases should be resolved as soon as possible in the best interests of the children, but also stated that a lack of resources is a potential obstacle to resolution.  Guatemalan authorities noted the possibility that some of the notario cases may not be able to proceed as notario cases when the investigation reveals that the case does not fall within the parameters of the relevant law.  However, they also advised that in these cases, if a judge makes a finding of adoptability for the child, such a case may be considered eligible under the CNA Acuerdo process.  

Update on possible legislative solution
In February 2012, Guatemala’s Foreign Minister Harold Caballeros travelled to Washington, D.C. and met with U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, Special Advisor for Children’s Issues Susan Jacobs, as well as congressional leaders and adoption stakeholders.  The new Perez-Molina Administration announced that they would have a plan to resolve the pending transition cases by June, and suggested that the Guatemalan Administration was looking at a legislative solution.  
In April, Foreign Minister Caballeros informed the congressional delegation and Embassy officials that the Guatemalan administration did not believe it was necessary to pursue a legislative solution, and that the pending transition cases could be resolved within the existing framework. 

CNA Acuerdo Update
In December 2011, the CNA confirmed the details of a processing plan for a limited group of pending adoption cases already under CNA processing authority.  Please refer to our adoption notices from December 13, 2011 and September 27, 2011 for more background. 
To date, the CNA has initiated only five cases under the Acuerdo process, out of 22 that it has identified as currently eligible.  This is less than the number of cases that the CNA represented would be in progress by this time.  Embassy officials continue to meet frequently with the CNA to identify and address causes for delay and to urge the CNA to initiate all of those cases that are eligible to proceed.  
The U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City submitted a formal request to the Guatemalan government in early May 2012 for extension of the Acuerdo beyond the current August 2012 expiration date to ensure continued processing of adoptions.  The Guatemalan government has not responded.  Embassy officials continue to press for the extension.

Adoptions in Acuerdo Process
Progress has been slow on those cases that have been initiated and submitted to the CNA by the U.S. Embassy under the Acuerdo process.  After its review of the first case, the CNA requested supplemental documents in addition to those required documents confirmed in writing by the CNA in December 2011.  Embassy officials responded urging the CNA to abide by their original documentary requirements.  We will provide updates when they are available. 
Note:  Only the CNA can determine whether cases are eligible under the CNA process.  The Office of Children’s Issues, USCIS, and the U.S. Embassy can only advise 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.

Working Group Update
Although the working group (known as the “mesa tecnica” in Spanish) is reportedly continuing to meet on a weekly basis to investigate and move cases closer to resolution, this has not translated into significant numbers of cases moving to final adoption.  The U.S. Embassy continues to communicate on a regular basis with each institution that participates in the working group on a regular basis, but the working group itself refuses to provide a comprehensive status update for those cases already reviewed.

Other News
Between June 2011 and April 2012, the PGN informed the U.S. Embassy of approximately 40 children 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 July 1, 2011 until December 31, 2011 the U.S. Embassy issued eight (8) IR3 adoption visas.  From January 1, 2012 to May 1, 2012, the U.S. Embassy has issued only one (1) IR3 adoption visa.  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.

Friday, May 11, 2012

DOS Adoption Notice: Adoptions from Kazakhstan to Begin With Approval of U.S. ASPs

May 10, 2012 
Adoption Notice: Adoptions from Kazakhstan to Begin With Approval of U.S. ASPs 
The Ministry of Education and Science, the Central Authority of Kazakhstan, has confirmed approval of two U.S. accredited adoption service providers (ASPs) to process Hague Convention adoptions from Kazakhstan to the United States.

The ASPs are:  Little Miracles and Across the World Adoptions. 

Approval of ASPs was the final step needed for Kazakhstan to complete its implementation of the Hague Adoption Convention.  Each of the U.S. ASPs approved by the Government of Kazakhstan may begin accepting applications for adoptions under the new procedures on its date of authorization. 
The U.S. Department of State is pleased to have the opportunity to work with Kazakhstan as a Hague Adoption Convention partner and to complete Convention intercountry adoptions of eligible children from Kazakhstan by qualified adoptive parents in the United States.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

DOS Adoption Notice Ethiopia: Summary of Adoption Service Provider Meeting with the U.S. Embassy

May 10, 2012
Notice: Summary of Adoption Service Provider Meeting with the U.S. Embassy
In response to several requests for written summaries of the adoption service provider meetings held by the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, the Office of Children's Issues posts this notice to provide interested parties with information discussed at the most recent meeting on April 18, 2012. These meetings take place several times a year and are announced to in-country representatives in advance. This notice recaps the issues discussed; however, the Office of Children's Issues has inserted, in italicized text, links to further information on worldwide policies pertaining to issues discussed during the meeting.

Fee change from $404 to $230
U.S. non-immigrant and immigrant visa application fees have changed as of April 13, 2012.  The fee for Immediate Relative and family preference applications (processed on the basis of an approved I-130, I-600 or I-800 petition) decreased from $404 to $230.  All visa applicants must pay the fees in effect on the day of the payment, not on the day of the visa interview.  Therefore, anyone who has already paid the combined $404 fee will not receive a refund even if the fee decreased by the time of their visa interview.
For further information, please refer to the press release issued by the Department of State, Office of the Spokesperson, on March 29, 2012, regarding visa processing fees.  The change reduced the immigrant visa application fee from $330 to $230 and eliminated the $74 immigrant visa application surcharge.
Escort cases
If at least one of the adoptive parents met the child in Ethiopia before the court hearing, the family may choose to have someone else escort the child to the United States.  The escort will still be required to present a Power of Attorney allowing him/her to act on behalf of the adoptive parent(s), represent them at the visa interview, and escort the child through U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the U.S. Port of Entry.
Ethiopian entry visas
We have heard that the Government of Ethiopia is considering discontinuing “visas on arrival” at Bole International Airport, but no policy change has been announced.  We recommend all U.S. citizens obtain an entry visa from an Ethiopian embassy or consulate in advance of travel.
The U.S. Department of State will post public notices on and upon receiving official notification of any change in entry requirements for U.S. citizens.  For current travel information, please review the Ethiopia Country Specific Information on the Department of State website.
Screening backlog
We are pleased to announce that we have cleared our screening backlog and the current time for screening new cases is two business days.  We have also increased the number of available birth relative interview slots, and the current wait time for a birth relative interview is one week.
Expedited processing
We will consider on a case-by-case basis expeditious processing for children with serious medical conditions that require urgent treatment that is unavailable in Ethiopia.  Cases involving children who have serious but stable medical conditions or who are already undergoing treatment in Ethiopia generally do not qualify for expeditious processing.  Medical conditions like asthma or HIV/AIDS, which are common reasons for requesting expedited processing, would not typically qualify for expeditious processing.
Expedited cases are not exempt from the required review of orphan status through the Form I-604, Determination on Child for Adoption.  We encourage all agencies to inform us as early as possible about cases involving children with serious medical conditions requiring urgent treatment that is unavailable in Ethiopia, even at the time of referral.  
Processing of the Not Clearly Approvable (NCA) cases
U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa has a limited, delegated authority from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to adjudicate Form I-600 petitions filed in Ethiopia, which includes a determination that the child meets the definition of an orphan under U.S. law.  If the Consular Officer determines a case is not clearly approvable, Department of State is required by regulation to forward the case to USCIS.  In recent months we have noticed that the processing time of the cases sent to Nairobi averages three weeks or less.
Please note this is an average processing time.  Processing times are dependent on the specifics of a case and therefore highly variable.
Please note that the adoptive parent’s Form I-600A must be valid at the time the petition is filed.  Additionally, the fingerprint clearances for the adoptive parents and all adult household members must be valid at the time the petition is approved, not at the time of the visa interview.  For petitions approved by USCIS Nairobi or within the United States, we can still process the child’s visa application even if the fingerprint clearances and/or Form I-600A have expired.
Police and birth relative interviews as part of the Form I-604 investigation
Our office conducts birth relative interviews for most relinquishment cases, and conducts interviews with local officials and police for most abandonment cases.  The purpose of these interviews is to confirm the child’s orphan status and, in relinquishment cases, to ensure that the relinquishing parent or family member fully understands the relinquishment process.  During these interviews, we continue to encounter birth relatives who have been told that a child will return to Ethiopia at the age of 18.  When informed that intercountry adoption is a permanent severing of a familial relationship and that there should be no expectation of the child’s return, birth relatives often become very emotional.  We conduct birth relative interviews in our privacy booth for the relative’s privacy and comfort.  In order to prevent significant delays in processing, we encourage all Adoption Service Providers to notify us in advance if a birth relative will be late or unable to appear on the appointment date.
Pre-Adoption Immigration Review
The U.S. Embassy continues to work with the Government of Ethiopia to implement a “pre-screening process” wherein consular officers and USCIS will review adoption petitions prior to the Ethiopian court hearing.  We hope to have more information for agencies in the near future.
General Discussion - Trends in the Ethiopian adoption.
  1. A rise in the number of abandonments vs. relinquishments.
  2. Groups of children being relinquished from the same community at the same time.
  3. Adoption contracts being signed before the child is relinquished.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Opportunity for comment and participation: COA List of ASPs Seeking Hague Accreditation, Hague Approval, or Renewal of Hague Accreditation or Approval

As of May 1, 2012, the following individuals and organizations are seeking Hague Accreditation, Hague Approval, or Renewal of Hague Accreditation or Approval from the Council on Accreditation. To provide feedback, comment or information regarding any of these adoption service providers, please visit COA's website at:, then click on the ASP's name to provide your comments. Please let your voice be heard!

The list below provides the Applicant Name, Mailing Address, and date of Active Consideration

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

About A Child
556 Keelson Circle
Redwood City CA 94065

Across The World Adoptions
395 Taylor Boulevard, Suite 116
Pleasant Hill CA 94523

Adopt! inc.
135 Lackawanna Road
Lexington KY 40503

Adopt International
1000 Brannan Street, Suite 301
San Francisco CA 94103

Adoption Associates
1338 Baldwin
Jenison MI 49428

Adoption Options
411 Camino del Rio South, Suite 200
San Diego CA 92108

Adoptions Together
10230 New Hampshire Avenue, Suite 200
Silver Spring MD 20903

Advocates for Children & Families
16831 NE 6th Avenue
North Miami Beach FL 33162

A Helping Hand Adoption Agency
1510 Newtown Pike, Suite 152
Lexington KY 40511

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

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

Americans Adopting Orphans Placement Agency
12345 Lake City Way NE, #2001
Seattle WA 98125

Americans for International Aid and Adoption
2151 Livernois, Suite 200
Troy MI 48083

America World Adoption
6723 Whittier Avenue, Suite 202
McLean VA 22101

Associated Services for International Adoption (ASIA)
215 SW Hooker Street, Suite 100
Portland OR 97201

Baker Hall dba Baker Victory Services
780 Ridge Road
Lackawanna NY 14218

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

Bay Area Adoption Services
465 Fairchild Drive, Suite 215
Mountain View CA 94043

Bellefaire Jewish Children's Bureau
22001 Fairmount Boulevard
Shaker Heights OH 44118

Bethany Christian Services
901 Eastern Avenue, NE
Grand Rapids MI 49503

Buckner Adoption and Maternity Services
5200 South Buckner Boulevard
Dallas TX 75227

Building Arizona Families
18355 West Ivy Lane
Surprise AZ 85388

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

CASI Foundation For Children, Inc.
2308 N. Cole Road, Suite E
Boise ID 83704- 7361

Catholic Charities of Tennessee
30 White Bridge Road
Nashville TN 37205

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Greensburg, PA
711 E. Pittsburgh Street
Greensburg PA 15601

Celebrate Children International
1757 W. Broadway, Suite 5
Oviedo FL 32765

Children's Aid Society in Clearfield County
1008 South 2nd Street
Clearfield PA 16830

Children's Home Society & Family Services
1605 Eustis Street
St. Paul MN 55108- 1219

Children's Hope International
11780 Borman Drive
St. Louis MO 63146

Children & Families of Iowa
1111 University Avenue
Des Moines IA 50314

Children At Heart Adoption Services, Inc.
254 N. Front Street, Suite 200
Wilmington NC 28401

China Adoption With Love
251 Harvard Street, #19 - 20
Brookline MA 02446

Christian Social Services of Southern Illinois
8601 W. Main Street, Suite 201
Belleville IL 62223

Christian World Adoption
777 South Allen Road
Flat Rock NC 28731

Creative Adoptions, Inc.
8808 Centre Park Drive, Suite 208
Columbia MD 21045

Crossroads Adoption Services
7600 Parklawn, Suite 352
Minneapolis MN 55435

Dillon International, Inc.
3227 E 31st Street, Suite 200
Tulsa OK 74105

Dillon Southwest
3014 North Hayden Road, #101
Scottsdale AZ 85251

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

European Children Adoption Services
6050 Cheshire Lane North
Plymouth MN 55446

Families Thru International Adoption, Inc.
401 SE 6th Street, Suite 202
Evansville IN 47713

Family & Children's Agency, Inc.
9 Mott Avenue, 4th Floor
Norwalk CT 06850

Family Connections Christian Adoptions
1120 Tully Road
Modesto CA 95350

Forever Families Through Adoption, Inc.
62 Bowman Avenue
Rye Brook NY 10573

Frank Adoption Center (NC)
2840 Plaza Place, Suite 102
Raleigh NC 27612

Generations Adoptions
400 Schroeder Drive
Waco TX 76710

Grace International Adoption Agency
306 Chauncey Avenue E
Bradenton FL 34208

Great Wall China Adoption, dba Children of All Nations
248 Addie Roy Road, Suite A102
Austin TX 78746

Hands Across the Water
2890 Carpenter Road, Suite #600
Ann Arbor MI 48108

Heart of Adoptions Alliance, Inc.
418 W. Platt Street, Suite C
Tampa FL 33606

Heartsent Adoptions
140 Brookwood Road, Suite 100
Orinda CA 94563

Hillcrest Family Services
2005 Asbury Road
Dubuque IA 52001

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

Holt International Children's Services, Inc.
P.O. Box 2880
Eugene OR 97402

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

Homeland Children’s Foundation, Inc., dba Homeland Adoption Services
99 Main Street, Suite 310
Nyack NY 10960

HOPE Adoption & Family Services International, Inc.
5850 Omaha Avenue North
Oak Park Heights MN 55082

Hopscotch Adoptions, Inc.
1208 Eastchester Drive, Suite 120
High Point NC 27265

Illien Adoptions International
1250 Piedmont Ave, NE
Atlanta GA 30309

International Adoption Guides, Inc
1530 N. Fant Street
Anderson SC 29621

International Assistance Group
531 5th Street
Oakmont PA 15139- 1626

International Christian Adoptions
41745 Rider Way #2
Temecula CA 92590

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

James Fletcher Thompson, LLC
302 E. Saint John Street
Spartanburg SC 29302

Jewish Family Service of Rochester
441 East Avenue
Rochester NY 14607

Journeys of the Heart Adoption Services
P.O. Box 39
Hillsboro OR 97123

KidsFirst International Adoption, Inc.
9135 N. Meridan Street, Suite B-4
Indianapolis IN 46260

Lifeline Children's Services
2104 Rocky Ridge Road
Hoover AL 35216

Lifelink International Adoption
329 South York Road
Bensenville IL 60106

Little Miracles International, Inc.
600 S. Tyler, Suite 1302
Amarillo TX 79101

Living Hope Adoption Agency
P.O. Box 579
Fort Washington PA 19034

Love Basket
10306 Business 21
Hillsboro MO 63050

Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota
2400 Park Avenue
Minneapolis MN 55404

Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin & Upper Michigan, Inc.
647 W. Virginia Street, Suite 200
Milwaukee WI 53204

Madison Adoption Associates
1009 Woodstream Drive
Wilmington DE 19810

Michael S. Goldstein, Esquire
62 Bowman Avenue
Rye Brook NY 10573

Miriam's Promise
522 Russell Street
Nashville TN 37206

New Horizons Adoption Agency
P.O. Box 188
Blue Earth MN 56013

Nightlight Christian Adoptions
4430 E. Miraloma Avenue, Suite B
Anaheim Hills CA 92807

Open Seas Adoption Services, Inc.
270 Madison Avenue, Suite 1410
New York NY 10016

Orphans Overseas
3300 NW 185th Street, #127
Portland OR 97229

Partners for Adoption
800 South Broadway, Suite 210 B
Walnut Creek CA 94596

Pearl S. Buck International
520 Dublin Road
Perkasie PA 18944

Premier Adoption Agency, Inc.
590 West Mesquite Boulevard, Suite 202 B
Mesquite NV 89027

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

Spence-Chapin Services to Families and Children
410 East 92nd Street
New York NY 10128

Sunny Ridge Family Center, Inc.
270 Remington Boulevard, Suite C
Bolingbrook IL 60440

The Baby Fold
108 East Willow Street
Normal IL 61761

The Barker Foundation
7979 Old Georgetown Road
Bethesda MD 20814

The Cradle Society
2049 Ridge Avenue
Evanston IL 60201

The Gladney Center for Adoption
6300 John Ryan Drive
Fort Worth TX 76132

The Home for Little Wanderers
271 Huntington Avenue
Boston MA 02115

The Open Door Adoption Agency
P.O. Box 4
Thomasville GA 31799

Villa Hope International Adoptions
6 Office Park Circle, #218
Birmingham AL 35223

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

WACAP (World Association for Children and Parents)
P.O. Box 88948
Seattle WA 98138

Wasatch International Adoptions
1140 36th Street #204
Ogden UT 84403

Wide Horizons For Children
38 Edge Hill Road
Waltham, MA 2451

World Links Association, Inc.
418 Jefferson Avenue
Scranton, PA18510

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Friday, May 4, 2012

DOS Adoption Alert - Haiti: Temporary Suspension of New Adoption Cases

May 4, 2012 
Alert: Temporary Suspension of New Adoption Cases
Haiti's adoption authority, l'Institut du Bien Être Social et de Recherches (IBESR), informed U.S. Embassy Port-au-Prince that it will suspend processing of new adoption cases effective May 7, 2012. IBESR indicated that the suspension will enable it to expedite processing on its backlog of pending cases and begin internal restructuring to bring it closer to international standards. The U.S. Embassy has been assured the suspension is temporary and that IBESR will continue to process all cases that are filed before May 7.
If you have questions about the status of your adoption case, please work closely with your adoption agency or facilitator. Please refer to our website at for updates on the temporary suspension.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Reduction in Adoption Visa Application Fees

Reduction in Adoption Visa Application Fees
U.S. non-immigrant and immigrant visa application fees have changed as of April 13, 2012.  The fee for Immediate Relative and family preference applications (processed on the basis of an approved I-130, I-600 or I-800 petition) decreased from $404 to $230.  All visa applicants must pay the fees in effect on the day of the payment, not on the day of the visa interview.  Therefore, anyone who has already paid the combined $404 fee will not receive a refund even if the fee decreased by the time of their visa interview.
For further information, please refer to the press release issued by the Department of State, Office of the Spokesperson, on March 29, 2012, regarding visa processing fees. The change reduced the immigrant visa application fee to $230 from $330 and eliminated the $74 immigrant visa application surcharge that had previously brought the total fee to $404

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.