No to corruption. Yes to families.

14 03 2011

by Rebecca Harris, Director of Programs & Services

The following as an excerpt from our newsletter, Mbali’s Message.  Sign up to receive it by clicking here.

Already in 2011 we’ve seen Ethiopia move to reduce intercountry adoptions by 90% and Kazakhstan officially suspend adoptions in anticipation of their ratification of the Hague Convention.  Haiti and Ukraine are on what we’ve termed our “high alert” list – countries that show indications of closing in the next 12-months. This is a scene we’ve seen play out over and over again, in country after country.  And every time a country has chosen to suspend or close intercountry adoptions, children suffer.  It’s a scene that is quite frankly, confusing, unneccessary, and very disturbing.
In allowing this to occur, we’ve failed the biological families who need preservation services, we’ve failed the children who legitimately need intercountry adoption and we’ve failed our global community.  I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of failure.  I’m tired of seeing children, like Addison, become “collateral damage” in the battle against abuse.  Allowing children to die needlessly and alone is simply unacceptable.

Over the last ten years we’ve fought the good fight.  But we’ve lost too many times.  And every time we lose, children lose.  This month we’ll release a report about the systematic elimination of intercountry adoption and the decrease in services to children.  And we’ll ask you to join us in changing the tide.  We’ll ask you to rally your friends and family to stand up and say “No” to corruption and “Yes” to families.  It’s not enough to just stop bad things from happening – we have to make good things happen too!

So, be on the look out over the next month – in your inbox and our website – I hope you’ll join me in standing up and demanding the fulfillment of every child’s right to a safe, permanent and loving family.  Join me in speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves.





Statement and Recommendations on the Suspension of Intercountry Adoption in Nepal

18 10 2010

Joint Council has issued the attached Statement and Recommendations on the Suspension of Intercountry Adoptions in Nepal.  The Statement and Recommendations can also be found by clicking here.





Dept of State: Pending Adoption Alert in Nepal

7 10 2010

FROM: OFFICE OF CHILDREN’S ISSUES, DEPT OF STATE

The following notice is sent as a reminder about the upcoming holidays in Nepal, and the dates on which the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu will be closed.  This notice will also be posted on our website, at http://adoption.state.gov.  

Upcoming Embassy Closures

October 6, 2010

The U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu will be closed on the following days:

October 8- Ghatasthapana

October 11- Columbus Day

October 14-18- Dashain

November 5 – Tihar

The Embassy’s Consular Section will be open on October 12 and 13 and will continue to work on pending adoption cases and respond to public inquiries. The Consular Section will make every effort to investigate cases, to the extent possible, during the festival period, but Government of Nepal offices and businesswill be closed for many days between October 8 and November 7, as Nepalis typically travel home to theirvillages. The actual days off will vary, so it is difficult to predict when individual Government of Nepal offices will be open. In case of an emergency, American citizens in Nepal may contact the Embassys after-hours hotline at:977-1-400-7266 and 977-1-400-7269.

Inquiries concerning adoptions cases may be directed to AdoptionsNepal@state.gov (for cases being processed by the U.S. Embassy) or to cis.ndi@dhs.gov (for cases that have been sent to the U.S.Citizenship and Immigration Services office in New Delhi).  Inquiries may also be directed to the Office of Children’s Issues at AskCI@state.gov or to USCIS’s National Benefits Center at NBC.adoptions@dhs.gov.

Please continue to monitor http://adoption.state.gov for updated information on adoptions in Nepal.





Dept of State Announcement: Rwanda

31 08 2010

The Dept of State, Office of Children’s Issues has issued the below notice regarding adoptions from Rwanda. This notice can also be viewed on their website at http://adoption.state.gov/news/rwanda.html. As further information is obtained by Joint Council it will be ditrubuted to interested parties.

August 30, 2010

Effective August 31, 2010,the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion (MGFP) in Rwanda is temporally suspending all new applications for intercountry adoptions so they can prepare for accession to the Hague Convention. MGFP announced that applications from prospective adoption parents already received by Ministry or any Rwandan Embassy before the above mentioned date will be processed. More information will be provided as updates are received from the U.S. Embassy in Rwanda.





Dept of State Announcement: Ethiopia

30 08 2010

The Dept of State, Office of Children’s Issues has issued the below notice regarding adoptions from Ethiopia. This notice can also be viewed on their website at http://adoption.state.gov/news/ethiopia.html. As further information is obtained by Joint Council it will be distributed to interested parties.

August 27, 2010

This notice serves as a reminder that as of May 9, 2010, the Ethiopian government requires that adoptive parents must appear at the federal court hearing for their adoptive child in order for the adoption to be approved. If there are two adoptive parents but only one parent can attend the hearing, special permission from the federal court must be obtained in advance. If approved, the attending parent must have a power of attorney from the other. However, please note that if only one parent meets the adoptive child before the court date, the child will be eligible for an IR-4, not an IR-3 visa.
This means that if the child qualifies for the issuance of an adoption visa, the child will not become a U.S. citizen upon entry to the United States, but will become a legal permanent resident.

Please be advised that while the Embassy prioritizes adoptions cases, it cannot guarantee expedited processing. It generally takes three or more weeks after the court date for adoption agencies to obtain the documentation necessary for an immigrant visa application. In addition, the Embassy is required by law to conduct an I-604 review (Determination on Child for Adoption) in advance of the interview. Depending on the circumstances of the case, this review may take up to several weeks or even months to complete.

Due to the procedures outlined above, we do not recommend that adoptive parents travel to Ethiopia for an immigrant visa appointment until they have verified with their adoption agency that their visa interview appointment has been confirmed.

We strongly recommend that adoptive parents who plan to stay in Ethiopia between the court hearing and interview obtain an Ethiopian visa in advance of travel, and ensure the validity of their visa to avoid immigration proceedings and/or significant fines.

The Embassy’s Adoptions Unit can be reached at adoptionsaddis@state.gov.

Please continue to monitor http://adoption.state.gov/ for updated information as it becomes available.





Dept of State Annoucement: Nepal

30 08 2010

The Dept of State, Office of Children’s Issues has issued the following announcement regarding Nepal.  This announcement can also be viewed on their website at http://adoption.state.gov/news/nepal_processing_procedures.html.  Any further information obtained by Joint Council will be posted as soon as it is available.

New Orphan Processing Procedures

for Cases not Subject to the Suspension in Nepal

August 30, 2010

Summary:

In an effort to protect the interests of U.S. prospective adoptive parents who are adopting from Nepal, the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu is implementing new procedures to ensure that the adoptive child will be eligible to immigrate to the United States BEFORE the prospective adoptive parents travel to Nepal and complete the Nepali adoption process.  The procedures in this announcement apply only to prospective adoptive parents who were officially matched with Nepali children prior to August 6, 2010, and whose Form I-600, Petition to Classify an Orphan as an Immediate Relative, has not yet been adjudicated.  If prospective adoptive parents whose cases meet these qualifications choose to follow the procedures outlined below, the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu will determine whether the children for whom they are petitioning meet the definition of orphan under U.S. law – one of the requirements for approval of the Form I-600 petition and visa issuance.  End summary.

Background:

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Department of State have encountered inconsistent and unreliable documentation regarding the reported abandonment of children for adoption in Nepal.  These problems led the U.S. government to suspend processing of new orphan cases involving Nepali children claimed to have been abandoned, effective August 6.  However, a number of cases were already underway as of that date and are now being processed to conclusion.

On August 27, 2010, the USCIS delegated authority to the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu to approve any Form I-600, Petition to Classify an Orphan as an Immediate Relative, on behalf of a Nepali child residing in Nepal who is and whose case is exempt from the suspension of processing announced August 6, 2010.  The exemption applies to cases in which the prospective adoptive parents: 1) received an official referral letter from the Government of Nepal’s Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare (MOWCSW) prior to August 6, 2010, informing them of a proposed match, or 2) who seek to adopt a Nepali child who has been relinquished by known parent(s) and whose identity and relationship can be confirmed.

Prospective adoptive parents involved in a case exempt from the suspension are strongly encouraged to file their completed Form I-600 petition with the U.S. Embassy Kathmandu prior to traveling to Nepal to finalize the adoption.  The Embassy will then complete the required Form I-604 Determination of Child for Adoption (sometimes referred to as the “orphan investigation”) and inform the prospective adoptive parents of the results.


Procedures:

Prospective adoptive parents who wish to participate in this program should send their completed, signed Form I-600 petition and supporting documents (other than the adoption order), including a copy of the Government of Nepal’s official referral letter dated prior to August 6, 2010, if available, through their U.S. adoption service provider to their local agency representative in Nepal.  Local agency representatives may deliver Form I-600 petitions and supporting documents to the Embassy’s American Citizen Services (ACS) Unit Monday through Friday between the hours of 1:30 and 4:00 p.m.  They should tell the Embassy security guard that they are coming to deliver adoption documents. All Form I-600 petitions and supporting documents (other than the adoption order) should be delivered in person by local agency representatives. Prospective adoptive parents should not mail Form I-600 petitions or supporting documents directly to the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu.

Upon delivery of the Form I-600 petition and supporting documents, the local agency representative will be given written confirmation from the Embassy that the documents have been received.  A consular officer will perform a preliminary review of the case to ensure that the Form I-600 petition has been properly completed and signed (and includes the appropriate fee, if required) and that all of the required documents have been submitted to enable the Embassy to initiate the I-604 investigation.  If the petition and supporting documents are in order, the case will be added to the list of cases pending an I-604 investigation.

The MOWCSW has informed the U.S. Embassy it is willing to grant extensions on the 60 day period between the date of the authorization to travel letter and finalizing the adoptions in Nepal, to give the Embassy time to complete the required I-604 investigation. Prospective adoptive parents who have received the MOWCSW’s travel authorization letter should include a copy with the documents that their local agency representative delivers to the ACS Unit.  After the Embassy confirms that the prospective adoptive parents have received an official referral letter from the MOWCSW dated prior to August 6, 2010, the Embassy will request an extension of the 60 days in writing from the MOWCSW on behalf of the prospective adoptive parents.  A copy of the Embassy’s letter requesting the extension will be provided to the prospective adoptive parents by email for their records. When the Embassy receives a response from the Ministry, the Embassy will share this response with the prospective adoptive parent.

If, after completing the Form I-604 investigation of the case, the Embassy finds that the evidence establishes that the beneficiary child is an orphan under U.S. immigration law, the prospective adoptive parents will be notified in writing that they may travel to Nepal to complete their adoption.

Upon completion of the adoption, the Embassy will be able to complete the adjudication of the Form I-600.  Note that the I-604 Investigation results are not the only consideration in the I-600 adjudication.

If the Form I-600 Petition is approved, further documents (such as the child’s medical report, etc.) will be required at that time for the visa interview.  These documents could affect the child’s eligibility to receive an IR-3 or IR-4 immigrant visa.

Notification from the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu to travel and complete an adoption following these procedures should therefore not be construed as a guarantee that the Form I-600 petition will be approved or that the child will be issued an immigrant visa. After their adoption is finalized, the adoptive parents or their local agency representative should submit the original adoption order and the child’s Nepali passport to the Embassy and request an immigrant visa appointment.  If Embassy Kathmandu determines that the Form I-600 petition is not clearly approvable, the prospective adoptive parents will be notified in writing that the Embassy has forwarded their Form I-600 petition and supporting documents to USCIS New Delhi for further review and action.

With the exception of those families already in Nepal at the time of this announcement, USCIS and the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu will process the Form I-600 petitions in the order that they are filed, regardless of whether the petitioner is in Nepal.  If a petitioner chooses to travel to Nepal to file the Form I-600 petition after the date of this announcement, the petitioner should anticipate a lengthy stay in Nepal while the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu conducts the required investigation and while USCIS conducts any necessary review.

Domestically Filed Form I-600 Petitions for Children from Nepal:

Effective immediately, the USCIS National Benefits Center (NBC) will forward any pending Form I-600 petitions filed domestically on behalf of children from Nepal to the National Visa Center (NVC) and notify the petitioner(s) of the transfers.  In addition, any Form I-600 petition received by the NBC after August 6, 2010 will be forwarded to the NVC.  Once the NVC receives a Form I-600 petition from the NBC, it will scan the documents and forward the case to the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu for processing.





Orphan and Family Database – Nepal

12 08 2010

Joint Council Orphan and Family Database for Nepal

Joint Council’s Orphan and Family Database for Nepal is currently open to those families who have received the referral of Nepalese child.  All U.S. citizens who has been referred a child from Nepal are encouraged to advocate for the completion of an ethical and legal adoption via their participation in this initiative.   Families can participate by entering their adoption information into the database and staying informed by the Joint Council newsletter, blog and Facebook.  The database will allow Joint Council to advocate with the U.S. and Nepalese governments, as appropriate, for the adoptions currently in process.

Participation by all families with referrals is needed and appreciated.  Our goal with this initiative, as will all of our efforts, is to help to bring the children of Nepal closer to a safe, permanent and loving family through a legal, ethical and timely process. Joint Council has created similar databases during recent crises in Nepal, Guatemala, Haiti, and Kyrgyzstan. Having the information of children and families involved is critically important to the efficacy of our advocacy efforts.

The database can be accessed by clicking here.

Joint Council is a non-profit advocacy organization, which depends on the generosity of our donors.  Initiatives such as the Orphan and Family Database for Nepal are only possible through the financial support of our community. If you are interested in assisting in Joint Council’s advocacy efforts throughout the world, including Nepal, please go to https://app.etapestry.com/hosted/JointCouncilonInternational/OnlineDonation.html








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