Thursday, June 27, 2013

Guatemala900 Statement: Ending Reunification Efforts In Best Interest of Children with Pending Adoptions in Guatemala


By Guatemala900

g900bannerjc-300x67 We the Guatemala900, citing the importance of preserving the affective familial bonds that have been developed in the past 6+ years between children with pending adoptions in Guatemala and their corresponding US adoptive families, now believe that the Guatemalan government should immediately suspend current efforts to reunify the children with their biological families. In addition to honoring these longstanding bonds that the children have already obtained, we also believe the reunifications are inappropriate because they are riddled with coercive practices that pressure biological families to take custody of the children they willingly placed for adoption over half a decade ago.

The Guatemalan government recently started intense reunification efforts where both immediate and extended biological relatives of the adoptive children are sought out and pressured to take the child back and end the adoption.  Reunification is a very legitimate function in the world of child placement, but the current efforts with the pending adoptions in Guatemala are no longer appropriate and not in the children’s best interest.

Read more.

Watch How a Pro Surfer Inspires Autistic Kids to Smile


Pro Surfer Israel Paskowitz Uses His Unique Expertise to Help Autistic Children

IMG_3134 It was a summer day in 1969 on Tourmaline Canyon Beach in San Diego, when Israel “Izzy” Paskowitz fell in love with surfing. He was 6 when his father, legendary surfer Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz, took him out to ride together on his board. “I will never forget that wave,” says Izzy, “it was my kick off into the tribe.” Considered the first family of surfing, Izzy is the fourth of nine children of Doc and Juliette. They lived a nomadic life in a 24-foot camper and traveled the country for roughly 23 years.

By the time of Izzy’s first surfing experience, Doc, a Stanford graduate and a doctor, had left his career to fulfill his love of travel, family and surfing. Doc believed true wisdom did not come from formal education but from life experience and surfing. The family’s journey is the subject of the acclaimed documentary film, "Surfwise."

Read More & Watch the Video.

UNICEF's Unethical War Against International Adoption


Unicef%20no%2006-27-2013 There are few things more harmful than a trusted organization associated with good will and good deeds that uses its influence irresponsibly, and there are few organizations with more accumulated trust than UNICEF, the United Nations organization dedicated to children's rights, safety and welfare. That UNICEF could be promoting policies that actually harms children seems too awful to contemplate, but that appears to be what is occurring. The problem is that most people have grown up thinking of the organization as the epitome of international virtue. UNICEF doing something that hurts kids? Impossible. Since the group's impressive moral authority seems to be focused in an unethical direction, the damage it can do before public opinion turns is substantial.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Alert: Russia Post-Placement Reports

russia%20post%20placement%20report%2006-26-2013 Russia requires post-placement reports to provide information regarding the welfare of children adopted by U.S. families.  Reports should be prepared in accordance with the requirements established by the Russian government and as agreed to during the adoption process.  All reports should be translated into Russian.  Reports may be submitted to the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation directly at the address included below or can be sent to the regional authorities where the adoption was completed.  More information regarding post-placement reports can be found on the Russia country information sheet.

Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation
Department of State Policy for the Protection of Children’s Rights
51 Lysinovskaya St.
Moscow, 117997

We strongly urge you to comply with the requirements established by the Russia government and complete all post-adoption requirements in a timely manner.  Your adoption agency may be able to help you with this process.


Adoption is Not the Same as Having a Child of Your Own

adoption onesie by adoptionbug.comLast week, I blogged on some insensitive comments posted on an essay about the pain felt by many infertile woman on Mother’s Day.  (“Why Not Just Adopt”)  It wasn’t, however, just the infertile that were maimed by thoughtlessness.  A number of comments by infertile people in response to the questions of why not adopt echoed Maire: “Adoption is not the same as having a child of your own.”

Read more.

Source: Creating A Family

Disrupting Birth Order through Adoption Radio Podcast

th Listen to internet radio with Creating a Family on Blog Talk Radio.

Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl Opinion: A Victory for Children and Families

Media Contact:
Lauren Koch
(703) 216‐4756

June 25, 2013 – Alexandria, VA – On June 25, 2013, The Supreme Court of the United States released their opinion on Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, argued before the Court April 16, 2013. National Council For Adoption participated by submitting an amicus brief asking the Court to act in a way that would allow children’s complete best interests to be reviewed when their case was impacted by the Indian Child Welfare Act. We believe the Court has done just that by interpreting the provisions in question in a way that allow the Indian Child Welfare Act to continue to protect the culture and heritage within a family without harming the larger best interests of children.

The Court reversed the South Carolina Supreme Court in a 5‐4 decision. The opinion of the Court delivered by Justice Alito (joined by Roberts, Kennedy, Thomas, and Breyer) addresses 3 key pieces of the Indian Child Welfare Act and decides the following:

1. “25 U.S.C. §1912(f) which bars involuntary termination of a parent’s rights in the
absence of a heightened showing that serious harm to the Indian Child is likely to result
from the parent’s ‘continued custody’ of the child – does not apply when, as here, the
relevant parent never had custody of the child.”

2. “25 U.S.C. §1912(d) which conditions involuntary termination of parental rights with
respect to an Indian child on a showing that remedial efforts have been made to prevent
the ‘breakup of the Indian family’ – is inapplicable when, as here, the parent abandoned
the Indian child before birth and never had custody of the child.”

3. “25 U.S.C. §1915(a), which provides placement preferences for the adoption of Indian
children, does not bar a non‐Indian family like Adoptive Couple from adopting an Indian
child when no other eligible candidates have sought to adopt the child.”

“This is a wonderful victory for children and adoption” said Megan Lindsey, Director of Public Policy and Education. “The Court chose to prioritize and protect the best interests of children, preserving culture as a priority, but promising a balanced interpretation that allows a child’s broader best interests to be considered. We at National Council For Adoption are so grateful to the Court for hearing and deciding this important case in a way that shows their commitment to children and families.”

# # #
Passionately committed to the belief that every child deserves to thrive in a nurturing,
permanent family, NCFA’s mission is to meet the diverse needs of children, birthparents,
adopted individuals, adoptive families, and all those touched by adoption through global
advocacy, education, research, legislative action, and collaboration.

More information is available on our website,

News from Morocco

Moroccan-Baby-Shower%2006-26-2013 This week eleven Spanish families were permitted to return to Spain with their children.  One Pakistani family was declined.  No reason was given as to why the Pakistani family was denied.  As always, we'll keep you updated as we learn more information. 

Good News About Attachment in Toddler Adoption

attachment%2006-26-2013 Researchers were pleased to see that 38% of the toddlers had formed strong attachment with their adoptive parents as early as the initial assessment (1-3 months post adoption), and 90% having done so by the 2nd assessment (7-9 months post-adoption).  Considering that most of these young children had lived their whole lives in institutions before adoption, these were very encouraging results.


Hopscotch Adoptions Attends Cultural Competency Workshop

Hopscotch Adoptions staff attended a workshop on Cultural Competency last week, presented by B. Todd Posey, M.Ed., LPCS, LCAS. This article seemed particularly relevant in how, as professionals we have daily opportunities to relate information to families regarding all aspects and considerations of international adoption that can be impacted by culture; customs, biases, language, belief systems , etc. Families often find it difficult to reconcile another's culture when attempting to super-impose our own culture over the other. We all have the best intentions, but work with a limited frame of reference. What makes sense in one family or country can be totally counter-intuitive in another, yet both are practical and reasonable within their own context. As parents to children from different cultures, I hope we are all working hard to respect the differences and foster a great appreciation for the "new" or "different" our children come from. How do you incorporate your child's original culture?

By Robin Sizemore, Executive Director of Hopscotch Adoptions, Inc

Culture Clash: When Should I Get My Foster Daughter's Ears Pierced?

By Rebecca from Fosterhood

clip_image001When should I get my infant foster daughter's ears pierced? It was the furthest thing on my mind until case workers, friends, and strangers who identify as black began asking me about it daily. That is, they were asking me about my black foster daughter's ears, but made no mention toward my similarly-aged, white-looking (she's 1/2 Jewish and 1/2 Hispanic) foster daughter.

In talking with friends, I expressed that I do want to get my 7-month-old black foster daughter's ears pierced now (with her mom's consent), but not my lighter-skinned 3-month-old daughter. Why is that? I started to ask around amongst my white friends who echoed my involuntary, visceral response to the topic. Earrings on a black baby are adorable, but on a white baby they look was described as "cheap" or "trashy." These descriptions are always whispered in shame. Where do these stereotypes arise? How do these biases come about? And do we need to talk about it in order to undo them?
I've spent several hours searching academic literature and even the internet for a break-down of the average age of ear piercing within different cultures, but I've come up empty. My unofficial poll of the age in which parents should get their child's ears pierced goes something like this:

African-American/Black = 4-6 months

Hispanic = soon after birth

Low-income whites = toddler age

High-income whites = between age 7-10

From a health and safety perspective, no major pediatric medical association takes a stand regarding appropriate age for ear piercing nor do they indicate that it's harmful. Parents are left to make the ear piercing decision based on culture and tradition, which includes factors like ethnic background and socio-economic status.

I'd love to hear what age you got your ears pierced and how you think (or don't think) skin color and income plays an unconscious part. Most importantly, I'd like for any discussion I've opened-up to be respectful of all people's differences.

NCFA - Inter-country Adoption - Senate Approves Fix to Citizenship for Inter-country Adoptees

The U.S. Senate approved an amendment Tuesday to the immigration reform bill that provides automatic citizenship to all persons who were born outside the United States and were adopted by U.S. citizens. The provision would fix a controversial law that has led to the deportation of adoptees who lived most of their lives in the United States.

Called the "Citizenship for Lawful Adoptees Amendment," the fix would give citizenship to all of those who were adopted as children by U.S. citizens.

In 2001, inter-country adoptees were given automatic citizenship, but it was not made retro-active for those over 18 years old at the time. There are some adults in the United States today who were adopted, brought to the United States as infants, grew up in the United States, but are not citizens because their parents failed to apply for citizenship for them.

Read the rest of the article here.

The Dark Matter of Love Kickstarter Campaign


Today The Dark Matter of Love will premiere at The Moscow International Film Festival in front of a packed audience of Russian policy and descision makers.

The support from the Russian press and people has been overwhelming; they are in full support of our goal to reunite the 300 children stuck in Putin's adoption ban with their American families.

Momentum is building in Moscow as the Russian people and press get behind the campaign

With 10 days to go and still a large amount of money to raise, we need you to join the Russian people in saying no to Putin's ban by backing our campaign.

Thank you, and please spread the word to everyone you can.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Documentary Brings Light to the Science of Love

thedarkmatteroflove Attachment can be one of the more challenging aspects of adopting a child from an institution. Often these children experience trauma, profound loss, and have severe difficulties bonding with their adoptive parents. The Dark Matter of Love, a soon-to-be-released documentary, captivatingly documents the struggles the Diaz family faces as they try to connect with their Russian adopted children and make their family whole. Director Sarah McCarthy takes viewers on a visually stunning journey that follows 11-year-old Masha, and 5-year-old twins Marcel and Vadim, as they transition into family life with Claudio and Cheryl Diaz and their biological 14 year old daughter, Cami.

Sourced:NCFA Blog

Read more.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

NCFA Interns Venture to the Supreme Court for Oral Arguments on ICWA

4 NCFA submitted amicus curiae or “friend of the court” briefs for the Supreme Court case, Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl. The case involves adoptive parents, Matt and Melanie Capobianco, who made an adoption plan with the birthmother of a little baby girl named Veronica. The biological father, Dusten Brown, is a member of the Cherokee Nation. Dusten Brown renounced his parental rights via a text message prior to Veronica’s birth, and based on state law he had no parental rights. However, after receiving notice of the pending adoption, he invoked the Indian Child Welfare Act to gain custody of baby Veronica. The Indian Child Welfare Act was created in 1978 in an effort to keep Native American children with their biological families.

Sourced: By Jaclyn Newton

Read more.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Advocates Educate Congress on Lack of Normalcy for Children in Foster Care

3 As May is National Foster Care month, it seems only fitting that Congress evaluate the status of youth involved in the child welfare system. A subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing titled “Letting Kids be Kids: Balancing Safety with Opportunity for Foster Youth.” Led by Chairman Dave Reichert (R-WA) of the Subcommittee on Human Resources, the hearing examined how the emphasis on the safety of children often deprives them of their sense of normalcy.

Sourced: by Jamel Rowe, NCFA's Legal Fellow

Read more.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Better Late Than Never: Options for Older Parents

Robin's%20egg%20nest Wanted: Applicants with immeasurable patience, unbending commitment, enjoys emotional rollercoaster rides and ready to be called a Mom or Dad.  Reward: The privilege of being the most significant part of a child's life, some heartache and the joy of being a part of helping your future child enter the world having felt loved and ready to meet the life they were intended to have.   

If you are an experienced parent and now find your days lacking in opportunity to pour love, energy, time and commitment into the parental rewards of parenting an older child or a sibling group, children whom otherwise have no opportunity for a permanent and loving family? We hear your name being called and we know many children that need just what you have to offer, now more than ever.

If you have led a busy and successful life and have just slowed down and taken stock of your gifts.  If you have found the courage and passion to say yes to being a first time parent to an older child or sibling group, we want to hear from you.  

There are many, many older children and sibling groups in need of a family, more so than any time in the history of adoption.  If you want to learn more about what it takes and how you can start today in making not only your dreams come true, but the dreams of a waiting child, contact us at

Social Media’s Effects on Child Adoption: E-Book

Adoption STAR has previously published individual chapters of its E-Book “Adoption and Social Media: The Effects of Social Media and the Internet on Child Adoption” on this blog, and you can now download the full E-Book as a PDF, by clicking here. Source: Michele Fried

This E-Book focuses on:

  • Using Social Media to perform an adoption search
  • Using Social Media in an open adoption relationship 
  • Keeping your children safe online.
  • How to adjust privacy settings on different social media websites

"Over the last few years social media’s impact on the adoption journey has grown substantially and it is important to be educated and prepared on the best ways to handle certain situations as a birth parent, adoptive parent or adoptee. No matter the circumstance, what’s important is that you maintain open and honest communications with your loved ones as well as an adoption counselor when beginning an adoption search online. This E-Book is a great beginning for your social media and adoption education." -Michele Fried

The Dark Matter of Love: Child Dies Stuck in Putin's Ban

The Dark Matter of Love Kickstarter Campaign

Yesterday the news broke that one of the 300 children stuck in Putin's adoption ban has died in Russia from an untreated heart condition.

Click below for a full update on the situation and to hear how it's affected our campaign.

Daria died in Russia earlier this month as her parents fought to bring her to the US

Read about the story and our campaign in The Washington Post

The situation for the 300 children has become more urgent than ever.

Please back the campaign now and spread the word on your own networks.

Thank you.

Click here to watch the campaign video

Adoption Advocate No. 60, “Preparing Children for the Adoption of a Sibling: Recommendations for Families Considering Intercountry Adoption”

2 Prospective adoptive parents are not the only ones who need to educate and prepare themselves prior to an adoption -- any children already in the home must have the opportunity to learn more about what it might be like to add a child to the family through adoption. In the June 2013 issue of NCFA's Adoption Advocate, Laura Beauvais-Godwin addresses common questions adoptive parents have about these important discussions, providing general guidelines and suggestions for those considering adoption as a way of adding to their families. Click here to view, print, or download.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

2013 National Adoption Conference: “The best yet!”

1 This year’s conference in Orlando, Florida was NCFA’s largest conference ever and a huge success! Participants absolutely loved the location and seemed to thoroughly enjoy the sessions as they were able to choose between management and clinical tracks. With dynamic keynote speakers including Lucas Daniel Boyce and Secretary David Wilkins, each day started off with enthusiasm and passion about working to connect children with families. If you would like to see the details for each day, please take a look at the NCFA blog, which outlines each day’s sessions and activities. Stay tuned for the announcement of the date and location of the 2014 National Adoption Conference!

Film Against Anti-adoption Law to Be Screened in Moscow

Two American parents have joined forces with a documentary filmmaker to urge the Russian government to end the anti-adoption law which is stopping over 300 children coming to the U.S., according to an emailed statement.

Sarah McCarthy's latest film "The Dark Matter of Love" tells the story of the last three Russian children adopted by parents in the U.S., before the controversial law was passed at the end of 2012. Her film will be screened at the Moscow Film Festival later this month and aims to show much pain the law is causing.

Mil and Dianna Wallen's teenage son Maxim, nicknamed Max, is one of the children affected by the adoption ban.

"We miss Max terribly every day. Our son is now stuck on the other side of the world because of this new law," said Mil and Dianna Wallen. "But it's not just our son. More than 300 children, many with severe health problems, are currently stuck in orphanages in Russia. These children have adoptive families whom they have met and started to fall in love with, waiting for them in America."

The Wallens have launched a petition urging the Russian government to allow them to complete the adoption of their teenage son Max.

So far more than 63,000 have signed the petition.

"We always end our conversations with Max with 'I love you to the moon and back,' and Maxim tells us he loves us 'to the moon and back,'" said Mil and Dianna.

The anti-adoption law is viewed by many as the Kremlin's retaliation to the Magnitsky Act, which bans Russian officials deemed to have violated human rights from acquiring U.S. visas and assets.


American Friends of Georgia

Dear Friends,

Please note our new e-mail address: and help spread the word about AFG's programs supporting the most vulnerable Georgian children -- war affected, orphaned, disabled, impoverished and ill.

We hope that when you read about our work by clicking on to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and our website:, you will be inspired to share us with your friends and contacts.

Easy ways you can help support AFG!

Share This:

You can make your tax deductible donation securely online by clicking the Donate Now button below (all donations are processed through Network for Good) or by sending a check to:

American Friends of Georgia
P.O. Box 1200
Truro, MA 02666 U.S.A.

Please make your gift today!

News from Armenia: It's A Boy!!!!

Inna%20Alexander%2006-14-2013 Congratulations to our very sweet staff member, who became the proud mother of a beautiful and healthy baby boy over the weekend. Mother and baby are both doing great and we can't wait to meet and hold him.  He is so very precious!   

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Did You Know?

10 If the current number of intercountry adoptions into the United States were to increase tenfold, this would still represent only one-half of 1% of dual-parent orphans worldwide, and less than one-tenth of 1% of all orphans.

Source: Adoption Advocate No. 57: Reconsidering Intercountry Adoption: Who wants to Adopt and Who Could Be Adopted? Published March 2013 by Christopher Balding. Read more.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Did You Know?

9 The idea that even large increases in international child adoption into the United States will somehow overwhelm other countries, or materially reduce the number of children available for domestic adoption in their home countries, is simply not supported by the facts.  The difference between the vast number of orphaned and at-risk children and the incredibly low number of intercountry adoptions by American parents is too large to have an adverse effect on domestic adoption programs in other countries.

Source: Adoption Advocate No. 57: Reconsidering Intercountry Adoption: Who wants to Adopt and Who Could Be Adopted? Published March 2013 by Christopher Balding. Read more.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Did You Know?

8 Most tragically, a great number of orphaned and vulnerable children do not survive to adulthood. In 2010, the number of orphaned children under age five who died in sub-Saharan Africa was more than 30 times the number of all intercountry adoptions by American parents.

Source: Adoption Advocate No. 57: Reconsidering Intercountry Adoption: Who wants to Adopt and Who Could Be Adopted? Published March 2013 by Christopher Balding. Read more.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Hopscotch Father's Day Card

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Valuable Parenting Topics YOU Asked For. . .

3 Understanding Trauma in Children

This one hour course discusses the difference between a potentially traumatic event and actual trauma.  The science and symptoms of trauma are presented in a user-friendly manner but most importantly, practical, concrete parenting tools are offered for helping a child resolve trauma.

Read more.

Did You Know?

7 Orphaned children in middle- and low-income countries are at significantly higher risk of suffering a wide range of negative physical, mental, and behavioral outcomes as compared to their non-orphaned peers. Orphans in middle-income countries typically experience adequate physical development but poor mental health outcomes due to their institutionalization. Orphans in poor and lesser-developed countries experience better mental health outcomes relative to middle-income orphans, but poor physical health outcomes. While orphaned and vulnerable children are, on average, 5-10% less likely to attend school than their non-orphaned peers, their material deprivation is significantly higher – by 20-30%, on average.

Source: Adoption Advocate No. 57: Reconsidering Intercountry Adoption: Who wants to Adopt and Who Could Be Adopted? Published March 2013 by Christopher Balding. Read more.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Valuable Parenting Topics YOU Asked For. . .

2 Discipline: Managing Your Child's Bid for Power

This one hour course helps parents learn parental responses that help with the prevention of power struggles and management techniques for exiting the power struggles we slip into. 

Read more.

Did You Know?

6 When considering the plight of 153 million children, even a small percentage of children that could be adopted results in large absolute numbers. If only 1% of orphans worldwide were able to be adopted, this would result in 1.53 million adoptions every year; even just one-tenth of 1% of orphans would result in 153,000 international adoptions annually.

Source: Adoption Advocate No. 57: Reconsidering Intercountry Adoption: Who wants to Adopt and Who Could Be Adopted? Published March 2013 by Christopher Balding. Read more.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Valuable Parenting Topics YOU Asked For. . .

1 Transitions, Developmental Challenges or Just Regular Kid Stuff? addresses topics such as transitioning a child home, sorting out "regular kid stuff" from adoption related concerns and offers ideas for parenting all of these. 
Read more.

Did You Know?

5 While UNICEF is technically accurate in noting that a majority of orphans live with a surviving parent or other relative, the enormous number of children that have no surviving parents and no other family members able to care for them should underscore the potential of adoption to positively and permanently impact the lives of millions of children.
Source: Adoption Advocate No. 57: Reconsidering Intercountry Adoption: Who wants to Adopt and Who Could Be Adopted? Published March 2013 by Christopher Balding. Read more.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Did You Know?

4 The ratio of dual-parent orphans in sub-Saharan Africa alone to the total annual number of intercountry adoptions by American citizens (approximately 10,000) is 910:1. International adoptions into the United States are miniscule compared to the number of children in sub-Saharan Africa who have lost both parents. Current rates of intercountry adoption are barely making a dent.

Source: Adoption Advocate No. 57: Reconsidering Intercountry Adoption: Who wants to Adopt and Who Could Be Adopted? Published March 2013 by Christopher Balding. Read more.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Did You Know?

3 In August 2008, UNICEF estimated that there were 132 million orphans worldwide, 13 million of whom were dual-parent orphans – children that had been orphaned by both parents. In this report, UNICEF asserted that “the vast majority of orphans are living with a surviving parent.”3 By January 2011, UNICEF’s global orphan estimate had swelled to more than 150 million, with 18 million orphaned by both parents.

Source: Adoption Advocate No. 57: Reconsidering Intercountry Adoption: Who wants to Adopt and Who Could Be Adopted? Published March 2013 by Christopher Balding. Read more.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Did You Know?

2 According to the 2006-2008 National Survey of Family Growth, the reason potential adopters stop trying to adopt is their inability to find an available child to adopt.

Source: Adoption Advocate No. 57: Reconsidering Intercountry Adoption: Who wants to Adopt and Who Could Be Adopted? Published March 2013 by Christopher Balding. Read more.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Did You Know?

1 According to one recent estimate, there are over 900,000 Americans seeking to adopt at any given time. Each year, American families adopt approximately 50,000 children out of foster care, 18,000 via domestic infant adoption, and 10,000 children via intercountry adoption. Together, these totals represent 93% fewer completed adoptions than individuals actively seeking to adopt.

Adoption Advocate No. 57: Reconsidering Intercountry Adoption: Who wants to Adopt and Who Could Be Adopted? Published March 2013 by Christopher Balding. Read more.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

News from Bulgaria: On My Way Home

This day seemed so very far away and soon a child's dream will be fulfilled.  A family of her very own... forever. Congratulations to our Hopscotch family on their journey home with a beautiful Bulgarian daughter.

News From Bulgaria: Twice as Nice!

cupcakes%20pinks Twice as Nice!  Hopscotch wishes our family twice the joy and happiness on their court approval today!!  We can't wait to meet the twins!!

Universal Accreditation Act Info: Important Information for Independent Adoption or Facilitator Supported Adoptions in Non-Hague Convention Countries

This set of FAQs addresses changes to intercountry adoption law and practice brought about by the Intercountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act of 2012 (UAA). The President signed the UAA into law on January 14, 2013. The new law takes effect 18 months thereafter on July 14, 2014.

Read more.

News from Bulgaria: Welcome Home

welcomehome2x2 Hopscotch welcomes home three families with their terrific children.  Two families bought home adorable girls each and another family brought home three handsome young sons!  We couldn't be happier for these three Hopscotch Families!

Survey for Parents

The National Council For Adoption is hosting its annual conference and one of the sessions is regarding older child adoptions and how agencies can better improve their services to clients.

For families who adopted a child age 4 years and older, we would appreciate if you would take a few minutes to complete the survey to share your insight into what the agency did well and what are some areas of improvements.  This survey is 100% anonymous, so please be open and honest.

Thank you for contributing to this very important project as agencies continue to seek ways to better serve their families.  We kindly request that you submit the survey by Monday, June 10th.

CLICK HERE >> Adoptive Parent Survey - Older Child Adoptions

Day Three: Join Masha in the Fight to Free the 300

Director Sarah McCarthy with Masha Diaz

Three days in...

This week saw the launch of our KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN and already we're at £2195. A huge shout out to everyone who has pledged so far.

We're thrilled to have been featured in the Moscow Times and The Huffington Post so far (links below) and you can keep an eye on our Twitter and Facebook pages for further updates.

You can find out more about our efforts and contribute to the campaign at our kickstarter page.

Click through below for the latest from director Sarah, straight from Free The 300 HQ.

ALERT: [Intercountry Adoption] Adoption Notice: Ethiopia

Notice: Implementation of Pre-Adoption Immigration Review (PAIR) Program in Ethiopia

Effective September 1, 2013, the Government of Ethiopia will require all adoption cases filed on behalf of U.S. prospec­tive adoptive parents with the Ethiopian courts to undergo the U.S. PAIR process. The Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs (MOWCYA) will require a PAIR letter issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as one of the criterion for its best interest determination. To comply, the adoption dossier submitted by prospective adoptive parents to the Federal First Instance Court (FFIC) to initiate the adoption, will need to include the PAIR letter issued by USCIS. The FFIC will then forward the dossier, including the PAIR letter, to MOWCYA for review. The new criterion will not affect pending adoption cases filed with Ethiopian courts before September 1, 2013.

To enable prospective parents adopting from Ethiopia to comply with Ethiopia's new requirement, USCIS issued a policy memorandum, effective immediately, that allows prospective adoptive parents to begin the PAIR process and file a Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, before Ethiopian courts finalize an adoption in Ethiopia. These procedures allow USCIS to assess the child's likely eligibility for U.S. immigration benefits and make a prelimi­nary determination before Ethiopian courts finalize the adoption decree. A copy of the policy memorandum is available on USCIS' website.

To begin the PAIR process, petitioners adopting children from Ethiopia should file the Form I-600 petition and support­ing documents through the appropriate lockbox for forwarding to the USCIS National Benefits Center (NBC) before fil­ing an adoption case with the Ethiopian courts. Please refer to USCIS' website for filing instructions for the NBC. USCIS overseas offices and the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia will continue to accept Form I-600 petitions, but such petitions will be forwarded to the NBC for PAIR review. 

Prospective adoptive parents filing their Form I-600 petition should include all available required documentation when filing a Form I-600 petition, except the adoption decree or grant of legal custody. Additionally, the following PAIR-specific documentation must be submitted when the child's country of origin is Ethiopia:

· Evidence of the match between petitioner and child such as:

· Adoption Contract between the Prospective Adoptive Parent (PAP) and the orphanage, together with a power of attorney appointing the Adoption Service Provider (ASP) to represent the PAP, in cases where the contract is signed by the ASP on behalf of the PAP; or

· Adoption Contract between the PAP and relinquishing birth relative.

· Evidence of child's availability for intercountry adoption, such as:

· Court order from Regional, Zonal, or Woreda authorities;

· Police report from local authorities, placing the child in the care of a licensed orphanage; or

· Adoption Contract between PAP and relinquishing birth relative, in cases of intra-family adoption only.

The FFIC will make its own determination regarding the child's adoptability. After completing the adoption and receiv­ing the adoption decree from the FFIC, U.S. adoptive parents will submit their adoption decree and all necessary docu­ments to Embassy Addis Ababa for final Form I-600 petition review and immigrant visa processing. 

You may refer to for additional information about adopting from Ethiopia.

Summer Camp Program Underway!

This summer, SOAR will be assisting THREE distinct summer camps: the Holy Cross Armenian Church of Javakh (Georgia); the Our Lady of Armenia (OLA) Center Summer Day Camp (Tsaghgadzor, Armenia); and The Voice of the Armenian Church (VOTAC) Orphan Summer Camp (Tsaghgadzor, Armenia).

The Javakh Camp serves approximately 250 social orphans living at or below poverty level in the nearby villages. The Camp was created to get these children off the streets during the summer and into a safe, clean, fun, and spiritual environment.

The OLA Camp strengthens the spiritual, physical, and emotional well-being of approximately 850 very disadvantaged boys and girls between the ages of 8 and 15. The Camp draws from orphanages across Armenia and provides a wide range of athletic, cultural, spiritual, and social activities.

The VOTAC Camp is held every July for eight days, hosting approximately 50 orphaned boys and girls between the ages of 10 and 16.  The overarching goal of the Camp is to "create" a big family where the children will experience comfort, love, and compassion while instilling in them the history of the Armenian Church.

We are offering the following five sponsorship levels with the goal of providing significant financial assistance to the Camps:

Sponsorship Level


Platinum: $5,000
Gold: $2,500
Silver: $1,000
Bronze: $500
Patron: $100

All sponsors will receive acknowledgment on the SOAR web site and their names engraved on a dedication plaque at each Camp. As you consider a donation amount, please remember that the Camps help develop positive social skills and attitudes, such as responsibility, honesty, self-reliance, and self-confidence. Many participants return to their regular lives enriched spiritually, intellectually, and physically and ready to share their new attitudes with family and friends.

Donations can be made by check (mailed to the above address) or via PayPal (designate National) at If you have any questions, please contact George S. Yacoubian, Jr., at or 610.213.3452.

SOAR and the Orphaned Armenian Summer Camps thank you for your generosity!


1060 First Avenue, Suite 400, King of Prussia, PA 19406
Office: 610.213.3452   Fax: 610.229.5168 
Email:   Web:

Adoption Advocate No. 58: Birthparent Issues of Grief and Loss

Published April 2013 by Kris Faasse
Nicole Callahan, Editor
Chuck Johnson, Editor

Introduction: Factors that Can Influence How an Individual Deals with Loss

grief-and-loss-21376704 One of the paradoxes of adoption is that, for all its potential benefits, it is nonetheless born of loss – including the losses that relinquishment represents for birthparents and birth families. For counselors working with expectant parents considering adoption and birthparents who have made an adoption decision, it is essential to understand grief and loss, what it looks like, and what can help.

It is difficult walking with anyone through a journey of grief. It is helpful for counselors to understand that grief is a process – not a single or brief event – that it cannot be rushed or hurried, and that it is highly personal and individual for those experiencing it. Recognizing that grief is unique, not only for each person but also for each situation, also helps counselors understand the complexities of this very natural emotion.

Knowledge of the various factors that can mitigate grief helps the counselor in turn help the client identify past experiences and patterns that could come into play. With that information, everyone is better prepared for the experience and expression of grief and loss that will inevitably come. Some of these factors may include:

The personality of the individual: While placing a child is a loss for any parent, not every parent who has chosen adoption will feel the same way about it. For some people, all emotions are felt strongly, and their feelings of loss may seem or appear greater because of an inherent intensity of emotion and the way it is expressed. Others hold emotions much closer and may be reluctant to share very personal thoughts and feelings. Some give voice to emotions; others express feelings through action. 

Family norms: Families may experience and express emotions, including loss, very differently. Some families are more comfortable expressing strong emotions, while others may try to keep loss or grief “under control.” Questions a counselor should bear in mind include: How was the expectant parent raised? How do her parents, siblings, and other family members face or deal with loss?

Cultural norms: There may also be cultural norms affecting the experience of grief, so it is helpful to know, beyond the family, how do other groups to which this parent belongs express or experience grief? These groups might include a church, community, ethnic group, etc. Many different cultures have certain expectations and ways of experiencing loss and grief that can influence individuals as well.

How this loss is related to other life goals and experiences: A parent who has always wanted to be a mother and have children might feel a particular sense of loss if she makes an adoption plan, because of how the loss of this child ties in with her vision of her life, her goals, and her dreams. A parent who already has children may experience the loss somewhat differently, because she already knows the joys and challenges of being a parent. Approximately 70% of the mothers our agency works with who make adoption decisions are already parenting other children.

The prior losses a person has experienced: Prior losses, particularly those that are still fresh, have an impact on how we deal with a new loss. If someone has just experienced a significant loss of a loved one, and then has an unexpected pregnancy and perhaps the end of a relationship she thought would bring her solace and support, it complicates her ability to grieve the losses connected to an adoption decision. An expectant parent might also have had another loss in the past that was never fully reconciled, and is still fresh in many ways. If that is the case, imagining another loss – through adoption – makes hers a more complicated grief with multiple layers and multiple losses.

The Importance of Considering the Choice to Parent

Only about 25-30% of the women who come to our agency and speak with us ultimately make adoption plans. Many are simply looking for more information about adoption, so they can make an informed decision. Others seriously consider adoption, struggle with their decision, and choose another option instead. It is normal to wrestle with big decisions in life. Knowing that the struggle is natural and not necessarily a sign of a poor or wrong decision can be helpful to that expectant parent striving to make the choice that is right for her.

When I worked as a pregnancy counselor, I was often concerned if an expectant mother sought counseling to plan an adoption and did not seem to have considered parenting. She may have already done the hard work and decided that she was not ready to be a parent, but my concern was that she might also be refusing to think about parenting her child because, while she very much wanted to parent, she nonetheless felt that she “should” plan for adoption. Parenting seemed too overwhelming or impossible to consider. It was my experience that the expectant mothers most reluctant to talk about parenting were the ones most likely to change their minds about the adoption or have a less positive adoption experience.

In order to make a well-informed adoption decision, expectant parents must be able to explore what parenting their child might be like. By the time they seek counseling, some may have already considered it and decided that it is not best for them or for their baby. But others may be reluctant, as if considering parenting will make the decision about adoption too difficult. For a mother who is insisting on adoption as a kind of defense mechanism because she is afraid that she cannot follow through, it is important to introduce the idea of parenting gently, gradually, in order to have the kind of discussion that will best ensure a well-informed decision.

Early in the counseling relationship may not be the time to explore it, but eventually, most expectant parents that I worked with were willing to think about how they came to the decision that parenting was not the best choice. Questions I asked might include: “What if you changed your mind?” or “What if you get to a point during pregnancy, or after the birth, when you think about letting go of this baby and you just can’t do it?”

The relationship counselors have with their clients is so very important. Counselors must be able to handle the difficult emotions of their clients and walk alongside them in difficult places. The expectant parents I worked with needed to know that I cared about them as individuals, that they could trust me, and that I did not have an agenda. There is an art to counseling, and part of the art – an essential part – is knowing when and how to explore both parenting and adoption.

How Grief Manifests Itself

Counselors working with expectant parents considering adoption must know the different ways in which adoption-related grief can manifest itself, such as:

  • Feelings: anger, sadness, loneliness
  • The inability to feel; numbness
  • Physical symptoms: anxiety, lack of energy, the incessant need to keep busy, hypersensitivity, tightness in the chest
  • Cognitions: questioning and second-guessing, preoccupation, confusion
  • Behaviors: Weeping, obsessive eating, lack of appetite, insomnia, social withdrawal (Worden, 2002)

Reconciling Loss, Not Resolving It

A person can never fully “resolve” a significant loss; we never achieve full and complete “closure” once we have experienced the loss of someone dearly loved. If you have experienced the loss of someone you loved very much, you know there is no point at which the sense of loss, of missing the person, is completely and totally gone.

What we can do, with help and support, is recognize that loss – and eventually reconcile it. Reconciling a loss means that a person comes to a place of acceptance. If I have reconciled my loss, I don’t think about it constantly; I am not expending as much of my energy in dealing with it; but that does not mean that it is ever completely gone. A birthparent who has relinquished her child can reconcile her loss, or adapt to it – but “resolving” her loss or grief, coming to the end of it, will not happen. Just as she will never forget the child she placed, she will never stop having days or events that make her think of her child and wonder. Reconciling herself to the loss means that she will be able to find a way to make peace with her decision and incorporate being a birthparent into her life and identity.

In Grief Counseling & Grief Therapy (2009), J. William Worden described four “tasks” of mourning:

  1. Accepting the reality of the loss
  2. Working through the pain of grief
  3. Adjusting to the new reality
  4. Emotionally relocating the loss; moving forward without forgetting the loss

As a parent begins to accept the reality of the loss, there are steps that can help in making the loss real. She might be helped by making a hospital plan, and talking about what it will be like when she leaves the hospital. Relinquishment documents, which should always be reviewed in advance, can help make the idea of relinquishment more concrete. Ultimately, she cannot face the pain of her loss until she accepts that it is happening – that it is real, and permanent.
Working through the pain of loss is different for every parent, due to the various mitigating factors mentioned earlier. This process is often described as the hardest part of mourning, with the most intense emotions – and is therefore the period that can lead to the greatest discomfort for those around her who bear witness to the grief. It is a necessary part of grieving to work through these strong emotions, whatever they may be, and a birthparent should never have to go through this alone. She needs people to listen, to grieve with her, to be her companions – walking with her, never rushing her.

When a parent who has placed a child for adoption adjusts to the reality of her loss and works through the intense emotions, she will gradually find that she is not thinking about her child every minute of every day, though of course she will still think of him or her. Those who have experienced a great loss talk about suddenly realizing that they laughed, or didn’t think of the loss at a particular time, and being surprised by that. There is still the sense of loss, but the intensity and frequency of the emotions of grief begin to lessen.

After the adoption takes place, a birthparent can establish an enduring connection to her child and her experience with adoption by weaving that loss into the fabric of who she is. She never forgets the loss, and revisits it at different developmental stages or milestones. But it is not with her in the same way that it was before. When she adapts to the loss, she can begin to reengage with other people and activities, and start the process of healing.

When we reconcile the losses we have suffered, that does not mean we have forgotten or been unchanged by them. It does not mean that we do not still think about or remember the one we loved and lost, or have triggers that bring it back to us and make us feel it sharply. Reconciling a loss means that we are able to find a place for it in our lives that is not all consuming. It is not with us all the time, and eventually, we are able to move forward.

What Practitioners Need to Know

Anticipatory grief – the process of knowing and in some ways trying to prepare emotionally for loss – is experienced by many expectant parents wrestling with the decision about the outcome of their pregnancy. An expectant parent who is considering placing a child and entrusting care of that child to someone else often experiences anticipatory grief. Just thinking about the planned or even considered loss can cause the expectant parent to experience some of the emotions, thoughts, or behaviors connected with grieving. It is similar to the experience of a family facing a loved one’s terminal illness or anticipating a dangerous military deployment. We look forward to a possible or definite loss and, in thinking and planning for the future without that person, experience the very real emotions that the loss will bring.

Parents considering adoption must be fully informed and empowered to make their own choices – for, at the end of the day, they are the ones who must live with that choice. At the same time, it is important for counselors to be open to whatever birthparents need or want to share, especially the difficult or “messy” emotions and experiences. As one birthmother said, “It was hard to continue to talk about it and have people willing to listen. I expected to move on. I didn’t expect it to be a lifelong process.”

If a parent senses that others do not understand her grief, or do not want to see it because they want her to simply be “fine,” she might deny or suppress the emotions for weeks, or months, or even years. When grief is disenfranchised, it cuts off the ability of parents to receive the understanding and support they need to process their loss. We should never communicate to birthmothers by our words or actions that their loss is not a loss; that they have no right to mourn. If we do that, we taking away crucial support when they need it most.

As parents begin to accept the reality of their loss and start to work through their grief, they can also find ways to adjust to the new reality as the pain begins to recede. Understanding signs of grief (listed above) also helps them recognize when these signs begin to occur less often. As one birthmother described it: “Grief is like waves that slowly get smaller and smaller and can no longer knock you down.”

Those working with expectant parents and birthparents must know how to recognize anticipatory grief, and understand that the adoption process often helps the loss become real to a mother. With that in mind, practitioners should help and encourage her to develop a hospital plan, review relinquishment documents well in advance, plan an entrustment ceremony with the adoptive family, and anticipate and plan for ongoing, comprehensive post-placement support.
The adoption process is an ongoing one that requires different types of services and support over time. The goal of pregnancy or adoption counseling is never to help a mother just until the end of her pregnancy and through relinquishment, or even to help place a child with adoptive parents – the goal must be to help and support all the individuals involved in an adoption, and work in their best interests.

What Adoptive Parents Need to Know

Issues of grief and loss experienced by parents considering adoption are not always well understood by prospective adoptive parents. When adoptive parents do understand it, when they feel empathy with the birthmother, it makes such a difference in the open adoption relationship.

Prospective adoptive parents who are able to connect with the losses and the grief process for birth families are often those who have wrestled with their own losses. They are better equipped to understand that the mother is not giving them a child to fulfill all their hopes and dreams of parenthood – she is making an enormous decision, a difficult one, because she believes it is best for her child.

After an adoption has taken place, adoptive parents must do all they can to honor the promises they made to the birth family, and be encouraged to be even more open and generous in those relationships than they had previously imagined. Open adoption is not a casual agreement. Even if it is not legally enforceable, it represents a promise, a covenant, with that birthmother or couple.

Sometimes, as in all relationships, birthparents and adoptive parents have trouble communicating. There can be misunderstandings or exchanges that leave one party, or all parties, feeling uncertain or upset. There are often ways we at the agency can help – and we should help – if these problems occur. Everyone can come in and sit down and talk about their expectations and their feelings about the relationship, and we can find a way to move forward with all relationships intact. These relationships – between original parents, adoptive parents, and adopted children and individuals – serve as the essence of domestic infant adoption today.

Conclusion: Summary of Recommendations for Practitioners

    • Understand the grief process and accept that grieving the losses of relinquishment and adoption is natural and normal.
    • Be prepared to walk alongside expectant parents, both mothers and fathers, in the messiness of strong emotions.
    • Anticipatory grief can help with the first task of mourning – accepting the reality of the loss – so don’t be afraid to review detailed plans for after the birth.
    • Help parents planning relinquishment to plan rituals to mark the transition, an important part of enfranchising grief.
    • Help parents planning relinquishment to identify mementos and help to gather them, even if they don’t immediately feel ready for them. You can never go back and gather mementos, so do it when the birth and placement occur.

Kris Faasse is the Director of Adoption Services at Bethany Christian Services, headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Kris has spent much of her career working with women facing unplanned pregnancies, first as a pregnancy counselor and then as a program manager serving both expectant parents and adoptive families. Her current responsibilities include pregnancy counseling and domestic infant adoption programs; clinical issues in intercountry adoption; and post-adoption services, including Bethany’s ADOPTS program. She has conducted Infant Adoption Training Initiative trainings for both National Council For Adoption and the Spaulding Institute, and has led training sessions on a variety of topics in adoption, including grief and loss, agency/hospital partnerships, and safe haven programs. Kris has also authored a number of articles and consulted on various video projects to educate the general public about adoption issues. She holds both a BSW and MSW from Western Michigan University.


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Dischler, P. Because I Loved You. Madison: Goblin Fern Press, 2006.
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Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute. Safeguarding the Rights and Well-Being of Birthparents in the Adoption Process. New York: Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, 2006.
Gritter, J. Lifegivers. Washington, DC: CWLA Press, 2000.
Roles, P. Saying Goodbye to a Baby. Washington, DC: CWLA Press, 1989.
Romanchik, B. Birthparent Grief. Royal Oak: Insight, 1999.
Wheeler-Roy. Grief Counseling Resource Guide: A Field Manual. New York State Office of Mental Health, 2004. Retrieved from:
Worden, J. W. Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy. New York: Springer Publishing, 2002.
Worden, J. W. Grief Counseling & Grief Therapy (updated). New York: Springer Publishing, 2009.


IAC 253 Results

iacresults113020111 The following referrals were issued in IAC Session 253 which was held on April 22, 2013.

Download PDF

Alert: A Temporary Moratorium on the Acceptance of New Intercountry Adoption Applications is Expected from Colombia

The Colombian Institute for Family Welfare (ICBF) has recently advised the U.S. Department of State and other international adoption partners of several important changes in Colombia’s management of intercountry adoptions.  Although ICBF is in the process of finalizing the specific details of these changes, the Colombian media has already begun reporting on the matter.  This alert is intended to explain a proposed change. 

The Department of State expects that Colombia will officially announce, during the early part of June, a temporary moratorium on the acceptance of new intercountry adoption applications from non-Colombian citizens interested in adopting a child aged 0 – 6 years old, unless that child has been characterized as “difficult to adopt” by ICBF.  

At present, ICBF has a waiting list of more than 3,000 foreign families hoping to adopt children from 0 – 6 years old.  Rather than continue to ask families to wait five to seven years on a waiting list, such a moratorium would keep new families from experiencing extensive wait times and encourage prospective adoptive families to consider adopting one or more of the nearly 8,000 Colombian children awaiting adoption who are older than six, part of a group of three or more siblings, or who have chronic health or developmental needs. 

While a moratorium would affect families who have not yet filed adoption applications with ICBF, the Department of State expects that adoption processing will continue to operate normally in all other respects.  Families who have already been accepted by ICBF for a healthy child between 0 – 6 years would maintain their place on the existing waiting list and ICBF would continue to match and finalize adoptions for these children as the need arises.  Families interested in adopting older children or any child identified by ICBF as “difficult to adopt” should not experience any changes as a result of this decision.  Furthermore, ICBF has indicated that any family currently on the waiting list for a 0 – 6 year-old, who is open to adopting a different category of child, should work with their adoption service provider to let ICBF know.

The Department of State will update this alert once ICBF publishes its final announcement on this proposed change.

For updates you may email the Bogota U.S. Embassy, Attn Adoptions or refer to for updates.

The Dark Matter of Love Joins the Fight to Free the 300

The Dark Matter of Love screens on Capitol Hill to an audience of policy and decision makers


Double Bounce Films presents

The Dark Matter of Love Kickstarter Campaign

This feature documentary tells the story of three of the last Russian children able to be adopted into an American family - Masha, Vadim and Marcel. After some inevitable teething problems, the children flourish in their new family. The film demonstrates the difference the love of a family can make to a child's development.

On January the 1st 2013 Russian President Vladimir Putin passed a law banning the adoption of Russian children into American families. Approximately 300 Russian children just like Masha and her brothers have met and started to fall in love with their families, but can no longer complete their adoptions. 

 The film will have it's Russian premiere at the Moscow Film Festival in June


The film then goes on to screen to representatives from 56 nations at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in Istanbul in July

When director Sarah McCarthy was making The Dark Matter of Love, she had no idea that President Putin was going to pass this law. Suddenly her film became a 90 minute demonstration of what these children are being denied.

In April 2013 the film screened in conjunction with the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, National Council on Adoption, CASE and Cinema for Peace to an audience of policy and decision makers on Capitol Hill.

The film makes its Russian premiere at the Moscow International Film Festival in June 2013, accompanied by a petition of over 63,000 signatures. Key Russian policy makers will be in attendance at the screening, as well as American parents waiting to be united with their adopted children.


 President Obama will meet with President Putin in mid June

With your help, we can elevate the campaign and put pressure on leading officials to take action. THE DARK MATTER OF LOVE is currently raising funds through Kickstarter for a screening tour of Russia and the US to raise the profile of the situation. To see our campaign video click here. Please join us in the fight to bring these children home.

You can learn more about the film and accompanying campaign in this piece from The Huffington Post.


 300+ Russian children like Evie are waiting to be re-united with their adoptive American parents.