An update from Save Adoptions

Save Adoptions has been relatively quiet the last few months, but that doesn’t mean we have not been working. We are very proud of the Op-Ed in USA Today written by Chuck Johnson, the President of NCFA and an original Board Member of Save Adoptions.  Two former State Department officials, who figured significantly in the policies leading us to where we are today, wrote a response to Chuck’s Op-Ed with several false or misleading statements. Avoiding any responsibility themselves, they inaccurately stated that Nepal and Cambodia made their own decision to close inter-country adoptions and, together with Guatemala and Ethiopia, closed because of concerns about trafficking, re-homing and other bad practices.

In December 2017, Save Adoptions filed a complaint with the Inspector General of the Department of State citing the designation of IAAME as an accrediting entity, even though they did not meet the requirements of the Intercountry Adoption Act, nor the implementing regulations. I can confirm to you that the investigation into that complaint is active and ongoing! We know that government never moves very quickly, but our persistence will make sure it does move.

There have also been two law suits filed against the Department of State and another, broader law suit, is being planned. Many of you have been involved in contacting your legislators to urge change in the Office of Children’s Issues to bring hope back to children. If you hear allegations against the adoption service providers, please urge them to seek specific facts to support any allegations. THANK YOU and please continue the fight. 

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Prepare for your MIND TO BE BLOWN….. But First Consider Signing This WHITE HOUSE Petition!

Dear Friends, family and, colleagues,

Next week will be exciting and should be a monumental in causing change in the State Department of Intercountry Adoption.  A mind blowing article should come out Monday morning in the Federalist and Tuesday morning Nathan Gwilliam, CEO of Adoption.com and Save Adoptions’ President, Ron Stoddart, Esq., will be on the Glenn Beck Program. Put these on your calendars to catch them both.  You don’t want to miss these!! 

However, since the most effective route to change is through the White House, we have also created an online Petition to the White House at:

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/save-adoptions-reverse-80-decline-intercountry-adoptions-and-solve-us-international-adoption-crisis

Please click on the link, read the petition and, if you agree, sign it today.  The White House guarantees they will respond if we have 100,000 signatures within 30 days – but we want to reach 100,000 by the end of the day on Wednesday.  We can do this with your help.

PLEASE, go to the Petition and sign now.  Then, please send this on to your friends and family and post it on social media.  We can’t leave any stone unturned.  On behalf of the thousands of orphaned children who will find permanent families because of your help – THANK YOU! (After signing this WH petition, Hit reply and let me know you have remained a friend to 15 million orphans that I’m working every day and night to serve – Just ask my own family and the Hopscotch families we work with every single day)

*IMPORTANT: Check your clutter/spam/junk mail to ‘verify’ your email after signing the petition or your signature will not be counted.

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

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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

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 AdoptUsKids.org, 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!

SAVE ADOPTION

Special Needs Spotlight: Heart Defects

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

ONE THOUSAND-FIVE-HUNDRED AND FIFTY FOUR

ALL of those children will not be able to receive advocacy, including being featured here and on RainbowKids.com, 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. 

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