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US adoption laws
There are still several hundred adoptions in process in Guatemala – adoptions that were put on “hold” at the end of 2007 or should I say, placed in “limbo” until someone somewhere makes a decision. These adoptions are stuck in yucky bureaucratic mud while the adoptive parents trying to bring these children home fight to keep hopeful and retain their sanity.
Most of the people caught in this nightmare keep a close contact with Guatemala 900, an organization whose sole purpose is to do whatever it takes to complete these adoptions and bring these children home to their families in the U.S. They have conference calls every few weeks to exchange information and share concerns and frustrations.
I had heard from my friend “P” who has been trying to bring her daughter Nola home for three years that a special ambassador would be going to Guatemala soon. I found this news release from the state department today:
I have shared that my adopted child’s birth mother passed away in 2006. We did not learn this information until 2008, and we still do not know the cause of her death. I have confirmed from two sources that she was in ill health and died while hospitalized. However, there could be many causes of a lingering illness. Considering that she was only 40 years old when she died, you can understand why I feel so strongly about having access to the information about her cause of death. I think my son is entitled to know this basic information about his own family medical history.
If our adoption agency was still active, I could probably get this information. However, they closed their doors a couple of years ago, and our local adoption agency (in-state agency that handled the post-placement visits) did not save our records because they were not the primary agency. Also, because my son’s birthmother died in another state, the local agency has no authority to request this information, anyhow.
I requested a copy of my son’s birth mother’s death certificate in the hopes that a cause of death would be listed. Unfortunately, the state in which she died does not include a cause of death on the death certificate. Another dead end.
I have great news for anyone involved in a North Carolina adoption – North Carolina put new legislation into effect last month enabling confidential intermediaries to act on the behalf of adult adoptees and birth family who are seeking a reunion.
Here is the current statute on releasing identifying information in North Carolina:
§ 48-9-104. Release of identifying information.
(b) A child placing agency licensed by the Department or a county department of social services may agree to act as a confidential intermediary for a biological parent or adult adoptee or adult lineal descendant of a deceased adoptee, without appointment by the court pursuant to G.S. 48 9 105, in order to obtain and share nonidentifying birth family health information or facilitate contact or share identifying information with adult adoptees, adult lineal descendants of deceased adoptees, and biological parents with the written consent of all parties to the contact or the sharing of information. Further, a child placing agency licensed by the Department or a county department of social services may agree to act as a confidential intermediary for the adoptive parents of a minor adoptee, without appointment by the court pursuant to G.S. 48 9 105, to obtain and share nonidentifying birth family health information. An agency that agrees to provide confidential intermediary services may charge a reasonable fee for doing so, which fee must be pursuant to written agreement signed by the individual to be charged. The Division shall establish guidelines for confidential intermediary services.
Expedite Visas for the 80 Families in the Adoption Pipeline Sign the Petition: 12,394 Letters and Emails Sent So Far
Recently I posted a blog regarding the adopting parents of Nepali children caught in the most recent intercountry adoption quagmire. I strongly believe that the U.S. Department of State (who has frozen these adoptions in process) should allow these 80 adoptions to be completed – a sadly miniscule number in comparison to the huge number of “family-less” children in Nepal who wait for forever families...forever.
One of the adopting parents caught in this tragic adoption mess has organized a petition. I hope you will join me in signing this petition (click here) and help pressure our lawmakers into allowing these Nepali children to enter the U.S. with their new U.S. families.
Here are some excerpts from the petition:
The change in policy of the United States Department of State, established on August 6, 2010 (http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2010/08/145767.htm), concerning adoptions in Nepal has led to approximately 80 “pipeline families” experiencing long delays in the processing of their investigations and issuing of visas to newly adopted Nepali orphans. Some of these families are stranded in Kathmandu with their children while they await decisions by the Embassy and now USCIS in New Delhi. Other families are waiting in the U.S., many after having adopted their children and left them in their orphanages. The state of limbo in which these families are now living has caused them to suffer emotionally and financially, placed their employment or their businesses at risk, and left several far from home and the support of family and friends in extremely difficult circumstances.
Montgomery County Juvenile Court in Dayton Ohio is the scene of the heated and media magnet custody battle over two year old Vanessa, placed for adoption with Stacey Doss two years ago by her birthmother Andrea Conley. At that time Conley said she had no idea who the birth father was, but the birthfather Benjamin Mills Jr stepped forward shortly after Vanessa was placed with Doss stating that he was the birth father (which he is) and the birthmother had lied (which she had) and now demands custody of Vanessa. He never gave consent for his daughter to be placed for adoption.
As mentioned in my previous blogs on this distressing and depressing situation, Mills, Vanessa's biological father, has a prison record for assaulting Conley (Vanessa’s birthmother); apparently he pulled out her hair and beat her up. Mills also has an outstanding charge of child endangerment against him; Mills has 5 other birth children but custody of none. His mother is raising some of his children and apparently she is willing to raise Vanessa as well. Additionally, Mills’s driver’s license has been suspended for failure to pay child support.