Thursday, December 31, 2009

Biggest, Best, Stupidest and Worst of 2009

Biggest (and quietest) adoption scandal of 2009:
ABC revealed at least thirty Indian children kidnapped for adoption!

Didn't even make Wikipedia's list of international adoption scandals for 2009 - which also omitted my second place nominee, Guatemala:
  • China - "Six government officials in southwest China have been punished over an orphanage scandal when three children were taken away from their families who could not afford fines for violating family planning regulations. The orphanage sent the children overseas for adoption from 2004 to 2006, a Guizhou-based newspaper reported today."[4]
  • Samoa - Four Sentenced in Scheme, prosecutors say adoption agency tricked Samoan parents into giving their own children up for adoption[5]
  • Ethiopia - Canadian Broadcasting Company reports Canadian families "claim that CAFAC has informed them their child is an orphan when the parents in fact exist... (and) that sometimes the children's ages are wildly off and the health of these kids varies greatly from what they have been told before travelling to Addis Ababa to pick them up."[6] Andrew Goeghegan reports that "At least 70 adoption agencies have set up business in Ethiopia. Almost half are unregistered, but there’s scant regulation anyway and fraud and deception are rife. Some agencies actively recruit children in a process known as harvesting.[7] This has prompted on Dutch agency to stop adoptions from Ethiopia "as a result recent reports about abuse of the system by the government in Ethiopia and local adoption agencies. Research done by the adoption agency, shows that the information about the children on file does not match with their actual back ground. In several cases the mothers of the children were still alive, while being listed as deceased."[8]
  • Vietnam - "A court in northern Vietnam has put 16 people on trial for allegedly selling more than 250 babies for foreign adoption. The head of two social welfare centres in Nam Dinh province as well as several doctors and nurses at village clinics went on trial yesterday, said Dang Viet Hung, the chief judge at the court hearing the case. The defendants are charged with "abuse of power and authority" and could face prison terms of five to 10 years." [9]

Best Book of 2009: Fugitive Visions by Jane Jeong Trenka

Best Blog for scooping and exposing - not just reporting - adoption news: PoundPup Legacy

Most Blogged about adoption issue: Anita Tedaldi's adoption termination

Most commented blog post on FamilyPreservation, 2009: Is Adoption Natural?

Biggest Deal Made Over Nothing: The movie, Orphan

Best conference?

Best conference presentation?

Best article?

Worst case of adoption abuse 2009?

Best adoption news 2009?  Ontario?

On-Demand Web Programs

The six hour Practising Law Institute program is now available. Special Note - New York Transitional credit for this program is only available to New York licensed attorneys practicing law outside the U.S.

Lecture Topics
[Total time 06:00:09]
Segments with an asterisk (*) are available only with the purchase of the entire program.
  • Introduction & Welcoming Remarks* [00:03:26]
    Douglas H. Reiniger
  • Representing Birth Parents in Termination of Parental Rights & Voluntary Relinquishments/Surrenders [01:05:59]
    Hon. Edwina G. Richardson-Mendelson, Elizabeth A. Thornton, Michele Cortese
  • Adoption from the Consumer's Perspective [00:57:48]
    Rebecca L. Mendel, Hon. Edwina G. Richardson-Mendelson, Kim Susser, Tom Chiodo
  • Adoption of Adolescents from Foster Care [00:56:04]
    Douglas H. Reiniger, Pat O'Brien, MS, CSW, Hon. Edwina G. Richardson-Mendelson
  • Serving Vulnerable Children at Home and Abroad: A Medical and Legal Perspective [00:57:43]
    Dr. Jane Aronson, Elizabeth Bartholet
  • Costs of Adoption: A Survey and Ethical Considerations [01:04:18]
    Gregory A. Franklin, Mirah Riben, Susan Caughman
  • Financial Support for Adoption: update on FMLA, Adoption Tax Credit, Social Security, Health Care Coverage [00:54:51]
    Mark T. McDermott, Laurie B. Goldheim
The purchase price of this Web Program includes the following articles from the Course Handbook available online:
  • Practice Memo: TPR for Mental Illness/Mental Retardation
    Michele Cortese
  • TPR for Abandonment: Practice Memo
    Michele Cortese
  • Termination of Parental Rights: Permanent Neglect: Practice Outline
    Michele Cortese
  • Representing Parents in Termination of Parental Rights Hearings: An Overview of Federal Law and Practice Standards
    Elizabeth A. Thornton
  • Standards of Practice for Attorneys Representing Parents in Abuse and Neglect Cases
    Elizabeth A. Thornton
  • Adoption Information Registry Birth Parent Registration Form
    Hon. Edwina G. Richardson-Mendelson
  • Legal Considerations for Prospective and Adoptive Parents
  • Youth Homelessness and the Lack of Adoptive and Other Permanent Parental Planning for Teens in Foster Care: Preventing Homelessness Through Parenting
    Pat O'Brien, MS, CSW
  • Unconditional Commitment: The Only Love That Matters to Teens
    Pat O'Brien, MS, CSW
  • When You Take the P.A.R.E.N.T. Out Of Permanent You Are Left with M.(ostly) N.(ot) E.(nough)
    Pat O'Brien, MS, CSW
  • International Adoption: The Human Rights Position
    Elizabeth Bartholet
  • The Racial Disproportionality Movement in Child Welfare: False Facts and Dangerous Directions
    Elizabeth Bartholet
  • Payment of Fees by Adoptive Parents in Domestic and International Adoptions
    Gregory A. Franklin
  • Adoption Fees: Ethical Considerations for All the Parties in Adoption Placements
    Mirah Riben
  • Regulation of Private Domestic Adoption Expenses
    Mirah Riben
  • Oregon Department of Human Services: Adoption Disclosure Statement
    Mirah Riben
  • 2009 Adoption Law Legislative Update
    Mark T. McDermott
  • 111th Congress Status of Adoption Bills
    Mark T. McDermott
  • Worldwide Orphans Foundation
    Dr. Jane Aronson
  • Index to Adoption Law Institute 2009
Presentation Material
  • Representing Birth Parents in Termination of Parental Rights Proceedings (Handout)
    Michele Cortese
  • The Lawyer's Guide to Agency Adoptions (Handout)
    Hon. Richardson-Mendelson
  • Termination of Parental Rights: An Overview of Federal Law
    Elizabeth A. Thornton
  • About WWO
    Dr. Jane Aronson
  • Adoptive Families: Cost and Timing Survey 2009
    Susan Caughman
  • Adoption Fees: Ethical Considerations for all Parties in Adoption (Handout)
    Mirah Riben
  • Adoption Fees: Ethical Considerations for all Parties in Adoption
    Mirah Riben
  • Financial Support for Adoption: update on FMLA, Adoption Tax Credit, Social Security, Health Care Coverage
    Laurie B. Goldheim
Item#: 18381
Price: $480.00

Non-Related "Gestational" Mom Called Legal Mother

After just discussing surrogacy yesterday...

New Jersey Judge Calls Surrogate Legal Mother of Twins

A New Jersey judge has ruled that a gestational surrogate who gave birth to twin girls is their legal mother, even though she is not genetically related to them.

The ruling gives the woman, who carried the babies in an arrangement with her brother and his male spouse, the right to seek primary custody of the children at a trial in the spring.

The case illustrates the legal complexities of gestational surrogacy, in which a woman carries unrelated embryos created in a petri dish. A gestational surrogate in Michigan recently obtained custody of twins she carried, but courts in several other states have upheld the rights of people who contracted with gestational surrogates.

Prof. Charles P. Kindregan, an expert in reproductive technology law who teaches at Suffolk University Law School in Boston, [quoted in the NY Times yesterday] said the New Jersey ruling, which was made Dec. 23 but released to the parties in the case this week, could expand the rights of gestational surrogates if it stood.

“If it’s upheld, that suggests that gestational surrogacy is not as different from traditional surrogacy as we’ve always interpreted it to be,” Professor Kindregan said.

Mr. Kindregan has worked with an American Bar Association committee in an effort to standardize surrogacy laws across the country. [interesting since adoption laws are not!]

In the New Jersey case, the surrogate, Angelia G. Robinson, agreed to have the children in 2006 for her brother, Donald Robinson Hollingsworth, an accountant in Manhattan, and his spouse, Sean Hollingsworth. The embryos were created from anonymous donor eggs and fertilized with sperm from Sean Hollingsworth.

The girls were born in October 2006 and went to live with the Hollingsworths at their home in Jersey City. But in March 2007 Ms. Robinson filed a lawsuit seeking custody, alleging that she had been coerced into the arrangement.

Judge Francis B. Schultz of Superior Court, who ruled in the case in Hudson County, N.J., relied heavily on the precedent established by the New Jersey Supreme Court in 1988 in the case of Baby M. The surrogate in that case, Mary Beth Whitehead, carried her own genetic child for another couple after artificial insemination with the man’s sperm. After Ms. Whitehead decided that she wanted to keep the baby, the court ruled that her maternal rights could not be terminated against her will.

[How odd...this is totally different. This child was biologically connected to one of the contracting parents and not at all to the carrier. Seems an attorney could find grounds to appeal this judge's decsion based on this difference.]

“The surrogacy contract,” the Baby M court found, “is based on principles that are directly contrary to the objectives of our laws. It guarantees the separation of a child from its mother; it looks to adoption regardless of suitability; it totally ignores the child; it takes the child from the mother regardless of her wishes and maternal fitness.”  [Well, duh, so do MANY -- most? - adoptions!]

Citing that passage, Judge Schultz wrote, “Would it really make any difference if the word ‘gestational’ was substituted for the word ‘surrogacy’ in the above quotation? I think not.”

[What about the word "Mother"? Think this judge may have flunked biology 101.]

Ms. Robinson, of Keansburg, N.J., issued a statement calling the decision “one more step in helping to insure stability and peace in the lives of our girls.”

Ms. Robinson was represented by Harold J. Cassidy, a Shrewsbury, N.J., lawyer who also represented Ms. Whitehead. In a statement, Mr. Cassidy applauded the decision and called surrogacy “an exploitation of women.”

Alan S. Modlinger, the lawyer for Sean and Donald Hollingsworth, said the case was of importance to gay men and lesbians because of their reliance on reproductive technology to have children.

Since 2007, the twins have shuttled back and forth between the Hollingsworths’ home and Ms. Robinson, who has three parenting days a week. A final decision on custody is expected after the trial this spring.

I have extremely mixed feelings. Always have. Makes me think of Allison Quets and her twins and hard she fought to keep them.  The adoption community had very mixed feelings about supporting her as a "natural" mother and in the end did not to any extent.

On the one hand, a woman's body does not know that they baby she is carrying is nor genetically connected to her. id it did - it would reject the embryo as a foreign body. Instead, her body reacts hormonally just as if the baby were hers - triggering labor and milk coming in.  But the reality ids that in many of these cases of "gestational" surrogacy - like this one - the baby IS a genetic stranger to the mother - not blood related in any way, no DNA in common, no chance of hereditary traits or medical history. It's just bizarre.  In this case, how does this woman live with herself for taking this child that IS biologically connected to her brother-in-law?  

Of course, bottom line: I think all surrogacy should be outlawed as exploitive and agree with the judge in hoping this sends a message. I was quite involved with the Mary Beth Whitehead case where they claim was "a contract is a contract" and was very glad to get it outlawed in NJ. But what good has it done? There is no way to them from happening.

Wonder if she got paid?  And, I wonder exactly how she was coerced?  I also wonder how old she is and if she has any other children...Somehow I suspect more of a change of heart than coercion...not that that shouldn't count - if they were HER babies, which they are and are not...

Ya' gotta love technology! Just makes life so much more complicated!

What are your thoughts??

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Origins-USA Video

Origins - Protecting the natural right of Mothers to nurture their children from saravideoproducer on Vimeo.

Surrogacy Debated: Adoption Called "Regulated"

The New York Times offers four views on surrogacy regulation.

The Baby Market: Should the government decide who can obtain a baby through surrogacy? The debate is summed up by Rebecca Dresser is a professor of law and professor of ethics in medicine at Washington University in St. Louis:

"For better or worse, most individuals become parents without having to establish their qualifications for child-rearing. But in adoption, prospective parents must undergo screening to evaluate their parental fitness. Which approach should we take to people seeking parenthood through surrogacy?"

Charles P. Kindregan Jr. is a professor of family law at Suffolk University in Boston, and is co-author of the American Bar Association book on assisted reproduction, says:

"The freedom of parental choice to conceive and raise a child is protected by the Constitution." Seems this would clearly add more protection to the surrogate than those who are "essentially contractors who find egg donors, sperm donors and pregnancy surrogates to carry the baby."

Kindregen instead believes: "Everyone who has studied the issues raised by assisted reproductive technology and specifically by surrogacy recognize that there is a need to ensure the protection of children brought into existence by this technology. I think it is possible to achieve this goal while still allowing the option for gay and lesbian partners, as well as non-partnered and infertile couples to enjoy the rights and obligations of parenthood."

He then goes on to say, "It is unconscionable that the practice of surrogacy in the United States is so unregulated that anyone can open and operate a for-profit surrogacy clinic....

"Legal adoption is the soundest method of creating and protecting legal parenthood, but a person cannot be compelled to adopt and may not even be eligible to do so. However, the use of surrogacy can be provided with greater protections for all involved, including the potential children."

HUH? In most states anyone can hang a shingle and arrange adoptions! Private adoption there are little standards except ability to pay and once an adoption is finalized - even a state adoption - there are no follow-up protections for the children.

Arthur Caplan is a professor of bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, says:

Some years ago, young woman in Indiana signed a surrogacy agreement with a man from Pennsylvania. She agreed to be artificially inseminated by him and deliver any baby that resulted for a fee of $30,000. One month after a baby boy was born, the fee paid and the child taken back to Northeast Pennsylvania, the man beat the child to death. He pleaded guilty to third degree murder.

Today, the fees being charged for surrogate mothers have escalated well past $50,000. As a result, some of the surrogacy trade is being outsourced to poor women in India and China. Indian women agree to carry to term embryos for American parents for fees averaging around $12,000. However, most of the money goes to brokers or agents.

There are more laws in the United States governing the breeding of dogs, cats, fish, exotic animals, and wild game species than exist with respect to the use of surrogates and reproductive technologies to make people.

All of the arguments seem to assume that adoptive parents meet some "fitness" requirements that should be applied to potential parents through surrogacy, though they know fill well that no one is going to enforce any such regulations in a pay-as-you-go drive-through industry ...and when the "model" they use doesn't even apply it.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Sean Goldman Back Home With Daddy!

David Goldman, the New Jersey father who fought a five-year custody battle to reclaim his son from Brazil, has finally been reunited with his son, Sean.

For several photo of father and son, click here.

The saga goes back to 2004, when Goldman's wife, Bruna Bianchi, took then-4-year-old Sean to her native Brazil on vacation and never came back.

Goldman was already seeking his son's return under an international treaty that covers cross-border child abductions when his former wife died last year while giving birth to a daughter with her new Brazilian husband.

Her death generated more interest in the case, which has been discussed this year by top-level diplomats in Washington and the Brazilian capital, Brasilia. It also has been the subject of congressional hearings in the U.S. and has prompted protests in both countries.

In an interview Monday on NBC's "Today" show, Goldman said the boy is happy to be with him but still needs time to adjust, it has been five years that he has lived with his step-father with contact with his mother's parents, all of whom may have brainwashed the boy against his father who never relented in his visits and attempts to regain custody.

The case sets many precedents.  It indicates that courts honor and uphold blood relations and years of "bonding" do not change the fact that the child was taken illegally by his mother in the first place.   It is nice to see two nations recognize these basic "rights" and not focus on the family the boy has spent more time with.  Now, if only the same pricples would be applied to a,l contested adoptions and to alleged kidnappings that resulted in fraudulent adoptions.

The precedents are very applicable because in none of these cases did the abductors harm the children physically in any way. They cared for them lovingly - with the exception of denying them their biological, and legal, parent.


Helping a Child Understand...Jesus Was Adopted?

The holiday season has proved to be an interesting, sometimes challenging time for Deesha Phillya's 6-year-old daughter, who was adopted. It's also been a bit of a puzzle for Deesha, who says her daughter is currently struggling with the reason why she was adopted, and, by extension, why she was given up for adoption.

"I've been thinking a lot about how some Christians offer ‘Jesus was adopted' as a well-meaning comfort to adopted kids, especially during the holidays," Deesha, who is also mom to a bio child, says. She adds that for the adoption-related issues that her child is currently dealing with, the explanation is not much help at all.

"My daughters and I have been revisiting treasured picture books that tell the story of Jesus' birth. All of these books tend to start the story not quite at the beginning; they start with the star in the east, the shepherds, the host of angels. The one book that does begin with the Immaculate Conception (explained in preschooler-friendly language) does not, however, mention that Joseph is not Jesus' biological father. Some well-intentioned Christian adults do, however, emphasize this facet of the Christmas story. Seeking to offer comfort to adopted children, they say, ‘Jesus was adopted too.'"

Deesha has not said this to her daughter.

Many people have been quick to give their opinions. Many suggest her child should find comfort in this, she adds.

"I have not said this, though, because ‘Jesus was adopted' doesn't address the feelings of loss, anger, and grief she has expressed related to her adoption. Her daughter wants to know why she was placed for adoption-‘why' beyond the simplistic but age-appropriate reasons we've given her thus far. She wants answers to ‘why' that fill the void she feels. She wants those answers plus more things that her dad and I can't give. She wants to see her birth mother. She wants what her older sister, who is our biological child, has: the ability to see her birth parents every day. She wants relief from the unfairness of it all that she can't have what her sister has. She wants relief from fears and doubts that we love her sister more than we love her. She wants to believe that we really, really are her forever family."

Deesha adds that the family is addressing her little girl's concerns through a variety of resources at their disposal, but "I just can't see how ‘Jesus was adopted too', which emphasizes Joseph's faithfulness and character, can help my daughter feel better about being adopted. I've been tempted to re-tell her the story of Moses instead, emphasizing his adoption, as I know an adult adoptee for whom this story was life-changing as a teen. But as I recall the details of Moses' life, I can just imagine my precocious six-year-old saying, ‘Yeah, but, he still got to see his birth mom every day, even if he didn't know it was her.'"

She adds that during the holiday season she's left her child to find comfort in her own time and way, about adoption and more, from the bedtime story in current rotation at their house: a baby, a warm place provided that wasn't a first choice, and the promise of love.


The truth as you know it and as is age appropriate is far superior folk, fairy or religious tales.

Questions such as these are normal and to be expected when adopting. Deesha's daughter is a bit precocious and asking earlier than some. And some never ask aloud, but ALL adoptees need these answers to be complete in their sense of identity. All adoptees suffer a loss and need it to be recognized, giving them "permission" to grieve their loss. They also need assurance against their natural feelings of rejection and abandonment as they come to understand that being adopted means having been separated from their original family. And, yes, being a family with a biologically connected child does make it harder.

As for the story of Jesus, I would think that would fall apart pretty quickly for anyone who uses it. Any child will soon come to ask - how come Mary, an unwed teen - was able to keep her baby and she didn't have to place it for adoption because she wasn't married and was young? A bright child could also figure out that Jesus' adoption by Joseph was a step parent adoption. Jesus was never separated from his mother! A Huge difference and thus a very bad example!

Moses is my personal favorite adoption story. Yes, it does show that natural ties do continue and are never broken, despite adoption. I think it is very important that this is what the bible shows as a model of adoption. Honor they father and mother apply to adopted persons as well, who have a natural curiosity and a RIGHT to KNOW their original families.

Hopefully Deesha will have answers that are reality based, and will continue to seek more as her daughter grows.

Add you comment.

More UK Forced Adoptions

In November, I posted a case of a learning disabled couple fearing loss of their unborn child to Britain's forced adoptions.

This story gives no reason whatsoever for the same occurrence.

A Suffolk couple have been forced to flee the UK rather than take the risk of losing their unborn child. Talking to a leading British newspaper the couple said that they had already lost their nine week old daughter when the Social Services declared them to be unfit parents.

They said that their lives were totally destroyed when Suffolk Social Services simply took their daughter into care while they were physically restrained by the police. Her removal came about despite there being no allegations against their fitness to bring her up.  They have subsequently been allowed no contact with her or with her adoptive parents which they find to be absolutely heartbreaking.

The action taken by the Social services has led the pair to believe that the Suffolk council officials will act again immediately the mother gives birth in the early part of next year.

Speaking from their temporary home, a rented flat in Algorfa which is being paid for by their families, the couple, a 32 year old woman and her 41 year old partner, said that the mother is planning to have her child in a local Spanish hospital. They said that neither of them is prepared to travel back home again because they fear that once in the UK, they will have an order placed on them by Social services preventing them from leaving the country.

The partner is currently fighting the order to take away the nine week old daughter an act that was criticised by the couples local MP, Tim Yeo. He said that the council had kidnapped the child purely to boost their adoption figures. "This council actively seeks opportunities to remove babies from their mothers. Its social work staff do so in a manner which in my view is sometimes tantamount to child kidnapping,” Mr Yea told fellow MPs.

The council, however, refuted the MP’s statement saying that it did not have targets to meet. It was simply following national guidelines and existing legislation provided to the adoption service.
Meanwhile the partner has recently had a telephone conversation with a judge in the Royal Courts of Justice. He said that if their appeal is successful they will go back to the UK like a shot so that the mother can be reunited with her daughter.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Adoption Agency: Comedy Video

Rex Lee (of Entourage fame) stars as Kim Jong-Il in a short film called “The Adoption Agency,” on Will Ferrell’s “Funny or Die” website.

You be the judge.

Together Again: Home for the Holidays (Their REAL Homes!)

Reunion is ultimate reward for families

Sunday, December 27, 2009
Erin Duffy
HAMILTON -- Beaming with pride, Samuel Burrell says he has received the best gift any father can get: After more than a year of separation, he's finally got his son back.

Focusing intently on his plate of macaroni and cheese, little Samuel Burrell, about 18 months old, paid his father and mother, Verona Burrell, little attention.

But his father can't stop smiling.

"This is the best Christmas gift anyone could have," he said.

The Burrells joined about 15 other families from Mercer and Burlington counties who celebrated their togetherness at Dec. 15's "Home for the Holidays" event at the Nottingham Ballroom.

The event, held by the Division of Children and Families (DCF) and the nonprofit Drenk Center, was one of five held in honor of families throughout the state who have been reunited with their children after losing them to foster care.

Kimberly S. Ricketts, the commissioner of the DCF, said such family reunions are much more common than some may think.

According to department statistics, there are currently 8,300 children in the state's foster-care system.

While some may be adopted or moved to different foster homes, 80 percent of kids placed in foster care because of abuse or neglect are eventually reunited with their families, Ricketts said.

"It's the families who wanted it," she said. "If they didn't want it, they wouldn't be here tonight."

Around the gaily decorated ballroom, parents chased after wayward toddlers and snapped pictures of kids sitting on Santa's lap, sharing glimpses of the domesticity that, in some cases, has been achieved only after tough battles.

For many of the parents at the event, it took more than a year to successfully petition for custody after their children were removed from their care by the state Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS).

Burrell, a Trenton resident, said he and little Samuel had been apart since the toddler's birth and were reunited only two months ago.

"Sometimes I felt discouraged, going back and forth to court," he said, "but it was well worth it. It's been a long-awaited blessing."

Ricketts and Harry Marmorstein, president and CEO of the Lester A. Drenk Behavioral Health Center, said the process of reunification is neither easy nor quick for many families.

The Drenk Center, which is headquartered in Hainesport but has offices in Hamilton, has a specific program, Mercer Reunification Services, that focuses on working with local parents whose children have been removed from their homes.

"These folks have worked real hard to get here tonight," Marmorstein said. "It can take a year, 18 months for a family to reunify."

Families often start out with supervised visits at the Drenk Center offices, where therapy sessions and parenting classes are also offered.

From there, families can work toward observation sessions, followed by home visitations. The Drenk Center and DCF typically follow reconnected families for a year, offering support and resources in case families hit rough patches.

The data show that once reunited, families usually stay that way, officials said.

According to 2007 statistics from the Chapin Hall research center at the University of Chicago, approximately 94 percent of New Jersey children reunified with their parents do not suffer substantiated abuse or neglect within 12 months of the reunification.

Parents like Adriana Mendez, from Trenton, and Kywana Edwards, from Asbury Park, said they are just grateful to have a second chance at a life with their kids, especially at holiday times.

"It feels good, because last year I didn't have the chance to spend the holidays with them," said Mendez, speaking through a translator. Mendez is the mother of 1-year-old Hailey and 4-year-old Wesley.

Edwards has four children, including two adopted to other families after being placed in foster care. Blinking back tears, she hoists up 2-year-old Elijah and points across the room to 10-year-old Tramel, with whom she was reunified after two years apart.

Tramel is on the honor roll, she boasts, and says he wants to follow in the footsteps of President Barack Obama one day.

"I'm just grateful to be here, because I did what people thought would never happen," she said. "I'm blessed, so blessed, that's all I can say."

Grandma and Grandson Kept Apart

This is a sad story of loss...of a mother who loses her daughter and son thereafter her husband...and all she has left is a grandson she cherishes.

It is the story of friends of the deceased daughter who asked to adopt the toddler the day his mother died...why eventually did ...and who now deny the grandmother visitation.

It is also a story of how getting lawyers involved exacerbates bad situations and makes them far worse.

Most of all it is a sad, unneccesary tale of tug-of-war with a boy in the middle suffering and losing.  The commenters on this one seem to get it right!

OK DHS Supports Cover-Ups of Abuse

DHS balks at disclosing more records

by: DAVID HARPER World Staff Writer
Friday, December 25, 2009
12/25/2009 4:29:51 AM

The plaintiffs' attorneys in a lawsuit that seeks top-to-bottom reform in the state's child-welfare system say the disclosure of additional records is needed to "ascertain the full extent of the deficiencies" at the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.

However, lawyers for the state counter that the plaintiffs' attorneys are trying to engage in a "fishing expedition" for information, even after they have already received about 600,000 pages of materials related to the case from the defense.

It's the latest dispute in a lawsuit that was filed in February 2008 in federal court in Tulsa. The lawsuit named various DHS officials as defendants and alleged that the agency routinely places children who are in state custody in unsafe situations in which many suffer further abuse and even death.

The original plaintiffs were nine children — who ranged in age from 4 months to 16 years when the complaint was filed — whom the lawsuit alleges suffered in DHS placements.

In May, U.S. District Judge Gregory Frizzell granted the plaintiffs' request to make the lawsuit a class-action case, which expanded the number of potential plaintiffs to about 10,000 children.

Frizzell's ruling was appealed by the defendants to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is considering the issue after hearing oral arguments in Denver last month.

On July 8, Frizzell ended classwide pretrial "discovery" — or exchange of evidence between the parties — while the appeal of his ruling was pending.

The move allowed disclosure of relevant information concerning the original plaintiffs.

The defense claimed in a recent filing that on July 15, "as a gesture of good faith," it produced hundreds of thousands of pages of documents it had "tediously collected and reviewed."

However, the plaintiffs claimed in a Nov. 11 motion that the defense has "refused to provide discovery concerning the improper practices and deficiencies to which the named plaintiffs have been subjected."

Accompanying the plaintiffs' motion were two expert reports. Included in those filings were reports of children in the custody of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services who reportedly were scalded in bath water, sexually molested, beaten with tree switches and belts, and hit in the mouth.

In its response, the defense claims that the November filings by the plaintiffs had "nothing to do with the production of documents and everything to do with creating a media blitz."

The defense claims that the inclusion of the expert reports, which reinforce some of the broader claims in the lawsuit, was a "charade" meant to confuse the court and that the motion itself was an attempt to prematurely begin expensive class-wide discovery at state expense.

The DHS defendants claimed in their response that "the discovery material plaintiffs seek through their motion to compel has already been provided to them."

The plaintiffs countered in their recent reply that what they seek now is relevant to the scope of the danger that the plaintiffs are now facing and also to the issue of whether the defendants are acting with deliberate indifference to that alleged peril.

"It is precisely because additional records are required to make these determinations that the named plaintiffs seek, and are entitled to, the records in question," the plaintiffs' reply claims.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Who and What is "Relative"?

Judge Will Sentence Disgustingly Abusive Adopters

Andee Verlon Tyler, 51, and his wife, Penny Tyler, 46, along with their son, Ashton Malachi Tyler, 20, on Wednesday pleaded no contest and waived their right to a preliminary hearing in Major County District Court.

The two elder Tylers face felony child abuse charges for the alleged abuse of their adopted 11-year-old Liberian daughter. Ashton Tyler is accused of sexually assaulting his adopted sister and is charged with rape by instrumentation.

The Tylers’ daughter, NathaniaTyler, 21, also was accused in the case. She pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor count of assault and battery.

The family is scheduled to appear in court for sentencing at 1:30 p.m. Jan 29.

Assistant District Attorney Tim Haworth said a judge will decide the Tylers’ punishment.
"We’ve said all along there would be no plea bargain in this case, leaving them few options outside going to trial,” Haworth said. "They’ve chose to blind plea and let a judge decide their fate.”

The girl, now 13, has been living out of state with relatives.
[Relatives of these perverts?  Uh, the word "relative" means related by blood or marriage. None of thosee people fit the description!]  

Haworth declined to say if her four Liberian sisters, also adopted by the Tylers, remained in their adoptive parents’ home. [Ya' gotta be kidding!]

The five sisters were adopted in 2005 from a Liberian orphanage operated by the West African Children Support Network, The Oklahoman found.

Haworth said the outcome of the criminal case could affect a pending deprived juvenile case being battled over the girls in family court.

"Obviously, if their parents are incarcerated, something will happen to the girls,” Haworth said, adding there would be no custody change until the criminal case is resolved.

An officer with a National Association for the Advancement of Colored People chapter claims the girl and her sisters, ranging from 5 to 15, are victims of a child slavery scam.

Angela Molette, president of the Garfield County NAACP, compiled a 28-page report and alleges the children are part of an international child trafficking operation where Americans buy children to turn into slaves.

Molette alleges the Tylers paid $30,000 to $40,000 for the children, and got financial help from their church for the adoption.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Equal Access Letter in Print

Pass the New Jersey Adoptees' Birthright Bill (A-752).

New Jersey's adopted citizens are discriminated against and denied the simple human right to look at their own birth certificates -- a right all others take for granted.The time has more than come to rectify this miscarriage of justice.

The multibillion-dollar adoption industry perpetrates the myth that mothers who relinquished were promised anonymity from their children. Mothers, however, support the human civil rights of adopted children.

For the very small minority who do not seek contact, just say no. If that doesn't work, there are sufficient laws to protect anyone from unwanted contact. Adoptees and their original families need no special, additional "protection" from one another. What they need is equality and a return of their civil rights that have been denied to them since the 1940s.

How can we promote adoption and tell mothers that placing a child for adoption is a loving act if we continue to discriminate against adoptees and their mothers and treat them as second-class and suspect people? How can we tell any mother that it is in her child's best interest to be denied knowing the truth and any chance of knowing his or her medical history? How can we expect mothers to agree to never know their child is well?

New Jersey, get on track. Stop discriminating against people for having been adopted. Let these adults decide who they want in their lives and who they don't. Family genealogy and interactions between adults -- or not -- are personal choices, and should not be legal issues.

Mirah Riben

Also at

Guatemala: A Baby Factory?

“We were a baby factory,” said Marilys Barrientos de Estrada, a director of the governmental agency created to oversee the process. “That’s how the international community saw us and that’s what we were.

“People said Guatemalans don’t want to adopt, and they certainly don’t want to adopt other Guatemalans. This breaks that myth,” Solorzano said. “Guatemalans did want to adopt. They just couldn’t compete financially with Americans.”

Read the full story.

And don't miss the comments, which hopefully will include mine, once it's screened.

The Transnational Adoption Divide: Pro and Con

In the aftermath of the arrest of Guatemalan adoption attorney Susana Luarca (aka Susana de Umana aka Susana Maria Luarca Saracho, Kevin, the moderator of Guatadopt email list writes of being caught in the middle of many debates on the issues:

I am an adoption advocate. I believe in the institution of intercountry adoption. I believe it to be a wonderful thing that is one tiny piece of the puzzle to providing for the world’s children in need. And at the same time, it does allow the joys of parenthood to people like myself. Whether or not our primary motivation for adopting was humanitarian in nature is irrelevant. And I’m the first to admit it was not for my wife and me. I take no shame in that....
...I have come to learn is that with Guatemalan adoptions there is evil and corruption everywhere. Every side and faction seems to have its own agenda.
These are two teeny excerpts from a long piece which I hope you will read which pits those who believe in and support human rights advocate Norma Cruz against supporters of adoption attorney Susana.

The following is my reply, which may or may not be posted:

Adoption, in particular transnational adoption, is becoming as polarized as abortion with strong opinion pro and con.  I know fare less about Susana than most on the Guatadopt list and will thus not comment on it except to say that in many arrests there re plenty of those who believed and supported the criminal (think Madeoff) and family, friends, neighbors and associates shocked in disbelief that the person they knew as a kind hearted person could be capable of anything untoward – let alone horrendously shocking crimes against children.

Many of you have a knee jerk reaction to my name. I am considered by many a radical. In this divisive arena I am labeled anti-adoption. What I am is a pro-family human rights advocates with a concentration on the rights of mothers and children. I thus advocate for the right of every child to remain with or at worst know his original kin and heritage. My position on transnational adoption is in keeping with that of UNICEF and other NGOs who have no profit motive for their positions. If I am radical, so are these child welfare experts with no ulterior motivation.

What I see from that perspective are entrepreneurs both here and abroad whose livelihood is dependent upon the redistribution of children, who refute the opinions of those child welfare experts and engage in hyperbole and willful exaggeration of facts such as the number of truly orphaned children worldwide.  People like Professor Bartholet who presses for more and more adoption and the opening of countries who have shut down temporarily or longer to stem documented corruption.

Bartholet professes, in the title of one of her articles, to claim “the” human rights position is to keep internationals flowing. So extreme in her pro-adoption position is she that she does not even claim it as “a” human rights position, but rather “the.” (In this same piece she actually defends baby selling as Ok because it is done in surrogacy.)

Beyond the money-makers and those who lobby and market for them, I see too people who are desperate to parent at any cost who, as human nature would have it, hear and believe what they want to hear and believe. People who even after they hear that their own adoption may have been quasi fraudulent or the mother of their child deceived, refuse to believe or feel badly but do little about it. There are the rare exceptions such as Jennifer Hemsley. Julia Rollings, David and Desiree Smolins.  They make headlines. They work to change the system. But is the media demanding the return of the Guatemalan or Indian children as they are the demand of Goldman’s boy…the son of a white American?

Money is power. In adoption all of that is in the hands of those who adopt. The sad truth is that demand creates the supply. The truth is that the children who “languish’ and are used to tug at the heartstrings of prospective adopter sand the public are by and large not being adopted and we know it!  The “special needs” kids USED to get our government to support tax credits for adoption are being left behind here and abroad while those tax dollars are going to support transnational adoptions which may or may not involve falsified DNA, kidnapping or any other violations.

From my perspective as an advocate for mothers and children I see all the money and all the power in the hands of those with an agenda to separate those families in order to recreate their own. Even in domestic adoption, as I recently presented at the PLA in NYC, the vast majority of voluntarily relinquishing mother have no legal counsel and those who do have representation paid for by those seeking to adopt her child – a dual representation and conflict of interest not allowed in any other legal situation.

There is n level playing field in adoption. There are have and have nots. There are winners and losers. 

Now, one can argue that the end justify the means because adoption moves children from lower to higher economic status.  Each adopter needs to frame his or her own moral conscious as to how far they are willing to use that justification. The fact is that it is impossible for the most humanitarian adopters, using what they believe to be the most honorable and reputable adoption agency, to be immune to winding up as the Smolins and Rolllings found themselves.

Money greases the wheels. Without demand there is no profit in adoption, Without profit there is no corruption.  Until people are willing to make sacrifices for the greater good, I see no end in site.  What I see is one scandal after another. We shake our heads and wring our hands and say “How could this happen” and then go back to our ethnocentric lives believing that in the “majority” of cases adoption is a good thing and we should not let these “anomalies” stop it.

However, EVERY adoption begins with a tragedy; a crisis that 99.9% of the time is temporary, preventable and repairable by means other than taking children form their families, their heritage and their culture to meet a demand.  We need to recognize that our humanitarian desires are misplaced in the taking of children one by one because it does nothing to ameliorate the poverty of the family, the village or the nation and that the $20-$0k spent on that one adoption could do far better in so many other ways through organizations such as SOS Children’s Village or Save The Children. And when you multiply the av. Cost of $30k by 20,000 transnational adoptions per year into the U.S. you see a bit more foreign aid and human services that could be provided.  And when you look at nations who have stopped allowing their children to be sent overseas and built family preservation and domestic adoptions programs, you see hope. 

Am I an idealist? You betcha! I think every child deserves the best…the best chance to thrive with his family not to be snatched from them because of their poverty. Kevin says he too believes poverty should not be a cause of adoption loss. We need to put our actions – and our money – where those goals are and not just provide lip service and justification to continue the flow of children to meet a demand for them.

As Kevin said “Whether or not our primary motivation for adopting was humanitarian in nature is irrelevant.” And as difficult as it is, we need to face the fact that there is no right or entitlement of anyone to adopt. We need to face the lies we love to believe – the lies that are perpetrated by those who prey on the desperation of those seeking to adopt as much as they prey on poor mothers.  They stand in the middle and make one’s person’s misery and loss another’s joy…and their bread and butter. 

I don’t know the case against Susana. I know she is a in the end a business woman and Norma Cruz is not.  Neither may be all saint or all sinner, I don’t know if any of us are. We are all human and no doubt an activist like Norma Cruz would emphasize the negatives and others emphasize the positive. Are all adoptions bad, of course not!  Are all good, of course not.

When we stand in the middle and look to the right and look to the left of this polarizing debate – with some saying children will languish in institutions without more international adoption and bemoan the slow-downed rate - I ask you to consider one factor: follow the money.

PS Being an idealist, I of course take the position tat one kidnapping is one too many. Every kidnapping allegation needs to be investigated fully and if proven, children need to be returned to their parents. I further believe that all transnational adoptions must be a last resort with family preservation number one, extended family two and domestic adoption a realistic option before it is considered and without having to compete with foreign dollars.  No adoptions - domestic or transnational - will be free from corruption as long as there is profit to be made in such placements. All who are committed to "ethical" adoptions needs to step up and commit to profit-fee adoption.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

NJ Adopted 5-year Old Shot to Death

Daron and his 6-year-old brother were watching television Sunday when they found a gun in their home, police said. The elder brother fired the gun, hitting Daron in the back of the head, and he died a short time later at St. Joseph's Hospital in Paterson.

The gun belonged, illegally, to their adult brother, 23-year-old Jalik Jones, a convicted felon, who had moved back into her house, according to a report by the state's child services agency.

According to a report the state's Department of Children and Families released this week, Daron's mother, identified in news reports as Margaret Mayes, finalized the adoption of Daron and two other children at the end of October. They joined two of Mayes' biological children in the home.

The report faults Mayes for not telling the Division of Youth and Family Services that Jones had moved back into the Patterson  NJ house, saying she "placed Daron and her other minor children at risk after violating her adoption agreement by not notifying DYFS another adult had moved in the home prior to Daron's adoption finalization."

Since the shooting, Mayes' other four children have been placed with a relative, according to the report. They include two girls aged 3 and 9, the 6-year-old boy and a 15-year-old boy.

Kate Bernyk, a spokeswoman for DYFS, said Thursday that prospective adoptive parents are required to list any other adults that live in their home so that the agency can interview them and conduct a background check.

Jones served about five months in state prison for theft this year and was released in July. It was not known when he moved into Mayes' house.

Bernyk said that because the adoption was finalized, Mayes has the same rights as a biological parent. She said even though the state removed the children after the shooting, DYFS would try to have the children placed back in the home.

"Our goal is always reunification," she said.  [What about reconciliation with their original families?]

Police have not charged Mayes. Several phone numbers listed under her name in Paterson were disconnected Thursday. It was not known if Jones had retained an attorney, and the Passaic County Prosecutor's Office did not return a phone message Thursday seeking comment.

Authorities have said Jones was not home at the time of the shooting.

Guns don't shoot people?

And I'll bet ya' dollars to donuts these were all subsidized adoptions.

Another Christmas Wish

Norma Cruz: Person of the Year

By Alberto Ramírez E./Pensa Libre
December 15, 2009
Automatic translation from original Spanish article

Norma Cruz, president of Fundación Sobrevivientes, was nominated as a candidate for Prensa Libre's Person of the Year 2009, for her struggle for female victims of violence, the recovery of children abducted or illegally handed over for adoption, and because she is a tireless fighter against impunity.

She said that awards like the People of the Year nomination for her work strengthen her work on behalf of unprotected women.

Cruz is a woman of small stature, thin, physically she looks weak, but she has a look and an attitude that expresses determination and energy.

Cruz was known in Spain earlier this year upon the  introduction of the documentary "Un cambio en la mirada", which denounces the situation of impunity in Guatemala and a staggering one thousand 200 women and girls murdered in the previous two years .

In this work, Cruz highlights why she became an activist for the rights of females. In her own home she suffered the horror of knowing that her daughter had been sexually abused.

For that crusade for women's rights and the defense of victims of violence, Hillary Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State, awarded the International Prize for Women of Courage to Cruz, during a ceremony held in Washington last March.

On that occasion she was honored as an outstanding women in the Americas, along with seven other activists from other regions. 11 days ago the news paper El Pais in Spain, chose to Cruz as Latin American person of the year.

Cruz's strength grew this year, and Fundación Sobrevivientes asked the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) to investigate four criminal judges favor lawyers and doctors accused of stealing children and dealing in illegal adoptions, last March.

Fasting for justice

Cruz through the Fundación Sobrevivientes, achieved in March this year the Ministry of Government offered a reward of Q100 thousand for information about Angelina Hernandez Rodriguez, who was stolen in 2006, when he was 2 years old.

Two months later, the girl was located in the U.S. and found that she was given up for adoption to an American couple in an abnormal process involving lawyers and judges.

Given the slowness of the authorities in the case of Angelina and three others, Cruz, accompanied by the mothers of the little victims, held a hunger strike outside the Supreme Court.

After 10 days of fasting she was able to initiate court proceedings for annulment of such adoptions, which have not yet been resolved.

Last April, the foundation, which has become plaintiffs, secured a conviction and eight years' imprisonment for four women and a man, responsible for the theft of a girl in Area 2, given up for an illegal adoption.

Questions to lawyers

In April, the group around Cruz presented a list of lawyers who performed illegal adoptions, to make sure they were excluded for nomination of candidates for judges of the Supreme Court and Appeals.

She also accompanied the families of two young people involved in the case against Deputy Paul Gomez Cristiani, who is accused of corruption of minors.

Cruz and the families of the children reported being victims of pressure from lawyers of the legislature to desist from lawsuits.

She also advised Aura Suruy, mother of Wendy, 12 years, Diana, 8, and Heidi, 7, killed last May in San Lucas Sacatepequez.

Cruz and Suruy faced death threats from the three accused of the deed, but still prevented from leaving prison, since the accused claimed that they changed the offense. The case is still in process.

Cruz says her greatest satisfaction is that those responsible for stealing children or sexually abusing minors pay their misdeeds in prison.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Reunion is Bases of New TV Drama Series

 CW is premiering a new series January 18 entitled Life Unexpected. View trailer.

After spending all of her 15 years bouncing from one foster family to another in Portland, Oregon, Lux (Britt Robertson, "Swingtown") has decided it's time to take control of her life and become an emancipated minor.

Her journey through the legal maze leads Lux to her biological father, 30-something Nate "Baze" Bazile (Kristoffer Polaha, "Mad Men"), who owns a bar, lives like an aging frat-boy with two slacker roommates, and is astonished to learn that he has a teenage daughter.

Lux is equally astonished when Baze reveals that her mother is Cate Cassidy (Shiri Appleby, "E.R."), a star on the local "Morning Madness" radio show, along with her on-air partner and real-life boyfriend, Ryan Thomas (Kerr Smith, "Eli Stone"). Lux has been listening to Cate's voice on the radio as long as she can remember, so she feels an instant connection with the mom she's never met.

The teen meets tbe couple who decided on adoption while they were both in high school, in what is being called a follow-up to Juno.

Baze takes Lux to meet Cate, who is shocked and saddened to learn that Lux, a beautiful blonde, has grown up in foster care, but thrilled to finally meet her beautiful daughter. When a judge decides that Lux isn't ready for emancipation and unexpectedly grants temporary joint custody to Baze and Cate, they agree to try to get past the awkwardness and make a belated attempt to give Lux the family she deserves.

The unlilkely life in foster care allows writers to creeate reunion scripts without dealing tih adoptive parents dramas. The same technigue was used in August Rush, the over-the-top melodramatic film about the child music prodigy.  It allows the audience to totally root for the reunited family without any loyalty battles.

Beceause this is a series, no doubt tales of abuseive foster carers may be slowly revealed as well.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Expected Increase in Adoption Losses Has Not Happened!

Some are disappointed. Others surprised.

All indicators suggested that the downturn in the economy would translate into no upturn in adoption placements.

Now theorists are trying to figure out why.

No one in this NY Times report seems to see it as a good thing, however....except me...and you?

Ontario Disallowed Father's Names

An issue of great concern for my colleagues at the Canadian Council of Natural Mothers CCNM is that when mothers relinquished, and gave the father's name, wrote it in on the forms for the birth certificate - it was deleted, whited out, expunged.

Now that the records have been opened, adoptees are finding their mother sbut not fathers.

Karen Lynn of CCNM says they went to great extent with photo copying secions of the forms that were whited out so that the dotted line she KNOWS she wrot eon appears to be in tact!

Apparently, the law, up until 1986, forbade listing the father's name on birth registries or adoption papers for children of unmarried mothers unless both mother and father demanded it.  So only some 10% of those documents identify a father.

Adoptees Sent Back Because of Alleged Visa Fraud

The U.S. has set another precedent based on the Hague in sending two sisters: Komal and Shallu back to India, three years after being adopted by a Minnesota couple.

The couple was told the girls were 12 and 15. The older girl displayed disruptive, acting out, angry behavior and the mother thought she seemed older than 15 so took her to doctors to test her theory. She alleges that the girls are 15 and 21 and based on that and that the agency committed fraud, the girls were sent back. Full story here.

Obviously, had she been more obedient, this would not have happened. Was this a terminated adoption because the children didn't "bond" and behave as expected?

It is most interesting that when the U.S. adoptive parents are pressing the issue and unhappy with their "goods" they received - perhaps not as represented -  the government steps in and calls it VISA FRAUD!  Yet the Government does nothing when the complaints are coming from the parents whose children were stolen!
Note that in both cases, fraudulent Visas may have been issued. 

This case was decided based on age testing which is far less conclusive that the DNA testing to confirm or deny kidnappings. 

Recently, at the Practising Law Center conference, I heard Pat O'Brien of "You Gotta Beleive!" an organization advocating for aging-out "emancipated" foster kids. Pat tries to find them families. He said many of the families he interviews say of their foster kids "I would keep Johnny forever" as a foster child but are reluctant to adopt.  The litmus test he uses to test their commitment is asking them:
What can your child to to stop being a member of your family?  REAL parents, know the answer is absolutely nothing!  Even if one of your children were hurting other of your children (not claimed in this case), you'd get him the help he needed but you'd never get rid of him entirely!

The Melichars are suing the adoption agency for $50,000.

Are they really the wounded parties here?  If it is true that the girls were much odler than claimed, the girls say they were told to lie. The agency denies it, of course.

Adoption and Inheritance Rights

In the comments on the previous post re Customary Adoption, the isue arose about inheritance rights  between natural family members subsequent to termination of parental rights and adoption.  So, here it is per Child Welfare Information Gateway:

    *  Alaska, Idaho, Illinois, and Maine provide for a continuation of inheritance rights if stated in the adoption decree.
(IF STATED - how many mothers losing their rights know what?)

    * In Kansas, Louisiana, Rhode Island, Texas, and Wyoming, an adoption decree terminates the right of the birth parent to inherit from the adopted person, but the adopted person may still inherit from the birth parent.

    * In Colorado, if there are no other heirs, the adopted child may file a claim against the estate of the birth parent within 90 days of the parent's death.

    * Illinois allows the birth parents to acquire from the adopted child's estate any property gained from them through gift, will, or under intestate laws.

    * In Pennsylvania, an adopted person may inherit from the estate of a birth relative, other than a birth parent, who has maintained a family relationship with the adopted person.

Of course, subsequent to reunion, or knowing the identity of a child you've lost to adoption, they can be included in your will IN ANY STATE.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


to all... 

Holiday Cheer
(click link)

Customary Adoption

In past posts, I have discussed simple adoption...adoption without falsified birth certificates and without eradicating the past, the truth, heritage in order to provide alternative family care for children in needs.

Simple adoption, also known as "adoption simple," based on the Napoleonic code; present in some countries in Latin America and former French colonies.

A simple adoption does not lead to a complete dissolution of the ties with the biological family and corresponds most closely to INFORMAL ADOPTION or legal guardianship in the United States. Simple adoption is differentiated from informal adoption in that legal action must be taken to achieve the simple adoption. This and other old approaches are receiving new attention in the United States by some influential people in the field of adoption, notably Reuben Pannor and Annette Baran, who have called for their equivalents to be established in the United States.

Adoption without the termination of parental rights is not a pie-in-the-sky impossible dream. It exists, and not in some remote island nation.  It exists right here in the U.S.A.!

Native Americans have long practiced that does not terminate the rights of the original family.  In a customary adoption, tribes are allowed to meet the permanency needs of their children while honoring their own tribal values and beliefs.

Customary adoptions may include a ceremony or process, considered by the tribe to be binding, that gives the child a new legally recognized permanent parent while still retaining the birth parents, relatives, and other significant people in the child's kinship network.

For more information see these links: Child Welfare Information Gateway and National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA).

Have you seen the M&Ms TV commercial whre the candy sees Santa Claus and says "He does exist!"... well, the model for humane child-centered adoption clearly exists!   

Orphanages Not So Bad, After All

Yesterday, I was on a panel at the Practising Law Center in NY, addressing fees and ethics in adoption.

Also there was Prof Bartholet who seeks to make laws "adoption friendly" [are their laws that aren't?] with her pro-adoption rhetoric. She and one of her colleagues, Dr. Jane Aaronson, founder of World Wide (WWO) Orphan Foundation, have most incredibly expanded the definition of orphan to include children with no families or from "families at risk."

Aaronson stated at the PLI conference yesterday that there are 143M orphans, "some living with families who are destitute or impoverished."  (Poverty = being an "orphan" ! ? !)

Aaronson also speaks about the "deleterious effects of the Hague."

The mission of WWO is:

To transform the lives of orphaned children by taking them out of anonymity and helping them become healthy, independent, productive members of their communities and the world.

This mirrors Bartholet's use of terms such as "parentless" chidren when describing children in orhanages, such as those adopted by Madonna - adoptions which Bartholet, who also rationalizes and justifes baby selling, supported.

Interestingly, a new study reveals orphanages can be a 'viable option.'

"Children who live in orphanages fare as well or better than those in family homes," reports a Duke University study that tracked more than 3,000 children in five Asian and African countries.

The study, released today, is touted as one of the most comprehensive ever done on orphans. Orphaned and abandoned children ages 6-12 were evaluated over a three-year period in 83 institutions and 311 families in Cambodia, Ethiopia, India, Kenya and Tanzania. Those in institutions had significantly better health scores, lower prevalence of recent sickness and fewer emotional problems.

"Our research is not saying that institutions are better. What we found is that institutions may be a viable option for some kids," says study leader Kathryn Whetten, director of the Center for Health Policy at the Duke Global Health Institute. She says what matters most is the caregiving.

The study's findings contrast with U.S. and international child-welfare policies that strongly favor family placement over institutional care for orphaned or abandoned children.

In the U.S., group homes and other forms of institutional care exist, but they are no longer called orphanages. They housed about 16% of the 463,000 children in foster care in September 2008, according to the most recent data available from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

"Institutional care is not always Dickensonian," says Richard McKenzie, an economics professor at the University of California-Irvine. He lived in a North Carolina orphanage from age 10 to 18 and wrote a memoir about his mostly positive experience.

McKenzie says the Duke study debunks the myth that families are the better choice. He says some foster care kids are abused or bounced from home to home.

The study does not apply to U.S. foster care, says Olivia Golden, who studies child and family programs at the Urban Institute, a research group. She says the U.S., unlike some poorer countries, provides schooling and health insurance to its foster care kids and tries, in addition, to find them families so they can thrive.

Golden says research on child development shows that children, especially very young ones, benefit from having a consistent caregiver.

The Duke study, published in the peer-reviewed journal PloS ONE, was funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Development.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Precedent Set In International Custody Case

A U.S. Congressman says a Brazilian court has ordered a 9-year-old who has lived there for the last five years to be handed over to his father and returned to New Jersey.

U.S. Rep. Chris Smith says a court meeting in a closed session Wednesday in Rio de Janeiro ruled 3-0 that the Sean Goldman should be handed over to his father, David, at a U.S. Embassy on Friday.

Goldman has been trying to have his son returned since his wife took the child to her native Brazil in 2004, saying she's be back in two weeks. She divorced him there, remarried, and then died in childbirth last year.

Her Brazilian husband argued that he should have custody.

A federal court on Wednesday agreed with Goldman that the boy belongs in New Jersey under an international treaty governing cross-border child abductions.

This occurred because of international treaties that demand cooperation in child custody cases...NOW, if the U.S. would just abide by the same treaties regarding kidnapped Guatemalan and Indian children living here.

Confirmed Arrest Report out of Guatemala

In October 2007 The PGN (Procuraduría General de la Nación) denounced lawyer Susana Luarca Saracho for allegedly trying to steal an 11 month old girl. The girl's parents said they were forced to give up their baby because they had received money from Luarca, who threatened them with violence when they did not want to give her their child.

It is now alleged confirmed (!) that Saracho has been arrested.

I am receiving lots of CHEERING emails from Guatemala. It's been on guatevision.

Norma Cruz and the Survivors Foundation are receiving good publicity. I am told a march is being planned but "Safety for the women who in a sense are the evidence against Luarca remains a concern."

The Survivors Foundations sends this message:

We appreciate that the prosecution of human trafficking prosecutors,acting upon the law to these facts, we ask people the solidarity and speak out in favor of eradicating impunity in Guatemala and to stop the marketing of children Guatemalans.
It asks the competent authorities of the judiciary to follow due process, implement the principles of speed, promptness,efficiency and above all justice.
Guatemala, 16 December 2009.

9 Avenida 9-44 ZONA1
GRADUATE Pellecer Cesar Barrientos, CHAIRMAN OF THE
9 Avenida 9-44 Zona 1

One Man's Sorrow - Another's Pleasure?

Yesterday, I posted that, sadly, financial problems are causing more Taiwanese families to self destruct.  The state of the economy here at home and worldwide is placing a strain on individuals and families in many ways from losing their jobs, their homes and for some their chidlren.  It is nothing short of tragic when people are so desperate that they are forced to hand over their flesh and blood offspring.

Now, perhaps it is just me.  Perhaps I am unfairly reading "tone" into a blog post. I am sure, it was unintended.  Tou decide.

Please read: "Number of Chinese kids Up for Adoption on the Rise" at Babble, a popular parenting site.

For me, the tone of this post sounds upbeat about this news. More babies. Goody!

I find it interesting that it neglects to mention the major point made in the announcement of this increase by Taiwan Child Welfare

“Nearly 90 percent of the parents who phoned the Child Welfare League Foundation to ask about putting their children up for adoption between 2003-2008 did so due to financial problems, foundation spokesman Chen Ya-hui said, citing statistics compiled by the foundation.

“The number of phone calls made to the foundation for this purpose posed a significant 55 percent rise over the past five years, increasing from 495 cases in 2003 to 770 in 2008, according to Chen.

“For the first 10 months of this year, the foundation accepted 511 phone calls on the issue, an average of 1.7 calls daily, the statistics show.

“Eighty-seven percent of those who made the calls did so because of financial difficulties, representing a remarkable surge from 50 percent in January 2008 to 96 percent in September of the same year, with the percentage reaching 100 percent in January, March and June 2009, according to Chen.”

The omission of that crucial part of this story — the tragedy causes families to need to lose their children — very telling.That's what the story out of Taiwan was all about and yet all this bog post has to say about it is that there are more babies "available" for adoption!

Reaping the spoils of family destruction and loss puts a vulture-like spin on adoption.

I have always recognized that infertility is a grievous loss. But we have also lost and so too are these families. How can you "cure" your loss at the expense of another's?  Or does their poverty justify it?

It almost makes me wonder if people lose all of their compassion when they lose their ability to procreate.

I wonder too if people in need of organ transplants sit around wishing for plane crashes or other diasters that will leave people dead swith lots of "spare parts"?  Some TV medical dramas suggest those who care people in such need do.

What do you think?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Merry Christmas

"...because there was no room for them in the inn."  Luke 2:7

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. 
[4] So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. [5] He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. [6] While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, [7] and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
  • Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth, four days journey north of Bethlehem.
  • Mary was pregnant. A journey late in pregnancy is arduous for her. But if she stays in Nazareth she has to face scandal alone. 
  • An arduous journey in winter; a pregnant teenage mom. 

Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.  

Mary and Joseph came into town with Mary ready to deliver. We are told that Joseph went to Bethlehem to register for the census - as all had been ordered to do -  in his own town.

We are also told that Joseph was a descendant of King David, whose home town was Bethlehem. The authorities would want each person to return to the place they were already listed as having property or assets. This suggests that Joseph was born in Bethlehem and had family and assets there.

Arriving at Joseph's ancestral home, it is said that they found it already full of other family members who had arrived earlier. While the exact reason space was not made for a pregnant woman is unknown. Did the elder members of Joseph's family have priority?  Or were mary and Joseph chastised for her pregnancy and "early" delivery? Were they ashamed and not wanting to admit the truth?  Perhaps they were even too ashamed to go to any of his relatives.

Was Mary - like so many women who conceived "out of wedlock" after her - SHUNNED to protect Joseph's family - the House of David - from shame?

In any event, they came to an inn - a place of lodging. But again, because so many had come for the census their was no room left except in the barn.

Some renditions of the story conjure up images of the couple going from inn to inn only to have the owners barking at them to go away and slamming the door on this man of aristocratic lineage and his beautiful, expecting bride.

Wouldn't supporting all unwed mothers and bringing gifts to those who are homeless be wonderful and approriate Christmas tradition? 

Worse Than a Death

"I can truly tell you it was worse than a death because at least with a death you can closure you don't have to worry about where their at or think about where they are or how they are. And we always have to think about that."

Sounds very familiar to those of us who lost our children to adoption. We know this pain and angst. Those of us who carried out child for nine month. Felt it kick. Labored, birthed and knew out child carried our DNA. We know this all too well.

But the quote above was spoken by a woman who "knew" a set of twins for TWO WEEKS...twins that were totally unrelated to her.  Her input into their lives was payment.

Infertile, Scott and Amy Kehoe, purchased eggs and sperm and hired a human womb to carry the creation for them.

And imagine the nerve of the "surrogate" rent-a-womb canceled the contract when she dcvovered that
Amy Kehow has admitted to "being treated for an undiagnosed mental disorder.

This all happened in Michigan which does not recognize surrogacy,so the court ordered the twins returned to their non-biologically connected carrier mother, calling her their birth mother.

Oddly, as I am typing this Sarah Jessica Parker is on Letterman hawking her new movie.  She brought photos of her now 6-month old twins carried by a surrogate. She is saying that one of the twins and her son, age 7, look alike?  Were they produced with her genetic material? Her husband's. Did she birth her son?

No, I do not think biology is everything. I think buying genetic material and surrogacy are creepy and in most cases totally disregard the rights and future health concerns of the children being created.

Money Determines Adoption Losers and Winners

Financial woes are driving more people to consider placing a child, and to go through with that plan. This is true here in the U.S. and a sharp increase has also been reported in Taiwan.

More and more parents have considered putting their children up for adoption over the past five years, mainly because of financial difficulties, a child welfare foundation in Taiwan reported.

Nearly 90 percent of the parents who phoned the Child Welfare League Foundation to ask about putting their children up for adoption between 2003-2008 did so due to financial problems, foundation spokesman Chen Ya-hui said, citing statistics compiled by the foundation.

The number of phone calls made to the foundation for this purpose posed a significant 55 percent rise over the past five years, increasing from 495 cases in 2003 to 770 in 2008, according to Chen.
For the first 10 months of this year, the foundation accepted 511 phone calls on the issue, an average of 1.7 calls daily, the statistics show.

Eighty-seven percent of those who made the calls did so because of financial difficulties, representing a remarkable surge from 50 percent in January 2008 to 96 percent in September of the same year, with the percentage reaching 100 percent in January, March and June 2009, according to Chen.
According to data collected by the foundation, another reason for children being given up for adoption was because they were born to underage parents. About 23 percent of children put up for adoption had one parent under the age of 20, Chen said.

It is usually more difficult for sick children, those aged over 3 and children of drug-addicts to find suitable parents willing to adopt them, Chen added.

Monday, December 14, 2009


Turn up the volume and enjoy!

"Find My Family" Reignites Old Cliches and Who's The Mother Battle Lines

I posted on Dec 7 about the ABC show "Find My Family" and pondered with others why adoptive parents felt it exploitive.

One adoptive mother has posted on Adopt-a-Tude an in depth reaction to the program - and to reunions in general - including why she feels it exploitive and much, much more.  It apparently is also being discussed at MotherLode, and one reviewer called the show "grotesque."

Here are some excerpts:

I understood too the longing: "I deserve to see where I came from." And sadly, as a single mom raising a daughter who's an only child, I've spent more than a few sleepless nights worrying whether my daughter will feel "alone in the world"—as more than one adoptee on the show articulated. In truth, the show made me long all the more for the possibility that my daughter might someday find and connect with her Chinese kin.

So, on the one hand, the show made me question again the wisdom of closed adoptions. The bottom line is blood relations are family. You don't cease being "family" just because you're not there. Adopted or not, we all have far-flung family members. Is there a draw there? The possibility for that sense of kindred connection? I'd be lying if I said no.....

In the meantime, as much as I feel sympathetic to the pain articulated by the adult adoptees and birth mothers in Find My Family, I'm also an adoptive parent and—I’m human. So while I understand the deep-seated need to discover the connection and sense of belonging that comes from blood ties, from the sense of having been molded from the same clay, there is another part of me, in my head, in my heart, that feels there are things about Find My Family that are one-sided, superficial, and potentially exploitative....

Lisa then she goes into the old cliches that parenting "is about being there, day in and day out, year in and year out, through the good, the bad, the sick, the rebellious, and ugly" yada yada.  DNA is cast aside and the "babysitter" cliche dragged back out.   She concludes with: "when the Find My Family hosts and adoptees kept saying, "That's your mother" and "We found your mother" and "We found your family"—as if these adoptees were still orphaned and alone in the world—I couldn't help but cringe.....The bottom line for me is that, as an adoptive parent, the show made me feel incredibly invisible [emphasis added]."

The flowing is my reply. I encourage you to read her post in full and add your own comments.


I appreciate your articulate honesty. What I get the sense of, as I read your reactions, is a huge dichotomy - a conflicting duality of feelings.

You say you understand and agree with the AAC statement and feel the pain of loss and the need to connect of adoptees, yet… you feel left out, as if a reunion would cast you aside as a babysitter...a not an uncommon concern of adoptive parents, albeit an irrational fear.

I have been involved in thousands of reunions and read about a thousand more over the past 30 years.  As for the “statistical results” you long to see, they are all over the place, like any interpersonal relationships, prime example being marriage. Are marriages good or bad? Are married people happy, content or not? Is marriage stable, secure and faithful? The answer, of course, is that some are and some aren't, and there are all degrees of happiness and contentment and all kinds of arrangements within the framework of marriage.

Reunions, like any other relationships, are as unique as the people in them.

Adoptive parents are not included in reunions because it is not about them! You no more belong at your daughter's reunion than you do on her honeymoon! Interestingly, however, the one episode I saw - the one with Ashley who finds a brother and sister - they DO show her siblings visiting her at her adoptive parents home. This is as it should be. These are now extended family members and should be welcomed as any other extended family.

Lisa, it is not the sweat equity which makes you feel angry - it is your fear and your insecurity that blood really is thicker than water. It’s your insecurity that this child is NOT blood related to you as you would like her to be; did not come from your body and does not have your DNA. These are YOUR issues and ones you need help to overcome so that you do not inflict them on your child and create feelings of indebtedness and gratitude on top of those you already recognize: the abandonment and identity issues.

What troubles you the most was the show referring to the original mothers and father and siblings of the adoptees as what they ARE: mother, father, sisters and brothers. We need no more fight for such linguistic titles as we need to fight over the children themselves. To truly love an adopted child is to love, accept and embrace fully all of her kin. That’s what they are and the fact of her adoption does not re-write that biological truth of kinship no more than it changed her hair color.  Have the confidence to believe that the "sweat equity" you put by in by virtue of being able to "be there” in ways that your child’s original mother was not, is shared by your daughter.

A mother is always a mother – even if one subsequently acquires a step-mother or if your mother dies. She is still your mother. She may be loved dearly or not. Some people feel far more attachment to a step-parent than their biological parent. Neither distance nor death, nor time apart, erase or change that reality.  They are mother and father…but adoptive (or step) parents can still be Mommy and Daddy!

Lisa, many mothers love more than just the one child and our children have aunts, uncles and grandparents that they love without taking anything away from Mom and Dad. Why would her having yet other RELATIVES in her life be any different? Unless an adoptive parent has been abusive - emotionally or physically - they have nothing to fear when their adult child reunites.  No more to fear than when that adult child marries!

I pray you find help to deal with your not uncommon insecurities so that you can give your little girl the gift of not feeling guilty about loving all the people that created and love and care for her.  Adoptees – like children of divorce- need Not to feel in a loyalty bind but allowed to love all of their parents because love is not finite but abundant and a renewable resource.

PS Despite the costs of adoption, neither sweat nor financial equity makes being  motherhood about ownerdhip. Read or re-read Kahil Gibran's "Your Children"

RussiaToday Apr 29, 2010 on Russian Adoption Freeze

Russi Today: America television Interview 4/16/10 Regarding the Return of Artyem, 7, to Russia alone

RT: Russia-America TV Interview 3/10

Korean Birthmothers Protest to End Adoption

Motherhood, Adoption, Surrender, & Loss

Who Am I?

Bitter Winds

Adoption and Truth Video

Adoption Truth

Birthparents Never Forget