In the last few weeks there has been a flurry of news about countries that have or had significant inter-country adoption programs. I’ve tweeted about these updates as they hit the web, but it’s useful to consolidate them into one post.
First a note generally about inter-country adoption: even as some programs close and others may potentially re-open, it is important to remember that the overall trend is downward. Almost no country is looking to grow its program. A growing emphasis is being placed on finding families for children in their home country before they are being freed for international adoption.
- Russia. The one-year anniversary of the Russian ban on adoptions to the United States was observed this past weekend. Roughly 230 American families have seen adoptions of 259 children halted. Thirty-three families have appealed to the European Court of Human Rights, but there is no time frame for a decision. Russian officials point to mistreatment of Russian children at the hands of their American adoptive parents, but American officials cite the imposition of sanctions on Russia for human rights abuses as the real cause for the ban.
Russia has also halted adoptions to countries that permit same-sex marriage such as Spain, Canada, the UK, and Sweden. The UK and Spain reportedly have been in talks to resume adoptions from Russia, provided that they give assurances that same-sex couples will not be allowed to adopt Russian children.
- Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC or Congo-Kinshasa). The Congolese government has put a moratorium on exit visas for a number of children adopted by American families. The move is apparently prompted by concerns that Congolese children are being abused by their American families or “sold to homosexuals.” Diplomatic solutions, thus far, have not been successful.
- Krygzstan. The former Soviet republic located in Central Asia is set to re-open its program after it was closed due to a corruption scandal involving bribes extorted from a foreign adoption firm. Rules for inter-country adoption have been changed and penalties for fraud and abuse have been increased.
Cambodia. The southeast Asian nation will take the first steps this year toward re-opening its international program, after a four year suspension. No specific time frame was given for when the government would begin accepting applications again. The program is expected to resume gradually.
Angelina Jolie adopted her son Maddox from Cambodia in 2002.
- United States legislation. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) has introduced bi-partisan legislation aimed at encouraging inter-country adoption, and streamlining bureaucracy at the US State Department. Bills in the House and Senate have supporters ranging from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) to Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN). A main goal is to reduce the decrease in adoptions to the US from other countries since the implementation of The Hague Convention on Inter-Country Adoption.