Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom said that Guatemala will need five years to rebuild the infrastructure damaged by Tropical Storm Agatha, which hit the Central American country last month. “We estimate that it will take about five years to complete a full reconstruction,” he said, adding that the total cost could exceed $125 million. The sad thing is that this disaster, which came on the heels of the eruption of the Pacaya volcano which basically shut down the capitol city, barely made the international news. Singer Sheryl Crow adopts her second son, Levi, born April 30. Article in the Huffington Post on adoptive parenting. Parenting and Adoption: Love and a Lot More by Sally Maslansky. Nice article on what it takes to parent a post institutionalized child. The author, an adoption therapist and adoptive mom, strives to paint a realistic yet optimistic picture. Ethica, a nonprofit for ethical adoptions, has conducted a survey of adoption practices of agencies placing children from Ethiopia. Although it is not a definitive survey since the answers are not independently confirmed, it does provide valuable information for parents trying to choose an adoption agency for an Ethiopian adoption. Only a few agencies chose to respond to Ethica's survey, but I think it says something positive about the ones that responded. The folks over at EMK Press have created a terrific guide titled Realistic Expectations:The First Year Home. They have included top notch articles on all things you need to survive and thrive in your first year home, including attaching, sleeping, helping grandparents understand, and much more.We will include the link to this guide on the appropriate pages of our website, but I suggest you check it out now. Laura Silsby, the leader of the group of Americans that were arrested in Haiti when trying to take 33 Haitian children across the border into the Dominican Republic, was convicted and released for time served. She was the last remaining of the so-called "Baptist missionaries" that were arrested after the Haitian earthquake in January to remain in jail. She was convicted of the lesser charge of Arranging Irregular Travel, rather than Kidnapping or Child Trafficking. She is on her way back to Idaho today. Well written article in The New Yorker by John Seabrook, about his family's adoption of a toddler from Haiti. Their daughter was one of the children whose adoption was expedited after the Haitian earthquake. He does a very good job of wrestling with some of the bigger questions of international adoption. Anyone who has adopted internationally or cares about kids should read this article.Seabrook wa interviewed on the National Public Radio show Fresh Air. Rainbow Kids and the Joint Council on International Children's Services, as well as several agencies, have reported that Kazakhstan has temporarily suspended international adoptions while they seek to implement the Hague Treaty. The US State Department website has not posted this information, but in my opinion it is not a rumor. I don't know how this will affect future international adoptions from Kazakhstan. It takes most countries a very long time to implement the Hague Treaty. We are talking years, rather than months. I have no idea if Kazakhstan will continue to suspend international adoption during this time period. Rainbow Kids reported that adoption cases where the dossier is already registered with the consulate will not be affected by this suspension. We will keep you posted. The Russian Parliament failed to pass a bill that would have suspended international adoptions to the US. The vote failed by 98 votes. This bill was introduced in response to the Tennessee mother who returned her 8 year old son to Russia, saying she no longer wanted to parent him. Adoptions from Russia remain somewhat tenuous since it is likely that negotiations will soon begin over a bilateral adoption agreement between the two countries. CNN will be airing a documentary on the lives on children in Haiti before and after the January earthquake. Please watch "Rescued" with Soledad O'Brien on Saturday, May 8 at 8pm ET. Check out this trailer. Hundreds of families are still waiting and trying to get their kids out of Guatemala. Many of these families have been waiting for years. Many of these families had been waiting for years even before the warning were announced about not adopting from Guatemala. These parents are still committed to their kids, so why not lend a helping hand (or signature). They are asking for you to sign a petition to the First Ladies of Guatemala and the US about the plight of these children who are still waiting to come home. May is National Foster Care month. 463,000 American children and youth are in our foster care system. The public perception is often that these children are damaged beyond help. Nothing could be further from the truth. These are children and youth who come from families that are struggling. They have been dealt a hard blow, but most are survivors. Check out these adults who spent time in foster care as children. Undoubtedly, each one of them had an adult who stepped forward to help when their parents weren't able. To learn more about becoming a foster parent, go to the National Foster Care Month website. And now, here's the "rest of the story". The leader of the group of American missionaries arrested in Haiti when trying to bring 33 Haitian children into the Dominican Republic has now been officially charged and will soon stand trial. She is being charged with "arranging illegal travel" which is the lesser of the charges. She could be sentenced anywhere from 6 moths to 3 years. If you've ever wondered if one person can make a difference, the answer is "Yes". Watch this wonderful ABC News report on Betty Tisdale, the woman who was partly responsible for getting 219 Vietnamese children out of the country right before the collapse of South Vietnam. As I watched I wondered how the media would spin this story if it happened today. The adoption news from Kyrgyzstan continues to be dismal. The State Department issues a new notice and included a Travel Warning. The Kyrgyz criminal investigation of alleged corruption in the adoption process is ongoing and the Kyrgyz press has reported that two local adoption coordinators who worked with U.S. adoption agencies were arrested and released on bail. Although the the Kyrgyz Parliament passed a bill on March 19 that would amend their adoption laws, including what children would be eligible and the requirements for adoptive parents, this bill was not signed by the president. If enacted, the government must still approve additional regulations in order for adoptions to resume. The saddest part of this story is that 65 children were in the process of being adopted by American families when adoptions were suspended in October 2008 As far as I know, all the American families remain committed to bringing these children home. In all the press about flaky uncommitted adoptive parents, I wish a little more attention would be given to the unbelievable commitment of many adoptive parents, even when faced with these long long delays. Interesting article on spanking in Time Magazine. A new study in the journal Pediatrics that spanking may make kids act out more in the long run. Kids that were spanked more frequently at age 3 were much more likely to be aggressive by age 5. This was a large study involving 2,500 three and five year old kids in 20 cities. I was pleased that they controlled for issues with the mother, such as depression, alcohol or drugs, and domestic violence, since it seems as if these factors could skew the results. Although not a part of the results, I was interested in the frequency of spanking. The study found that 45.6% of mothers reported not spanking their 3-year-olds in the previous month, 27.9% reported spanking once or twice that month, and 26.5% reported spanking more than twice. I suppose it is inevitable that the media is looking for other stories of adoptions from Russia "gone wrong". The NYT and CNN are both reporting on a "wrongful adoption" case brought by a family against their adoption agency, Bethany Christian Services, claiming they were lied to about their son's condition and records were withheld. The Harshaw's are committed to raising their son, but say they would not have adopted him had they known of his condition. I know none of the details other than what is being reported. Apparently the child, Roman, has many many problems including low IQ and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. The agency claims that they made no misrepresentations, while the couple claims that they intentionally misled them and withheld information. This case highlights the need for more and more education of pre-adoptive parents and for full disclosure of everything known to parents before they commit to the adoption. I guess in a strange way, it is further support for the mission of Creating a Family. Sandra Bullock adopted a newborn African American baby domestically 3 months ago. She is filing for divorce from Jesse James and is adopting as a single parent. She and James began the process 4 years ago and the baby came home in January. The baby's name is Louis and he was born in New Orleans. NYT article on auditory processing disorders highlighting Rosie O'Donnell and her 10 yer old son Blake. This disorder, which is more common in kids adopted from institutions than in the total population, is often misdiagnosed. I loved that this article focused on treatment to help these kiddos. Newsweek ran a good article on the long delayed adoptions from Kyrgyzstan. 65 families are caught up in the nightmare which is only getting worse. This highlights some of the dangers of international adoption. Fortunately, with most established programs disruptions such as this are usually forecasted well in advance. This article at CNN explains the situation from the driver hired by the adoptive mom who was returning her son to Russia. I have wondered what he knew and how the child was during this time. Good article with new information. We've now moved from the sad to the ridiculous with People Magazine leaving fruit baskets on Torry Hansen's door and satellite truck forming a parking lot around her house. Check out this article from her hometown newspaper, The Shelbyville Times-Gazette. Great article in Slate on the potentials in adoption with the provocative title "I Did Not Love My Adopted Child". Unfortunately, in the case of the returned Russian child, the mother, Torry Hansen, gave it no time to learn to love her son or to even help him heal. Parenting a child with alcohol exposure and an attachment disorder is unbelievably hard and some people simply can't do it. But in any case, 6 months is not long enough and sending him back to Russia is not a solution. And now here's "the rest of the story"-parents in the process of adopting from Russia are in a panic. 3,500 Russian children are in some stage of being adopted by some 3000 American families. This mess created by one woman reverberates through the adoption community and puts thousands of Russian children at risk of growing up without a family. The power of one is incomprehensible. Interesting article in The Huffington Post titled Adult Adoptee Decides to Adopt. The article stated, "As the trans-national adoptees of the '50s, '60s, and '70 mature, they have come to add new, and often heated, voices to the debate over the ethics of adoption. They do not, however, offer a unified perspective on the subject. While many adoptees express satisfaction about their upbringing, others see their adoption as a crime that tore them from their vulnerable birth families." Our Creating a Family radio show this week, April 7, 2010, will be a panel of adult transracial adoptees. Changes are afoot with Chinese adoptions. The China Center of Adoption Affairs (CCAA) is the Chinese governmental department that processes adoptions and oversees the Chinese child welfare institutions. The CCAA will be changing its name to the China Child Welfare Center (CCWC), and will refocus their attention on protecting the welfare of all children particularly orphans, children with disabilities and serious illnesses, children of migrant workers, single parent households and families living in poverty.
Adoptions will continue to be a focus, but the emphasis will be on finding homes for children with special needs. According to Half the Child Foundation, “the number of ‘healthy’ abandoned children has dropped dramatically with China’s new prosperity.” As the Associated Press recently reported, the majority of adoptions from China now involve children with special needs. The CCWC has announced plans to seek ways to connect child welfare institutions to the communities where they are located. The Associated Press reports what we've been saying for awhile-China is becoming primarily a special needs adoption program. Check out this video on Adopting a Child with Special Needs from China. The Adoption Tax Credit was Extended and Improved. So often with news stories, we never hear how things turn out once the glare of publicity fades. I have been following the story of the US "missionaries" that were arrested in Haiti for trying to cross the border into the Dominican Republic with 33 Haitian "orphans". All the US citizens have been released except the leader, Laura Silsby, who remains in a Haitian jail. All but one of the children had living parents and have been returned home. Each family was given food, blankets and $260 when they came to collect their children. The remaining child was transferred to an SOS orphanage. This is not the end of this story or the end of the story of Haitian orphans, but it does fill in a few blanks. The BBC reported some of this news. I have blogged on this story in The Road to Hell, Haiti and the Baptists. March 2010 This Newsweek article made me want to shout “Hurray” and “Finally.” It is about international adoption written by a woman who was adopted internationally from Columbia in the 1970s. Many of the people who speak on the pros and cons of international adoption are only loosely touched by the experience. This woman is intimately familiar with adoption from the inside out. She eloquently talks about the realities of life with and life without adoption from the child’s perspective. She accurately reflects the research, which is so often ignored in this discussion. I can't recommend this article enough. I promise it will only take 5 minutes of your time. The US State Dept. is warning parents to be cautious of an internet adoption scam promising a child from Cameroon. Anyone who promises you a fast easy cheap international adoption is likely up to no good. If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is. Most of the world's media has moved on. Haiti is yesterday's news. Fortunately, there are some, like 60 Minutes, that realize that the story is only beginning. On March 21, 2010 60 Minutes had a great segment on what is currently happening. It is so hard for most of us to believe just how devastated Haiti was and is. The earthquake in many ways exposed a child welfare system in shambles. Adoption has a place, but will never be the ultimate solution for most of these children. Haiti's kids need us to stay involved. Watch this segment. It is way too important to miss. China recently announced some changes to their Special Needs Adoption program. First read the China adoption chart to better understand the process. The rest of this update will make more sense. There are two lists of special needs kiddos from China: the shared list and agency specific lists. In the past families who were just starting the China adoption process could look at the shared list and request a child off this list. China will now require that new children added to the shared list be paired only with families that have already submitted their paperwork (dossier) to China. If after a month the children have not found their families, older children or those with more significant needs will then be able to be considered by families that have not yet submitted their dossier to China. Once paired, families will have 72 hours to complete their letter of intent and formal application for the child. There is a rumor that I have not confirmed that China will do away with the agency specific list. For now, I wouldn’t give much credence to this rumor. It really only affects families in the process of choosing an agency since I recommend that people interested in special needs adoptions from China choose an agency with a designated list. March 2010 Guatemala announced this week that they will resume international adoptions in June 2010 under a new pilot program. The Guatemalan National Adoptions Council will select four foreign adoption organizations to be part of the pilot program. Previous reports indicated that the focus of the pilot program will be harder to place children, including children with special needs and older kids. Several news media have covered this story, including The Seattle Times and Salon. Sex and the City actor, Willie Garson, who currently stars on the USA Network's White Collar, just finalized the adoption of an 8 year old. Congratulations to this new family. I am so thankful that People chose to focus on a celebrity that adopted from foster care.
The New York Times recently ran a good article on coping with learning disabilities. What to Do if You Suspect Learning Disability.
Although not necessarily relevant to adoption, I thought some of you might find it interesting and helpful. The thing about learning disabilities is that kids don't outgrow them and they impact the child's life in different ways as they age.
My Adopted Daughter at My Breast:
Our Path Toward a Wonderful Nursing Relationship
by C.J. Johnson Breastfeeding your adopted child is possible. It's not easy and you may have to supplement with formula, but many adoptive moms have succeeded. Check out our Breastfeeding and Adoption
page for more resources.
NPR Morning Edition aired a very good and very touching story
on what is best for Haiti's orphans. I heard about it right after I posted my blog
on this same topic. Please read both and please add your comment to the blog.
Oscar acceptance speeches are often pretty routine as a listening experience, but not Sandra Bullock's
. I especially loved the part where she thanked "Moms who take care of babies and chidlren no matter where they come from."
Really good parenting article in US News and World Report
. Not specific to adoption, but just good, practical, simple, and short advice. I particularly like the fact that the advice is based on good research. I highly recommend this article. I loved the last piece of advice. Laugh and be silly as a family.
The Boston Globe summarized some fascinating research on language acquisition in internationally adopted kids in an article titled "Adoptees offer clues on skills of language develoopment
". Harvard researchers have been studying language acquisition of internationally adopted kids. They have found that these adopted children learn English in the same sequence as babies: starting with single words and progressing to word combinations and complex grammar. The believe that it is the nature of language itself that dictates how it is learned and by observing the patterns of how children adopted from abroad acquire English, they can develop new and better ways to teach language. Feb. 2010
I urge potential adoptive parents to be extremely cautious before choosing Nepal as a country from which to adopt. Adoptions from Nepal are highly unstable now. The Nepali government has said each agency may only process 10 adoptions per year. Children that have already been referred but not adopted are not grandfathered in and must be "unreferred" and reenter the general pool of children to be assigned. The US State Department
is reporting incidents of fraudulent adoptions. Proceed with caution. Better yet, don't proceed with an adoption from Nepal. Choose a different country.
Fascinating and thoughtful article
on the role of missionaries in Haiti. After the debacle of the 10 Americans sent from a Baptist church that were arrested for trying to take 33 children across the border to a rented complex in the Dominican Republic, the role of religious missionaries in general has been questioned. There are about 1,700 missionaries permanently based in Haiti, and probably about 8,000 more that have come after the Haitian earthquake. Conflict has developed between the long term missionaries and the newcomers. One veteran missionaries faulted the new arrivals for frequently acting on their own instead of collaborating with more established missionary groups that plan on staying in Haiti for the long haul. It is tension, some experts say, that can arise from the differing reasons that missions have for being here. “The new or short-term groups see themselves as being there to save souls first and lives second,” said Jonathan J. Bonk, director of the Overseas Ministries Study Center in New Haven. “The older, less conservative missions often see it the other way around.”
- There are so many sad stories coming out of Haiti that it is easy to become a little callous. This story of a family that died with the son they had waited so long to adopt truly "got to me". I know it is not sadder because the family had waited so long or because the child had finally been adopted, but these facts add poignancy.
- Haitians Want Orphans to Stay This video sums up the crux of the issue of what is best for the orphans of Haiti. First, kudos to Anderson Cooper for going back to Haiti and doing his part to keep the plight of the Haitian people in the news. The rest of the media seems ready to move on, but the real work is just beginning. I this video, Cooper is filming at a well run, well supported orphanage (Mercy and Sharing) in Haiti. The piece begins with the statement that “The goal here [at this orphanage] is to not get kids adopted to America but make sure they have a good life in Haiti.” Later the orphanage director says the children are Haitian and should stay in Haiti and grow up to be leaders in Haiti. It’s a good video, but her statements drive me nuts. For, the record let me say, that the goal is NEVER to get kids adopted abroad. The goal is to keep families together, if that’s not possible, then second best is to find a family in Haiti to adopt them. If that fails, then and only then, should families abroad be sought. But I take huge exception with the idea that it is better for kids to grow up in an orphanage in their home country than in a family anywhere else. There is absolutely no research that has ever been done that supports this. There are 106 children in the Mercy and Sharing orphanage. They will soon have over 200 children. Human beings are not meant to be raised in a city sized pack. For that matter, no animal is meant to be raised as 1 of 200. It damages children, no matter how well intentioned the people running the institution. Children are human before they are Haitian. National pride should not trump what is best for children. Let's hope Anderson Cooper continues to follow what is happening.
- Once again, the New York Times is leading the way with well researched insightful coverage of what is happening in Haiti. Bleak Portrait of Haiti Orphanages Raises Fears is the first time I've seen a main stream media pay attention to the conditions that existed in Haiti before the quake. The situation for children was dismal. The system was broken and fixing this system will take sustained effort and big bucks. this situation is not unique to Haiti. I wrote about similar conditions in Guatemala a few years ago in A Guatemalan Orphanage.
- There is still much we don't know about the church group from Idaho that was arrested trying to bring 33 kids into the Dominican Republic. What was their relationship with Haiti and the Haitian orphanage prior to the earthquake. Where did the kids come from. Were they living in an orphanage that was destroyed by the quake. This group is being vilified and perhaps it is just. They certainly have played into the hands of the folks that are lumping international adoption with child trafficking. But it's also possible that this rush to judgment is a bit premature. This interview by Fox News with their attorney sheds a little light on the situation.
- Ten members of a Baptist church group from Idaho were arrested for attempted child trafficking in Haiti. Apparently the group was trying to bring 33 children that they had been "given" by a Haitian pastor into the Dominican Republic. None of the children had documents allowing them to be removed. It is unclear where the children came from and if they had surviving parents or extended family members. Read about this story and watch the video on the CBS News and the Washington Times.
- A beautiful testament to the American heart for adoption was published Jan. 27 in the Huffington Post by Jeff Katz, from Listening to Parents. I felt much the same way when we were inundated in the last two weeks with calls and emails wanting information on how to adopt a child orphaned by the earthquake. As I said in last week's blog on this topic, it is truly hard to remain cynical when you see the good in folks. These were not people who were seeking cute little babies, most people who called Creating a Family were open to any child who needed a home. Just because it is not the right time now, doesn't mean that children won't be available in the future. Let's hope the American spirit and heart for adoption continues and let's hope that Haiti modifies their very strict adoption requirements so more kids can find homes.
- Beautifully written article in the NYT on what is happening to the kids in Haiti right now. This touched me. I take issue with some of what was said by UNICEF and will be devoting next week's blog to this if I can get down from my soapbox long enough to write it.
- I was interviewed on the Laura Flanders TV show on GritTV on Jan. 25 about adoptions from Haiti. The other guests were David Smolin, professor of law at Samford University, adoptive parent in a fraudulent adoption, and has written extensively about adoption corruption; and Phil Bertelsen, an adult transracial adoptee and director of Outside Looking In, a documentary about transracial adopton. I would have liked to have had an hour to really explore the issues, but I thought Flanders did a good job of touching on some of them, albeit briefly. The documentary, Outside Looking In, which was excepted extensively on the show looks fascinating. You can buy it on Amazon for $30.
- I know there are lots of articles coming out this week about happy families finally reunited by the airlift of orphans from Haiti and the relaxation of immigration rules for these children. This is one of the best that I've found.It reiterates what we have been stressing. These are not children that have been plucked from the rubble and immediately shipped to the US for adoption. These adoptions have been in process for a long time--3 years on one case. I loved the grandmother's comment about the eldest child talking when she was good and ready. As I read the article and scrolled through the pictures, I did wish that I could tell the parents to tone down the material possessions and balloons and party atmosphere as much as possible. Kids tend to adjust better when they are not overwhelmed with abundance.
- The Department of State issued a new statement on adopting from Haiti on Jan 22, 2010. Basically they said the same thing we said in our post "Adopting from Haiti Post Earthquake." They made one point that I should have made and will eventually add to that blog post. Many children that were living in orphanages prior to the earthquake were placed there temporarily by their parents with no intent to relinquish their children permanently. Removing these children from Haiti and their families is not appropriate.
- RainbowKids posted a wonderful article yesterday on the current status of what's happening with Haitian orphans as of Jan. 21, 2010. Yet once again, RainbowKids ROCKS. For other information listen to the Jan. 20, 2010 Creating a Family radio show or check out our last three blogs.
- 50 members of Congress sent an open letter to the Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, and US Agency for International Development calling for a more coordinated effort to evacuate the 600+ orphans that are eligible for a humanitarian parole under the international adoption policy/approach announced on Jan. 18. These issues were also discussed on the Jan. 20, 2010 Creating a Family radio show.
- The emails given out on our Creating a Family show on Adopting from Haiti After the Earthquake" for families that are in the midst of an adoption from Haiti and need help from the US Government are ASKCI at state.gov (State Department) and haitianadoptions at dhs.gov (Citizenship and Immigration Services). These are not for general information on how to adopt from Haiti, but are for families that had a referral before the earthquake.
- The NYT ran a well researched article on the complexities of getting Haitian orphans out of the country. Contrary to some opinions, I believe we must be very careful with what happens next. We will be talking about just these issues on the Jan. 20, 2010 Creating a Family radio show.
- It's easy to cast stones at bureaucrats in general, but it is only fair to give kudos when they are deserved and this time I think the folks at Department of Homeland Securities and the State Department deserve a round of applause. They issued a well reasoned and well designed approach to getting orphans out of Haiti without opening Pandora's box. I know some of you will be disappointed that they didn't go further, but I think they struck a good balance between providing homes for kids without risking adoption fraud or children being removed who could be, with help, cared for by their Haitian families. And they struck this delicate balance quickly, which is saying a lot. To better understand this complex issue, read this blog, Why Can't We Speed Up Adoptions from Haiti. Also, listen to the Creating a Family show on Jan. 20, 2010, when we will be discussing Adopting from Haiti with the US State Department and others.
- There is so much in the news right now about children being brought home from Haiti to their adoptive families. I'm a sucker for a good video and especially one that makes me cry. Here are two of the best I've found and heaven only knows I've been looking. Today show on 4 children finally making it home after 4 years. Nightline on Adopting Esther. In the video on Adopting Esther, the family flew to Haiti to bring home their child. Although this is an understandable parental reaction, it is not recommended. Adoptive parents flying into the country will draw resources away from the relief effort and from the Haitian survivors. This family was able to get to the orphanage only because of the efforts and resources of ABC News that wanted to film the reunion. Don't get me wrong, I am happy for this family, but fearful that it will encourage other families to try to do the same. The orphanage director issued a statement that he was against some of the children leaving the country, but this morning on GMA, the mother said it was a misunderstanding. This however, is what worries me about ad hoc actions taken by desperate adoptive parents. In this case, it appears to have all worked out.
- Life Unexpected is premiering Jan. 18 on CW at 9/8 central. It looks to be another “adoption” or birth/first parent related TV show. The basic plot is that 15 year old Lux has bounced around in foster care all her life and finally discovers her biological mother (beautiful local radio star) and bio father (handsome frat boy type). They are granted custody of Lux and the show is about their attempts to parent her. It has some heavy hitting talent behind it, so the quality may be good. It is produced by Mojo Films in association with CBS Television Studios and Warner Bros. Television with executive producers Liz Tigelaar ("Brothers and Sisters," "What About Brian") and Gary Fleder ("October Road"). You can watch the first 10 minutes of the premiere on Facebook or you can watch the whole pilot Jan. 18. OK, I'll grant you that this is stretching the definition of "in the news" but still thought some of you might be interested.
- All the information is not in, but several groups are working on airlifting children out of Haiti to the US on humanitarian visas. This is a difficult situation since care must be taken to not separate families and not further traumatize children. I must stress that it is highly unlikely that these children will be available for adoption in the near future or ever. (See our blog onAdopting Children from Haiti Post Earthquake.) For more info read the following articles Miami Herald, Post-Gazette, Sun Sentinel, News Observer.
- I LOVE this video of a mom and her adult son who was adopted transracially as an infant. The mom happens to be Judy Stigger (at The Cradle) and her son Aaron, both of whom have been guests on different Creating a Family radio shows, but that isn't why I like this video.I like this video because it captures so perfectly a great mother and son relationship. This is just plain heart warming.
I love the Motherlode column in the New York Times. Lisa Belkin recently ran an essay titled "An Adoption, Six Months Later" by a woman who adopted a 5 year old with special needs from China. Although it isn't always the case, this is such a sweet and well written essay on a smooth adjustment.
I'm not sure that blog entries really belong on the "In the News" page, but we don't have another perfect place for them and every once in awhile I run across a blog post that is so good I want others to read it. I recently read a beautiful post by a mom in open domestic adoption about her response to her daughters sadness about her first parents. The blog is WeelbeWobblog and it is worth reading.
Jean Smart and her husband have adopted a baby girl from China. They named the baby Bonnie. She talks about the adoption and shows off pictures on The Bonnie Hunt Show. She and her husband are currently 58 and 59, and the current age cut off for adoptive parents established by China for international adoption is 49 for children without special needs and 54 for children with special needs. I know some people are going to assume that they received special treatment because of her celebrity status, but remember that people who are traveling to pick up their children in China right now have been waiting almost 4 years. I don't know any of the details in Jean Smart's case, but it is likely that they were within the age guidelines 4-5 years ago when they applied. Congratulations to Jean and her family.
The US State Department issued a lengthy report Dec. 28, 2009 on outstanding adoption cases being processed from Guatemala. These are cases that began before Guatemala shut down international adoptions. At the end of this report they address the possible "pilot adoption program" announced by the Guatemalan Adoption Authority in November 2009. The most relevant part of this statement is as follows:
“The Department of State, after consultation with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), sent an expression of interest in the pilot program to the CNA. Although we remain deeply concerned about the history of malfeasance in intercountry adoptions from Guatemala, we responded positively because of our strong interest in assisting Guatemala to reform its adoption system.
This expression of interest on the part of the United States does not mean that new adoptions from Guatemala will start any time soon, and prospective parents should not make any plans to start new adoptions in Guatemala at this time. Our expression of interest does not in any way signal that DOS has found Guatemala’s intercountry adoption procedures in compliance with the Hague Convention on Adoption. There is no pilot program yet, only a statement of intent from the CNA to start one. Although the United States has expressed interest in learning more about the proposed pilot program, we cannot commit to participating until we know more about the details of the program. We do not know if the CNA will accept the United States as one of the participants. We also cannot predict how the pilot program will affect grandfathered cases currently being processed by the Guatemalan government.We will keep you updated on how the Guatemalan pilot program develops and whether the United States will be a participant.”
- The US State Department released the international adoption numbers for 2009. As was expected, the numbers are significantly down.Top 4 countries are China, Ethiopia, Russia and South Korea.
- I know some prospective adoptive parents worry about open adoption. Here's an article showing how it can work. Dec. 2009
- More news on international adoptions from Guatemala. The US State Department submitted a letter of interest to be considered by the Guatemalan Central Adoption Authority (CNA) to process adoptions under the new international adoption pilot program which was announced by the CNA at the end of November. It’s too early yet to start dancing in the streets. There is still more unknown than known about the situation. Go to our Adoption FAQ page for more information on the international adoption pilot program announced by Guatemala. Here’s what we know:
Here’s what we don’t know:
- The CNA has announced that they intend to initiate a pilot program to place Guatemalan children for international adoption. The children selected to be placed for international adoptions will either have special needs, be over the age of 5, or will be part of a sibling group.
- They expect to place no more than about 200 or so kids per year through this program.
- Guatemala will work with no more than 4 countries with this pilot program.
- The US has asked to be one of those countries.
- Seven other countries have also expressed an interest.
- There is still much confusion and sadness associated with past adoptions from Guatemala. See the latest State Department announcement.
Bottom line, it is too early to apply to adopt a child from Guatemala. Run away from any agency that is accepting applications for a Guatemalan adoption at this time.
- If the US State Department will consider that the new Guatemalan international adoption regulations comply with the Hague Treaty. Personally, I think the odds are pretty good that they will consider Guatemala in compliance since they requested to be part of the pilot program, but this is just my best guess. Remember, for adoptions to the US, the State Department must decide that the Guatemalan international adoption process complies with the Hague Treaty.
- When the pilot program will start. The Guatemalan adoption authority has a lot on their plate right now. International adoptions continue to get bad press in Guatemala. It’s hard to tell, what priority international adoptions will get from the CNA.
- What agencies will be approved by Guatemala to place children in the US. The CNA website implies that they will only work with one agency per country.
- I don’t know about you, but I’m fascinated by twin studies and especially twin studies that involve adopted kids because they are so useful in teasing out the difference between the influence of genetics and the environment. I came across this recent article in Newsweek of twins adopted separately from China when doing research for our show on Dec. 11, 2009. (I’ll be interviewing two of the leading twin researchers and talking about Nature vs. Nurture, including Dr. Nancy Segal, mentioned in this article and researchers studying twins from China separated through adoption). This article brings up lots to think about, but on some level it makes me feel sad because it highlights the longing of some adopted kids to know someone that shares their genetics.We talked about this extensively on the Dec. 2 Creating a Family radio show when I interviewed Sherrie Eldridge, adult adoptee and author of Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew.
- Recently (Nov. 23, 2009) I read a beautiful article in the Wall Street Journal (of all places!) by Scott Simon, host of NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday and dad to two beauties adopted from China, titled "How to Say Thanksgiving in Mandarin Jewish-French-Irish-Chinese: a modern American family". I won't even begin to try to summarize the essay, but in general it is about the evolving definition of the American family and race. Here's a short excerpt.
"There are people who believe I am a little starry-eyed about the multicultural society that North America and a few other places have become. Perhaps. I have two daughters I want to grow up free from hurt. But I think my critics may forget the larger world in which we live.
Had our daughters stayed in China, they would face discrimination for being Hui, Miao, Mongol or any of the other of China's minority nationalities that they might be. Children adopted from Ethiopia might have grown up having to face the prejudice that Oromo, Sidamo or Gurage people contend with there.
I don't believe that having an African-American president, and Hispanic, Jewish and Asian judges, Nobel laureates, cabinet secretaries, movie stars and CEOs magically dispatches all bigotry and its bitter legacy. But someone of Luo descent has been elected president of the U.S. when ethnic strife seems to make a Luo president unfathomable in Kenya.
Race is singular and immutable. But Thanksgiving is a time to mark that in cities, towns and families across the country, people have grown to see ethnicity as merely one feature of our human makeup. To some, race will always overwhelm all other traits. But to millions more, it's just the way that small minds keep score."
- The government of Kyrgyzstan shut down international adoption in October 2008 due to allegation of fraud and corruption in the process. The popularity of international adoptions from Kyrgyzstan had grown rapidly in the previous couple of years. The Kyrgyz government stated that they needed to reassess the program. Work has progressed slowly since Oct. 2008 and no resolution has been reached. This has been hard for the many families that had applied to adopt from Kyrgyzstan. A bill was introduced into the Kyrgyzstan Parliament to reform the adoption process. The Kyrgyz Parliament has yet to pass this legislation and on November 13 they decided to extend the deadline for government agencies to continue research on the role of international adoptions in Kyrgyzstan. This was not the outcome families and adoption supporters were hoping for. The Kyrgyzstan Parliament plans to hold another hearing on international adoptions by the end of February 2010. The US State Department has limited information on international adoptions from Kyrgyzstan.
- LGBTQ Youth in Foster Care have an especially hard time and attention is finally being focused on how to help them. The folks at CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) published a great article on the needs and challenges, as well as the safety risks and permanency barriers, for foster youth who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning of their sexual identity. "Addressing the Needs of LGBTQ Youth in Foster Care" . To learn more about Adoption and the LGBT Community go here.
- National Council For Adoption recently released a report titled “State of Adoption from China”. The NCFA hosted a 13-member delegation from the China Center for Adoption Affairs (CCAA) in September 2009 for almost two weeks. The visiting CCAA delegation confirmed to NCFA that approximately 50 percent of all intercountry adoptions now taking place are for children with special needs. They also reaffirmed China’s commitment to international adoption and indicated that the CCAA intends to expand adoption in provinces with lower than average adoption rates, particularly for children with special needs. This reaffirms what we discussed on both the July 29, 2009 Creating a Family radio show and on the Creating a Family video “Adopting a Child with Special Needs from China”. In addition, the NCFA report provided a good summary of some of the latest research on children adopted from China in the following areas:
--Growth and Development
--Boys from China
- Guatemala to reopen a pilot program for international adoptions. An article in the Washington Post reports on No.v 20, 2009. Unfortunately, the relevant information about what countries will participate and how the program will be structures to prevent fraudulent adoptions have yet to be reported.
- Nov. 21 is National Adoption Day!! Events are planned throughout the US to bring awareness to all forms of adoption, but especially to the 130,000 kids who are waiting right now as you read this in foster care for a real forever family. Check out this map of events and find one near you.
- NYT article on the development of racial identity on inter-racially adopted kids. Racial identity becomes more important as they enter adulthood.
The Motherlode blog Aug. 26, 2009 in the NYT was about terminating an adoption. It's a brave description of a failure. Sometimes I need something like that to renew my commitment to continue to try to educate and support adoptive and pre-adoptive families. Hindsight is always 50/50, but I wonder if the whole situation could have been avoided with more education pre and post adoption. Maybe not, but still...
Children adopted by US citizen can be denied an immigration visa due to a postive TB test. Please consider signing the following petition
to remedy this situation.
A public information campaign i
n Shanghai has been launched to highlight exemptions to the country's one-child policy. Couples who were both only children, which includes most of the city's newly-weds, are allowed a second child. The government of Shanghai iw worried about it's rapidly aging population. Aug. 2009
To whom it may concern:
There is a horror film being released on July 24, called Orphan, about a family who adopts an older girl who "is not what she appears to be." The film is currently being promoted, and the trailer is available at http://orphan-movie.warnerbros.com
. The adoption message is extremely negative, and plays into the stereotypes of adopted children, particularly older children, as damaged.
Though we have not been able to preview the entire movie, the trailer leads us to believ e the movie will send a horrific message about adoption. The adoption community is protesting the release of the film. We urge you to contact the makers of the film, as well as your local movie theater chains, with your concerns. Feel free to copy or adapt the sample letter below.
I want to express my outrage about the release of the movie Orphan. The film plays into the stereotype of adopted children as damaged and dangerous. It discourages families from pursuing adoption, particularly adoption of older children, who are especially in need of loving homes. As an adoptive parent, I am horrified by the line in the trailer that "it must be hard to love an adopted ch ild as much as your own." Adoption has often been misrepres ented in the media, but the previews for this film are unbelievably offensive. I urge you to change the promotional materials, and to consider holding the release of the film altogether.
4000 Warner Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91522
4000 Warner Blvd. 90
Burbank, CA 91522-0001
Time Warner Inc.
One Time Warner Center
New York, NY 10019-8016
The Joint Council on International Children's Services is conducting an online survey
to determine how many families have children stuck in Guatemala after international adoptions from Guatemala shut down. This number is crucial to effectively advocate for these families and their children.
The May 15, 2009 This American Life show on National Public Radio was all about situations people find themselves in where others have not been before and there is no map to guide them. The second act, titled “Where’s King Solomon When You Need Him?”, was on an adoption fraud case where children from Samoa were placed in US families. The Samoan families were told that they were giving their children to US families to raise and educate until they were 18, when they would then return to Samoa to help support their families. The Samoan families were also told that the American families would pay them on some type of regular basis. The story followed the Nyberg family that ultimately decided to give their daughter back to her Samoan family. The US courts, the State Department, and all the other adoptive families decided that it was in the children’s best interest for them to remain with their US adoptive families. The position these families were in and their ultimate decisions were riveting and troubling. At times I wanted to scream at Mike Nyberg and at other times I felt so very very sorry for the position he was put in. It was a fascinating and sad show, and well worth the time (20 something minutes, starting about 2/3 of the way through the episode). The show is available to download without charge if you get it this week from This American Life.
You can also get it without charge from iTunes this week and while you are there, subscribe to the Creating a Family podcast. It’s free all the time.
|The Creating a Family Show is Brought to You by: