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International Adoption Update

Posted by Susan Orban on with 0 Comments

By Susan Orban
While rewarding for children and families, inter-country adoption also has its challenges. For the adoptive family, each country has its own set of eligibility requirements, timelines, policies and procedures – and all are subject to change and change they have!  Staying updated on the ever altering landscape of inter-country adoption is not easy, but there are always children in need of caring families.  Most children in need of families are toddlers, school age children, and those with medical needs, many of them quite manageable.  Half of the children placed in 2011 were between the ages of 1 and 4 years of age and over 20% were between 5-12 years of age. 
You may find the requirements of one country to be a better fit for your family’s circumstances than another. In general, married couples, with a stable income, in good health (as defined by the child's birth country), with no criminal background, and the ability to travel to the child's birth country will meet the application requirements for most of the countries.  If one or more of these characteristics don’t reflect your situation, you may need to look more closely to identify the program that will work for you.
Using the top placing countries (per the U.S. State Department) as a guide, the following is an update of the top ten placing countries for 2011:
1.     China, from the time the dossier is completed to referral in the traditional China program has continued to increase and is now over six years!  We do not expect the timeframe to decrease, but continues to increase each month.  Most families adopting from China are adopting infants and children with some known medical need or who are school agedThe China Center for Child Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA) has a list of children with special needs which is updated regularly.  There are many agencies throughout the United States approved to place children from this list.  There are children with mild to severe medical issues, many of which are correctible.  Single women may adopt children who have been on the waiting list for 60 days or more.  Common needs are children with heart conditions, albinism, older boys, cleft lip and palate.
2.     Ethiopia has been the fastest growing program for several years, but in the Spring of 2011, the Ministry of Women, Youth and Children’s Affairs announced they would decrease the number of cases that would process daily.  Some estimates were a reduction of 90%.  As a result, many agencies have chosen to stop accepting applications for young children until it becomes more clear how this will affect cases already in process.  The children from this program range from infants to older children and sibling groups.  The children in Ethiopia often come into care malnourished.  Two trips are now required for adoptive parents.  These trips have been about 3-5 months apart and about a week each. 
3.     Russia is continuing to place children, but it has been a bit of a roller coaster.  The U.S. State Department has worked hard to create a bilateral agreement with Russia to provide better safeguards to protect the interest of children adopted from Russia.  On July 13, 2011, the State Department announced the signing of that agreement.  The details of this agreement are not completely clear however, it will include the specific responsibilities of each government, protocols for direct communication between each country’s primary adoption authority, increased post-adoption reports and responsibilities and the utilization of only licensed agencies accredited by the Russian government. At the beginning of 2012, an amendment to Russian civil law will impact all court proceedings in Russia, including international adoption cases.  Previously, a ten day waiting period for appeal was imposed after the court hearing.  Going forward, judges will orally declare a court decision at the end of the in-person court hearing.  After five days the judge is required to issue the court decision in written form.  The decision will come into effect thirty days after the written decision is issued.  Thus, Russia has become a three trip adoption process. 
4.     Over the past several years, there have been rumors that international adoption will end in 2012 from South Korea.  On June 29, 2011 the Korean National Assembly passed a Special Law on Adoption which will be implemented in July 2012.  The law does NOT call for the end of international adoption!  Most adoption agencies agree that we do not expect an abrupt stop to adoptions, but we do continue to see an increase in domestic adoptions within Korea and more waiting children available to U.S. citizens.  At this time, infants are being referred to families when they are approximately 6-9 months old, however the time from referral acceptance to travel is increasing and could take up to 18 months.  One positive note about the new law is that it calls for the declassification of birthparent information, so South Korea is taking a positive step towards open records!
5.     Ukraine continues to place children, though there have been some starts and stops over the past year.  The State Department of Adoption will be turning over the authority to process adoption to the Ministry of Social Policy.  Whenever there is a change in governing authority, you can count on confusion!  A new family code is now in effect and children have to be at least five years old before being eligible for adoption.  Exceptions are made for certain special needs children or sibling groups.  The family travels “blind,” meaning a family does not receive a referral until they travel to Ukraine and meet with the central authority, then the family will meet the child before making the decision to complete the adoption.
6.     Most of children in need of families from India are older or have medical needs.  Most agencies are only accepting applications for specific children on their waiting list.  The Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) gives priority first to citizens of Indian heritage living in India and reports there are 5,000 families waiting to adopt a child, so few young infants are being placed internationally.  CARA has initiated a new system allowing 100 families of Indian heritage who live abroad (those living in the United States and other countries) to be registered into their online system per month.  These families can specify the region in India from which they would like to adopt.  As of this writing (Feb 2012), no adoptions have been completed through this new system, but we are hopeful!
7.     Colombia has one of the longest histories of placing children into the United States for adoption.  They have a very organized central authority (ICBF) and the family receives a lot of information about the child they are adopting.  It is possible to adopt through ICBF or individual private baby homes. Colombia’s age guidelines for parents are fairly restrictive and to adopt a child between 0-3 years old, both parents must be 38 years or younger when their dossier paperwork in approved.  A family should be prepared to stay in Colombia for 4-8 weeks, though one parent can return after a few weeks.  There are many older children and sibling groups (sometimes with up to six children) who need families! 
8.     The Philippines announced a moratorium on acceptance of new applications for children 0-2 years of age back in 2009, however, they continue to accept applications for older children and children with special needs.  This is another country where there are many older children in need of families!  Travel for about two weeks in the Philippines is required by one parent.  The Philippines prefers to place children in Christian families.
9.     The process to adopt a child from Haiti has historically been long and difficult, but many have persevered to bring children into their families.  The devastating earthquake two years ago brought additional hardships to the people of Haiti.  Adoptions have re-opened after this disaster and referrals of children are often quick, however, after referral it can take 2-3 years to process the adoption, so parents must have a large capacity for patience!  Ambassador Susan Jacobs, Special Advisor for Children’s Issues, traveled to Haiti in June 2011 to encourage the country to join the Hague Adoption Convention.
 To get the most up-to-date information on every country, please refer to the U.S. State Department website www.adoption.state.gov.  There you can learn about adoption alerts and notices.  It is a very user-friendly website!
Susan Orban is the Outreach and Education Coordinator for Children’s Home Society & Family Services.

International Adoption Update
By Susan Orban

While rewarding for children and families, inter-country adoption also has its challenges. For the adoptive family, each country has its own set of eligibility requirements, timelines, policies and procedures – and all are subject to change and change they have!  Staying updated on the ever altering landscape of inter-country adoption is not easy, but there are always children in need of caring families.  Most children in need of families are toddlers, school age children, and those with medical needs, many of them quite manageable.  Half of the children placed in 2011 were between the ages of 1 and 4 years of age and over 20% were between 5-12 years of age. 
You may find the requirements of one country to be a better fit for your family’s circumstances than another. In general, married couples, with a stable income, in good health (as defined by the child's birth country), with no criminal background, and the ability to travel to the child's birth country will meet the application requirements for most of the countries.  If one or more of these characteristics don’t reflect your situation, you may need to look more closely to identify the program that will work for you.
Using the top placing countries (per the U.S. State Department) as a guide, the following is an update of the top ten placing countries for 2011:
1.     China, from the time the dossier is completed to referral in the traditional China program has continued to increase and is now over six years!  We do not expect the timeframe to decrease, but continues to increase each month.  Most families adopting from China are adopting infants and children with some known medical need or who are school agedThe China Center for Child Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA) has a list of children with special needs which is updated regularly.  There are many agencies throughout the United States approved to place children from this list.  There are children with mild to severe medical issues, many of which are correctible.  Single women may adopt children who have been on the waiting list for 60 days or more.  Common needs are children with heart conditions, albinism, older boys, cleft lip and palate.
2.     Ethiopia has been the fastest growing program for several years, but in the Spring of 2011, the Ministry of Women, Youth and Children’s Affairs announced they would decrease the number of cases that would process daily.  Some estimates were a reduction of 90%.  As a result, many agencies have chosen to stop accepting applications for young children until it becomes more clear how this will affect cases already in process.  The children from this program range from infants to older children and sibling groups.  The children in Ethiopia often come into care malnourished.  Two trips are now required for adoptive parents.  These trips have been about 3-5 months apart and about a week each. 
3.     Russia is continuing to place children, but it has been a bit of a roller coaster.  The U.S. State Department has worked hard to create a bilateral agreement with Russia to provide better safeguards to protect the interest of children adopted from Russia.  On July 13, 2011, the State Department announced the signing of that agreement.  The details of this agreement are not completely clear however, it will include the specific responsibilities of each government, protocols for direct communication between each country’s primary adoption authority, increased post-adoption reports and responsibilities and the utilization of only licensed agencies accredited by the Russian government. At the beginning of 2012, an amendment to Russian civil law will impact all court proceedings in Russia, including international adoption cases.  Previously, a ten day waiting period for appeal was imposed after the court hearing.  Going forward, judges will orally declare a court decision at the end of the in-person court hearing.  After five days the judge is required to issue the court decision in written form.  The decision will come into effect thirty days after the written decision is issued.  Thus, Russia has become a three trip adoption process. 
4.     Over the past several years, there have been rumors that international adoption will end in 2012 from South Korea.  On June 29, 2011 the Korean National Assembly passed a Special Law on Adoption which will be implemented in July 2012.  The law does NOT call for the end of international adoption!  Most adoption agencies agree that we do not expect an abrupt stop to adoptions, but we do continue to see an increase in domestic adoptions within Korea and more waiting children available to U.S. citizens.  At this time, infants are being referred to families when they are approximately 6-9 months old, however the time from referral acceptance to travel is increasing and could take up to 18 months.  One positive note about the new law is that it calls for the declassification of birthparent information, so South Korea is taking a positive step towards open records!
5.     Ukraine continues to place children, though there have been some starts and stops over the past year.  The State Department of Adoption will be turning over the authority to process adoption to the Ministry of Social Policy.  Whenever there is a change in governing authority, you can count on confusion!  A new family code is now in effect and children have to be at least five years old before being eligible for adoption.  Exceptions are made for certain special needs children or sibling groups.  The family travels “blind,” meaning a family does not receive a referral until they travel to Ukraine and meet with the central authority, then the family will meet the child before making the decision to complete the adoption.
6.     Most of children in need of families from India are older or have medical needs.  Most agencies are only accepting applications for specific children on their waiting list.  The Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) gives priority first to citizens of Indian heritage living in India and reports there are 5,000 families waiting to adopt a child, so few young infants are being placed internationally.  CARA has initiated a new system allowing 100 families of Indian heritage who live abroad (those living in the United States and other countries) to be registered into their online system per month.  These families can specify the region in India from which they would like to adopt.  As of this writing (Feb 2012), no adoptions have been completed through this new system, but we are hopeful!
7.     Colombia has one of the longest histories of placing children into the United States for adoption.  They have a very organized central authority (ICBF) and the family receives a lot of information about the child they are adopting.  It is possible to adopt through ICBF or individual private baby homes. Colombia’s age guidelines for parents are fairly restrictive and to adopt a child between 0-3 years old, both parents must be 38 years or younger when their dossier paperwork in approved.  A family should be prepared to stay in Colombia for 4-8 weeks, though one parent can return after a few weeks.  There are many older children and sibling groups (sometimes with up to six children) who need families! 
8.     The Philippines announced a moratorium on acceptance of new applications for children 0-2 years of age back in 2009, however, they continue to accept applications for older children and children with special needs.  This is another country where there are many older children in need of families!  Travel for about two weeks in the Philippines is required by one parent.  The Philippines prefers to place children in Christian families.
9.     The process to adopt a child from Haiti has historically been long and difficult, but many have persevered to bring children into their families.  The devastating earthquake two years ago brought additional hardships to the people of Haiti.  Adoptions have re-opened after this disaster and referrals of children are often quick, however, after referral it can take 2-3 years to process the adoption, so parents must have a large capacity for patience!  Ambassador Susan Jacobs, Special Advisor for Children’s Issues, traveled to Haiti in June 2011 to encourage the country to join the Hague Adoption Convention.
 To get the most up-to-date information on every country, please refer to the U.S. State Department website www.adoption.state.gov.  There you can learn about adoption alerts and notices.  It is a very user-friendly website!
Susan Orban is the Outreach and Education Coordinator for Children’s Home Society & Family Services.

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