Adoption Notice Regarding Impact of January 27 Executive Order 01/01/2017

world The Office of Children’s Issues has received inquiries about the January 27, 2017 Executive Order on Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals, and how it may impact intercountry adoptions involving children from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

Travelers, including adopted children, who are nationals of one of these countries, are not permitted to enter the United States or be issued an immigrant or nonimmigrant visa for 90 days, beginning January 27, 2017.

The Executive Order provides that “the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may, on a case-by-case basis, and when in the national interest, issue visas or other immigration benefits to nationals of countries for which visas and benefits are otherwise blocked.” We are working closely with the Department of Homeland Security to identify exceptions to this Executive Order that are in the national interest.

We will update adoption.state.gov as more information becomes available. Please contact adoption@state.gov with inquiries related to specific intercountry adoptions already in process.

Uniting Obama and Donald Trump to save children – Washington Times

Source: www.washingtontimes.com

By Elizabeth Bartholet and Chuck Johnson

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Analysis / Opinion

The outgoing and incoming administrations are battling over pending regulations and appointments. The Obama administration wants to solidify its policies, and the transitional Trump team wants a free hand implementing new policies. Understandably, there is little room for agreement on many of these issues.

But there is one area where the president and the president-elect should be able to unite — protecting children globally against the horrors of institutional life, and enabling prospective parents to bring those children into their homes and hearts. The general public and politicians on both sides of the political aisle tend to agree that adoption is a good option for the world’s orphaned, abandoned and relinquished children. Yet, a small number of officials in the current Department of State have hijacked U.S. adoption policy, promoting positions never authorized by Congress and positions that it is unlikely President Obama would endorse were they brought to his attention.

Continue reading.

Breaking News for Babies: Congress Passes Mental Health Reform

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Congress Passes Mental Health Reform
Legislation Includes Grants for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health

Huge news for infant and toddler advocates! Today, Congress passed broad mental health reform legislation, including new grants to promote infant and early childhood mental health! Rolled into the larger 21st Century Cures Act, the legislation was passed along bipartisan lines.

Spearheaded by ZERO TO THREE and advocates across the country, the inclusion of the infant and early childhood mental health grants signals that Congress has now recognized the need to begin comprehensive mental health reform where the foundations of strong mental health are laid – with young children, starting from birth. Specifically, the provision:

  • Authorizes $20 million for grants to develop, maintain or enhance infant and early childhood mental health promotion, intervention, and treatment programs.
  • Ensures that funded programs are grounded in evidence and are culturally and linguistically appropriate.
  • Allows funds to support:
    • age-appropriate promotion, early intervention, and treatment services;
    • training mental health clinicians in infant and early childhood mental health;
    • training for infant and early childhood mental health clinicians to integrate with other providers who work with young children and families; and
    • mental health consultation in early care and education programs. 

“This is an important victory toward improved infant mental health prevention, identification and treatment – and the first time the needs of very young children have been recognized by Congress,” said Matthew Melmed, Executive Director of ZERO TO THREE. “We are extremely grateful to the Congressional champions on this issue, including Senators Bill Cassidy and Chris Murphy, Chairman Lamar Alexander and Ranking Member Patty Murray, and Chairman Fred Upton and Ranking Member Frank Pallone for recognizing that babies’ mental health matters and fighting for them throughout this process.” Click here to read ZERO TO THREE’s full statement.

President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law soon.

Update on Intercountry Adoption Proposed Rule Advocacy!

Hello Everyone!

SaveAdoptionsNormalLogo Keep making calls – there are some new names coming in, but we could still use many more. Just a reminder that offices now have until MONDAY to get signatures on that letter. So, keep up that polite persistence.

Some news you may have already heard is the Small Business Administration letter and comments have been publicly shared.  A tremendous amount of gratitude for their advocacy and support in opposing these overreaching and detrimental proposed changes.  This might be info that is helpful to your Members of Congress to hear! Attached is a sample letter (thanks to MLJ Adoptions) using that resource. Check it out and consider using it yourself if you find it helpful.

Finally, these are the names who have signed onto this letter as of a few hours ago… If yours aren’t on here, another outreach might be helpful. And a quick thank you to the staffer is always remembered, if they did sign on.  Share, share, share! 

Senate

  • Blunt
  • Klobuchar
  • Risch
  • Wicker
  • Tillis
  • Thune (Tentative)
  • Lankford

House

  • Lawrence
  • Franks
  • Huizenga
  • Mullin
  • Barr
  • Stewart

Did you make the call? Advocacy Day! Don’t quit!

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As you may know, the U.S. Department of State has proposed new regulations that may significantly impact international adoption. While National Council For Adoption supports some of the themes these proposed regulations set out to address, the impact of these rules is worrisome to adoptive families and adoption professionals.

That’s why we need your voice on November 15th for a special Adoption Advocacy Day!


What’s it all about?

“If adoptive families had any idea of what was going on, I think they would be outraged … We’re so busy just doing paperwork for adoptions that frankly we barely have time to fight this.”
– Lucy Armistead, Adoption Professional

We encourage you to learn more about the proposed regulations! NCFA has highlighted our top concerns about these regulations and The Federalist has published a detailed article examining the concerns of adoptive parents and adoption professionals.

We have an opportunity to provide feedback on these regulations. This week, Congress drafted this letter to the Department of State expressing their concerns. In order for this letter to have maximum impact, we need as many Representatives/Senators to sign it as possible!


Make a difference on 11/15!

During National Adoption Month, help us celebrate adoption by using your voice to create a better future for children living outside of family care. Call your Senators and Representative TODAY and ask them to sign their name to the Congressional letter by Friday, November 18th.

Here’s how to be an awesome adoption advocate:

Step 1. Call your Representative and both Senators. (Yes! All three! Find contact information for your Members of Congress here.)

Step 2. Ask to speak with the person who handles international adoption issues.

Step 3. Make it personal! Introduce yourself and your connection to adoption. Educate the staffer about the Department of State’s proposed regulation changes that will impact intercountry adoptions. Staffers juggle dozens of issues every day, so they may not have heard about these regulations. This is your opportunity to inform and educate! (Here is an example of what to say on your phone call.) Remember staff time is limited, so be clear and concise.

Step 4. Ask their office to sign the congressional letter to Secretary Kerry expressing concerns by Friday, November 18, 2016. They can contact any of the following Congressional offices to sign on:

House of Representatives
Office of Rep. Trent Franks (R)
Contact Chelsea Patterson: chelsea.patterson@mail.house.gov

Office of Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D) 202-225-5802
Contact: Alex Huang: alex.huang@mail.house.gov

Senate
Office of Senator Roy Blunt (R) 202-224-5721
Lauren McCormack: lauren_mccormack@blunt.senate.gov

Office of Senator Amy Klobuchar (D) 202-224-3244
Lindsey Kerr: lindsey_kerr@klobuchar.senate.gov

Step 5. Ask for the staffer’s email address! This way, you can:

  1. Thank them for talking to you. Kindness Counts!
  2. Forward them the letter with written instructions. (See our follow-up email template below!)

Dial the phone first! Then use social media to boost the impact!

The BEST way to make your voice heard is by calling. It’s easy and only takes minutes! Social media posts are largely ineffective and emails or letters can be overlooked in a mountain of messages. Here are tips from former staffer Emily Ellsworth on how to be an effective advocate, and why phone calls are the best method of communication. Social media is a great way to educate your friends and family about this issue. Get the word out by sharing this Adoption Advocacy Day post TODAY. Tell Congress why adoption matters to you!


Sample Follow-Up Email

Dear [name of the international adoption staffer],

Thanks for taking my call today! I hope Representative/Senator XYZ will support this letter to prevent the Department of State’s proposed regulations from negatively impacting adoptive families.

Join Senators Blunt and Klobuchar and Representatives Franks and Lawrence (the Congressional Coalition on Adoption co-chairs) and others in this important effort to support adoptive families.

Please contact any of the following offices by Friday, November 18th to sign on to this important letter.

House of Representatives
Office of Rep. Trent Franks (R)
Contact Chelsea Patterson: chelsea.patterson@mail.house.gov

Office of Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D) 202-225-5802
Contact: Alex Huang: alex.huang@mail.house.gov

Senate
Office of Senator Roy Blunt (R) 202-224-5721
Lauren McCormack: lauren_mccormack@blunt.senate.gov

Office of Senator Amy Klobuchar (D) 202-224-3244
Lindsey Kerr: lindsey_kerr@klobuchar.senate.gov

Thanks for supporting adoption and let me know if you have any questions!

USCIS Fee for Certificate of Citizenship Will Increase on December 23, 2016

Fee Changes from USCIS Hague and Non-Hague Petitions and Certificate of Citizenship

Image2 On Monday October 24, USCIS published its final rule outlining changes in their fee schedule for services, including those for several adoption-related services.  You will note small fee increases for I-600/600As, I-800/800As, and a near-doubling of the fee to obtain a certificate of citizenship (N-600), which increases to $1,170.  The fee increases go to into effect on December 23, 2016. If you are filing any adoption related petition, be sure to reference the new fee schedule.  All this is very disappointing given the broadly expressed opposition to increasing the N-600 and that Congress even made their objections known.

Click here for more information.

SAVE ADOPTIONS: Take Action Today!!! – please share this with every family member and friend possible.

 

Take Action Today!

Adoption advocacy is critical in helping uplift children and bring families together.

Recently, the Department of State issued a series of proposed changes to regulations for intercountry adoptions which will have profound negative impact on your ability to bring a child home and far worse, a child’s right to a permanent and loving family.

The public comment period ends on November 7. The proposal states that implementation would begin immediately.

Hopscotch Adoptions, Inc. and members of the National Council for Adoption have carefully reviewed the proposed regulations and conducted an independent cost analysis to determine the real impact on adoptive parents. The proposed changes will further negatively impact waiting children-often medically fragile children-who need to be brought home sooner, not later. 

If you have already adopted a child, would your child have benefited from coming home sooner? Absolutely!

If you have not yet brought your child home, do you feel an additional extended wait is in the child’s best interest? Absolutely not!

The authors of the proposed regulations failed to consider the tremendous financial burden which will be passed on to families like yours.  Adoption is financially beyond the reach of many families today.  Additional costs will tragically result in fewer families being able to adopt children, leaving more waiting children without hope. The regulations will require a significant increase in expense for agencies to remain operational and compliant.

Hopscotch and other concerned agencies are formulating a reply to these changes during the public comment period, but your voice and support matter now too.

You can read the proposed rules in their entirety on the Federal Register.

More importantly, we thank you for taking action by Signing the Petition or Adding a Comment. Your voice matters. Collectively, we can stand up for every child’s right to grow up in a loving family. We can be each waiting child’s voice.

Please contact us with any questions.

Sign the Petition

(This link directs to www.saveadoptions.org, a collaborative website supported by adoption advocates which has been established to share a petition against the proposed rules. The goal is to obtain 100,000 signatures during the public comment period)

Add a Comment

(This link directs to the proposed rules on www.federalregister.govwhere there is a large Green button to Submit a Comment. These are the formal comments which will be reviewed by the Department of State)

Highlights of the Proposed Rules

The Department of State (DOS) proposes…

To require a second level of accreditation, called Country-Specific Authorization (CSA).

The DOS intends to determine which countries would be subjected to CSA and block agencies access to country programs.

To set the compensation for in-country representatives.

The service providers and partners we work with are attorneys, social workers, and other professionals who have their own businesses, nonprofits, etc. and have the right to fair compensation for their country, region, and amount of work contributed to adoption cases.

To require families adopting internationally to go through state foster care training.

While the MAPP system is preferred for foster care training, it does not address the many specific educational requirements for parents adopting a child internationally. Feedback from local government agencies suggests that adding an influx of adoptive parents into the already limited MAPPs training sessions would create backups and leave both domestic and international children in care for longer than necessary.

Costs of the Proposed Rules

Country-Specific Authorization (CSA) application, per country program = $1,500

Hopscotch operates 9 country programs as primary provider. Total cost, if each country were subjected to CSA = $13,500

Materials and training so home study preparers could offer assistance with MAPPs training for those families not able to take county-offered sessions = $4199

The adoption community believes these proposed changes will limit adoptions, leaving more children without a forever family.

Thank you for taking action today!

Ohio Legislation Changes Terms for People with Intellectual Disabilities

Source: www.ohiohouse.gov

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State Representative Jonathan Dever (R-Madeira) yesterday announced Governor John Kasich’s signing of House Bill 158, legislation that removes “mental retardation” and its derivatives from the Ohio Revised Code and replaces it with “intellectual disability” and its derivatives. Representative Dever, the sponsor of House Bill 158, was on hand for the bill’s signing yesterday at St. Joseph Home, located in the City of Sharonville, Ohio.

HB 158 removes a negative connotation from the Ohio Revised Code without impacting the scope of developmental disability definitions. House Bill 158 also includes "intellectual disability" in the meaning of the term “developmental disability.”

Continue Reading.

Urgent Call to Action for Vulnerable Children and Families Act of 2016

Download Vulnerable Children and Families Act of 2016 (PDF)

Dear Board Members and Concerned  Families:

If you believe The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption has failed to live up to its potential, leaving millions upon millions of children in need of a permanent family globally, this legislation will better serve the desperate needs of this population of children and change the catastrophic trajectory of intercountry adoption.  Below is a simple statement you can simply copy and paste into your senator’s contact email.  You can find your senator’s contact web link and phone information here.

“Dear Senator ______,

This week, Senators Roy Blunt and Amy Klobuchar plan to introduce the Vulnerable Children and Families Act of 2016, which is a significantly re-tooled and simpler version of two former pieces of legislation: Families For Orphans Act and the Children in Families First Act. Senators Blunt and Klobuchar have circulated the legislation to their colleagues in the Senate and are seeking additional co-sponsors before they introduce it THIS week; hence the urgency of the matter. Passage of the Vulnerable Children and Families Act of 2016 has the potential to change the current concerning trajectory of intercountry adoption in the US. The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption has failed to live up to its potential. Millions upon millions of children are in need of a family globally, and this legislation will to better serve the desperate needs of this population of children.

As an international adoption professional, and more importantly, a mother through international adoption, it is important to me that our Senators care about orphans and support them through legislation that will pave the way for permanency through adoption to be a viable option for American families. I am asking for your immediate and urgent help.  Senators Blunt and Klobuchar have circulated the legislation to their colleagues in the Senate and are seeking additional co-sponsors before they introduce it THIS week; hence the urgency of the matter.  Please call contact either Lauren in Blunt’s office or Lindsey in Klobuchar’s office and co-sponsor the Vulnerable Children and Families Act of 2016.

If you want more information on the bill contact Senators Blunt and Klobuchar’s office and hopefully we can count on you to let them know you will co-sponsor this invaluable bill that will change the lives of children and families all over this world.

Without passage of this legislation, you can expect more of the same failed approach by the US Government on Intercountry Adoption.  Respectfully, ____________”

Here is what National Council for Adoption’s Executive Director has to say about this important legislation:

For many years, NCFA has worked to bring much needed legislative reform to intercountry adoption.  Our previous support of the Families For Orphans Act and the Children in Families First Act did not result in their passage.

This week, Senators Roy Blunt and Amy Klobuchar plan to introduce the Vulnerable Children and Families Act of 2016 (see attachment), a significantly re-tooled and simpler version of the two former pieces of legislation, yet something very affirmative to promoting intercountry adoption among other viable permanency solutions. 

The Vulnerable Children and Families Act of 2016 will accomplish many important objectives:

· It will re-enforce Congress’ and the American people’s commitment to intercountry adoption when this is the appropriate option for a child to have a family.

· It re-prioritizes and affirms the U.S. Department of State’s responsibility to be better advocates for this population of vulnerable children and opens doors of opportunity for them to be adopted by qualified American citizens.

· It provides the U.S. Department of State mission-specific instructions regarding their role in advancing the cause of intercountry adoption when no other domestic solution is available for a child to have a family, including establishing priorities that seem inherent in appropriate Hague Convention implementation.

· It creates better communications between several U.S. Government offices charged with carrying out various international child welfare activities and services, among them domestic and intercountry adoption options – and creates, in our opinion, more accountability and cooperation between the U.S. Department of State, other government offices, and the U.S. Congress.

Passage of the Vulnerable Children and Families Act of 2016 has the potential to change the current concerning trajectory of intercountry adoption in the US. The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption has failed to live up to its potential.  Millions upon millions of children are in need of a family globally, and this legislation will to better serve the desperate needs of this population of children.  Because the legislation is nearly all affirmative and mission-specific, it only requires a reallocation of existing resources without significant costs, while at the same time giving the U.S. Department of State a new mandate to better assist orphaned and abandoned children in need of a family and the American citizens who want to open their hearts and home to these children through adoption. The very same mandate we believed was given in 2008 when the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption was implemented in the U.S.

I am asking for your immediate and urgent help.  Senators Blunt and Klobuchar have circulated the legislation to their colleagues in the Senate and are seeking additional co-sponsors before they introduce it THIS week; hence the urgency of the matter.  Please call your Senator NOW (there is not yet a version in the House that is coming soon) and ask them to contact either Lauren in Blunt’s office or Lindsey in Klobuchar’s office and co-sponsor the Vulnerable Children and Families Act of 2016.

We have spent years working to this point.  If you support intercountry adoption and want to see key reforms to how the Department of State views its mission as Central Authority and a better implementation of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, then you really need to call your Senator and secure their support.  Without passage of this legislation, then you can expect more of the same approach by the US Government on Intercountry Adoption. 

Also, the following Senators were previous supporters of CHIFF.  It would go to reason that they’d be inclined to support our new bill.  If one of these Senators is your senator, then please remind them of their previous support CHIFF:

Roy Blunt (MO) – already supporting
Richard Burr (NC) –  already supporting
Robert Casey (PA)
Thad Cochran (MS)
Christopher Coons (DE)
Kristen Gillibrand (NY)
James Inhofe (OK)
Angus King (ME)
Mark Kirk (IL)
Amy Klobuchar – already supporting
Carl Levin (MI)
Edward Markey (MA)
Claire McCaskill – (MO)
Bernard Sanders (VT)
Charles Schumer (NY)
Jeanne Shaheen (NH)– already supporting
Debbie Stabenow (MI)
John Thune (SD)
Elizabeth Warren (MA)
Roger Wicker (MS) – already supporting

Chuck Johnson
President and CEO
National Council For Adoption
225 N. Washington Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
T: 703.299.6633 | F: 703.299.6004

A Big Shout Out to our NC Senator Richard Burr

A Big Shout Out to our NC Senator Richard Burr for signing the letter in support of opposing the Drastic 95% USCIS fee increase!!!!

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