UK Foster Care Reform Mirrors U.S. Reform, 20 Years Later

300px-Flag_of_the_United_Kingdom.svgIt has taken a couple decades, but UK foster care reform has finally followed the U.S. in deciding that it is much more important for a child to grow up in a permanent, transracial family than it is for that child to languish in foster care while waiting for a racial match that may never come.

In 1994, the United States enacted the Multiethnic Placement Act, which prohibits agencies from refusing or delaying foster or adoptive placements because of a child’s or foster/adoptive parent’s race, color, or national origin.

The United Kingdom’s Children and Families Act 2014 removes the duty placed on social workers to match the ethnicity of a child with their adoptive parents. It also strengthens the concept of “concurrent planning,” another important child welfare concept developed by the U.S., which allows a foster child to be placed in a prospective adoptive family’s home before the parental rights have been terminated.

The economic benefits of adoption in the UK are reported in research which used a cost calculator for children’s services developed by Loughborough University. Research suggests it costs a local authority £25,782 to have a child adopted, compared to up to £400,000 for each child remaining in long-term care.

Marathon To Bring My Daughter Home

rp_2014-07-20-17.40.40-1024x7681-300x225.jpgOn January 25th, I will run 26.2 miles in the Miami Marathon with a stroller that holds only a picture of my daughter, Ellie. This race will be tough not only physically, but emotionally, as the empty stroller will be a tangible reminder of Ellie’s absence every step of the way. Every step will remind me of how empty my arms have felt for a year and a half now as I have fought to bring home my legally adopted daughter.

Many adoptive families fundraise for their adoption costs. My husband and I are now fundraising, not for ourselves, but for the Both Ends Burning Campaign. Our family believes that the efforts of the Both Ends Burning Campaign are key to bringing home our daughter, but they can’t win without support. If you like my blog, if you support advocacy for children, if you want my daughter to come home, please consider donating to this incredible organization that fights for every child’s right to a loving and permanent family. My fundraising goal is $10,000 and I am a quarter of the way there. My friends and family have already donated, so I really need the help of my readers and the child welfare community to meet my goal.

For those unfamiliar with our family’s story, my husband and I adopted a young girl 16 months ago from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Except.

We have yet to bring her home.

Ellie has her passport and U.S. visa and a loving family waiting for her. Yet she lives the dangerous life of an orphan: just a few months ago, Ellie was hospitalized in Congo with malaria and severe malnutrition. I spent the summer with Ellie to help nurse her back to health, and it ripped me apart to have to leave behind my beautiful, bright and loving daughter.

She’s not the only one. 1,300 Congolese orphans with American adoptive families remain stuck due to a geopolitical standoff. Shamefully, at least 11 children have died in the past year from treatable, preventable illness while waiting to be united with their adoptive families.

The Both Ends Burning Campaign helps families stuck in this heartbreaking scenario with extensive advocacy and lobbying, producing resolutions from Congress and direct communication with the highest levels of the U.S. and Congolese governments.

Please help fundraise for this important non-profit that has done so much to support our family and so many others. All donations go directly to Both Ends Burning.

Facebook and Apple: Cutting Edge on Freezing Eggs, But Not Adoption

11949891621975732799aiga_toilet_women_.svg.hiTo incentivize more women into high-powered careers, Facebook and Apple are now paying the costs for employees to freeze their eggs.

Many companies have offered alternative family formation benefits to their employees for years now, but they have done it by paying some of the adoption costs for their employees. In fact, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption tracks these benefits. Here is a list of the top 100 Adoption Friendly Workplaces.

Interestingly, Facebook and Apple are not on it. According to news reports, Facebook and Apple do offer some sort of adoption benefit, but I find it interesting that while they are leaders in supporting reproductive technology, but aren’t leaders in supporting adoption.

This is striking to me, since adoption has long been an avenue that older women have pursued to become mothers. Is adoption uncommon in Silicon Valley?

Thoughts?

 

Regressive Adoption Moratoriums Kill Children

1546409_10104483866901649_397574767207325886_nAs the Ebola virus sweeps the continent where my adopted daughter is stuck, I am constantly preoccupied with how far international child welfare policy has strayed from progressive values.

This summer I visited my daughter in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where children legally adopted by foreigners have been detained for over a year now. I have been her legal mother since she was 6 months old. I watched in crazy-in-love awe as she became a toddler, no longer a baby. But I am forced to watch her grow up from afar because she is a pawn in a geopolitical game.

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South Africa Embracing Transracial Adoption…More International Adoptions Close Behind?

rp_2014-07-20-17.40.40-1024x768.jpgI am so inspired by the increasing rate of transracial adoptions in South Africa, which demonstrate just how much the former apartheid state is embracing multicultural diversity.

South Africa is traveling the same path that our own child welfare system followed, from orphanages to foster homes, from being obsessed with race-matching to realizing that creating permanent families—even un-racially-matched ones—is more important than anything else.

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State Department Picks Ethica Founder Trish Maskew to Head International Adoptions Unit

imgresThe Office of Children’s Issues (OCI) in the State Department has been responsible for guiding policy in international adoption for several years now. So it is important news that the State Department has just hired a new head of the Adoptions Unit at the OCI.

The new head of the OCI Adoptions Unit is Trish Maskew. It is important for the international child welfare community to be informed about her background because she will be critical in guiding U.S. international adoption policy and practice. I link below to several interviews and writings she has done on international adoption.

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The Meaning of Life When You’re STUCK in an International Adoption

2011-04-19 21.57.27A friend just shared an article written by an author who recently passed from cancer. It is beautifully written and I highly recommend it if you feel like crying your eyes out. She wrote one last article to ask her readers to:

Take [life] by both hands, grab it, shake it and believe in every second of it. Adore your children. You have literally no idea how blessed you are to shout at them in the morning to hurry up and clean their teeth.

Whenever I read something like this I feel compassion for the author and her family, sadness at being reminded of my own mortality, gratitude that I am alive, and regret for all the days that I have not been thankful.

Since becoming STUCK, there have been many, many days that I have not been thankful. Many days that I am bitter and numb to excitement and laughter.

These types of articles initially fill me with remorse as I am reminded that we all have a finite number of days. Each day that we spend not being thankful is an opportunity for joy that has been squandered. I want to maximize the number of joyful days in the life I have, and with abundant health, I have that opportunity.

But then my anger at being separated from my child while she grows up is renewed with a vengeance. Because every day of her life is just so precious to me and I am missing it.

In the developed world, where parents often save for retirement and are supported by social security, children have no economic value to parents. A child’s “value” is in the joy of helping her grow up and meet milestones and learn lessons. STUCK parents are robbed of this every day. And STUCK children are robbed even more: of the attention they need to grow up to become productive, happy adults.

I do feel grateful that I’m alive. But this has limited relevance to me right now. Because my family is being robbed of our family life together—really, the most important part of life—while we’re alive to watch it trickle by, day by day.

U.S. State Department Covers Up Smear Campaign Against Families Adopting From Ethiopia

A friend's little boy, finally home.
A friend’s little boy, finally home.

Look at four thousand of anything and you’re bound to turn up a bad apple. Or egg. Or fraudulent adoption.

Except looking didn’t find one–not one out of 4000, even though the U.S. State Department wanted and needed to find one.

In January of 2011, a joint team from U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the U.S. Department of State reviewed 4,000 consecutive adoptions from Ethiopia, looking for evidence that fraud was prevalent in Ethiopian adoptions. The State Department needed evidence to back up a smear campaign they had begun to wage against Ethiopian adoptions. But after a field investigation and an extensive, careful analysis, the team found that not one single case among those 4,000 was fraudulent.

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International Adoption Restrictions and Modernization Backlash

2014-07-30 18.04.19Adoption is a modern phenomenon.

True adoption–assuming legal responsibility for a child as if that child had been born of you–bestows rights to the child, and rights but also responsibilities upon the parent. True adoption makes an adopted child equal to all the other children in the house. True adoption protects children with the right of inheritance, government benefits, and a great number of safeguards.

Some countries don’t understand how true adoption works. It is a foreign concept. Instead, their cultures, and certain NGOs like UNICEF and Save the Children, promote “kinship care,” the closest approximation of adoption in countries without the security of adoption.

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Action Alert for STUCK Canadian Families: Call-In Day is TODAY!

DuVDSBHLlrmfHmi-556x313-noPadOur daughter’s  foster care sister has a Canadian family. They are the same age and have been together since they were infants. Our families look forward to visiting each other when we bring our girls home so that they can continue to grow up together.

But that won’t happen unless Canada’s Citizen and Immigration Department issues visas to these legally adopted children. Moreover, the Canadian government and its Department of Foreign Affairs have failed to meaningfully engage with the Congolese government to bring these children home to their families.

So the Canadian families have organized Call-In Days the week of August 25th to demand that Canada’s leaders advocate for their families. Let’s show Canada that when it comes to adoption, the world understands that we are all one big family. Cellular phone calls from the U.S. to Canada are free.

Here is the call-in script and contacts:

I am contacting your office regarding the Canadians adopting from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I am asking the Canadian government to please issue visas to these legally adopted children without delay and to proactively engage with the Congolese government to bring these children home to their waiting families.”

Stephen Harper, Prime Minister
403-253-7990 or stephen.harper@parl.gc.ca
Chris Alexander, Minister of Immigration
613-995-8042 or chris.alexander@parl.gc.ca
John Walsh, President of the Conservative Part of Canada
866-808-8407 or johnwalsh@conservative.ca
John Baird, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs
613-995-1851 or bairdj@parl.gc.ca
Employees in the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Africa desk:
Daniel Vezina 343-203-3426

Vincent Charron  343-203-3322