I should not be, but I am doing OK

return-to-sender-1-300x228Even though I know I can’t take my daughter back home with me because of the exit visa suspension, for the last month I have been preparing to visit her in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). She is getting older and any day now, she is going to walk, if she isn’t already. I want to be there to help her with some of her first steps.

Most of my travel preparation has been emotional, and I’m not so good writing about that. I don’t enjoy it, at any rate. So I had writer’s block the whole time.

That ended yesterday.

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Children In Families Is Good For the World

CHIFFEDITFINAL1Millions of children grow up a little bit each day without families, without parents, without any security in their lives. Child welfare experts propose that these orphans have a human right to grow up in a permanent family. But those basic human rights go unfulfilled because most adults tell themselves the problem is too big and too complex and too messy to get involved.

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Senator Landrieu Fights For STUCK DRC Families

imgres“My office is coordinating a broad-based diplomatic effort to help the American families and children who are stuck in the latest international adoption mess in the Democratic Republic Congo.  We will shortly be sending letters to the President of the DRC with hundreds of Members of Congress signing.

Congress has to lead the way on this work because our State Department doesn’t do it.  They don’t have an office dedicated to children and families that works proactively to solve problems like this.  Instead, time after time, Congress has to take over and lead the way.

We know that hundreds of children and U.S. families are affected by this latest crisis in the DRC, and we know that six months into the crisis the Department of State still doesn’t even have a complete list of the affected cases.

I and many others in Congress have introduced a bill – Children in Families First (CHIFF)– that will remedy this glaring gap.  Once CHIFF passes — and I believe it will  because we have 65 co-sponsors in the House and the Senate today, with more signing on every day – the Department of State will finally have an office that will do the real work that these families and children deserve.  But for today, those of us here in Congress will fight for our families and their children.”

–Senator Mary Landrieu

TO MY READERS: We have a window of opportunity right now to get CHIFF passed in this Congress.  But we need for all of our Members of Congress to know how much support there is for CHIFF.  Signing (and sharing!) these letters takes less than ONE MINUTE and will send that message loud and clear.  Doing so will help not just our family, but unparented children all over the world who are STUCK in orphanages and on the streets.

Orphan Gear: Advocacy or Exploitation?

Some adoptive families have t-shirts or do family photo sessions with signs that say something like “147 Million Orphans Minus One.”

147-million-minus-one

Some of my acquaintances on Facebook have criticized these families. The criticism is that these families should not draw attention to the fact that their child was once an orphan. Typically they complain that either parents see their child as a charity project or simply calling attention to the child’s background encourages others to see the child as a victim.

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Please Vote: Is State Department Devious Or Just Incompetent?

imgresThe international adoption numbers from FY 2013 are in, and it appears that the State Department is single-handedly killing international adoptions, right along with the Hague Convention on Inter-Country Adoption.

31 out of 67 Hague partner sending countries had ZERO adoptions by U.S. families in 2013.

This is the same convention that child welfare advocates fought so hard for. The same convention that State Department strong-arms countries all over the world into joining.

Is this ironic incompetence, or is some darker force at work? Is State Department intentionally shutting down international adoption?

Friends insist the two choices in the title are not enough. They suggest the following multiple choice options:

(a) Devious (i.e., insisting countries join Convention, then using that as an excuse to stop adoptions)
(b) Incompetent
(c) Apathetic
(d) All of the above.

Votes below, please.

Are We Really Just A Bunch of Baby Scoopers?

ChildrenDeservedfinal_B2I happen to be Facebook friends with the founder of OrphanAid Africa, Lisa Lovatt-Smith. I applaud her forward-thinking position that children need families to grow and succeed; OrphanAid Africa strives to strengthen families and communities so they can care for children. Unfortunately, OrphanAid Africa has a historical partnership with UNICEF, which is anti-adoption, and I see indications of that in her posts from time to time.

Lisa Lovatt-Smith posted about her efforts to shut down orphanages in Ghana, alleging that there is no need for orphanages. I commented, knowing that Ghana has also closed its international adoption program, “but closing orphanages doesn’t cure abandonment, abuse and neglect. It just makes kids invisible.”

She responded, “Those children don’t exist. Continue reading

Amid Outrageous Demands to Bring Sick Children Home, US State Department Keeps Their Cool

imgresI am 16 months into a high risk pregnancy.

So I go about my life, doing small things every day to advocate for my child. I am not the newbie who got hysterical one year ago, in a roomful of hopeful parents waiting like me, some waiting much longer. Today, I can’t sit around all the time thinking about the awful reality that my child is trapped in. I have learned that with international adoptions, frustration and powerlessness becomes everyone’s new normal.

But sometimes the reality of what we adoptive parents face breaks through.

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Adoptive Parents Who Are Our Heroes

imgresWhile so much ugly commentary is swirling around about adoptive parents and the “adoption industry,”I am going to share the anecdote below from a friend about what international adoption looks like. This is how her speech began, delivered at Pepperdine University in February 2013:

Three years ago last month, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake hit Port au Prince, Haiti. We all watched in horror as the degree of death and devastation became apparent. At the time, I was working for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in the International Operations Division.

At USCIS, we started to think right away about how we could use U.S. immigration tools to help. Continue reading

75,000 Orphans and Counting…

logoKelly Ensslin has an insightful new blog post on the Both Ends Burning website about the newly released State Department adoption numbers, showing a drop for the ninth consecutive year in a row. The numbers over the past decade represent at least 75,000 orphans who have been deprived of permanent, loving families due to failed U.S. policy.

“Last Friday, the Department of State released its long-awaited annual international adoption statistics. As we had predicted, for the ninth straight year the number of children internationally adopted into permanent loving US families has fallen. In fiscal year 2013, only 7,094 children entered the United States on orphan visas. This number represents an 18% drop from the prior year and a 69% reduction since 2004, when international adoptions peaked at 22,884.

If only these numbers represented success in that fewer children were in need of international adoption. But tragically they do not. We know the number of double orphans (children who have lost both parents) has steadily increased, to 18 million according to UNICEF. We know millions of children remain in orphanages. We also know many families would love to adopt these children, far more than even the 22,884 US families who were able to adopt in 2004, but they are effectively blocked from doing so by failed government “policy”.

If we use these numbers to measure the performance of the Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues, they reveal a startling failure of epidemic proportions. This failure represents a very real human rights crisis, and continues to worsen around the world.  In fact, had international adoptions remained at the 2004 level, without any growth, over 75,000 children would have come into loving families here in the US. That’s over SEVENTY-FIVE THOUSAND CHILDREN in just nine years.”

Read the rest of the blog post here.

When Best Intentions Kill Children

safe_imageTen years ago, Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) began a deliberate shift in child welfare policy. This shift, as reported by the Miami Herald, “reduce[d] by as much as half the number of children taken into state care, adopting a philosophy known as ‘family preservation.’”

The result: many more children died. Continue reading