The Real Reason Your Government Wants to End International Adoptions


International adoptions numbers all over the world have drastically fallen in the past decade and continue to fall. We often blame wealthy countries for overregulating adoptions, poor countries for xenophobia, and the international community for creating treaties that dismantle the entire structure for adoptions while removing incentives to create new and effective ones.

But what is really going on here? All of those moving pieces are complex and couldn’t have been efficient at closing international adoption even if it had been an intentional, well-coordinated effort.

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Why the DRC “suspension” on exit letters for orphans is illegal

rp_kabila-kerry-cartoon-1024x724.jpgIn September 2013, the executive branch of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) announced that it had suspended the issuance of “exit letters” to Congolese orphans already legally adopted by foreigners.

The DRC has gone far beyond any previous adoption ban or suspension, by restricting already-adopted children from leaving the country. Even Russia allowed already-adopted children to leave the country when it implemented its adoption ban.

I have mentioned before, without explanation, that the DRC detention is illegal. Here is my argument: Continue reading Why the DRC “suspension” on exit letters for orphans is illegal

Florida legislature would allow adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBT families

imgresIn  2010,  Florida courts ended Florida’s 33-year ban on adoptions by gay and lesbians when they ruled that the ban violated the equal protection rights of the children and their prospective parents under the Florida Constitution. In re Gill was a groundbreaking case because it spoke not only of adult rights to a family, but of a child’s right to a family.

The ban has remained on the books, however, even though it was nullified by the court’s decision. This legislative session, the Florida House introduced a bill to formally repeal the ban. Unfortunately, in the backlash of marriage legalization in Florida, the House also introduced an amendment to allow private “faith-based” adoption and foster agencies to discriminate against LGBT families and non-Christian families based upon “conscience.”

Continue reading Florida legislature would allow adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBT families

Adoption Attorneys Oppose New Federal Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) Guidelines

rp_IMG_0243-1024x768.jpgThe prestigious American Academy of Adoption Attorneys has just released a press release citing its disappointment with the Department of Interior’s recently issued guidelines from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) concerning the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). You can read the entire press release HERE.

In particular, adoption attorneys, judges and scholars are alarmed at the Bureau of Indian Affairs deliberate effort to bypass input from the Academy, the public, and other child-focused organizations.

The new Guidelines explicitly direct courts to disregard the best interests and human rights of children, and treat children instead as possessions of tribes.


Why You Should Love “Just Love Coffee Roasters”

imgresI love a business with a heart. So I was thrilled to learn about Just Love Coffee Roasters, a company committed to great coffee beans and social justice. In its first two years of business, Just Love Coffee Roasters gave over $200,000 to adopting families, non-profit organizations, and the arts. Just Love Coffee Roasters sources only the finest Fair Trade, Direct Trade, organic, and shade-grown coffee beans from the best growing regions around the world. The company researches the co-ops it works with and is diligent about sustainability.

And I was especially moved that the founder of Just Love Coffee Roasters is now advocating for stuck DRC families by urging its buyers to sign a petition which urges President Obama to actively engage to bring home hundreds of children who have been abducted from their legal, loving families and are being held hostage.

Do you drink coffee? Please consider buying from Just Love Coffee Roasters. And while you are at it, please sign the petition!

Distorting the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)

The boys with a picture of Chief White Cloud, their ancestor
The boys with two of their Native American ancestors.

This is a guest blog post from Johnston Moore. Johnston Moore and his wife Terri have been married 26 years and have adopted seven children from the Los Angeles County foster care system. After a career in Hollywood, John co-founded and now serves as Executive Director of Home Forever. John writes extensively and speaks at numerous churches and conferences about foster care and adoption, and he strongly believes that children, traumatized or not, need stability and permanence far more than some manufactured phantom connection to a culture that was never theirs.

Last December, Attorney General Eric Holder announced a new DOJ initiative aimed at promoting compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), a 1978 federal law passed in response to the “wholesale removal” of Native American children from their families. Tribes were rightly concerned at the time that many Indian children were removed from their families by non-Indian social workers unfamiliar with tribal child-rearing practices and placed in non-Indian foster and adoptive homes away from Indian Country, where many were forced to assimilate into the majority culture, losing connection to the tribal life and customs in which they had been raised. Tribes and Indian families suffered greatly too, as they saw many of their younger members taken away.

In his announcement, Holder pledged to “ensure that the next generation of great tribal leaders can grow up in homes that are not only safe and loving, but also suffused with the proud traditions of Indian cultures.” In that statement, Holder demonstrates an alarming level of naiveté regarding ICWA, and the ways it is impacting children today.

I’ve often held, rather simply, that two of the measures of a good law are that, 1) it does what it was intended to do, and 2) it doesn’t do what it wasn’t intended to do. By this second measure, ICWA, though well-intentioned, fails monumentally, and does so in ways that increased compliance will mean only more disruption and trauma for many children.

Continue reading Distorting the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)

Does Illinois Hate Adoption?

200px-Seal_of_Illinois.svgAn adoptive family wrote this post about what they say is Illinois’ hostile attitude toward adoption. The writer makes a detailed, insightful critique of Illinois’ interference in international adoptions, as well as specific recommendations for improving the system. I highly recommend my readers visit this blogger’s site and consider helping this blogger with her advocacy and struggle to bring home a little girl who needs permanency now.

Have any readers had specific experiences with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services? Does Illinois have a bias against adoption?

Reevaluating Child Welfare Priorities

2014-01-04 14.20.06Children enter foster care because they are in danger.

A child’s safety should be the first priority in any child welfare system, shouldn’t it? As a lawyer, I’ve been examining the role the judicial system plays in making sure children remain safe once they have been removed from danger.

But when I look around at what our judicial system is actually doing, it becomes clear that our courts too often favor a parent’s right to autonomy over a child’s right to safety.

Continue reading Reevaluating Child Welfare Priorities

NGO Campaigns to De-Institutionalize Children: Heroic or Misguided?

1Disability Rights International (DRI) is an NGO that promotes human rights for people with disabilities. Children in institutional care, such as orphanages, quickly become disabled, so it is no surprise that DRI has announced that its newest project is the Worldwide Campaign to End the Deinstitutionalization of Children.

Lumos, a charity funded and headed by J.K. Rowling, has also dedicated itself to closing orphanages.

DRI and Lumos are correct that children don’t belong in orphanages. But they also don’t belong on the streets or in dangerous homes. And I worry that these organizations, in partnering with UNICEF, will follow UNICEF’s bad example in trying to care for unparented children.

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True Equality in Child Welfare

imagesHere is a video of Chris Rock discussing racial equality in America. He says:

“Just because you let Jackie Robinson in baseball doesn’t mean it’s equal. Baseball, statistically, almost isn’t equal until the seventies. And why do I say the seventies? Because that’s when you started to see bad black baseball players. The true, true equality is to suck like the white man.”

In other words, the appearance of equality is not necessarily true equality. True equality is truly equal.

Continue reading True Equality in Child Welfare