10 Things Adoptive Parents Should Know (From An Adoptee’s Perspective)

I found a great article on the "Diary of a Not-So-Angry Asian Adoptee" blog today. The entire article is here. But here are the bullet points from the article:

1. Adoption is not possible without loss. 

2. Love isn’t enough in adoption, but it certainly makes a difference. 

3. Show me—through your words and your actions—that you are willing to weather any storm with me. 

4. I will always worry that you will abandon me, no matter how often you tell me or show me otherwise. 

5. Even though society says it is PC to be color-blind, I need you to know that race matters. 

6. I need you to be my advocate. 

7. At some point during our adoption journey, I may ask about or want to search for my birth family. 

8. Please don’t expect me to be grateful for having been adopted. 

9. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

10. Adoption is different for everyone.

 

Halted foreign adoptions leave would-be parents in limbo

Dreamstime_3789176_2 The crib in Ellen Darcy’s Boston home has sat empty for more than a year. And in suburban Washington, Laura Teresinski has prepared a nursery for a baby that may never arrive.

They and thousands of prospective parents, eager to adopt children from abroad, have found themselves in an emotional legal limbo since two of the most popular countries for international adoptions — Guatemala and Vietnam — recently halted their programs.

Now would-be mothers and fathers around the United States wonder what will become of their quest to adopt a child — a pursuit that can fray nerves, cost up to $30,000 and span several years.

Guatemala announced this month that it would conduct a case-by-case review of every pending foreign adoption case. That put on hold the adoption plans of about 2,000 American families.

The crackdown comes amid reports that some in Guatemala coerce mothers to relinquish their children for adoption — or steal the children outright and present them as orphans.

Similar accusations have arisen in Vietnam.

After the United States accused adoption agencies there of corruption and baby-selling, Vietnam said in April that it would no longer allow adoptions to the United States.

"My husband and I were absolutely devastated," Teresinski said. "Adoptive parents have put a lot of emotional energy and a lot of financial resources in the process."

Vietnam’s decision affects several hundred families.

Families in the United States adopted 4,728 children from Guatemala and 828 from Vietnam last year.

The halt in adoptions from those two nations unfolds against the backdrop of a dramatic rise in international adoptions in the United States.

The number of foreign-born children adopted by U.S. families more than tripled from 1990 to 2004, when it reached a high of 22,884, though the figure has declined slightly each year since.

n 2007, the U.S. granted visas to 19,613 children so they could join an adoptive family in the United States, according to U.S. State Department figures. About 70 percent of those children came from four countries: China, Guatemala, Russia and Ethiopia.

A few other countries have also halted foreign adoptions at various times, including Kazakhstan and Togo.

Yet the suspensions in Vietnam and Guatemala have had the biggest impact — they’re two of the 10 countries that send the most children to adoptive homes in the Unites States.

Fear of fraud stirs heartache

For Darcy, the review seems more detrimental than helpful.

Her adopted daughter, Carolina, remains in a Guatemalan foster home with three dozen other babies. Darcy worries that keeping Carolina, now 15 months old, in a foster home will harm her early development.

"She’s not getting one-on-one care by a consistent caretaker," Darcy said, adding later, "Nobody is looking at this as a violation of the kids’ human rights except for these (American) parents."

Guatemala, which until now has had little to no oversight of its foreign adoptions, has the highest per capita rate of adoption in the world.

Nearly one in 100 babies born in Guatemala wind up living with adoptive parents in the United States, according to the U.S. consulate in Guatemala.

While adoptive parents in the United States undergo rigorous screening, adoptions in Guatemala had been processed by notaries responsible for determining whether the babies were relinquished voluntarily. They also arrange foster care and handle paperwork — notaries in Latin America tend to have more legal training than notaries in the United States.

Both Guatemalan and U.S. officials fear the system leads to practices such as paying birth mothers for children or, in some instances, coercion.

Officials in both countries say gaps in regulations and the high sums of money at play — adoptions can cost up to $30,000 — may have created unintended incentives in a country where the State Department estimates that 80 percent of the population lives in poverty.

The Guatemalan government has said its review could take a month or longer. As for the American families, they can only wait.

"I think it’s overkill," said Darcy, who was matched with Carolina last March and was approved to adopt the girl last winter — typically one of the last steps before the actual adoption is complete.

"No adoptive parent wants to adopt an abducted child — a child that wasn’t voluntarily relinquished — but to keep them as hostages is unacceptable," Darcy said.

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Adoption Problems in Other Countries

The slowdown affecting adoptions from China coincides with unrelated complications in several other countries that have been major sources of adopted children for American parents. Some examples:

_GUATEMALA: Irregularities and suspected fraud have cast a cloud of uncertainty over many of the 2,900 pending U.S. adoptions from Guatemala, which is the second-largest source of adopted children — after China — for the United States. The State Department on April 1 advised potential adoptive parents not to initiate new adoptions from Guatemala.

_RUSSIA: Laws affecting adoptions by foreigners have become stricter, while Russia has been trying to expand domestic adoption. Last year, 2,310 Russian children were adopted by Americans, down from a peak of 5,865 in 2004.

_VIETNAM: Renewed U.S. concern about possible baby selling, fraud and corruption — the same fears that led to suspension of Vietnamese adoptions from 2003 to 2005 — are again holding up visas for some babies adopted in Vietnam. The U.S. embassy has confirmed more than a dozen problematic cases, and Vietnamese adoption officials have said roughly 20 American families are affected.

_KAZAKHSTAN: Officials of Kazakhstan, the eighth-largest supplier of adopted children to the U.S. in 2007, informed the State Department last month that it was reviewing its adoption process and would suspend its normal handling of applications during the review.

SOURCE: Associated Press

U.S. Joins Overseas Adoption Overhaul Plan

Published: December 11, 2007

The United States, the world leader in international adoptions, will join more than 70 nations committed to standardizing policies, procedures and safeguards to reduce corruption in the largely unregulated adoption marketplace.

When the United States ratifies the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption tomorrow in the Netherlands, it will establish federal oversight of adoption policies and policies overseas.

The multilateral treaty is designed to protect children, birth parents and adoptive parents from shady practices, including hidden fees and child abduction.

Each nation names a central authority — here, the State Department — to establish ethical practices, require accreditation for the agencies handling the adoptions, maintain a registry to track complaints and create a system for decertifying agencies that do not meet the standards.

In addition, once the treaty is fully put in place in April, parents seeking a visa for an overseas adoption must demonstrate to the State Department that a child has been properly cleared for adoption, that a local placement had been considered, and that the birth parents were counseled on their decision and have signed consent forms. Prospective adoptive parents also must show they are properly trained for what could be a rocky transition.

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Georgia Statutes Regarding International Adoptions Finalized Abroad

Effect of Foreign Adoption Decree

Georgia gives full effect and recognition given to decrees issued pursuant to due process of law by a court of any other jurisdiction within or outside of the United States Official Code of Georgia Annotated, Title 19, Chapter 8, Section 22 (1997).

Validation of Foreign Adoption

Re-adoption allowed upon submission of valid foreign adoption decree and proof of valid visa issued by US Immigration and Naturalization Service Official Code of Georgia Annotated, Title 19 Chapter 8, Section 8 (1997).

SOURCE: Adoption.com

USCIS sets new international adoption immigration procedures

Richard Crouch at the International Family Law News & Analysis Blog has recently posted this article:

This is a big step in implementing the new Hague Adoption Convention in the U.S.:

USCIS News Release
October 4, 2007

USCIS ISSUES INTERIM RULE ESTABLISHING NEW PROCEDURES FOR ADOPTED CHILDREN UNDER THE HAGUE CONVENTION

WASHINGTON  —  U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced the publication of an interim rule in the Federal Register to establish new administrative procedures for the immigration of children who are adopted by U.S. citizens and who come from countries that are parties to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption.

The rule amends U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations relating to the immigration of adopted children to be in conformity with the convention, a treaty that the United States plans to ratify soon.  USCIS invites public comments on the interim rule published in the Federal Register and currently available for public review at www.uscis.gov.

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