Monday, September 29, 2008

We're #1!

We are currently the #1 most active petition on the Go Petition website.
That is so wonderful! Keep it going folks! Only you can keep the flame burning in our own version of the torch run for China!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Fame Helps The Game

One thing we are trying to do by having this petition is to get noticed by our government officials.

To that end we have been reaching out to groups like National Public Radio and the American Civil Liberties Union.

We also live in a country where news of celebrity adoptions are news.
Is there anyone out there who knows someone who knows someone who knows a politician who has adopted, or a local newscaster who has adopted, or knows Meg Ryan or Angelina Jolie? (The adoption-world's connections are, after all, strong and far-reaching.) If we can get some media attention for our petition it will increase its impact, and increase our signatures by the thousands we need. If you know someone, can you put the six degrees of seperation rule into affect and reach out?

If you are out there and you have not yet signed the petition, would you please help us? If you know someone who has not yet signed, would you please ask them to do so?

Several people have written me wanting more information, and I am only too happy to tell you everything I know and everything I can about this situation. Please feel free to email me anytime:

The response so far in signatures on the petition from the posts on the adoption sites we have access to has been wonderful. As I write this it is day 3 of the petition and we are up, so quickly, to 1499! We should all be proud of that number and our outreach efforts.

I personally am very moved by the response, and very moved by the comments of need and support and fighting spirit some people have attached to their signatures. I am also moved each time I signatures from entire families who have come out to support the issue, and help their friends and loved ones bring their children home. And each signature that has been put on the list, whether you sign for yourself, or sign in support of others, each name on the roll helps us all, and is so valuable, and is a great gift. Keep the spirit going!

Thank you all so much for your help, and have a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

How Do I Know If This Is My Situation? Q&A

What if you read all of this and you say, "I don't understand this all." or "My agency has not told me this." Or, "How do I know if this is my situation?"
I will try to short-cut it all for you. And I admit it is complicated and confusing!

Begin by taking the I800 test, if one of the following statements is true for you, than you will be affected by USCIS and NBC choosing to ignore the law:
  • If you filed an I600A when you began your adoption, and the country you are adopting from is a Hague country, and your child is not home with you yet, this applies to you. (Therefore, although a lot of the information we have is about the effect on China adopters, if you are with a Hague country and expecting to need to re-file/renew your I600A, this affects you too.)
  • If you have filed for an I600A renewal before, and your child is still not home with you, and you will need to renew again before your child comes home, this applies to you.
  • If you filed an I600A to begin your adoption, and your adoption is not finalized, and your agency does not currently have a "Hague Approval," this applies to you.

Q: Will every China WP have to get out of line for China?
A: No, the following people will not have to get out of line for China:
  • People who are expedited due to Chinese Heritage (CH). The CH people are being processed (currently) over one year faster than all the other Chinese adopters. The United States government is not allowed to favor one group over another, but China is, and does. So, all the CH adopters are finishing their adoption in time not to have to worry about this. This also begs the question of USA discrimination, because, due to China's choice for CH parents, and due to the USCIS' contravene of the Hague law, the US is unintentionally favoring one group over another.
  • People who began their adoption with an I800A are not affected by this no matter where you are adopting from.
  • People who may be forced by USCIS to switch to the I800A, but are working with a Hague-approved agency will not (to our knowledge) have to get out of line for China.

Q: Who will lose their place in line in China if the congress doesn't force USCIS to comply with the law?
A: Any family who has to refile their paperwork (for their I171H form) before they will get their referral, and who is working with an agency who did not receive Hague-accreditation, will have to get out of line for China.
  • Well, in order to pass the I800A NBC review, those parents will have to change adoption agencies to find one that is Hague-accredited. Once they do that, they will have changed agencies. China no longer allows agency changes for any reason. So, anyone who changes agencies because they are forced to do so by USCIS will also be forced by China to leave their place in line, and re-apply.
  • That also means that to re-apply they will have to meet China's new rules. So, if this happened to you, and you were, for example, a single woman adopter, your adoption in China would be over. No more China adoption. No kidding.
NOTE: Your agency may be accredited by Hague, but you still may not be with a Hague-accredited agency.
Q: HUH? How can this be?
A: China only allows a limited number of licenses to be a China adoption agency. So, throughout the USA, many agencies will work together and share a license that, in reality, only belongs to one agency. My agency, for example, which is Adoption Guides, passed Hague accreditation, but, they were sharing the China license of West Sands, which did not. Therefore all the WPs from my agency (and the 9 or so other agencies sharing with West Sands) will be forced by USCIS/NBC and the I800 process to sign with a new agency. When China sees that we are no longer with West Sands, we will have to re-apply to China. Hello, and welcome to the back of a very long line.

Q: Is there any other way my adoption can be affected by this?

  • Yes. All I800 forms must go through the new office (one for the whole country) called National Benefits Council (NBC). It is our understanding from discussions with agencies that NBC currently has 4 employees processing I800 forms. The process is slow, taking on average 6 months. This slow processing time could impact your legal right to accept the referral of a child. If the referral comes and the USA has not approved you to adopt, you will not be able to accept the referral.
  • Also, it is our understanding from agencies that the I800 process is much more rigorous, and to date they are "passing" applications at a rate of 5%, with 95% being sent back to the WPs for a re-do. That will also lengthen the already long process.
  • Finally, when that office becomes deluged with all the I600A people being forced to switch by USCIS, we expect the processing time will get even longer.

Are their more questions you may have? If so, please leave them as a comment to this post, and we will research the answer for you.

Okay, one last Q: Can any of this mess be avoided?

  • Yes. All that has to happen is the Congress has to tell USCIS and NBC to stop creating their own rules, and to follow the law as written.
  • Please send a letter to your federal officials to ask them to do this today, and please sign the petition (click the photo in the top right corner to find the petition.).

PS. Please only sign the petition once. Everyone you know who is an American of voting age can sign it, but just one signature per person. Thanks for your help!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Cut-and-Paste Letter for Your Congress-Person

Please use this letter to request help from congress.
Please feel free to edit as needed. (FYI: Items in RED need to be personalized with your info.)
Please send the letter by US Postal Service. Your Congress-Person needs a paper letter in order to "take-on" your case.
Best of luck, and please let us know your response.


Dear Representative/Senator (and add NAME OF your REPRESENTATIVE or SENATOR):

I am writing to ask you to intercede (on my behalf / on behalf of my friend/son/daughter/etc) with a government agency.

Recently, the rules and regulations in the United States of America regarding international adoption have changed. Congress passed The Hague into law. When this was done, Congress explicitly stated that families who are in the process of adopting a child internationally and who have been in process prior to April 1, 2008, are considered “transition cases.” As such, these families are, by law, grandfathered into the adoption rules and regulations that existed PRIOR TO April 1, 2008 until their adoptions are completed, and these families DO NOT have to re-file under the new Hague guidelines. However, the Department of State and the US Department of Homeland Security’s CIS (Citizenship and Immigration Services, aka USCIS) bureau are blatantly ignoring this law and forcing all transitional families to abide by the new regulations. This not only contravenes the law as written, but also creates undue hardship for the thousands of US families affected, and will likely cause the disruption of the adoption.

The Hague Convention on International Adoption, which was implemented this year, states the following regarding the transition rule:

"SEC. 505 (b) TRANSITION RULE The Convention and this Act shall not apply--(1) in the case of a child immigrating to the United states, if the application for advance processing of an orphan petition or petition to classify an orphan as an immediate relative for the child is filed before the effective date described in subsection (a)(2)" which was April 1, 2008.

I/we am/are therefore asking for your help. We are asking for you to intercede for us (for our daughter/friend/etc.) with the government agencies of USCIS and NBC, and allow us (our son’s family/my friend/etc.) to complete the adoption that is in process under the I600A as an I600A case until the adoption is finalized.

Very Best Regards,


The Reason for This Blog

We have created this blog to help American families who are in process for an international adoption, and who began that adoption as an I600A case, and are now being forced to switch to an I800 case by the United States Department of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the National Benefits Council (NBC).
In 2008, the US Congress passed the Hague Adoption Treaty into law. When they did, they wrote into the law that ALL ADOPTERS who had begun their adoption prior to April 2008 as an I600 or I600A case could continue their adoption that way until it was completed.
USCIS and the NBC have since decided that they don't want to do it that way and are informing adoption agencies (AAs) and waiting parents (WPs) that they have no choice but to do the new I800 Hague process.
First of all, this is unfair, as it directly goes against the law as passed by Congress.
Secondly, this is having, and will continue to have, disastrous effects on the in-process adoptions as all will be faced with increased costs and will have their adoption process severely delayed, and some will have their adoption journey ended completely by this rule.
The number of WPs/adoptive families in the USA this affects is easily over 10,000, and adoption agency insiders estimate it to be over 23,000!
This affects many international adoptions, including Guatemala and China, where adoption referral waits have grown.
This "change" demanded by USCIS and NBC is not required by the countries referring the children. It is not even required by the US government. It is only required by those two offices.
That civil servants, office workers, feel that they have the right to indelibly alter WPs' lives for their own convenience is criminal, and should be stopped by our Congress.
We know that in the USA now we face elections, and our politicians are busy with that, but serving their people is what their job is about and they should make time to serve us in our time of need.
We also know that the USA is having a financial crisis, and we understand that much of that crisis was brought on by lack of government oversight, just like the crisis WPs face with their adoptions. However, unlike fat-cat corporations, we are not asking for a financial hand-out or money from the American tax payers. We are asking that the law our Congress passed be followed as written, and that all the affected WPs be allowed to complete their adoptions as they were begun. We will gladly pay the continued I600A fees and the fingerprint fees. We do not want anything for free; we simply do not want random bureaucrats re-interpreting a law designed to help us so that it instead helps them. That is wrong, and we need Congressional oversight.
If you click on the photo in the top right corner of this blog you will be taken to the online petition where you can sign on to help your own adoption, or the adoption of a friend or loved one. Or, to simply help one less child grow up without a family.
Please check back periodically for blog updates to see how many signatures we have collected and any changes that have occurred in this situation.
Remember that we are competing with elections and Wall Street for Congress' attention, so please pass this on and try to "collect" as many signatures as possible.
Thanks so much for your time and effort. It means the world to so many Americans, and to so many children.

PS. Although the petition asks for your email address, no emails will be visible to the public. As several people have already signed the petition, you can see that this is true. We need to collect the emails to prove you are real people, and not just names we pulled from a phonebook. We will not email you or spam you. We very much respect your privacy, and your contribution to the petition.
ALSO NOTE: We are not asking for any money from anybody for anything. Should anyone contact you requesting financial assistance it is not us. We are all volunteers.