Part II: Article on non-convention adoptions/guardian pitfalls and perils

Avoiding the Perils and Pitfalls of Intercountry Adoption from Non-Hague Countries: Considerations for Agencies and Adoptive Parents (Part II)


By: Christine Lockhart Poarch and J. McLane Layton


This is Part II of a two-part series that provides an overview of the most common perils and pitfalls involved in designating a child as an orphan under U.S. law, and emphasizes best practices for agencies and adoptive families when pursuing adoptions in countries that are not signatories to The Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. Part I provided a complete and thorough explanation of the orphan definition under U.S. law. Part II provides an overview of the procedural requirements and potential practical complexities in orphan cases.

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Avoiding the Pitfalls and Perils of Intercountry Direct Placement

Avoiding the Perils and Pitfalls of Intercountry Adoption from Non-Hague Countries: Considerations for Agencies and Adoptive Parents (Part I)


By Christine Lockhart Poarch and J. McLane Layton


While adopting a child from another country, you receive word that the in-country court has scheduled the final guardianship or adoption hearing. You make travel plans with your family to be in-country for just a few weeks. After all, once you appear for the in-country court proceeding, you are sure that this very long process will be almost over. You assume that the last step–procuring a visa from your own government, the United States–will be quick and painless.

Sometimes it is, and you are soon on your flight home, exactly as scheduled, with the newest addition to your family. Other times, your family is not so fortunate, and you spend weeks or months, thousands of dollars, and every ounce of patience trying to prove to the U.S. Department of State and ultimately, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), that your child is truly an orphan under U.S. law and eligible for a visa to enter the U.S.

In our experience, what agencies and adoptive parents don’t know about the orphan definition can hurt them and may risk the family’s completion of a successful intercountry adoption. This article is Part I of a two-part series that will provide an overview of the most common perils and pitfalls involved in designating a child as an orphan under U.S. law and emphasize best practices for agencies and adoptive families when pursuing adoptions in countries that are not signatories to the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption.2 A complete and thorough understanding of the perils and pitfalls of the orphan definition—in the beginning, before the case gets off the ground in-country—offers adoptive families and adoptees the best chance of avoiding heartache, disappointment and delay, protects birth families, and offers agencies the best chance of formulating policies to support favorable case completion when inter-country adoption is in the best interest of the child.

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Message from Joint Council’s Chair of the Board

On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Joint Council on International Children’s Services, it is with great sadness that we inform you that our organization must cease its operations effective June 30, 2015.

Joint Council’s 40-year history has been storied. A small group of organizations came together in 1975 to share information, elevate practices and collaborate on projects serving children in the U.S. and abroad. From those beginnings, we grew into an international organization with an outstanding reputation helping thousands upon thousands of orphans and vulnerable children. We are extremely proud of Joint Council’s accomplishments and take great pride in the difference our organization made in the lives of so many children and their families.

These accomplishments were only possible because of the company that we kept. The Joint Council community is a family unto itself. We would like to thank all current and previous staff, board members, partners, donors and supporters for their dedication to our common cause.  We especially want to thank our current staff – Jennifer, Marie and Brandy – who have worked tirelessly under extremely stressful circumstances, and to the end, with extreme passion and dedication.

This was a difficult and painful decision to make, and we would like you to know that the Board acted reluctantly. As an organization, we have been subject to the same trends that have impacted many of our partners over the last decade. While we have been on the brink before, each time we were able to recover, but with diminished capacity. At this point in time, we are simply out of money and realize that we no longer have the prospect of continuing as a viable organization.

I hope that all of you will continue your tireless efforts to address the unmet needs of vulnerable children and continue the legacy of Joint Council by working to end the suffering of children who live every day without the safety and love of a strong permanent family.

On a personal note, as an adoptive parent who benefited from the work of Joint Council, I will forever be grateful for the group’s leadership that helped make our adoption possible.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.

Thank you for all of the support you have shown to Joint Council,

Brian Franklin
Board Chair

About that Homecoming…. When We Come Home….


Hi Everyone!

We are SO excited to be coming home soon. But before we do we wanted to be sure to let everyone know what to "expect" from us and from Asher upon returning home. Asher has done an amazing job so far transitioning into our family and bonding with us. However, once we get home it will be another transition for him. New place, new home, new environment & new people; we want to give him the best and easiest transition we can. In order to make sure that this happens, we are going to ask a few things of everyone. We appreciate your patience and effort to help us! :)

1.) Please don’t hug/kiss Asher (at least not yet) We want him to understand that hugging & kissing is only for family. In order to do that, we have to ask that everyone refrain from falling into the cuteness. I know, he’s adorable! SO, if you would like (if you see us out and about), high fives/fist bumps/pats on the back are ok. We will let you know when he is open for more affection.

2.) Please do not feed him (Or change his diaper, for that matter) Right now, ALL of Asher’s needs must be met by his Mommy & Daddy. We want him to understand that we can & will meet all of his needs. Again, we will let you know when it is ok to give the little guy a snack or two. But please, for now, let us meet this need.

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Spread the Word About Adoption Learning Partner’s Next Webinar

LIVE WEBINAR: International Search & Reunion

It’s a Small World After All

Thursday, July 9, 2015
7-8:30pm CDT


Do you know families who adopted internationally?

Many parents who built their families through international adoption assumed that the ongoing role of their child’s birth family would be limited to non-existent.

But things change. The world changes.

You may know families who are parenting teens or tweens who are now curious about their birth family, and talk about finding them.

Is it even possible for children to find their birth mom who is from somewhere beyond the United States? What are the possible ways to address this curiosity?

Speakers Susan Soonkeum Cox of Holt International and Joy Lieberthal Rho, LCSW and co-founder of I Am Adoptee, discuss the many possibilities and complexities of international search and reunion.

This webinar is co-sponsored with JCICS.


Have You Heard About Adoption Parenting Pathways?

Adoption Parenting Pathways is the perfect way for adoptive families to find local resources online.


What’s New at ALP?


This month, purchase our popular course, "Adopted: The Identity Project" for just $10. While you’re there, check out the documentary, "Adoption & Identity Intertwined."



Email Kirby

Join the discussion

All journeys eventually end in the same place… home.

Thinking of you now and always. 

Happy Father’s Day from your friends at Hopscotch Adoptions.


News from Armenia: Bringing Happiness Home

Welcome home to our Hopscotch family.  The Mack family was so kind to share their ‘first meeting’ video with us and we thought you would like it too!  

Click here to see video.


‘Our hearts have gotten bigger': Congressman reflects on decision to adopt twins


By Lisa Flam

Courtesy Markwayne Mullin / Mallory Hall Photography Markwayne Mullin had just been elected to Congress when the father of three began another, even more important journey that would change his life. He met the twin toddlers, distant cousins, who would one day join his family as his daughters.

It was the fall of 2012, and he and his wife were already parents to three young kids. Their hectic life, filled with work and family, was about to get a whole lot busier with his new job in Washington.

When the twins paid a visit to the Mullin home, on a 1,000-acre horse and cattle farm in Westville, Oklahoma, to celebrate their second birthday a few weeks after the election, Markwayne was struck by the way his wife, Christie, and their kids took to the little ones.

And he sensed what was coming: Christie would suggest they adopt the girls, born to her distant teenage cousin.

"It wasn’t a good situation," Markwayne said. The girls were separated as infants and being raised lovingly but apart, tended by Christie’s aging great aunts.

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Technological Systems Issue

TRAVEL ALERT: expect delays with visa, biometric, passport service while abroad. For families traveling abroad, the Department of State has asked all applicants to anticipate delays returning home with your child/ren in the event this is not remedied at the time of your request.

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Escaped lions, tigers roam Tbilisi after floods kill 12 – News from Georgia


By Irakli Metreveli

Tbilisi (AFP) – Lions, tigers and even a hippopotamus escaped from a zoo in the Georgian capital Tbilisi Sunday, adding to chaos caused by severe flooding that killed at least 12 people, officials said.

Police and soldiers were hunting down the animals, recapturing some and shooting others dead, while rescuers airlifted scores of people trapped by the floods.

Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili warned Tbilisi residents to stay indoors while the zoo animals were still on the loose,

He described the damage to the city’s infrastructure as "substantial" after the River Vere burst its banks following hours of torrential rain.

"Our latest estimate is that the death toll is 12," Tbilisi Mayor David Narmania told journalists.

Interior Ministry spokeswoman Nino Giorgobiani told AFP that 24 people were still missing by Sunday evening.

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