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!

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