Tuesday, July 31, 2012

DOS Adoption Notice: Russia, President Putin signs the Agreement between the United States of America and the Russian Federation Regarding Cooperation in Adoption of Children

Russia
July 31, 2012

Notice: President Putin signs the Agreement between the United States of America and the Russian Federation Regarding Cooperation in Adoption of Children

On July 28, 2012, President Putin signed into law the bilateral adoption agreement.  The Agreement, which was signed in 2011 by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, aims to improve the intercountry adoption process and better protect adoptive children, birth parents, and adoptive parents.  The Russian Duma approved the Agreement on July 10, 2012, and the Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian Parliament, approved the Agreement on July 18, 2012.

The United States and Russia will now work as expeditiously as possible to establish procedures to implement the Agreement.  Following the establishment of these procedures, the Agreement will enter into force upon the exchange of diplomatic notes from the U.S. and Russian governments.  The exchange of notes will take place only after both sides have completed internal procedures necessary for entry into force.

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 and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) FAQs on the agreement and its implementation.  Please also monitor adoption.state.gov and uscis.gov for updated information as it becomes available.

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

Thursday, July 26, 2012

UPDATE: Kyrgyzstan Reportedly Revokes Accreditation of All Foreign Adoption Agencies

According to media sources, the Kyrgyzstan government has revoked accreditation of intercountry adoption agencies. The order allegedly comes from the Ministry of Social Development and is translated as follows:


The order states: to terminate the force of accreditation certificates for international adoption of children without parental care of the following foreign organizations:
- Child and Future Agency (the Netherlands);
- Le Petit De Prince Interadop (Spain);
- L’ Airone Onlus Association (Italy);
- Love Basket Corporation (USA);
Another decision suspended (for up to two months of the current year) the accreditation certificates for international adoption of children without parental care of the following foreign organizations:
- Cuore Onlus Association (Italy);
- Adopta Association (Spain);
- In Cammino Per La Famiglia Onlus Association (Italy);
- Alliance des Fmilles du Qu├ębec Agency (Canada);
- Christian World Adoption Corporation (USA);
- Adekop Association (Spain).
The Ministry of Social Development has also suspended the order “On the commission on accreditation of foreign organizations for adoption children from the Kyrgyz Republic”.

Source and translation provided by "24.kg" News Agency, http://eng.24.kg/community/2012/07/26/25108.html

****see http://pear-now.blogspot.com/2012/07/kyrgystan-investigating-allegations-of.html for background

****Update July  31, 2012: According to media reports, the press service department of the Ministry of Social Development has stated they terminated the accreditation of Child and Future Agency (the Netherlands), Le Petit De Prince Interadop (Spain), L’ Airone Onlus Association (Italy), and Love Basket Corporation (USA) for serious violations of the Kyrg accreditation regulations. The remaining six agencies are under investigation with disputed facts, thus the temporary revocation. Source:
http://www.vb.kg/news/society/2012/07/26/195402_v_kyrgyzstane_vremenno_zapretili_mejdynarodnoe_ysynovlenie.html


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

Legislative Update: Universal Accreditation Introduced

Two identical bills were recently introduced, one in the House, one in the Senate, to amend the Intercountry Adoption Act, expanding the requirement for accreditation for all US adoption agencies offering intercountry adoption services. Both versions have been introduced and are now in Committee.


The full text of the amendments can be found here (they are identical):


House version: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/hr6027/text
Senate version: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/s3331/text


The following is the press release from the Senate:

June 22, 1012
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) and Ranking Member Richard Lugar (R-IN) along with Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA)  and James Inhofe (R-OK) introduced legislation to elevate and standardize adoption services across the globe to safeguard against corruption and fraudulent adoptions.
After years of conflicting, country-by-country standards for Adoption Service Providers (ASPs), the Intercountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act of 2012 will for the first time universalize the accreditation process for all ASPs.  The legislation would elevate standards, requiring all ASPs to comply with current, stronger requirements upheld for ASPs working with Hague countries.
The new accreditation standard would help safeguard against corruption and fraud in the adoption process. 
“The safety of children across the globe should be our number one concern in the adoption process and this commonsense reform will help us get them placed into safe and loving homes. Piecemeal, conflicting adoption standards have made far too many cracks and chasms in the system that left room for corruption, deception, and often outright fraudulent adoptions.  I’m grateful to our Ranking Member Dick Lugar and Senators Landrieu and Inhofe for partnering with me in this effort to elevate and put in place universal adoption standards that make kids the priority,” said U.S. Senator John Kerry (D-MA), Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.
“The United States adopts more children from overseas than any other nation.  Many of these children have serious medical conditions, often requiring significant and costly medical attention, yet, regardless, Americans open their hearts and homes to them.  This legislation establishes uniform standards that would provide American families with certainty that they are working with an accredited American adoption service provider, regardless of the country they are adopting from.  I am pleased to be joined by Senators Mary Landrieu and Jim Inhofe, two of the Senate’s leaders in this field, as well the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, John Kerry,” said U.S. Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), Ranking Member of the Foreign Relations Committee.
“Mandatory accreditation will ensure that the adoption process between the U.S. and other countries is lawful and safe for an adopted child and respectful of the families involved.  Additionally, I hope that this bill will prompt the U.S. Department of State to consider financially supporting the accrediting entities to relieve part of the financial burden on smaller agencies and to ensure a robust accreditation process,” said U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu (D-LA).
“Standardizing the accreditation process for international adoptions will provide additional protections for both the child and the adopting family.  The patchwork of adoption standards that currently exist have resulted in a situation that is not optimal for protecting the international children being offered for adoption.  It has also resulted in fraud and corruption that has devastated loving American families who are willing to make many sacrifices to adopt internationally.  This legislation is the right approach to fix the problems that currently exist,” said U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), co-chair of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption.
The Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA) specified that accreditation or approval is required in order to provide adoption services in cases subject to the Hague Convention with limited exceptions. The IAA defines the parameters of accreditation for the organizations providing services to prospective adoptive parents and charges the Department of State with responsibility of the accreditation process. The Kerry-Lugar bill would apply the accreditation requirement universally to all ASPs – those operating in both Hague and non-Hague countries. 

http://www.foreign.senate.gov/press/chair/release/kerry-lugar-bill-would-help-prevent-corrupt-fraudulent-adoptions-abroad 


Comment from PEAR: Universal Accreditation as a step in the right direction toward cleaning up intercountry adoption practices. Although there is much to be done to improve the regulation and oversight of intercountry adoption, PEAR supports this step. We will continue to monitor the progress of both bills and will provide updates as they occur.

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

Monday, July 23, 2012

Kyrgyzstan Investigating Allegations of Bribery in Agency Accreditation

According to news sources, Kyrgyzstan’s social development minister was arrested on Wednesday July 4, 2012 under suspicion of seeking at least $15,000 in bribes from a United States adoption agency. According to the media, the US agency had paid $10,000 in bribes to become accredited to participate in intercountry adoptions from Kyrgyzstan under the Hague, and the minister was seeking additional payments.

Sources:

Kyrgyz minister arrested for seeking bribe in adoption scandal, July 6, 2012, Central Asia Business Newswire http://www.universalnewswires.com/centralasia/business/viewstory.aspx?id=12367

Kyrgyzstan: Latest Adoption Scandal Pro-Children or Just Politics?, July 18, 2012, Eurasianet http://www.eurasianet.org/node/65695
edited 7/23/12 to additional media source: 
Kyrgyzstan: Minister for social development arrested on bribery charges July 24, 2012 Ferghana News http://enews.fergananews.com/news.php?id=2316

PEAR is requesting disclosure of the US adoption agency involved in the scandal.  We will continue to follow the story and will provide updates as they become available.

Edited 4:20 pm EST 7/23/12:

List of US accredited agencies, partnering agencies and agencies seeking accreditation from Kyrgyzstan (this list is in progress and will be updated as we discover new information):

***See latest update: http://pear-now.blogspot.com/2012/07/update-kyrgyzstan-reportedly-revokes.html

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

Monday, July 16, 2012

DOS Adoption Alert: Haiti & the Hague Convention

Haiti
July 16, 2012

Alert: Haiti Approves Ratification of the Hague Adoption Convention

Haiti’s adoption authority, l’Institut du Bien-Etre Sociale et de Recherches (IBESR), confirmed that the Haitian Parliament approved ratification of the Hague Adoption Convention on June 11, 2012, although it is our understanding that Haiti has not yet deposited its instrument of ratification to the Convention.  The Convention will enter into force for Haiti three months after Haiti deposits its instrument of ratification with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince continues to seek clarification on Haiti’s timeline for ratification and implementation of procedures for processing Convention adoptions and transition cases.  The United States Government continues to encourage the Government of Haiti to prepare fully for implementation of the Convention before depositing its instruments of ratification, so that the adoption program in Haiti can continue as Haiti prepares to become a member of the Convention.
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 adoption.state.gov or to USCIS’ website at www.uscis.gov for updates on the status of the U.S. adoption program from Haiti and on Haiti’s ratification and implementation of the Hague Adoption Convention.

http://adoption.state.gov/country_information/country_specific_alerts_notices.php?alert_notice_type=alerts&alert_notice_file=haiti_3

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

Sunday, July 15, 2012

DOS Adoption Notice: South Africa

South Africa
July 5, 2012 
 
Notice: Adoptions from South Africa to Begin With Approval of U.S. Adoption Service Providers
On June 6, 2012, the Department of State’s Special Advisor for Children’s Issues, Susan Jacobs, and U.S. Consulate General Johannesburg officials met with the South African Ministry of Social Development’s Central Authority (SACA) to clarify South African intercountry adoption procedures.  SACA confirmed that it has authorized two U.S. accredited adoption service providers (ASPs) to contract with South African agencies to process Hague Adoption Convention (Convention) adoptions from South Africa to the United States.

The two U.S. ASPs are Bethany Christian Services and Spence-Chapin Services to Families and Children.  Both ASPs may now accept applications for adoptions.

SACA also clarified the options available for dual citizens.  U.S. citizen prospective adoptive parents residing in the United States must follow the Convention intercountry adoption process if they wish to adopt from South Africa, regardless of whether one or both prospective adoptive parents hold South African citizenship.  U.S. citizens resident in South Africa who wish to adopt may be able to conclude a Convention adoption if they plan to bring their adopted child to the United States to live, or may conclude a domesticadoption after meeting South Africa’s five-year residency requirement if they intend to continue residing abroad.  In cases where one spouse is a South African citizen, the five-year residency requirement may be waived.

The U.S. Department of State is pleased to have the opportunity to work with South Africa as a Convention partner and to complete Convention intercountry adoptions of eligible children from South Africa by qualified adoptive parents in the United States.  Please continue to monitor adoption.state.gov as we update the country information sheet on adoptions from South Africa.


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

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

DOS Announcement: Approval of Bi-Lateral Adoption Agreement with Russia

Russia
July 10, 2012

Notice: Approval of the Agreement between the United States of America and the Russian Federation Regarding Cooperation in Adoption of Children

On July 10, 2012 the Russian Duma approved the bilateral adoption agreement signed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on July 13, 2011.  This marks a significant milestone toward the entry into force of the Agreement, which 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 U.S. Department of State's FAQs and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) FAQs on the Agreement and its implementation.

The Agreement will now go to the Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian Parliament, and once approved, will be sent to President Putin.  Following President Putin’s signature, the parties will need to establish procedures to implement the Agreement, which we are committed to doing as expeditiously as possible.  Following the establishment of these procedures, the Agreement will enter into force upon the exchange of notes between the U.S. and Russian governments.  The Department of State and USCIS will provide guidance on their websites related to the Agreement.  Please monitor adoption.state.gov and uscis.gov for more information.

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

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

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

DOS and USCIS Notices on Adoption from Montenegro

The US Department of State, Office of Children's Issues and the USCIS released statements today concerning adoptions from Montenegro:



DOS Notice:
Montenegro
July 3, 2012 
Notice: The Hague Adoption Convention Enters Into Force for Montenegro
 
"On July 1, 2012, the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-Operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption entered into force for Montenegro.  However, Montenegro does not yet have a fully functional Convention process in place.  Therefore, the United States has determined that it will not be able to process Convention intercountry adoptions until the Government of Montenegro implements an effective Convention intercountry adoption process.

We caution adoption service providers and prospective adoptive parents that, to ensure that adoptions from Montenegro will be compliant with the Convention, important steps must take place before intercountry adoptions between the United States and Montenegro resume.  Adoption service providers should neither initiate nor claim to initiate adoption programs in Montenegro until the Department of State notifies them that it has resumed adoptions in Montenegro.

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=montenegro_1

USCIS Notice:

"On July 1, 2012, Montenegro became a party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). However, the Department of State (DOS) has determined that Montenegro does not yet have a fully functional Convention process in place. DOS consular officers are unable to certify that adoption decrees or custody orders obtained in Montenegro for a child habitually resident in Montenegro have been issued in compliance with the Hague Adoption Convention. Without this certification, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) cannot approve a Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative."

Learn more at: http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.5af9bb95919f35e66f614176543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=8f41082b4cd48310VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD&vgnextchannel=e7801c2c9be44210VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD


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

Monday, July 2, 2012

DOS Adoption Notice: The Hague Adoption Convention Enters into Force for Rwanda

Rwanda
July 2, 2012

Notice: The Hague Adoption Convention Enters into Force for Rwanda

On July 1, 2012 the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-Operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Convention) entered into force for Rwanda.  However, the Government of Rwanda has notified the U.S. Embassy in Kigali that the current suspension on intercountry adoptions will remain in effect until the country has a fully functional Convention process in place.  The Government of Rwanda believes implementation will take several months.

We caution adoption service providers and prospective adoptive parents that important steps to ensure intercountry adoptions from Rwanda comply with the Convention must take place before intercountry adoptions between the United States and Rwanda resume.  Adoption service providers should neither initiate nor claim to initiate adoption programs in Rwanda until the Department of State notifies them that the Government of Rwanda has lifted its suspension on intercountry adoptions and that Rwanda’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=notices&alert_notice_file=rwanda_1

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

Ambassador Jacobs Travels to Guatemala with Sen. Mary Landrieu


Special Advisor for Children's Issues Travels to Guatemala

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
July 2, 2012

Special Advisor for Children’s Issues Ambassador Susan Jacobs is visiting Guatemala from July 1-3 as part of a Congressional Delegation led by Senator Mary Landrieu. The delegation, which includes officials from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), is meeting with Guatemalan officials to discuss progress in resolving the remaining intercountry adoption transition cases.

While U.S. citizens have adopted thousands of Guatemalan orphans in the past, Guatemala announced in 2008 that it would not accept any new adoption cases. Processing of transition cases slowed dramatically in 2010. The Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs’ Office of Children’s Issues and the U.S. Embassy are working with the Guatemalan authorities to resolve the remaining cases. This is Senator Mary Landrieu’s fourth congressional delegation visit to Guatemala since April 2010.

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/