CCAI’s Angels in Adoption™ Program provides Members of Congress the opportunity to honor an individual, couple, or organization from their district that have made an extraordinary contribution on behalf of children in need of homes. The Angels in Adoption™ travel to Washington D.C. to participate in three days of events all designed to train them to use their personal experiences to affect change and to celebrate their hard work and dedication to adoption and foster care issues. The events include the Adoption and Foster Care Advocacy Fair, tours of DC and networking events, an award ceremony, legislative seminar and an opportunity to visit Congressional offices to share how adoption has affected their lives.
This year, on September 12, CCAI will recognize actress Katherine Heigl, singer-songwriter Josh Kelley, and PEOPLE Magazine as the 2012 National Angels in Adoption™ for their dedication and commitment to adoption and foster care issues. They will be honored, along with local Angels in Adoption™ selected by 143 Members of Congress, at CCAI’s 14th annual awards gala in Washington, DC.
Over the next couple of days, we will be highlighting some of our Angels in Adoption Angels in Adoption™. Today, we’d like to introduce you to Angel Amy Sharp.
Amy Sharp has lived in North Carolina her entire life and is dedicated to children in need of a nurturing and stable home. She and her husband Rod have three children: their biological daughter, Erin; Anna, who was adopted from Korea; and Maggie, who was adopted in the United States. Erin has adopted two children from Uganda, after serving in an orphanage there in 2007, so Amy is an adoptive grandmother as well.
In addition to being an adoptive mother, Amy is also a dedicated foster parent for the state of North Carolina and has been a foster mother for over 25 years, providing a home and loving care for close to 60 babies. She contributes to her community through teaching Sunday school, speaking at a camp for girls, and being involved in the music ministry at her church.
Created in partnership with the above named organizations and circulated via email and listserv, CCAI administered and collected the results of the online sample survey that asked participants 37 multiple choice and five open-ended questions about their intercountry adoption experience, including the amount of time it took to complete their adoption process, why individuals did not adopt from the country they originally intended to adopt from, how participants received updates from government and adoption agencies and the quality of communication with the U.S. Embassy.
Respondents provided specific recommendations to improve the experience working with the U.S. Embassy and Consulate in the participant’s adopted child’s home country and the intercountry adoption experience in general. Among the main recommendations:
Strengthen the communication of updates to adoptive parents concerning their specific cases—increase the frequency, specificity, and honesty of communication.
Increase the efficiency of the adoption process, particularly for children with special needs. Participants expressed concern over the extra time that their child spent in an institutionalized home due to the delays in finalizing the adoption.
Reshape the regulations regarding the issuance of children’s visas to ensure greater certainty and efficiency of receiving them prior to departure.
Treat birthmothers with the dignity and respect that they deserve. Participants expressed concern over the interrogation practices used in birthmother interviews.
Consulate and Embassy staff should employ more courteous and sympathetic behavior in their interactions with adoptive parents. They should also be informed of international adoption laws and updated on any changes that could impact the adoption process.
The findings and recommendations from CCAI’s The Way Forward Project are now available in the report.
This year-long project brought together leaders from the legal, medical, social work and development communities. These experts were asked to consider ways in which six African nations might build upon their current efforts to preserve and reunify families and, when family preservation proves impossible, to connect children with families through adoption and guardianship.
This report was released during the project’s Summit earlier this week. Here are some picture highlights from the event.
On April 23-26, 2011 a delegation of U.S. government officials and private business leaders participated in a fact-finding trip to Guatemala, visiting Guatemala City, Antigua, and the village of Sumpango. The delegation, led by Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, had two principle purposes: to represent the U.S. families who have been waiting the completion of their transition adoption for nearly four years and to encourage the Guatemalan government to establish a child welfare system that is family-based. The Guatemalan government passed a new adoption law in 2007, and since that time has been working to implement it. International adoption from Guatemala is suspended but according to their central adoption authority (CNA) there have been approximately 400 domestic adoptions since 2007. As with all delegations, the trip included site visits, official meetings with key government officials, and opportunities to meet and interact with leaders from the private sector in Guatemala.
To read the full report from the delegation, click here.
Holt International is celebrating 55 years of service at their annual international forum held here in Washington, DC this weekend. Holt began their work as an adoption agency operating in Korea as a response to the many orphaned children that needed families following the Korean war. This organization helped to pioneer international adoption as we know it, while continuing to evaluate and improve the practice over the past 55 years. Holt now operates in over 10 countries and has place more than 40,000 children with loving families through intercountry adoption.
CCAI joined Holt at a reception this afternoon as part of their forum to share congratulatory remarks and highlight their good work:
We have found that there is no shortage of passion on the issues of adoption here on Capitol Hill – federal policymakers care deeply about finding families for every child in the world – what they sometimes lack are the “roadmaps” to making that possible. And that is where organizations like Holt step in.
CCAI has not only counted on Holt International to be a leader in our effort to raise awareness of the millions of children around the world living without a safe, loving and permanent family and to eliminate the legal and policy barriers that prevent these children from realizing that basic right, but to a great extent we know that it is because of Holt’s leadership that these efforts are even possible. In particular, I would like to acknowledge the skilled advocacy and unmistakable passion of Susan Soon-keum Cox who many on the Hill know to be a voice for adopted children everywhere.
Now more than ever we must stand together and defend children’s right to a family — be it the right to stay in the family to which they are born; be it the right to live forever with their grandparents, aunt or uncle; be it the right to live in an adoptive family in their own country; or be it the right to live in a family here in the United States.
CCAI was pleased to present Kim Brown, Holt International’s CEO, a congratulatory letter signed by the co-chairs of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption caucus, Sen. Mary Landrieu, Sen. Jim Inhofe, Rep. Karen Bass, and Rep. Michele Bachmann.
Just a few days ago, the U.S. Department of State announced the launch of their new intercountry adoption website. This site is a great resource for families interested in international adoption or those who are already going through the process. Resources available include country alerts, statistics, latest news, information about who can adopt and what the process is, as well as a Hague-accredited adoption agency search to name a few.
In the wake the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan on March 11th, many have expressed their concern for Japanese orphans. One article discusses why this may be a very different emergency response than that surrounding the earthquake in Haiti last January. Japan is a developed nation, with more capacity to respond to the disaster and care for its orphans than Haiti. And while the U.S. allowed a special humanitarian parole for those children in Haiti matched with U.S. adoptive families prior to the earthquake, the U.S. government then as now with Japan did not encourage families to try to begin the adoption process. Japan has not suffered this same sweeping devastation and does not face an overall lack of capacity to shift resources around to care for children in need of parental care – and thus while the ongoing needs and devastation of the country cannot be quickly forgotten, it is important to recognize the vast differences between these two countries’ plights.
Earlier this month the Chinese Center of Adoption Affairs announced they will again allow single woman to adopt. In 2007, China stopped allowing singles to adopt, in addition to a myriad of other restrictions on age of prospective adoptive parents, weight/BMI, and past antidepressant medication usage. China has long been the top sending country to the U.S. Peaking in 2005 with 7,903 adoptions, China has since been on the decline in the number of adoptions to the U.S., in part because of these restrictions instituted in 2007 combined with an effort to promote domestic adoption in China.
On March 9th, the Government of Ethiopia announced they would drastically reduce the number of intercountry adoption applications that it was processing each day by 90%. This Washington Times article explains the rationale behind Ethiopia’s decision and looks ahead to what lies ahead for Ethiopia’s orphans.