Photolistings for International Adoption May Be Banned – Please Help!

The US Department of State is considering banning photolistings for children available for international adoption.

US State Department to ban international adoption photolistings

There is a lot we don’t know and the State Department has not issued a final rule, but they are currently considering whether the practice of “soft referrals” is a violation of their regulations. We have not seen an official definition of “soft referral” but it appears to include photolisting—or more specifically allowing international adoption agencies to place a child who is on a photolist.

Photolisting is a common practice in both foster care adoption and international adoption. In fact, it is considered best practice in child welfare for finding homes for harder-to-place children–older kids, kids with health issues, and sibling groups.

Continue reading.


Intercountry Adoption Agencies Face Massive Hikes In Regulatory Costs


Intercountry adoption advocates fear that the fee structure planned by a new State Department accreditation contractor could threaten the operation of the largest American placing agencies.

The fees required by the Intercountry Adoption Accreditation and Maintenance Entity (IAAME), a recently formed nonprofit that now serves as the sole accreditor for international adoption agencies, are pegged to the number of children placed instead of a fixed structure. That is expected to cost significantly more for the largest placing agencies.

“The Department of State keeps saying, ‘Just pass the fees on to families’ as though intercountry adoption isn’t expensive enough,” said Ryan Hanlon, vice president of education, research and constituent services for the National Council for Adoption (NCFA). “They’re even charging per child for sibling groups.”

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We All Could Use A Little Good News: Appointee To Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, Has A REAL Heart for Intercountry Adoption!

After four long years, he’s home at last

By Lara Korte 

It was in spring 2012 when Jeffres and her then-fiance, Dave Kroffsik, began the process to adopt a child.

Jeffres specifically was interested in adopting from the Congo because she had followed the political unrest in the nation since the fall of President Mobutu Sese Seko in 1997. The Congolese government allows couples to adopt only if they have been married for five years, so instead of waiting, the two decided Jeffres would file as a single parent.

A few months later, in October, she was matched with Changa Changa, then 2 1/2. The couple thought they would be bringing him home within a year. But because of political unrest in the Congo and delays from the U.S. State Department prompted by safety concerns, Changa was not released from the country until April 2016.

Changa’s first visa was issued on Sept. 24, 2013. The next day, the Democratic Republic of Congo placed a suspension on the exit permits minors need to leave the country.

After negotiation through the U.S. State Department, the Congolese government agreed to honor cases that had been completed before the Sept. 25 ban. Jeffres and Kroffsik, confident they would be “grandfathered” in, flew to the Congo in November 2013.

Upon arriving at the orphanage, Jeffres said, she was “inwardly serene” because the adoption seemed to be on track.

“I thought we’d have all the time in the world, a lifetime, to get to know Changa,” she said. “I wasn’t really in any big hurry.”

Exit permits suspended

However, not long after arriving in Kinshasa, the Congolese capital, Jeffres learned that the Congolese government did not intend to honor its agreement to let adopted children like Changa leave the country with their adoptive parents.

While Kroffsik returned to the United States to resume work after three weeks in the Congo, Jeffres stayed for four months, trying to take Changa home. In February 2014, she returned to Wichita, alone.

In June 2014, reassured she’d be able to take Changa home, Jeffres returned to the Congo. But she again found herself alone on a flight home.

Exit permits are still suspended, according to the U.S. State Department, which strongly recommends against initiating an adoption in the Congo at this time. The department says the average time it has taken to release adopted Congolese children to their families has been 30 months.

The State Department also has a travel warning for the Congo, advising U.S. citizens to avoid non-essential trips to the country where “instability and sporadic violence continues.”

“Armed groups, bandits, and elements of the Congolese armed forces, primarily located in the North Kivu, South Kivu, and the new provinces of Bas-Uele, Haut Uele, Tanganyika, Haut-Lomami, and the eastern part of Maniema Province, are known to kill, rape, kidnap, pillage, steal vehicles, and carry out military or paramilitary operations in which civilians can be indiscriminately targeted,” the warning said.

Difficult and discouraging

Rather than become discouraged by red tape and roadblocks, Jeffres dived into them. She wrote letters, made phone calls and even organized a call-in day to the White House to implore President Obama to demand the release of the children to their adoptive parents.

In March 2015, the Congolese government created a special commission to review the pending adoption cases. But Jeffres said it became clear after a few months that the commission was not doing “any meaningful activity.”

Next, she traveled to Capitol Hill to advocate for the adopted children.

“I went to Washington four times to personally lobby my and other elected members of government,” she said.

Jeffres called her experiences in D.C. extremely difficult and discouraging at times.

But her actions were not entirely fruitless. In particular, she said, Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo and Sen. Pat Roberts helped secure the release of Changa.

“Thalia Jeffres and her family have shown incredible love and resolve during this entire process and I congratulate them on bringing their beloved Changa Changa home to Kansas,” Pompeo said in an e-mail. “It was immensely frustrating to all those involved to see a brutal dictator trying to use children as political pawns, but I’m so pleased to see this young child finally home with his family.”

‘I got my whole life back’

On April 27, through e-mails and phone calls, Jeffres learned Changa had been cleared to leave the Congo.

And on May 1, almost four years after they were matched, Jeffres picked up her son from Denver International Airport.

“I felt restored once I knew that he had cleared Congolese airspace,” Jeffres said. “I kind of felt restored to normal. I got my whole life back, not just my child.”

Jeffres and Kroffsik are no longer together. Jeffres said her ex-fiance knows Changa is home.

Ten days after arriving in the U.S., Changa was hospitalized with malaria he had contracted while in the Congo. Ninety percent of malaria-related deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa, UNICEF estimated in 2012. For Jeffres, who had watched other Congolese children die while waiting for their exit permits, it was a reminder of just how close she had come to losing her son.

Changa’s passport now contains seven visas, six of which expired while he was waiting to be released from the Congo. Jeffres said when it came down to it, she was not willing to give up.

“The knowledge that Changa was alone in the world and that I was the only person on earth that was legally responsible for him had a very powerful effect on me,” Jeffres said.

# MikePompeo #SaveAdoption #HelpUsAdopt #MakeAdoptionGreatAgain

Abandoned in Guatemala: The Failure of International Adoption Policies


See video.

More than 52,000 children have been caught crossing our southern border since October of last year, including several thousand children from Guatemala. Until 2007, more than 5,000 Guatemalan children were adopted by parents from other countries each year. Under pressure from groups like Unicef, however, Guatemala shut down intercountry adoptions. Today, the only way Guatemalan children can come to the U.S. is to cross the border illegally.

Reason TV took a critical look at Guatemala’s intercountry adoption policies back in 2011.

"Abandoned in Guatemala," produced by Paul Feine and Alex Manning. Approximately 20 minutes.

Original release date was October 6, 2011. Original writeup is below.

"If we shut down international adoptions, that’s 5,000 kids a year whose lives we are ruining, whose lives could have been wonderful, and we’re dooming them by shutting them into these institutions. So, to me, that’s fundamental evil."

—Harvard law professor Elizabeth Bartholet

In 2007, Guatemala’s privately run system of adoption attorneys, orphanages and foster care providers helped nearly 5,000 abandoned children find homes with loving families around the world. But then the Guatemalan government shut down international adoptions, created a centrally controlled adoption agency and nationalized the orphanage system. The plan was to promote in-country adoptions, but that plan hasn’t worked. Last year, only 35 children were adopted by Guatemalan families.

Why did the Guatemalan government put an end to a system that was giving thousands of abandoned children a chance at a better life? And what did UNICEF have to do with it? producers Paul Feine and Alex Manning went to Guatemala to find out.

"Abandoned in Guatemala: The Failure of International Adoption Policies" is a film about the promise of international adoption and the sad reality that international adoptions around the world are decreasing, largely due to the influence of UNICEF. It’s also a film about a privately run system that worked and a state-run system that is failing. Most of all, "Abandoned in Guatemala" is a film intended to raise awareness about international adoption in the hope that in the near future more abandoned children will be placed with loving families, wherever they happen to live.

What Is All The Commotion In International Adoption? Watch this video and share!

Take these steps:

  • Watch this short 3 minute video.
  • Familiarize yourself with the problem and solution facing inter-country adoption.
  • Share this video on your personal Facebook page.
  • Share this video on your agency Facebook page.
  • Forward to adoptive families

Don’t miss this! Social Media Webinar: Guiding Your Adopted Child

Social Media and the Adopted Child | Thursday, March 22

Social media has revolutionized the way we connect with one another. This has meant that open adoption communication is more convenient than ever before.
Join Tina Feigal as she shares strategies and tips on how adoptive parents can:

1. Talk to their child about searching
2. Be aware of oversharing someone else’s story
3. Identify safety risks and how to avoid them
4. Institute limits on screen time and location

Register Now

Tina Feigal

Tina Feigal, M.S., Ed. is the Director of Family Engagement at Anu Family Services/Center for the Challenging Child in St. Paul, MN. As a former school psychologist, Tina’s passion is bringing peace to homes by helping caring adults to heal challenging child behavior with the specific, highly effective techniques of Present Moment Parenting. Learn more about Tina Feigal >

Adoption: No More Waiting Children?

What if RainbowKids could no longer show you the faces of children who are waiting for families?

What if one person, with all the power, believed that families interested in adopting should not be allowed to view children who are legally available for adoption?

Couched in legalese,with the invention of a new term called "soft referrals", that is exactly what is being proposed by the person heading the Office of Children’s Issues at the US Dept of State.  The idea is that no family without a homestudy should be allowed to receive information on a legally waiting child.  This is completely contrary to how US Foster Adoption works for waiting children.  Children waiting for adoption in the USA may be viewed by anyone visiting the national database at, or any of the state websites featuring waiting children in fostercare.

Under new leadership, the Office of Children’s Issues has taken radical steps to impose new fees on families wishing to adopt, crushing oversight requirements on adoption service providers, and now a vague instruction to agencies that repercussions may be implemented (retroactively!) should they fail to comply with instructions about sharing information on specific children with interested families.

How many families would adopt a child with Cerebral Palsy, had they not have first seen his or her photo?  There are over FIVE HUNDRED children with CP waiting on RainbowKids.  What chance do these children have of finding families if this new leadership at DOS has their way? ZERO! 

Bulgarian Organizations Submit Letter to US Departement of State on Behalf of Special Needs Children:

The situation at the Office of Children’s Issues has become so dire, that 15 Bulgarian Organizations have written a letter outlining how shutting down advocacy for children with medical special needs goes against the Hague Covention.  This letter was submitted this week and may be read here.

What can you do?? Read this about rising fees in adoption, and know that shutting down waiting child advocacy is part of it. This is happening. Don’t let it!


Special Needs Spotlight: Heart Defects

How many children with a heart defect are waiting for a family on RainbowKids?


ALL of those children will not be able to receive advocacy, including being featured here and on, if child-advocacy for international children is shut down. Including these twins at right.

No homes for waiting children.  No International adoption.

One THOUSAND.  Five Hundred.  Fifty Four….that is how many with just this single special need are waiting for a family.  Adoption needs RainbowKids. These children need families.  ONE PERSON at the Department of State Children’s Issues should not be the reason these kids fail to be raised in a loving family.

View Waiting Children

Featured Country:  Burkina Faso

There are many children waiting in Burkina Faso

Married couples between the ages of 30-50 may adopt a child or sibling group from the West African country of Burkina Faso.  Children range in age from infants to teens. Travel consists of 15 days in country. 

Adoptions Have Dropped 72% Since 2005 – Heres Why! by Mark Montgomery AP Feb 28, 2017


(The Conversation is an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts.)

Mark Montgomery, Grinnell College and Irene Powell, Grinnell College

(THE CONVERSATION) When Ethiopia stopped allowing its children to be adopted by foreign parents in January, it became the latest country to eliminate or sharply curtail the practice. In recent decades South Korea, Romania, Guatemala, China, Kazakhstan and Russia – all former leaders in foreign adoption – have also banned or cut back on international custody transfers.

In 2005, almost 46,000 children were adopted across borders, roughly half of them headed to a new life in the United States. By 2015 international adoptions had dropped 72 percent, to 12,000 in total. Just 5,500 of these children ended up in the U.S., with the remainder landing in Italy and Spain.

Today, most children adopted internationally come from China, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ukraine. But even China, which has been the top sending country since the late 1990s, has decreased its foreign adoptions by 86 percent.

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FREE Webinar with 1.5 CEU for Understanding ACEs Tuesday February 27th 8:00pm eastern

Childhood experiences, both good and bad, shape the developing brain and have a major impact on the physical, mental health and the social emotional functioning of adults. Poor childhood experiences such as childhood neglect, physical and sexual abuse or incarceration of caregivers are called Adverse Childhood Experiences or ACEs.

Join Harmony Family Center’s Education and Training Coordinator, Allison Cooke Douglas, for an overview of the science of ACEs, how these experience impact children and what parents and professionals can do to help children grow and heal after adversity.

Follow this link to register!

Certificates for 1.5 hours of training will be issued for qualified participants.

PLEASE NOTE: Couples using the same device to watch the webinar must register both participants on the registration form (one person in the first name space and the second in the last name space) to receive separate certificates. 

Office of Children’s Issues To Ban Waiting Child Programs!

Read This Letter from Save Adoptions to Carl Risch, Asst. Secretary of State Consular Affairs, Regarding Ban on “Soft Referrals”

Call Your Congress Member Now and Tell Them Children Will Die If Waiting Child Programs Are Banned.

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