Delegitimization of Orphan Care

Source: http://childrendeservefamilies.com/delegitmization-of-orphan-care/

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A couple months ago, I wrote a post in defense of the evangelical orphan care movement, despite my differing religious affiliation. I wrote that I didn’t see a problem with the orphan care movement.

But after watching the unrelenting media attacks on the orphan care movement, I DO see a problem now. And this is what it is:

You haven’t been fighting back.

There is a vocal, well-funded, radical left-wing delegitimization campaign against international adoption. International adoptions into this country have dropped by well over 60% in the past 10 years, despite millions of children living outside of parental or kinship care. At this rate, there will be virtually no opportunities to adopt kids who need families and they will be doomed to early death or, if they make it to their teenage years, human trafficking.

Read more.

Gifted Garner Teen Embraces Both His Natural Talents and Challenge

Source: http://www.wcpss.net/disability-awareness/ses-dham_inthespotlight.html

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The Johnson family is near and dear to my heart.  After having adopting their beautiful Georgian daughter Lela, she insisted nearly every day that they save meals, seats, toys, etc for Nika…. the Johnsons began to wonder if Nika was an imaginary friend.  Soon they learned that Nika was Lela’s best friend from Tskhneti orphanage and they knew they had to return to bring him home too.  I had the honor to escort Nika from Tbilisi to Moscow and remember his cries for his beloved care-giver Zara.  It was emotionally gut wrenching to see how painful the separation was for him.  Today we are looking back and seeing the amazing, no, seemingly impossible achievement he has mastered.  Nika is a conqueror and together with his dear sister Lela, they are perfect examples of the importance of a permanent and loving family.

Read more.

New Webinar! Expert Advice on Your Top 5 Attachment Concerns

February 25, 2014 
7:00 PM Central
Q&A: 8:00 PM

Expert Advice on Your Top 5 Attachment Concerns

Attachment is a process that can take time. Adoption often poses challenges to that process, leaving parents with concerns and questions.

If you’re concerned about your child’s attachment process with parents, siblings, or peers there are practical steps and ideas you can try at home right away. Or maybe you just want to know what’s typical and what’s adoption related.

Join Regina Kupecky as she discusses the Top 5 attachment concerns and what to do about them!

Practical ideas for the top 5 concerns she hears from parents including bonding to siblings, parents and peers as well as what’s typical and what’s not

Expert insights into attachment and attunement

Advice on connecting with your child throughout their development

Register Here!

Joint Council | (703) 535-8045 | info@jointcouncil.org |
117 South Saint Asaph Street
Alexandria, VA 22314

Help Wanted: Study for Mothers of Children With Special Needs

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NC COLPPA Membership Drive 2014

North Carolina families can find the highest standards of service to adoptive families by working with any member agency of these NC Coalition of Licensed and Private Adoption Agencies. 

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New Webinar, Tomorrow! Inside the Adoption Circle

January 22nd, 2014

7:00 PM Central

Q&A: 8:00 PM

Webinar panel – an adopted person, a birth mom and an adoptive mom – reflects back on their own experiences with adoption and pose questions to each other giving adoptive parents insight into the thoughts and feelings of members of the adoption circle.

Sharing their personal stories, and asking challenging questions of each other, offers an understanding of different experiences to parents who may not be able to ask such questions in their own adoption relationships.

Our panel will also answer YOUR questions. Pose your question here

We Love Crazy Adoption People @ Hopscotch Adoptions, Inc

Source: http://www.elizabethtown-blog.com/2014/01/how-to-love-crazy-adoption-people.html

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My dear friend Lisa, along with her family, is in Lithuania. They have adopted the adorable Asher and Annalise, 4 year old twins. Asher and Annalise join sibling Adeline and Alden. These friends are precious to us. We met them only a year ago through a mutual friend but it was an instant love connection. Our husbands get along; our kids want to marry one another. And we all love Jesus and adoption and pizza from Costco. (You, know, the trinity of important things…)

Anywhoozie, Lisa is about to come home and I’m just reupping my blog and I thought I’d reflect on our first few weeks home in order to help her. Most friends, though well meaning, have zero idea what it is like to bring an older child into your family through adoption. It is foreign and so those well meaning friends often do harm when they mean to help, or worse yet, do nothing at all. So here is my version of how to love an adoptive family.

First of all, read Jen Hatmaker’s How to Be the Village. Jen does an excellent job of setting the stage of what adoptive family’s go through after the big hoopla of the airport moment.

Read more.

Starting the New Year Off Right, Thanks To The Huff Family & Friends!

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Spread the Word: Supporting Vulnerable Children at Home and Around the World

One of the smartest things we can do is invest in the future of our children, and that starts by making sure each one has a loving and permanent family. That’s why I’m proud to have secured many priorities to protect and support vulnerable children and foster youth at home and abroad in the latest government funding bill.

This bill contains priorities I’ve been working on during the last year including: streamlining scholarship information for foster youth, strengthening domestic adoption family recruitment, urging Guatemala to finalize stalled adoptions and reduce redundancy while improving the welfare of children internationally.

Show your support for this bill by sharing it on Facebook, Tweeting about it or forwarding this email to others.

As you know, adoption is an issue near and dear to my heart and I will continue to do everything I can to ensure every child has a permanent and loving family. Keep reading below to learn more about the important priories and funding I secured to help vulnerable children in this year’s bill to fund the government.

If you have any questions about my work or this bill, please contact Libby Whitbeck or Whitney Reitz in my office.

Sincerely,

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Urge completion of transitional adoptions in Guatemala: After Guatemala suspended international adoptions in 2007, hundreds of children in the process of being adopted were denied homes.  For more than six years, the children involved have languished in institutions, while loving families have been prohibited from providing them with a nurturing home. To urge Guatemala to resolve this, we’ve suspended funding for the Guatemalan armed forces until we can verify that open adoption cases are resolved. I hope to send the message that these children cannot wait any longer to be connected with the loving families that they deserve

Enable more foster youth to find college scholarships: There are a number of barriers that all children face to earn a college degree, including paying for that degree. Congress has created specific scholarship opportunities for former foster children, but too many of these youth have no idea that such resources exist. A provision I authored will add a box on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to give students the ability to indicate that they are foster youth. Now, information on scholarships and grants will be shared directly with them.

Secured $4 million to support child-recruitment programs: Many states are unable to focus on recruiting adoptive families for children, particularly those who are considered hard to place because of age, disability or other barriers. In this bill, I created a new pilot grant to enable states to initiate intensive and exhaustive child-focused recruitment programs. These programs would focus on moving foster youth eligible for adoption into permanent families at a higher rate than traditional recruitment strategies.

Please contact Sen. Landrieu at the office nearest you.

Spread the Word: The Children in Families First Act is Gaining Momentum

The way Washington functions today, few people would guess that Senators Elizabeth Warren and Chuck Schumer and Representatives Michele Bachmann and Trent Franks would co-sponsor and advocate for the same piece of legislation. But the five of us and a continuingly growing coalition of 45 other lawmakers believe that children should be raised in families.

The Children in Families First (CHIFF) Act will realign U.S. foreign assistance to prioritize children growing up in families; focus on protecting children by preserving, reunifying or creating families through kinship, domestic an d international adoption; and strengthen procedures to prevent abuse of children without families.

Today, an estimated 18-20 million children worldwide languish in institutions and uncounted millions more live on the streets. Our foreign aid helps many children, but not these. They are overlooked with tragic consequences: of those who survive childhood privation, abuse, and neglect, many eventually die on the streets or become criminals, drug addicts, victims of trafficking, and even terrorists. We must make change, now, and start to rescue these precious children, for their own sakes, but also because they are our future.

To learn more about the effort I am leading to provide these children with nurturing and permanent families, read the Associated Press story that appeared in newspapers across the country. Read the AP’s coverage here or below.

Use Facebook or Twitter to tell your friends and family about this legislation that will place children in caring families.

Sincerely,

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AP: Spurring foreign adoptions is goal of bipartisan bill in Congress

December 25, 2013

By David Crary

Amid partisan conflict in Congress, dozens of lawmakers from both parties — including staunch liberals and conservatives — have united behind a bill that supporters say addresses a heart-rending issue beyond politics: the millions of foreign children languishing in orphanages or otherwise at risk because they have no immediate family.

The bill would encourage more adoptions of foreign orphans, which have declined steadily in recent years, and reflects impatience with current policies overseen by the State Department.

"Every child needs and deserves to grow up in a family," says the bill’s chief advocate, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La. "While our foreign policy has done much to keep children alive and healthy, it has not prioritized this basic human right."

Titled the Children in Families First Act, the measure has been introduced in slightly different forms in both the Senate and House. Its co-sponsors range from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., a hero of the Democratic left, to Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., a favorite of tea party conservatives.

"It’s not a slam dunk, but it is very possible," Landrieu said of the bill’s chances. "We need voices from all parts of the political spectrum to make a change that many of us think is extremely important."

As of mid-December, the twin measures had 32 co-sponsors in the House and 17 in the Senate.

Landrieu, mother of two adopted children, hopes to keep building support for the bill with the goal of clearing committees in both chambers by spring.

However, some House Republicans are skeptical about creating more bureaucracy, and there is sentiment in the Obama administration that some key provisions of the bill are not needed.

"I think we’ve been pretty successful recently," said Susan Jacobs, the State Department’s special adviser on children’s issues. "We are proud of the work that we do to protect everyone involved in the adoption process — the birth families, the adopting families and of course the children."

Landrieu thinks differently, contending the government has been remiss in failing to establish an office that focuses on international child welfare. The bill would create a new bureau in the State Department assigned to work with non-governmental organizations and foreign countries to minimize the number of children without families — through family preservation and reunification, kinship care, and domestic and international adoption.

Under the legislation, the processing of international adoption cases would be assigned to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, while the U.S. Agency for International Development would become home to a center dedicated to implementing a 2012 plan to assist children in adversity.

There’s no firm global count of children in orphanages, but they number in the millions. In Russia — which has banned adoptions by Americans — there are more than 650,000 children not in parental custody. In Kyrgyzstan — where foreign adoptions were disrupted for years due to corruption and political problems — orphanages are often ill-equipped, with limited specialized care for severely disabled children. In Haiti, where recovery from the 2010 earthquake has been slow, inspectors recently checked more than 700 orphanages, and said only 36 percent met minimum standards.

Much of the impetus for Landrieu’s bill stems from shifting views about the Hague Convention on Inter-Country Adoption. That treaty establishes ethical standards for international adoptions, which it says are an acceptable option after efforts have been made to have a child adopted in his or her home country.

The U.S. entered into the agreement in 2008 with strong support from Landrieu and other adoption advocates who hoped it would curtail fraud and corruption, and then lead to a boom in legitimate adoptions.

Instead, the decrease in foreign adoption by Americans — which started in 2005 — has continued. There were 8,668 such adoptions in 2012, down from 22,991 in 2004.

"When I helped to pass this treaty, it was everyone’s hope that the number would go up — doubled, tripled, quadrupled," Landrieu said. "Instead it’s down by 60 percent. That’s the best evidence I have that what State Department has in place isn’t working."

There are multiple reasons for the decline — including increases in domestic adoptions in China and South Korea, and suspensions imposed on several countries due to concerns about fraud and trafficking.

However, many supporters of Landrieu’s bill believe the Hague convention has been applied too punitively, and that the State Department has been overcautious rather than working creatively to halt the decline. Several prominent supporters wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry on Dec. 18 asking that he investigate the matter.

The letter cites Cambodia as an example. The U.S. and other Western countries have banned adoptions from there since 2001 out of concern that the adoption business was rife with bribery and child-trafficking. Cambodia, which imposed its own ban in 2009, now says it has made needed reforms and is ready to resume international adoptions, but the State Department says the U.S. ban will remain in place because of continuing concerns about Cambodia’s child-welfare system.

Since 2001, the letter said, "tens of thousands of children in Cambodia have had no chance at a permanent family." Many grow up or even die in institutional care, it said, while others end up on the streets or trafficked into the sex trade.

Chuck Johnson, CEO of the National Council for Adoption and one of the letter’s signatories, cited Vietnam and Nepal as other countries where adoptions were suspended because of corruption and trafficking, and which now feel ready to resume them.

"The State Department has assumed the regulation of inter-country adoption with a lot of gusto, but with a void in terms of advocacy," Johnson said. "There are countries that want to work with the U.S., but we won’t work with them."

Johnson said his organization, which represents dozens of adoption agencies, had enjoyed a positive relationship with the State Department in the past but is now bracing for a rupture over Landrieu’s bill.

"We’re putting the gloves on," he said. "Children’s lives are at stake."

The State Department’s Susan Jacobs said the U.S. was successfully using the Hague standards to bring about improvements in some overseas adoptions systems that have been plagued by corruption and child-trafficking. For example, she said a pilot project to resume some adoptions from Vietnam is expected to start within a few months.

"Diplomacy is a slow process and can often be frustrating to people," she said. "But I think we have a really good record."

Landrieu, however, is losing patience.

"Slow is not something that works well for children," she said. "There’s no legitimate excuse for the U.S. dragging its feet when it comes to saying, ‘Yes, children do belong in families.’"

The senator plans to confer about the bill in the coming weeks with Kerry, a former Senate colleague. "He and his team are very supportive of what we’re doing," she said.

Among the outspoken supporters of Landrieu’s bill is professor Elizabeth Bartholet, founder of the Child Advocacy Program at Harvard Law School.

The bill’s basic message, she says, is "the U.S. government should change itself from being a negative force, with respect to children who need homes, to being a positive force."

The State Department, according to Bartholet, has been too preoccupied with its reputation, favoring suspensions of adoption when corruption or trafficking allegations arise and then taking its time resuming them at the cost of prolonging orphans’ stays in institutions.

"Keeping a child in an institution is systematic abuse and neglect," Bartholet said. "The bill says we the United States should see inter-country adoption as one of the best options — it should not be the last resort."

Bartholet is among a number of the bill’s supporters who see it as a repudiation of UNICEF, the U.N. children’s agency. She contends that UNICEF views international adoption as an undesirable last resort and has suggested that Congress consider suspending funding to the agency until its stance changes.

The official website promoting Landrieu’s bill also takes a swipe at the U.N. agency.

"The U.S. Government has effectively relinquished its policy role on international child welfare to UNICEF," the site says. "We need to retake control of U.S. foreign policy on this critical issue and lead the way in shifting the world’s focus on to the importance of family for all children."

Asked about Landrieu’s bill, UNICEF said it does not comment on pending legislation in U.N. member nations.

However, in recent public statements, UNICEF’s chief of child protection, Susan Bissell, been emphatic on two points. She insists that UNICEF is not against international adoption, despite what some critics say. She also does not favor approaches that would prioritize international adoption over alternatives giving children permanent homes in their own country.

According to Landrieu’s staff, the bill’s proposals would cost about $60 million annually, with the money reallocated from existing foreign aid. About half would go to the USAID Center for Excellence and half to fund the new State Department bureau.

Some supporters of UNICEF and of U.S. efforts to combat the global AIDS epidemic fear those programs could lose some funding as part of the shift. Final decisions won’t be made until and unless the bill advances.

Kathleen Strottman, executive director of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, said she likes Landrieu’s bill because of its scope — proposing a range of initiatives beyond adoption to help more of the millions of children worldwide living without a family.

"If the U.S. government is committed to reducing that number, this bill is the right strategy," Strottman said. "There’s one perfect number — it must be as close to zero as we can get it."

Please contact Sen. Landrieu at the office nearest you.

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