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New Adoptions from Nepal Suspended; In-Process Families Advised Against Traveling

On August 6, the U.S. Department of State announced a suspension of new adoption cases from Nepal. The official statement said that decision was made after an investigation of recent abandonment cases "demonstrated that documents presented to describe and 'prove' the abandonment of children in Nepal are unreliable."

One week following the announcement of the suspension, on August 13, the Department of State issued a warning to families in the pipeline. "At this time we do not recommend that prospective adoptive parents travel to Nepal to finalize their adoptions," it read, in part. The timeline for in-process cases is uncertain, and the U.S. government has cautioned that it may take several months. If you are in the process of adopting from Nepal, you are advised to contact the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu, via, with your name, your child’s name, your adoption agency, and, if possible, the immigrant visa case number for your child’s case (this number begins with a year, followed by the letters KDU, followed by several more numbers) and can be found on any document sent to you by the National Visa Center).

Monitor to stay up to date on adoption from Nepal.

updated August 17, 2010

Another Adoption Tragedy in Tennessee

Just three months after she was adopted from China, four-year-old Kairissa XingJing Mark, of Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, died as the result of abuse. Her mother, Deborah Wen Yee Mark, a pediatrician, has been charged with the crime. The girl's father, Steven Mark, has also been charged with child abuse, and the couple's eight-year-old biological daughter has been placed in foster care.

The tragic news prompted speculation that China will make changes to international adoption policy, and has already led many within the adoption community to call for better pre-adoption training and assessment and post-placement support.

updated July 19, 2010

Talks with Russian Officials Productive 

U.S. and Russian officials have met for three rounds of discussions about revising intercountry adoption policy. All of the meetings have been productive, but the two countries have not yet released an official bilateral agreement. Expected changes include allowing only Hague-accredited agencies to process adoptions from Russia, closer regulation of these agencies, and increased post-placement reporting requirements.

Stay up to date at

updated June 18, 2010

First Meeting with Russian Officials Went Well; Second Talk Scheduled for May 12 

On April 29, a delegation from the U.S. State Department met with Russian officials in Moscow to discuss the rights of children adopted internationally. The Russian government has proposed an intercountry adoption agreement between the two countries for several years, and, in the wake of the tragic international abandonment of a seven-year-old boy, announced that the future of Russian adoptions to the U.S. is contingent upon such an agreement. The first round of talks were productive, and a second meeting has been scheduled for May 12.

The State Department emphasizes that adoptions from Russia to the U.S. have not been suspended, but that they continue at a slower pace.

Stay up to date at

updated May 3, 2010

Adoptions from Russia Continue; Talk with Russian Officials Scheduled for April 29 

After rumors of a Russian suspension of adoptions to the U.S. surfaced on April 15, the announcement was never confirmed by the Russian Ministry of Education. The U.S. Department of State immediately prepared a delegation to fly to Moscow. A meeting was originally scheduled for April 20, but was postponed due to the difficulty of traveling following the volcanic explosion in Iceland. The talk has been rescheduled for April 29, and both countries hope to reach a new bilateral agreement so that adoptions may continue.

Visa processing in Moscos continues, though at a slower pace. If you are in the process of adopting from Russia, the State Department urges you to stay in close contact with your adoption service provider.

Stay up to date at

updated April 26, 2010

Russia Considers Suspending Adoptions After Boy Sent Back by His Adoptive Parents

Late last week, a seven-year-old boy was placed on a plane by his adoptive family and flown back to Russia, about six months after his adoption from that country. The outrageous abandonment was immediately censured by children's rights organizations and the citizens and governments of both countries, with Russia's Ministry for Foreign Affairs calling for a suspension of adoptions to the U.S.

The boy, Artyem, had been adopted by a single mother who lived in Tennessee. She sent him back with a note that read, in part, "After giving my best to this child, I am sorry to say that for the safety of my family, friends and myself, I no longer wish to parent this child." It went on to claim that he "is violent and has severe psychopathic issues."

Since U.S. adoptions from Russia began in 1991, 14 children have died while in the care of their adoptive families. Each tragedy has sparked an outcry in both countries. Russia has long been uneasy about the country's international adoption program, with various government officials periodically proposing stricter guidelines or an end to the program. Speaking to the New York Times, Sergey V. Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister, called this latest case "the last straw."

News of this heartbreaking abandonment broke as the Guide was going to press, and it was unclear if the program would close or what, if any, changes would be made. Stay up to date at

updated April 12, 2010

Update: Nepal Adoption

The U.S. Department of State has issued a statement discouraging families from pursuing adoption in Nepal, in light of ongoing, grave concerns regarding Nepal's current adoption system. Read the alert at, and learn more about Nepal adoption at

updated Mar. 5, 2010

Next Steps for Adoptive Parents of Paroled Haitian Orphans

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services issued yesterday a list of frequently asked questions to help U.S. citizen adoptive parents and prospective adoptive parents determine what steps to take next, in order to process necessary paperwork and finalize their Haiti adoptions. Click to download the PDF.

updated Feb. 24, 2010

A Decline in Number of Kids in Foster Care

Fewer children are in foster care—from 491,000 in fiscal year 2007 to 463,000 in fiscal year 2008—and more are being adopted, according to preliminary estimates issued by the U.S. Children’s Bureau of the Department of Health and Human Services. The Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) also shows that there are now 123,000 foster children eligible for adoption, a decline from 132,000 in fiscal year 2007. View the AFCARS report at

updated Feb. 16, 2010

New Paperwork Requirements, Passport Delays for Ukraine Adoptions

Effective Feb. 1, all adoption dossiers submitted to the Ukrainian State Department for Adoptions and Protection of the Rights of the Child (SDAPRC) must include two additional documents. They are three copies of both parents' passports (instead of one), accompanied by certified Ukrainian translation, and a notarized statement, signed by both parents, authorizing the SDAPRC to request clearances for them through Ukrainian law enforcement agencies and Interpol. (SDAPRC will accept statements notarized by local Ukrainian notaries for families who are already in Ukraine, finalizing their adoptions.) The Interpol clearance processing time may require up to 40 days.

Also, the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine has announced delays in issuing passports to Ukrainian citizens, which can affect documentation of children adopted by American citizens. It’s not clear if the delay is significant, but the Embassy is advising prospective families to plan accordingly. Read more at

updated Feb. 2, 2010

U.S. Expediting Haiti Adoptions on a Case-by-Case Basis

The Department of Homeland Security has announced humanitarian parole allowing some Haitian orphans to enter the U.S. temporarily, to ensure they receive the care and attention they need. The announcement comes as part of the U.S. government’s ongoing and increasing relief efforts for those suffering from the earthquake. All cases of Haiti adoptions in progress are being evaluated by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; those children who enter under humanitarian parole status will need to have their immigration status resolved after arrival. (See the State Department’s announcement and eligibility criteria.)

According to the department, hundreds of children from Haiti have been documented for travel to the U.S. and have been united with their forever families since the earthquake. Visit for more information.

updated Jan 26, 2010

Adoptive Families Meets with Kyrgyzstan Delegation

On June 5, Adoptive Families met with representatives from the Kyrgyzstan Parliament and Prime Minister's office to discuss the future of the country's international and domestic adoption programs. The Kyrgyz delegation visited the U.S. as part of a State Department initiative, and met with adoption agencies, adoptive parents, and U.S. officials. The three members of the delegation are strong advocates for adoption, and we were pleased to hear of their two goals upon returning to Kyrgyzstan:

1. Join the Hague Convention. As of now, Kyrgyzstan has not signed the Hague, but the Parliament members indicated that their visit to the U.S. proved to them that a transparent process is vital to intercountry adoption.

2. Explore the benefits of increased openness. In Kyrgyzstan, dometic adoption is prevalent, but is still surrounded in secrecy. Children are not often told that they joined their families through adoption, and if they are, they are told when they are teens or young adults. After meeting with adoptive parents in the U.S., and hearing from us how openness truly benefits the child, the members intend to speak with adoption professionals in Kyrgyzstan and explore the idea of openness.

We were also thrilled to hear that they loved Adoptive Families and hoped to begin a similar magazine in Kyrgyzstan!

updated June 12, 2009

Nepal Releases New Adoption Procedures 

After a two-year long closure, Nepal released new procedures for intercountry adoption during a recent presentation Nepal WCS Ministry to the U.S. and other Embassies in Katmandu. Under the new regulations, single women older than 35 and married couples may adopt. Parents must travel once, with an expected in-country stay of three weeks. Families will be required to submit post-placement reports until the child turns 18. Read more about the new process (Powerpoint Presentation).

Late last year, Nepal approved 32 agencies in the U.S. to process intercountry adoptions. Each agency is permitted to complete 10 adoptions each year.

updated May 19, 2009

New Restrictions Could Preclude Singles from Ethiopia Adoption

Several adoption agencies are reporting that they have been asked to restrict the number of single-parent families they accept for Ethiopia, and other agencies have ceased their singles program for Ethiopia altogether.

Although no formal announcement has been made, rumors have circulated for some time now that the country would limit adoptions to two-parent families. All prospective adopters should be aware that eligibility requirements (family status, parent ages, number of children in the home, etc.) may change at any time, without notice.

It's also not known how the restriction, if enacted into law, might affect still-in-progress single adopters. Merrily Kipley, of Adoption Advocates International, which offers one of the country's longest-running Ethiopia programs, tells Adoptive Families that, whenever Ethiopia's adoption requirements have changed in years past, the government was committed to working with agencies and parents to grandfather in cases in progress.

updated January 27, 2009

Important Medical Recommendation for China Adoptive Families
In September, the Ministry of Health of China confirmed that melamine-contaminated powdered infant formula caused more than 6,240 cases of kidney stones in infants in China. When consumed, melamine, a chemical used in plastics, can lead to kidney stones and, in some cases, kidney failure. Though the majority of children affected by the contaminated formula are in China, several American families with children adopted from China have reported that their children were diagnosed with kidney stones.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has not yet released an official statement about children potentially exposed to melamine prior to adoption. In the meantime, the American Society of Pediatric Nephrology (ASPN) recommends the following:
* Children who may have been exposed and are showing symptoms (including unexplained crying while urinating, vomiting, fever with urinary tract infection, or kidney stones) should see a doctor for testing, including blood and urine screening.
* Children who may have been exposed to formula before 2007 most likely do not need screening.
* Children exposed to the formula after 2007 may need screening. Speak with your child's pediatrician to make a decision about whether your child should be screened.

For more information on ASPN's statement, go to and click on the melamine statement.

updated November 26, 2008

Nepal Approves New Agencies
The Nepalese government has released a list of 58 approved adoption agencies (32 in the U.S.), a sign that intercountry adoptions may soon resume in Nepal. Intercountry adoptions have been closed since May 2007, although in-process adoptions were allowed to be completed. In May 2008, the Nepalese government approved new terms and conditions for intercountry adoptions, but it is still unknown when they will begin processing new adoptions.

For more information, see the U.S. Department of State website.

updated October 28, 2008

Vietnam Suspends Acceptance of New Dossiers
The U.S. Department of State has released a statement on its website,, detailing the suspension of adoption dossier acceptance by Vietnam on July 1 — and the planned suspension of referrals on September 1, 2008. The government of Vietnam will continue to process cases received prior to July 1. However, while prospective adoptive families who have been matched with a child by Sept. 1 will be allowed to finalize their adoption, those adopters whose dossiers have not yet received a referral by that time will be unable to complete the process.

According to estimates, of the more than 1,700 applications still pending as of July 1, it's believed that referrals will be completed before Sept. 1 for about half of them. Read the full announcement posted by the state department at, and learn more about Vietnam adoption at the Joint Council's website at

updated July 21, 2008

Previously Approved Cases Released by PGN in Guatemala
The PGN, the Guatemalan Solicitor General, has notified the Department of State that he will release approximately 300 cases that had been approved by the previous PGN. He had originally determined that these cases should go through the comprehensive review process now in place, but has now decided to release the cases. There are approximately 1,300 cases waiting to be reviewed in Guatemala. The PGN has reviewed more than 800 cases to date, and has found only 22 cases that were not approvable. Find more information, and read the Department of State's official announcement at the U.S. DOS website.

updated June 18, 2008

U.S. Dept. to Track Complaints Against Providers
The U.S. Department of State has launched a Hague Complaint Registry online to receive and maintain records of complaints relating to intercountry adoption services. Using an online form, the public may now submit complaints, which will be used to review provider performance under the Department's Hague accreditation standards. Learn more about the Hague Adoption Convention at the U.S. DOS website, as well as how to submit your complaint.

updated April 28, 2008

Vietnam to Suspend Adoption Program
Government officials in Vietnam announced plans today to end a Memorandum of Agreement allowing adoptions between Vietnam and the United States. The move comes after a report released last week outlined widespread allegations that include corruption. Vietnam will stop accepting applications from U.S. families after July 1, although it will continue to process applications from those who have been matched with children, until the existing agreement expires on September 1. Read the entire report released by the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi on April 25, and learn more about Vietnam adoption.

updated April 28, 2008

Update on China Adoption Program
In recent high-level conversations, representatives of the China Center of Adoption Affairs assured U.S. adoption agency representatives that its adoption program would continue in future years, albeit at the slower pace than recent years due to a decrease in numbers of children available for adoption. Although adoption travel permissions may be halted in August due to Olympic Games congestion, officials denied that the adoption program would close either temporarily or permanently as a result of the Olympics. Finally, officials reported their optimism that a decree ensuring that all abandoned children would be taken to China's social welfare institute may be implemented soon.

updated April 14, 2008

Vietnam Requires DNA Testing
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, has announced that, effective April 1, 2008, prospective parents will be required to submit a DNA test as part of the adoption process, in order to establish the relationship between a parent and  prospective adoptive child. Prospective adopters involved in cases where a child has been relinquished are advised to contact USCIS in Ho Chi Minh City once their child has been identified, and after their Form I600 has been accepted by USCIS.

Learn more about the process at, and continue to check back for updates.

updated March 31, 2008

Kazakhstan Suspends Dossier Processing
The Kazakhstan Embassy and Consulates announced an immediate suspension of adoption dossier processing while the government of Kazakhstan completes a review of adoption cases. Dossiers that have been processed and sent to Almaty, Kazakhstan's capital, will move forward toward finalization. Dossiers that have not yet been processed will not be forwarded to Almaty, and no new dossiers will be accepted during the suspension.

Read the alert from the Joint Council on International Children's Services at, and continue to check back for updates.

updated March 17, 2008

State Department Announces List of Agencies Accredited to Process Hague Adoptions
As the U.S. prepares to enact the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, on April 1, the State Department released the list of adoption agencies approved by the Council on Accreditation to process adoptions from Hague countries. In November 2006, more than 300 adoption service providers applied for accreditation, and underwent a rigorous peer-reviewed process to demonstrate financial responsibility and ethical, transparent procedures.

See the full list at

updated February 29, 2008

ETHIOPIA: Warning against pre-adoption birthparent contact.
In response to a letter from the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, circulated to adoption agencies in January, some agencies have announced they will no longer facilitate birth family contact. The letter emphasized the fact that, under U.S. immigration law, a child must meet stringent requirements in order to qualify as an “orphan” by virtue of abandonment.

GUATEMALA: Central adoption authority established.
New adoption legislation, passed by the Guatemalan Congress on December 11, 2007, establishes a central adoption authority,which brings the country a step closer to becoming Hague-compliant. Adoptions from Guatemala that were in process before December 31, 2007, may be completed under the former notarial procedures, as long as the case is registered with the CNA.

VIETNAM: Field investigation program launched.
Citing cases of fraudulent or altered documents, and the placement of children for adoption without birthparent consent, the U.S. State Department announced that it will verify the eligibility of children identified for placement before their adoptions are finalized in Vietnam.

UKRAINE: 2008 U.S. adoption quota announced.
The Ukrainian State Department for Adoption and Protection of the Rights of the Child (SDAPRC) will accept 1,453 adoption dossier applications from all foreign adopters in calendar year 2008.

KOREA: New attention to post placement.
The case of a Hong Kong-based Dutch diplomat and his wife, who relinquished their Korean-born daughter seven years after her adoption, claiming that she was “emotionally remote,” has generated outrage in Korea. Korean adoption officials are considering instituting a requirement that post-placement reports be filed with the country’s government, as well as tighter controls on private adoptions.

For more detailed information about international adoption, please visit AF's News & Notes page.

updated February 2008

Adoption tax credit rises to $11,390
Parents who finalized an adoption in 2007 may claim a maximum credit of $11,390 for adoption expenses on their federal income tax returns. The tax credit phases out for taxpayers with high modified adjusted gross incomes.

Learn more at

updated December 13, 2007

U.S. Ratifies the Hague Convention
The United States is a full member of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. This international adoption agreement is set to go into effect in the U.S. on April 1, 2008. After that date, all adoptions between the U.S. and other Hague countries, including China, Guatemala, India, and Thailand, must be completed in accordance with the treaty. Adoptions from countries that haven’t joined the Hague Convention, such as Ethiopia and South Korea, will continue as before.

updated December 12, 2007

International Adoptions In U.S. Decline 
The number of children adopted from abroad by U.S. citizens has dropped for the third straight year, according to data released by the Department of State this week. For the 2007 fiscal year, international adoptions fell to 19,292, reflecting a decline of 15 percent in the last two years. The decline is caused partly by tighter restrictions in two of the three major sending countries, China and Russia. Despite the drop, many adoption advocates believe the statistics signify a healthy interest and overall growth in international adoption, particularly in regions such as Ethiopia and Vietnam.

Stay up-to-date at the DOS's Orphan Visa Statistics page.

updated December 2, 2007

Guatemala Adoption Warning Posted by Government Officials, JCICS Responds
The U.S. Department of State has issued a warning to prospective parents regarding international adoption from Guatemala. View the full warning at It advises American parents not to start the adoption process from the country at this time, because of "considerable uncertainty" created by what it calls "fundamental changes in Guatemalan and U.S. adoption law [that] will take effect over the next six months."

It's estimated that 5,000 children will be waiting in orphanages or foster care in Guatemala when the changes in law go into effect. The Joint Council on International Children's Services (JCICS) is asking the Guatemalan government to allow any pending cases to be finalized, to avoid keeping children in limbo. Learn how you can get involved in the JCICS Guatemala 5000 Initiative.

Stay up-to-date at the DOS's Guatemala page.

updated October 2, 2007

Russia Expands List of Agencies Accredited
Russia's Ministry of Education and Science announced it has accredited additional adoption agencies to resume intercountry services. The newly licensed agencies are:

1. Adopt-A-Child, Inc.
2. Adoption Associates, Inc.
3. Catholic Social Services of the Diocese of Charlotte, North Carolina, Inc.
4. Children's Home Society and Family Services
5. Cradle of Hope Adoption Center
6. Cradle Society
7. European Adoption Consultants
8. Family and Children's Agency
9. Frank Adoption Center
10. Gift of Life Adoption Services
11. International Assistance Group
12. Wyoming Children’s Society

Other agencies expect to be accredited in the near future. For more information on Russia adoption, visit

posted July 30, 2007

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