Adoption Update March 2017

March has been a busy month!  I’ll cover all the programs in this update… Happy Girl Kissing Puppy

Ethiopia

I thought I’d start with Ethiopia because not many people know we do quite a few Ethiopia relative adoptions.  Two families completed adoptions so far this year.  One is in Ethiopia currently, working on their adoption decree, and their are eight families in process altogether.

Burundi

Family leaving for Burundi next weekend to bring home their daughter!  Another family awaiting final court decree.  Another with I-800 n process.  Two dossiers sent to Pierre this month.  Waiting on potential referrals of a sibling group of three and a four yr old girl.  Potential because we know they are candidates for being declared legally free but the Adoption Committee makes final assignments.   We have nine families awaiting referrals, with two new dossiers in translation.  Six more families are working on home studies or dossiers.  Pierre made a recommendation to the Central Authority to get another staff person to concentrate on adoption.  Both the Central Authority and the courts need more staffing to meet the needs of waiting children. Despite delays, Burundi remains one of the most pro-adoption and well organized countries in the international adoption arena, and has shown considerable effort at ensuring adoptions are corruption-free and in the best interest of children.  Big thanks to families for their post adoption reports and donations!

Mexico

Mexico is busy, with about half of the families adopting relatives.  We have six families waiting for referrals or documents pertaining to the relative they are adopting, and five in the court process.  Eight more families are in the home study or dossier stage of the process.  Mexico is far more bureaucratic than Burundi.  There are more steps in the process, more layers of administration, more regulatory complications, and slower courts.  There are many children in shelters but few are legally free.  The procedures to gain legal freedom for a child in a shelter are elaborate.  Few DIF offices have adequate resources to work on many cases.  Luis is in contact with the state DIF offices every couple weeks, requesting information about waiting children and advising them of our adoptive families.  We expect three families to complete their adoption within a couple months, all non-relative orphan adoptions, from three different Mexico states–Coahuila, Sonora and Baja.  It will definitely be time to celebrate!

ABC Infant Adoption

Tracy our birthmother counselor has been very busy, with three babies born and placed this past month, two birthmothers matched who are due this summer, and a new birthmother yet to match.  We had one birthmother withdraw from the program but her family was matched with another baby, a beautiful little girl, in NV.  Domestic adoption has many ups and downs but overall we have very happy outcomes!

Burkina Faso

Still waiting for our first family!

Kyrgyzstan

Still waiting for our new approval.  Tatiana is in Kyrgyzstan right now.

Please let me know any questions.  We are always happy to talk with you!

Best,

Jackie

USCIS Adoption Forms Update

Hello NCFA Members:

We just got this update from USCIS regarding forms – of particular note to the adoption community is N-600/N-600K form updates.

We recently updated the following USCIS forms:

For more information, please visit our Forms Updates page.

ICF Adoption 2016 Wrap-Up and Welcome 2017!


Portrait Of Father And Son In Countryside Smiling To Camera

Happy 2017 Adoption Tax Credit News!

In October, the IRS adjusted over 50 tax provisions for taxes filed in 2018 for the 2017 tax year. The maximum adoption tax credit will increase to $13,570, from $13,460 in 2016. Parents who adopt a child with special needs can claim the full amount.

Taxpayers who make more than $243,540 or more annually are not eligible to receive the credit, and phaseouts apply for taxpayers with a modified adjusted gross income over $203,540 per annum.

The Adoption Tax Credit Working Group is still working to make the adoption tax credit refundable. The current non-refundable credit cannot be claimed by families that have no tax liability, which rules out most lower- to moderate-income families.

 

Information provided by Adoptivie Families Magazine — we highly recommend subscribing!!

Burundi Christmas Greetings!

Happy Holidays & Merry Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza and to all who celebrate the joys of peace and brotherhood.
Burundi has a tradition of celebrating Christmas with family meals and gatherings.  Like an American Thanksgiving,it is about sharing a meal and commemoration.   Special gifts may happen but it is not a common tradition — no one rushes about shopping at the mall or market or feels the pressure of getting the tree and presents in place before the big day.  Much more relaxed.  Sounds like a good place to spend Christmas!
See this for a great photo collection of Christmas in a village home…
Pierre sends greetings and warm wishes for all families for Christmas and the new year.  New Year is a major celebration in Burundi with music, dancing and drumming.  As well as food and family feasts.  Our wish for 2017 is for more children to get through the court process whereby kids are declared legally free, so more children can find their families.  It actually looks likely — the courts are still clogged but other parts of the process are advancing.  As the political climate remains calm, more day-to-day work is getting done.  No one works well during time of economic or political instability.  It frightens, worries and distracts.  As more months go by without turmoil, normalcy returns and work resumes.  Our Adoption Conference in Burundi marked a new beginning, with over 50 people attending, from the courts and shelters and Central Authority.  Pierre and I agree that we would like to get all families who started their adoptions in 2015 and early 2016 matched or completed for 2017.  That is our New Year’s resolution!
Pierre sent me an email last night and I am getting out bits of information for individual families today, about their cases.  Please have a safe and joyful holiday, be kind and grateful, and remember Burundi in your prayers.
All the best!
Jackie & Pierre

Christmas in Africa: Village-Style in Burundi

Save Adoptions — excellent article from the Federalist!

Go to www.saveadoptions.org to sign the petition!  Read this article…

http://thefederalist.com/2016/11/02/obama-administration-make-international-adoption-lot-harder/

The Obama Administration Is About To Make International Adoption A Lot Harder

The Obama Administration Is About To Make International Adoption A Lot Harder

International adoption provides homes to needy children—why do the State Department’s new rules make those adoptions difficult, if not impossible?
Jayme Metzgar

By

David Holman was three years old when he met his mom and dad. Born in South Korea, his single mother gave him up, and he’d been living in a foster home. He was available for adoption but considered “hard to place” due to his age and medical condition.

Meanwhile, Colorado residents Joe and Denise Holman were busy raising their full household: five biological children and a newly adopted Korean baby. Still, when their agency asked them to consider adding David to their family, Joe and Denise didn’t hesitate.

“At that time, South Korean families did not adopt children who were not related to them,” Denise says. “There wasn’t even a word for it, we were told.” International adoption was open only to families from two countries: Australia and the United States. “Almost all children being adopted from South Korea were infants less than six months old. There were not many options for David.”

The American agency, understanding the urgency of David’s need, offered to waive their part of the adoption fee. “It was all a miracle,” Denise says. She and Joe traveled to Korea in January 2000 to take David home. Although the family wondered whether his age and background would create bonding problems, “he attached to all of us hard and fast,” Denise says. While David struggled with some early learning disabilities, he never developed the medical issues doctors had initially feared. By middle school, he had taken off both academically and socially.

Inter-Country Adoption Has Fallen To New Lows

When the Holmans adopted David, America was experiencing a boom in international adoption: 18,856 foreign-born children were adopted that year. But in 2004, that number peaked at 22,989, and it’s been falling ever since.

Over the past 12 years, inter-country adoption in America has dropped off by a staggering 75 percent, with last year’s total of 5,647 the lowest since 1981. Other major receiving countries have experienced the same sharp decline—driven not a by global decrease in orphans, but by the changing politics of adoption.

Now, those same politics threaten to slash adoptions still further. Under U.S. law, the central authority over international adoption is the Department of State (DOS). Last month, with all eyes focused on the drama of the presidential election, DOS quietly released new proposed rules governing international adoption. If they go into effect as written, some advocates say Americans’ ability to adopt internationally will decline even further—or possibly face an existential threat.

How the Feds Could Prevent International Adoption

For many in the adoption community, the new regulations came as an unexpected blow. Although there’s long been a strained relationship between adoption agencies and the State Department, it had seemed things were improving. Last year, DOS hosted a conference for 100 adoption service providers, “to learn more about the needs of the adoption community, and to discuss [our] new intercountry adoption strategy,” a DOS report reads.

Chuck Johnson, president of the National Council for Adoption, was present at that conference. “We were delighted to hear that they were considering country-specific solutions. Until now, the U.S. has demonstrated a complete unwillingness to consider any kind of unique situations,” he says. “But now we see the regulations, and they’ve offered no country-specific solutions. They’ve just imposed more standards on agencies.” Another conference attendee, the head of an adoption agency, put it more bluntly: “We feel completely blindsided.”

So what exactly do the new regulations entail? Lawyers have combed through its 106 pages and identified four major areas of concern:

1. They Create An Extra Layer of Accreditation.

Currently, all agencies providing inter-country adoption must go through a rigorous accreditation process, certifying their compliance with the international Hague Adoption Convention. The State Department now wants to add another layer of accreditation for working in certain countries—something it calls Country-Specific Accreditation (CSA). The Department will identify certain countries in which agencies will need to receive CSA in addition to their Hague accreditation.

The problem is that DOS has provided no clear, written framework for how it will grant CSA—nor have they listed the countries for which CSA will be required. In effect, the bureaucrats at State have written themselves a blank check for unbridled control in whichever countries they choose. Agencies are left guessing. What will the requirements be? Will DOS limit the number of accredited agencies per country?

“It’s ripe for bias, ripe for favoritism,” Johnson says. “Small agencies worry that there will be a bias toward larger agencies. It’s also quite possible that there will be a bias in favor of secular agencies over faith-based ones.” Failure to receive CSA in key countries could result in agencies being forced to close—and will certainly result in fewer children being placed with adopting families.

2. They Drastically Increase Legal Liability.

Page 29 of the proposed rules contains this seemingly innocuous definition: “The term ‘providing,’ with respect to an adoption service, includes facilitating the provision of the service.”

But agencies tell me this one sentence may be the deadliest measure for inter-country adoption. If interpreted strictly, it will require every foreign individual who touches an adoption to be insured under an agency’s liability insurance—drivers, translators, and even state orphanage workers over whom an agency has no control. According to a joint letter signed by dozens of agencies, not only would this cause adoption costs to soar, but such insurance plans may not even be available for purchase, or may be illegal in certain countries.

“This is the thing that will absolutely kill us,” one program director said simply. “We cannot comply, and they will shut us down.”

3. They Micromanage Fees.

In an effort to protect families from financial exploitation—certainly a worthwhile goal—the State Department is turning to bans and price-fixing, rather than encouraging transparency so families can make informed decisions. In what the joint letter calls “an unprecedented overreach,” DOS has granted itself the authority to cap prices for adoption services, according to what it deems “reasonable.”

While the adoption advocates who spoke to me agreed there should be full disclosure in pricing, they expressed concern that bureaucrats may draw arbitrary or ill-informed lines that cause quality of care to suffer. “In what other field does the government regulate the salaries of private organizations?” Johnson asks.

Worse still, the proposed rules forbid families from paying for a child’s in-country care once a match has taken place. This is a common practice, allowing parents to give their child quality nutrition, medicine, and childcare while they wait for the adoption to be finalized. Banning child support outright—rather than simply requiring transparency—does nothing but harm the very party everyone should be most anxious to protect: the child.

4. They Create Unworkable Education Requirements.

Finally, the State Department has altered its education requirements for adopting families. While current regulations require families to receive 10 hours of training, Johnson says most Hague-accredited agencies already far exceed that. “Most organizations saw that as a low-bar standard,” he told me. Unfortunately, rather than simply beefing up hours or requiring certain topics to be covered, DOS will now require families to complete foster parent training in their state of residence. The Department expects states to offer this service free of charge to families pursuing private adoptions—an assumption many see as completely unrealistic.

“How is it the state’s responsibility to provide training for private adoptions?” asks Lucy Armistead, head of the Kentucky-based agency All Blessings International. “It’s going to take resources away from training meant for state kids. I have problems with that just as a taxpayer. Plus, we know it just won’t happen.”

Even if this requirement weren’t impractical, it’s wrong to assume that training tailored for the foster system will be directly applicable to international adoption. “This is requiring a form of training that is probably worse than what parents would get through the agencies,” Johnson says.

The bottom line: should these rules be adopted as written, advocates foresee far-reaching consequences. First, agencies will begin to close—most likely starting with small, faith-based agencies. Some speculate the current number of 198 American agencies could dwindle to as few as a dozen. Geographical gaps will form, as families in rural or low-population states can’t find an agency to serve them. Adoption costs will soar, and the already-long adoption timeline will lengthen.

Most importantly, millions of waiting children overseas will have fewer chances for a family of their own. “This is a boot on the neck of international adoption,” Johnson says. “At the end of the day, this isn’t about agencies. It’s about children.”

This Is A ‘Profoundly Problematic Institution’

So if these policies will harm children, why is the government promulgating them? What could possibly motivate the State Department to stand between waiting children and the families they need?

Taken at face value, these measures are simply intended to prevent corrupt practices. The State Department’s Chief of the Adoption Division, Trish Maskew, was formerly the head of a non-profit dedicated to promoting “ethical and transparent adoptions.” In reading her scholarly articles and Congressional testimony, however, it’s clear that Ms. Maskew sees inter-country adoption as more corrupt than ethical, going so far as to describe it as a “profoundly problematic institution.” Unsurprisingly, her office tends to treat agencies and parents with suspicion.

No one disputes that irregularities and fraud have indeed occurred in intercountry adoption, especially during the 1990s before the Hague Convention. The very worst cases involved isolated instances of kidnapping and baby-buying, with birth parents pressured or tricked into relinquishing their children. There is no denying the heart-rending tragedy of cases like these.

Orphans and abandoned children are far too easily forgotten and ignored: hidden away in institutions, systems, and slums.

It’s also undeniable that adoption disruptions have occurred, such as the much-publicized case of an American mother who put her seven-year-old son unaccompanied on a plane back to Russia. Such instances, while few and far between, have given inter-country adoption a black eye. In some countries, these dreadful stories have given politicians an excuse to shut adoption down altogether—thus answering one tragedy with another.

But even as we acknowledge adoption’s potential pitfalls, it would be a terrible mistake to lose sight of its importance as a solution for millions of needy children. Orphans and abandoned children are far too easily forgotten and ignored: hidden away in institutions, systems, and slums. They are convenient lambs to sacrifice on the altar of nationalist pride in the developing world, or colonialist guilt in the West. Who will notice or care? After all, kids growing up damaged and unloved don’t make for sensational headlines.

In a tragic irony, anti-adoption policies may actually be fostering the very evils they seek to avoid. As the Christian Alliance for Orphans reports, children in orphanages and foster care are extremely vulnerable to human trafficking—far more so than children in permanent families. It’s quite possible that in our overabundance of caution regarding adoption, we make more children vulnerable to actual human trafficking.

Family vs. Nationality: Which Is More Important?

Along with minimizing the true plight of orphans, adoption detractors often downplay the fact that most adoptions are ethical and successful. Johnson, who also sits on the board of the Council on Accreditation, notes that out of over 5,000 adoptions last year, there were just 10 complaints filed to COA—six of which were frivolous enough to be dismissed without investigation. While he supports rigorous ethical standards and would welcome some reforms, Johnson believes DOS officials have “an archaic view” of adoption practice that doesn’t take into account the many post-Hague improvements.

Certain incidents illustrate DOS’s underlying belief about adoption. When it came to light that an American adoption agency operating in Ethiopia was committing fraud (later leading to criminal charges), the State Department, in cooperation with the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS), sent a team to probe every Ethiopian adoption from that time period—4,000 consecutive adoptions. After an exhaustive investigation, not a single case was found to be fraudulent, with a handful recommended for further review.

Strangely, not only did the State Department fail to release the full report on its positive findings in Ethiopia (prompting irate Congressional letters and a FOIA request), but its embassy in Ethiopia also started putting children’s case files in a drawer, rather than processing them as required by law. Half a year went by, and waiting families began complaining to their members of Congress. Another team from USCIS was dispatched to the embassy in Addis Ababa to review the “drawer cases”—again finding no instances of fraud—and finally processing the adoptions. One can only speculate as to why DOS was so reluctant to publish the good news about Ethiopia’s adoption program, or to act upon it.

It is simplistic to think that poverty is the sole factor in child abandonment.

Indeed, the behavior of DOS in Ethiopia—among other examples—suggests that more is afoot than simply an overzealous concern for ethics. In some quarters, there is hostility toward inter-country adoption itself as a harmful act of Western colonialism. This is the view of one author Maskew quotes in a scholarly article on adoption: “A conception of poor, third-world countries as subordinate nations fits very comfortably with the practice of international adoption. … It permits a discourse that allows Westerners to take the high ground and portray their international adoptions as simple acts of humanitarianism and altruism.” These critics often suggest that Western money would be better spent alleviating poverty, so families (those that exist) could keep their own children.

Biological bonds are indeed important, and family reunification should certainly be sought wherever possible. But it is simplistic to think that poverty is the sole factor in child abandonment. For nearly 20 years, I have been involved with abandoned children in Romania, working in a ministry that facilitates both family reunification and domestic adoption. We’ve seen women who have abandoned so many babies to the state, they can’t even remember how many children they have. We’ve seen families shamelessly willing to sell and exploit their own children. It’s become tragically clear that for some parents, no amount of money would be enough to create a safe home environment. Their children don’t deserve a hopeless fate merely because of their race, culture, or ethnicity.

For some adoption critics, questions of race and nationality are so important that they trump a child’s fundamental human need for a family. They see children first as members of a race or ethnic group, rather than as individuals with universal human rights. This view—which prefers foster care in a child’s native country to inter-country adoption—is generally advanced by UNICEF and supported by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Hague Convention, on the other hand, places the priority on permanency. Child welfare advocates like Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Bartholet go even further, arguing that children have a fundamental human right to a permanent family, and that countries denying international adoption while keeping children in state care are guilty of violating human rights.

Will Congress Take Its Power Back?

Thankfully, most Americans understand how important family is in the life of a child. A 2013 survey by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption found that 65 percent described their view of international adoption as “favorable,” “very favorable,” or “extremely favorable.” As the representative branch of government, Congress reflects this pro-adoption view. The Congressional Coalition on Adoption is the largest bipartisan, bicameral caucus in D.C., with 173 members evenly representing both major parties. Members of Congress have often stepped in as champions of children and families stuck in the bureaucratic adoption process.

Given all this, it’s curious that an anti-adoption agenda—so far out of the mainstream—would be allowed to quietly creep in through the rule-making power of bureaucrats. It’s small wonder the State Department chose to roll out these regulations now, while the country is distracted by the election.

“If adoptive families had any idea of what was going on, I think they would be outraged,” Armistead told me. “We’re so busy just doing paperwork for adoptions that frankly we barely have time to fight this.”

‘If adoptive families had any idea of what was going on, I think they would be outraged.’

To help in the fight, adoption advocates have put together a website with information and resources, including a petition that has garnered nearly 19,000 signatures. The hope is that Congress will work to reclaim its lawmaking power, so any debate on the future of adoption can take place with the input of Americans. They also hope people whose lives have been impacted by adoption will leave a comment on the regulation itself. The comment period ends November 22.

Luckily for David Holman, he got his chance at a forever family. He’s now 20 years old and living in his own apartment, shared with his brother, Josh. He has a job as a team leader at a Super Target and is saving money to attend college, hoping for a degree in business management. Asked about growing up in his family, his voice grows warm. “I absolutely loved it. We have such good chemistry. I always knew I was adopted, but I never felt like it—I never felt different than anyone else. My family is a blessing to me, but my mom always says I’m even more of a blessing to them.”

Asked about his views on international adoption, he grows serious. “It’s a big deal. It should never be taken lightly. This is a human life—a child that needs someone so desperately.” Then he pauses. “I’ve always said—and I have other adopted friends who say the same—that when I get older, I want to adopt a child myself. Because I know how it feels. Since I had the chance to be adopted, I would like to give that chance to somebody else.”

Let’s all hope he gets that chance.

Jayme Metzgar is a Senior Contributor at The Federalist.

Burundi Update and thoughts on Naming

Happy Friday!

I am sure Pierre would want you all to know that his wife safely delivered a new baby boy into their family this week.  Congratulations!

And congratulations to families who are working on finishing their dossiers.  I know it is quite a bit of complicated paperwork.  If it is any consolation, Burundi has one of the less difficult dossiers.  Plus it has a friendly and responsible Central Authority.  I understand things have been very slow but nearly a year of work was lost to the political turmoil and right now they are having quite a time catching up.  There are new judges on the bench and they are unfamiliar with the international adoption protocols.  That alone has slowed things down for some families, both ours and families from other agencies.  I hope that there is another adoption committee meeting soon and that we get a couple more referrals.  Pierre mentioned there may be a six year old boy legally free soon and hopefully there will be younger children, too, for families hoping to adopt 2-3 year olds.

Pierre mentioned that the shelters really like having the chicken coops and I am hoping to have another built after we finish the drainage ditch project.  That is on the horizon, to be completed before the rainy season.

Reminder: Keep your I-800a current — post your expiration date on your fridge!

One thing I want to share is African naming traditions.  The tradition is to name a child in relation to life at the time.  A name could mean “Born on Sunday” or “Beautiful morning.”  Or they can have negative associations, such as names given during times of war.  This is excerpted from a 2008 article in USA Today http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/world/2008-03-16-3263547394_x.htm

In Burundi, names speak volumes – USATODAY.com

usatoday30.usatoday.com

BUJUMBURA, Burundi — Her first son was born 10 years ago on a Bujumbura street while fighting raged. She named him Nzikobanyanka, or “I know they hate us …

…”Names here are individual and have individual meanings,” says Philippe Ntahombaye, a university professor and linguistics expert in Bujumbura, the capital. “They can reflect a situation of conflict, but they can also serve as a means of dialogue — a means of resolving conflict.”

Like its neighbor, Rwanda, Burundi is a tiny country haunted by devastating bloodshed between two ethnic groups, majority Hutus and minority Tutsis. This land of breathtaking hills in the heart of Africa is recovering from a 1993-2005 civil war that killed hundreds of thousands. Tensions between Hutus and Tutsis trace back decades.

Every name has a story to tell.

Coffee dealer Charles Ntezahorigwa, an ethnic Tutsi, grew up in the 1950s in a rural area dominated by Hutus who wanted them to leave. “They used witchcraft against us and danced nude so our crops wouldn’t grow,” he said.

The hostile environment was borne out in his name — Nteza (“I’m expecting”), Kugwa (“To fall”), Ibara (“Something bad”), or, joined together, “I’m expecting something bad to happen.”

Tensions were also recorded in the names of his brothers and sisters: Nkinahamira (“I’m playing on quicksand”), Nicayenzi (I’m quiet, but aware I’m in danger”) and Bakanibona (“They’re planning bad things, but God will protect me”).

In Burundi’s fatalistic nomenclature, and in a language that can say much in a few syllables, there’s Barayampiema (“They’re not telling the truth”), Bangurambona (“They’re plotting against me”), Barandagiye (“They’re following me”), Nzobatinya (“I fear them”), Ndikumagenge (“I’m in danger”), Ntamahungiro (“There is no place to hide”).

There is even Hicuburundi (“Burundians kill”), a name linguists say could memorialize tragedy, or warn the child who bears it to be careful — some countrymen can pose a threat.

Ntahombaye (meaning “I live nowhere”) says such appellations aren’t meant to express hatred, but to encourage social cohesion.

“It’s a way to say to your neighbors, you know their intentions, their bad intentions,” he said. “But it’s also a way of telling them, ‘We’re aware of these sentiments you have, and we invite you to change.'”

Other families may respond with names of their own, creating a kind of dialogue played out over years or generations.

Plenty are positive: Ndikatubane (“Let us live together”), Ndizeye (“I trust”), Rukundo (“Love”).

Or mundane: Bitwi (“Big ears”), Bitonde (“Big nose”). Giswi means “you look like a small chicken,” Ntezahorigwa says.

Others memorialize historic moments. One prominent politician is named Mukasi, meaning “scissors,” in celebration of his family’s first pair. Burundi’s independence from Belgium in 1962 occasioned Burikukiye (“Burundi is becoming independent”).

Famines gave rise to Ndikiminwe (“I have very little in my hands to give”); locust plagues — Nzige (“Grasshopper”); conflicts — Kibiriti (“Match box”), an allusion to combatants who set village huts ablaze.

Children are traditionally given two unique names in Kirundi, the national language. But colonialism ushered in a taste for European first names, like the ex-rebel leader-turned-president Pierre Nkurunziza, whose surname means “good news.” The missionaries who brought Christianity gave rise to names like Nahimana (“Whatever happens is up to God”).

Some families have adopted the Western custom of passing on the father’s family name. The practice is rare, though, and at least one learned the benefits of keeping to tradition.

A judge, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the subject, said his Tutsi uncle had killed “many” Hutus in 1972, when a spasm of bloodletting shook the nation. His children carried the family name and were easily identifiable because of it.

“People always said, ‘you’re the son of that guy, you did this and that to our family,'” the judge said. “So when they grew up, they all changed their names.”

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Save Adoptions Petition! Please sign now

saveNational Council for Adoption and over 12,000 signers and over 40 agencies and adoption advocates are supporting a petition that will protect the opportunity for orphaned children to be adopted ethically and transparently.  Join us!  Please sign petition!

www.saveadoptions.org

International Child’s Director Jackie Semar Appointed to NANOE

jackies_pro_2Jackie Semar appointed to NANOE’s Prestigious 2017 Board of Governors

The National Association of Nonprofit Organizations and Executives (NANOE), headquartered in Washington, D.C. is pleased to announce the appointment of Jackie Semar to their Board of Governors.

Tucson,Arizona (PR MediaRelease) September 29, 2016Board of Governors for National Association of

Nonprofit Organizations & Executives Appoints Ms. Semar

The National Association of Nonprofit Organizations and Executives (NANOE), headquartered in Washington, D.C. is pleased to announce the appointment of Jackie Semar, Tucson/Oro Valley Adoption Professional Expert to NANOE’s prestigious 2017 Board of Governors. Semar will be honored alongside fellow Governors March 7-8, 2017 in Columbia, SC at NANOE’s 2017 Capacity-Building Convention & Expo.

NANOE is the only unifying nationwide association for charitable organizations and executives who serve the human welfare, education, healthcare, faith-cause, environmental and arts sectors. “Charity” has been paralyzed by a set of failed “best practices” that turned the Non-Profit Sector into a Non-Growth Sector decades ago.

This 2-day, model-changing caucus is critical to charity’s future and will rely on a myriad of industry experts to re­new, improve, strengthen and distribute a new set of guidelines that super-charge nonprofi­t capacity-building, and empower nonprofits in ways previously thought impossible.

Jackie Semar is the Chief Executive Officer of Tucson-based International Child Foundation, Inc. (ICF) with staff in Tucson and Phoenix. ICF is a Hague accredited Adoption Services Provider. Ms. Semar is also the recepient of a Leadership Award for the U.S.Department of State and serves as a Commissioner for the Council of Accreditation.

# # #

Contact:

Arizona
Jackie Semar
International Child Foundation, Inc.
520-531-9931

Kathleen Robinson – Nominations Co-Chair
National Association of Nonprofit Organizations & Executives
3509 Connecticut Ave NW #10004
Washington, DC 20008

800-257-6670
team@nanoe.org

NANOE is the only unifying nationwide association for charitable organizations and executives who serve the human welfare, education, healthcare, faith-cause, environmental and arts sectors. “Charity” has been paralyzed by a set of failed “best practices” that turned the Non-Profit Sector into a Non-Growth Sector decades ago. The two day caucus will re­new, improve, strengthen and distribute a new set of guidelines for all non-profits.

– See more at: http://prmediarelease.com/jackie-semar-appointed-to-nanoes-prestigious-2017-board-of-governors/#sthash.0Tn0bapi.dpuf

Save Adoptions! Sign petition at www.saveadoptions.org

With 12,117 supporters

We the People hereby petition our government to immediately withdraw the proposed rules published on September 8, 2016 changing the accreditation standards and procedures for intercountry adoptions; and that the State Department be required to identify and substantiate what problems they seek to solve by proposing these rule changes and incorporate the expertise of the adoption community prior to formulating any necessary new rules. The number of intercountry adoptions to the United States has fallen by 75% since 2004, leaving hundreds of thousands of orphans without safe, stable and loving families.

Petition by,
Save Adoptions

Letter

CONCERNED UNITED STATES INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTION AGENCIES
ACCREDITED BY THE COUNCIL ON ACCREDITATION
UNDER THE HAGUE CONVENTION ON INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTION

September 20, 2016
The Honorable John Kerry, Secretary of State
The Honorable Michele Thoren Bond, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Consular Affairs
Department of State, United States of America
Washington, DC 20522

RE:  81 FR 62321; 22 CFR 96; Document Number 2016-20968

Dear Secretary Kerry and Assistant Secretary Bond,

The undersigned adoption agencies, accredited by the Council on Accreditation under the Hague standards on intercountry adoptions, respectfully request that the proposed rules published by the Department of State on September 8, 2016, be withdrawn immediately.  The proposed rules, which we believe are unnecessary and discriminatory against accredited adoption agencies and foreign child welfare officials, represent an attempt by representatives of the State Department to exercise subjective and anti-adoption influence and control over the field of intercountry adoption.  The rules fail to identify what problems or issues they seek to address, are an effort to control rather than regulate intercountry adoptions and create conflicts in law that cannot be resolved.

We have seen the number of intercountry adoptions decline by 75% since 2004 and the proposed rules would further restrict adoptions, leaving hundreds of thousands of children who may otherwise be adopted with no hope for a family.   These proposed rules hurt orphan children and remove what little hope they have for a family.  The Department of State should be an advocate and champion for these vulnerable children around the world and not promulgate regulations that will leave these children in a worse position.  We favor sound, ethical and transparent intercountry adoption practices.

Our primary objections to the proposed rules include, but are certainly not limited to:

  1. Through the Country Specific Accreditation (CSA) category, the rules create a two-tier accreditation system with a “super accreditation” for certain countries with as-yet undefined subjective standards to be determined at a later date and subject to discriminatory application to favored agencies. Foreign countries have no input into whether their country would be subjected to such a “super accreditation” process for agencies which have already been accredited here in the United States and may have also already been licensed to work in their countries.   This rule is a blatant abuse of power.
  1. Requiring prospective adopting families to complete foster family training at the state level, with no cost to the family, is a naïve and ill-conceived approach to improving current training requirements for families. Just a few calls made to foster care officials across the nation reveal that opening foster family training to intercountry adopting families at no cost is an entirely unrealistic expectation and the uniform reaction was shock at yet another federal government mandate with no funding.  Moreover, the lack of access to foster family training provided by the states will certainly extend an already lengthy adoption process, thereby extending the time period that vulnerable children remain institutionalized causing them further harm.  Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the kind of additional child specific training which would benefit families is not even available through foster family training.
  1. The Department of State seeks to impose potentially unlimited and uninsurable liability on agencies for supervising individuals in foreign countries when the level of supervision and control is neither legally allowable (in the case of foreign attorneys or government-run orphanages) nor possible. The current regulations require agencies to carry a minimum of $1 million of professional liability insurance.  Discussions with insurers have verified that the cost of insurance for expanding coverage to include individuals or organizations in foreign countries is more than financially prohibitive but would drive the cost of intercountry adoption higher and would probably not even be available.
  1. In an attempt to further control the activities of agencies in foreign countries, the proposed rules seek to broaden the activities which are subject to agency supervision to include individuals such as interpreters, guides and drivers under the guise of the word “facilitating” an adoption. “Facilitating” remains undefined in the proposed regulations and leaves it open to the broad, unfettered discretion of the Department and the accrediting entity.
  1. In an unprecedented overreach, the proposed rules also seek to fix the compensation of in-country workers assisting the adoption agencies and adopting families. Rather than simply requiring disclosure, so that prospective adopting families can compare the amounts due for all parts of an adoption, the Department of State seeks to determine what is “reasonable” without any prescribed methodology, guidance, input or supervision, again giving the Department discretion exceeding the scope permissible by law.  There is no assurance that foreign workers assisting one agency will be restricted to the same compensation of workers assisting another agency; another path for the subjective, inequitable treatment of agencies.  Nowhere else in federal regulations does the government seek to set a maximum level of compensation, and it should not be permitted here.

Unlike the initial Final Hague Rules, published February 15, 2006 after 2 ½ years of consultation with the adoption community, adoption agencies, and experts from a wide variety of disciplines, the proposed rules issued on September 8, 2016 offer no rationale or need for rule changes and demonstrably will result in the further decline in the number of intercountry adoptions.  It is a proposed solution for a problem that either has not been identified publicly or simply does not exist.

Orphaned children face a dismal future and those remaining in orphanages are the demographic most at risk for trafficking.  We ask that the Department of State demonstrate a commitment to adoption as an effective means of protecting vulnerable children and keeping their hope alive by immediately withdrawing the proposed rules.

Sincerely,

Signed and endorsed by the listed Endorsing Agencies Below

Cc: Office of Legal Affairs, Overseas Citizens Services, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/L, SA-17,

Floor 10, Washington, DC 20522-1710

Endorsing Hague Accredited Agencies

  1. ABC Adoption Services, Inc.
  2. Across the world Adoptions
  3. Adopt Abroad
  4. Adoption Associates
  5. Adoption by Shepherd Care
  6. Agape of Central Alabama
  7. A Helping Hand Adoption
  8. Amazing Grace Adoptions
  9. America World Adoption Association
  10. Bal Jagat – Children’s World International
  11. Building Arizona Families
  12. Carolina Adoption Services
  13. Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington, Inc.
  14. Catholic Charities Center for Family Services, Baltimore
  15. Christian Adoption Services, NC
  16. Cradle of Hope Adoption Center
  17. Embracing Children Adoption Services
  18. Embraced by Grace Adoptions
  19. Family Connections, Inc.
  20. Generations Adoptions
  21. Great Wall China Adoptions / Children of All Nations
  22. Homestudies and Adoption Placement Services
  23. Hope Adoption Inc. (Hope International)
  24. Hope’s Promise
  25. Hopscotch Adoptions, Inc.
  26. International Adoption Net
  27. International Child Foundation
  28. Joshua Tree Adoptions
  29. Little Miracles Adoption Agency
  30. Michael S. Goldstein, Esq
  31. New Beginnings International Children’s and Family Services
  32. New Horizons Adoption Agency, Inc.
  33. Nightlight Christian Adoptions
  34. Open Door Adoption Agency, Inc.
  35. Premier Adoption Agency, Inc.
  36. Small World, Inc.
  37. The Gladney Center for Adoption
  38. Vista Del Mar Adoptions
  39. Wasatch International Adoptions
  40. West Sands Adoptions
  41. World Links International Adoption Agency

More agencies to come soon…we’re just getting started.

Other Endorsing Organizations

KidSave

Harvard Law School Child Advocacy Program

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