Friday, December 4, 2009

Guatemala News!

Joint Council on International Children's Services can confirm
that the U.S. Department of State has submitted a letter of interest to the
Guatemalan government regarding participation in the pilot program announced by
the Central Authority of Guatemala. Check out our website for the full details.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Please Join Joint Council

Right now they are in the Chase Giving Challenge, and they need your help.
No money needed.
Let me repeat that.
No money needed.
Just your Vote:

Please give them a vote. It only takes a minute. First you have to become a fan of Chase, then you have to go back and vote. If you don't see your photo on the page, you haven't voted. It's tricky, but free! And you will help a lot of orphans. At this Tiny-Tim-time-of year, we all want to do that.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Should You Update Your HS?

There are good and not-so-good parts to the adoption online community. There is just a wealth of free, kind, fast information to be had.... Good! There is also a wealth of opinions, less good, especially when people give opinions about things that are not opinion-based, but rather are factual.
This week there is a lot of talk about if you need to update your HS when it's past its expiration date but your I-171H is still valid. The answer is NO.
The answer is no, ad it doesn't matter if other people say, "Oooo, I would do it if I were you!"
Updating your HS is no small thing. It takes considerable time, record gathering, and money.
The truth is that once USCIS has approved your HS it stays approved. The only reasons it would need to be redone (even if it is "expired") would be:
  1. You have had a major life change (address, children added, job loss, etc.)
  2. Your I-171H has expired.

You'll notice that HS is expired is not on that list.

Now, there is one state that does things differently, and I think it is Illinois or Maryland, but I am not sure, so check with your local USCIS office for the official word.

However, you can also find the official word here:

Full URL:

Tiny URL:

If you are still uncertain:

#1. Call your local USCIS

#2. Demand that your agency do their job and find out for you.

#3 read this on USCIS' website:

Validity of the Home Study

1. The home study must be submitted within one year of the filing date of the I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition.

2. The home study, or most recent update to the home study, must not be more than 6 months old at the time it is submitted to USCIS.

3. If an update is submitted, a full copy of the original home study must accompany the update.

4. Once a home study is submitted, it will not have to be updated unless there is a significant change (including but not limited to) residence, marital status, criminal history, financial resources, and/or the addition of one or more children or other dependents to the family prior to the orphan's immigration into the United States.

Full URL (May need to copy and paste) :

Tiny URL:

IF YOUR AGENCY is telling you to do this, or your SW, ask WHY? And make them show you something in writing that says you need to do it.

Sometimes you have to go hunt down the facts for yourself.

Save your money, the headache, and your time :)



Thursday, November 12, 2009

Be the Photo!

Joint Council is having a photo contest. Could you be this year's winner?
Who May Enter?
The photo contest is open to all persons interested in child welfare issues related to finding children safe, loving, and permanent homes. Examples of some persons who may want to enter the contest are parents or employees of Child Welfare Organizations.
You have until the last minute of December to enter and win!
Here are all the details:
Good luck!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Joint Council Update: Change of Address to File I600A

I am so sorry to report that you can no longer go to your "neighborhood" USCIS office to file your I600 or I600A.
Looks like they have changed things again.
Here's the Tiny URL address:
and here is the full URL:
And here is the Joint Council memo:

Following please find updated information regarding USCIS filing procedures. This information is published through the efforts of the Hague Working Group of which Joint Council is a member. We extend our appreciation to Bill Rosen of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys and Stephanie D’Amico of La Vida International for their leadership in crafting the following. We hope you find this update informative and useful.

UPDATE: USCIS Filing Procedures

USCIS has recently made some changes to filing procedures affecting applications for adoption-based immigrant approvals (Forms I-600A, I-600, I-800A, I-800). Two separate procedures have been changed or established:
a) a new lockbox has been established in Lewisville Texas for the filing of I-600A & I-600 Forms;
and b) the previous lockbox facility in Chicago, Illinois that was established for the filing of I-800A & I-800 Forms has now been changed to a new lockbox also in Lewisville Texas.
You will note that the 2 lockboxes in Lewisville are not the same for Hague vs. non-Hague cases.

In a typical international adoption, the filing of the immigration forms generally involves more than just one initial application, rather multiple filings over the course of the entire adoption. As such, the lockbox facility is used for certain, but not all filings.
USCIS has published instructions for the filing of forms and it has also issued a public announcement; and both are available on the USCIS web site at under the topics of “adoption” and/or “forms”.
However, since adoption cases are often complicated and involve multiple filings over time, we are providing some general pointers that hopefully can guide you appropriately. We hope that this information is helpful to you and provides a better understanding for the circumstances that you frequently encounter.
Disclaimer: The following information does not represent an official notice from the USCIS. The information is not guaranteed to be fully accurate, is subject to change and/or not a complete portrayal of every specific filing associated with an international adoption case.
For purposes of presentation, we have initially organized the information by Hague vs. Non-Hague cases; and then further organized by the location of the filing. At the end of the information, the mailing locations for both lockbox facilities are also provided.
I. Non-Hague cases (I-600A and I-600)
A. I-600A filings required to be sent to the Lockbox
1. The initial I-600A application along with payment of fee and supporting documentation;
B. I-600A filings required to be sent to the USCIS Field Office
1. Where the initial I-600A application has previously been sent without a home study and the home study is being filed to supplement the I-600A application within 12 months of the date of initial filing;
2. Request For Evidence (RFE) requests associated with an I-600A application;
3. Where a family’s circumstances change and additional information is required to amend a current approved I-600A (which is usually in the form of an updated or amended home study);
4. Where a family requests a change to the country they are approved to adopt from (either with payment of a fee or where a fee is not required) and additional information is required to amend a current approved I-600A;
5. Applications that are timely filed to extend the existing I-600A approval (either with payment of a fee or where a fee is not required);
6. All grandfathering requests and associated filings (with or without payment of a fee);
C. General Summary of I-600A Filing Procedures
a. Only the initial I-600A application is sent to the Texas lockbox; all subsequent filings (including RFE’s, changes in circumstances, changes in countries, extensions), whether the subsequent filing includes payment of a fee or not, are filed with the regional USCIS office responsible for adjudicating the case.
D. I-600 filings required to be sent to the Lockbox
1. I-600 forms requiring payment of a fee (where an I-600A has not been filed and approved); unless the family is residing abroad (in which case, an option exists and is described below);
E. I-600 filings allowed to be sent to optional locations
1. I-600 forms requiring payment of a fee where the family is residing abroad may either be filed with the lockbox in TX or with the appropriate U.S. Embassy, U.S. Consulate, or USCIS office abroad that has jurisdiction to accept the petitions from the Potential Adoptive Parent(s) based on their current residence;
2. I-600 forms not requiring payment of a fee may either be filed with the lockbox in TX or with the appropriate U.S. Embassy, U.S. Consulate, or USCIS office abroad that has jurisdiction to accept the petitions as long as the Potential Adoptive Parent(s) have an approved I-600A and are physically present in the country where they are filing;
II. Hague Cases (I-800A and I-800)
A. I-800A filings required to be sent to the Lockbox
1. The initial I-800A application along with payment of fee and supporting documentation;
(Dianne's note: I don't see any #2 here. Original goes from #1-#3, skipping #2)
3. Where a family’s circumstances change and additional information is required (which is usually in the form of an updated or amended home study), or if a family decides to change the country they are approved to adopt from, then a Supplement 3 is submitted along with a fee of $340;
4. Applications that are timely filed to extend the current I-800A approval are also filed using a Supplement 3. The first extension is allowed without any fee, and all subsequent extensions require a fee. With or without fee, all Supplement 3 requests are sent to the lockbox;
B. I-800A filings required to be sent directly to the NBC
a. RFE requests associated with an I-800A application;
C. General summary of I-800A filing procedures
a. The initial I-800A application and all subsequent Supplement 3 forms (including changes in circumstances, changes in countries, extensions - whether the subsequent filing includes payment of a fee or not) are sent to the Texas lockbox. Only RFE requests are sent directly to the NBC.
D. I-800 filings required to be sent to the lockbox
1. All I-800 filings are made to the Texas lockbox.
III. Lockbox information
A. I-600A and I-600 Addresses

Regular Mail:
P.O. Box 299027
Lewisville, TX 75029

Express Mail and Courier
ATTN: Adoption
2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business, Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067

B. I-800A and I-800 Addresses
Regular mail

P.O. Box 299008
Lewisville, TX 75029

Express Mail and Courier
ATTN: Hague
2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business, Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067

Looks like they gave us exactly one month's notice.
This part sounds like you can still take your renewals to your local office: "However, applicants may continue to file extensions of approved Forms I-600A at their local USCIS field office. More information is available on the revised form instructions."
I think those are being processed locally.
People starting new adoptions with non-Hague countries are still allowed to use the I600A, so I guess that is what the local offices will do in addition to processing renewals. (But I'm not sure!)
So, you may want to check that with a call first.
Hang in there and hang tough parents-2B!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Joint Council Update on CCAA: Director General Lu Is Leaving

(Sorry folks! I forgot to post this here! This is just 2-3 days old)
Joint Council UpdateProgram International Relations Initiative
Date October 29, 2009
Regarding China - CCAA
Joint Council has learned that after 8-years as Director General of the ChinaCenter of Adoption Affairs (CCAA), Mr. Lu Ying has been appointed to a positionwithin the Ministry of Social Affairs.
Joint Council extends its considerableappreciation to Director General Lu for his years of dedicated service to thechildren of China and his leadership in ensuring that Chinese orphans live in apermanent family.
Please join us in wishing Director General Lu much goodfortune in his new position and the best that life has to offer.
A new Director General will soon take on the responsibilities of leading theCCAA. As more info rmation becomes available, we will publish it as appropriate.
At this time, no significant policy changes are expected from theCCAA.
Joint Council again thanks Director General Lu for his continued commitment to children and families.
Best wishes,

Posted with permission by Joint Council
(Being first to have the "scoop," just another reason they are so important to us all! Join them on Facebook or at so you can get the updates too!)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Be the Answer Day!!!!!

Today is "Be the Answer" Day.
Please give even a dollar to Joint Council today, and help them win a large cash prize!
Joint Council's Be The Answer (BTA) Campaign has entered America's Giving Challenge through Facebook's Causes application, which gives them a chance to win $50,000!
Not a Facebook member? Don't worry; you don't have to be a member of Facebook to donate through the application!
Joint Council's ability to advocate has been heavily impacted by the poor economy, so they really need your help!
The great thing about this challenge is that it doesn't matter how much you give, but instead how much you do to encourage friends and family to get involved in Joint Council's Be The Answer.
They need you.
They would like to make Tuesday, October 27th Be The Answer Day!
Let's flood the system and try to win them one of the daily prizes!
With your help, we can do it!
With your help, Joint Council can help so many more children!
So meet them on Facebook and take the Be The Answer Challenge!
Thanks so much!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Are you sure you're Hague? Is your HS okay?

Welcome to October, 2009. CCAA skipped referrals in September, but we're all hoping for a big batch in October.
All right, two new wrinkles to report on.
#1 Are you Hague?
If your agency is not a Hague-approved agency, whether you are I600A or not, China is demanding you be with a Hague agency by 12/01/09. Most people who this affects have already been told this by their agency. One thing to watch, is your agency an agency that shares a China license? My agency is. So, waaay back when, my agency got one of the first Hague approvals. Great! Only, my agency was sharing another agency's China license, and that agency was not Hague-approved. In the eyes of the CCAA, I was with a non-Hague-approved agency (which is why it was so important to me to keep the I600A going).
Flash-forward, the agency that CCAA thinks I'm with is now Hague-approved, so I am okay, but how about you? Who is your licensing agency, the agency you signed with, or another agency? Check on this by asking questions if you're not sure.
The good news? When this agency switch would have been necessary due to the I600A problem, China did not approve the agency-switch, so your dossier would have lost its LID. Now, since this is China's idea, the switch is allowed, so no loss of LID.
The bad news? You will have to pay a fee, if you switch agencies, to the new agency (and the fee can be in the thousands), and you may not get to choose your "new" agency, depending on what the CCAA and your agency have agreed to.
If you're in this position I am sorry. I certainly think everyone's agency owed it to their clients to get their Hague-acts together.

#2 For all international adoptions, not just China:
Lucky us, the US Consulates have decided they can make rules too. They have decided that they will no longer (as of 9/09?) accept addendums.
Explanation: it used to be that when you received your referral, from any country, if something had changed (e.g. you moved, had a child, or were referred a 3 year old and you had asked for a 4 year old, or etc.), you simply had your SW write an addendum to your HS, and you took this addendum with you, on the plane, in your hot little hand, to the consulate in whatever country you were adopting from, and they added this info. to your file when getting your "go-home" paperwork together.
Now the consulates decided they don't want this responsibility anymore. Case in point, a friend was referred a child one month older than she had put in her HS is currently not being allowed to travel because of that 1 month difference in age, and she cannot take an addendum with her on her trip to fix this. So, for her, so far, no trip. Horrible! And her congressional rep. is involved to try to get this done pronto. Keep your fingers crossed for her.
So, what do you do for you, to make sure you don't have this problem?
You still get your SW to do an addendum to your HS, but then you take it to your USCIS office, or, heaven forbid, you have to mail it to the I800A clearing office, the National Benefits Center (NBC), and the receiving office, either USCIS or NBC, has to make sure they send it to the consulate of your choice. And you have to make sure (how do you make sure? who knows?) that they did that and that the consulate has received it so that they will allow you to go get your child.
My advice: if you have a HS renewal coming up anyway, and don't expect to travel before your renewal is done, then, at your next HS renewal just get your HS altered (don't do an addendum) to increase your age-range and SNs and put both genders, etc., in other words, make it ready for any referral you may get or may see and wish to accept. Talk with your SW about this and find out how much they feel comfortable widening this for you too. They may be fine putting down 6 months to 5 years, but they may not want to put down any special need you can possibly think of "just in case." So, make it as broad as you can within reason.
If you expect to travel on your current HS (no renewal needed for 6 months or so, for example, and you expect to travel this fall), call your SW now, and do an addendum. We just had to do one because we put in our HS the ages we were originally hoping our child would be in 2005, because we thought those ages were guidelines for the country granting the adoption, not for our gov't. In other words we thought we were using the HS to tell China our preference. We did not know that we were in actuality saying to the USA that we could only "handle" a child 6 months old or AYAP.
I have to say it seems a bit nutty to me. For Pete's-sake, does our gov't think we adopt children who don't age? Of course a parent can handle a child older than their request, or a boy vs a girl. It's ridiculous.
In any case, in international adoption the ridiculous is often what's required, which is why it is good to come to terms with that, and the truth of constant change, early in your process, so that these things become less upsetting.
So, to review, if you have so much time before you travel that you will have to do an I600A or I800A renewal, don't waste time/$ on an addendum, instead broaden your child "stats" on your HS at your next scheduled renewal.
If you don't think you have time, do an addendum now, written to take in any "trait/stat" your child could have that you may not be expecting but are comfortable accepting. Make sure to ask your SW for an addendum, not a renewal, as the cost difference is huge, and the paperwork goes from gathering no docs for an addendum, to repeating the whole paperchase for the renewal. Ours just cost us $150, and was done in email, and as soon as I get the little sucker in print I'm gonna take it to my local USCIS office, and I'll let you know how that goes.
One last thing:
If you expect to travel within a month of the expiration of your fingerprints, the Consulate may refuse to give you travel approval/a consulate appointment unless you renew before you go. We expect to travel in December (given the miracle of all the planets lining up just so to allow this), and our FPs expire in January, so when I take my addendum in, I am also going to ask very nicely for another fingerprint appointment too. I'll let you know what that involved and what it cost me.
Okay, not so bad considering some of the hurtles we all have had, eh?
Hope this helps! Keep your chin up; and keep adopting! Those kids need you!

PS, speaking of FPs, did I tell you our funny FP story? Waaaay back in 2005 we went for our very first FP appointment. It's important to note that we live in a very immigrant-rich area, so when we walked into the FP office, it was mobbed; there had to be 40 people of various ages and backgrounds and hoping for green cards or citizenship, waiting for FPs. Dave, wide-eyed, said to the receptionist, "Wow, all these people are adopting from China too?" Out of the mouths of babes.... ;+D We were all so naive when we started, weren't we? 4 years'll rub the naive right off ya! LOL!

Friday, September 18, 2009

CDC Revises Its TB Rules! THIS IS HUGE!!! Thank You Joint Council!

Joint Council is pleased to inform you that following a joint advocacy effort by many the CDC has chosen to revise its 2007 Tuberculosis Technical Instructions.
Please visit for the Addendum: Instructions for Applicants 10 Years of Age or Younger of the 2007 TB Technical Instructions. Note that those are only the revised instructions for applicants 10 years and younger so please refer to the full set of instructions at for more general information.
Joint Council would like to thank the many organizations and individuals who worked to ensure that the issues regarding the 2007 Tuberculosis Technical Instructions were resolved. Our appreciation and thanks includes but is certainly not limited to:
Dr. Jeffery Starke
The Worldwide Orphans Foundation led by Dr. Jane Aronson
Dr. Dana Johnson, University of Minnesota International Adoption Clinic
Members of U.S. Congress
National Council for Adoption
Center for Adoption Policy
The signers of Joint Council's Build Families, Not Barriers petition
U.S. Department of State
Department of Homeland Security
Center for Disease Control and Prevention
The Scruggs Family
The Grace Children’s Foundation

And we, adoptive parents, thank Joint Council for all their hard work!
They have been the answer for us, again!
Will you be the answer for them?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Webinars & Haitian Initiative

Check out Joint Council's new Webinars for October, and don't forget to see my previous blog post (below) about the Haitian Initiative! Those children need you to sign! Click here to sign.

Thursday, October 1
Fostering Attachment
presented by Lynn Wetterberg
Tuesday, October 6
When International Adoptions Mean Parenting Across Racial Lines
presented by Beth Hall
Tuesday, November 3
Parenting Adopted Adolescents
presented by Dr. Greg Keck
Thursday, November 5
Brothers and Sisters in Adoption
presented by Arleta James
Tuesday, December 1
Importance of Life Books and Talking with Adopted Children About Adoption
presented by Carrie Kitze
Thursday, December 3
Developing Cultural Competence in Adopted Children
presented by Patricia Irwin Johnston
(this session will be 90 minutes)

All webinars are from 7 pm - 8 pm EST and cost $10/family.
Register here.

Please Support the Haitian Initiative

Please sign the new Joint Council petition to ask the US Government to help the Government of France and UNICEF bring about needed reforms for the children of Haiti who are not able to be with their birth parents.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Harper Is Coming Home!

If you have been following the Scruggs' blog, you know that they have been dealing with the new CDC TB rule with their little girl, Harper.
This week the situation made it to NPR (National Public Radio):
click that link and choose the August 24th show to hear the story.
There are a lot of other families adopting from China and other countries too who are not as lucky as the Scruggs. Please sign the petitions to help:
We can hit 10,000 with your help! If you've signed please ask your spouse, your friends, your co-workers, your church family, and anybody you know to help!
Thanks so much!

Monday, August 10, 2009

UPDATE: You Are Doing It!!!!

I am so thrilled to report that the FFO (Families for Orphans Act) has topped 4 thousand signatures.




4 !!!!

I was really gratified today when I looked at the signatures and saw that so many adoptive parents I knew had signed on yesterday! Even the non-internet folks in my family have gotten themselves to the library and signed on.

It also had 14 new members of congress agree to sponsor it last week! I like it when we tell congress what their agenda is going to be instead of the other way around; don't you? Let's keep it going please. It would be so wonderful to have one central place to go to for help, orphan advocacy, and information.

I know we can hit 10 thousand with your help. You did it before, and you can do it again!

The TB petition has topped 4500!

Take that CDC!!!

Keep those signatures coming!

How wonderful this is.

My heartfelt thanks to all of you for your time and support.

xo, and o, o, o!!!


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Adoptive Parents Webinars

Here's a schedule of classes presented this fall by Joint Council:
Tuesday, September 1st
Medical Special Needs Children
presented by Todd Ochs
Thursday, September 3rd
Understanding and Managing Loss in Adoption
presented by Dr. David Brodzinsky

Thursday, October 1
Fostering Attachment
presented by Lynn Wetterberg

Tuesday, October 6
When International Adoptions Mean Parenting Across Racial Lines
presented by Beth Hall

Tuesday, November 3
Parenting Adopted Adolescents
presented by Dr. Greg Keck

Thursday, November 5
Brothers and Sisters in Adoption
presented by Arleta James

All webinars are from 7 pm - 8 pm EST and cost $10/family. to sign up!


This post is dedicated to Jay and Candace, who, if you're "in" the Chinese-Adoption-Blogosphere, you know about because they are trying to bring their daughter home from China and fighting the good fight against the CDC to do so.
They put this quotation from To Kill a Mockingbird on their blog:
"Courage is when you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway, and you see it through no matter what....." Atticus Finch
I spent an hour on the phone with the CDC this morning trying to add my voice to theirs for help, and it was mostly fruitless, but I didn't stop, because it's important to try and do what you can.
Last year, when Dave and I found out the we couldn't file an I600A anymore and because of that we would lose our adoption, people told us it was a useless fight. My senator, the senator from my mom's state, many people on the web in the adoption community all told us it was a waste of time, but we weren't going to give it up because we weren't going to give up Sophie.
And, little by little, you joined us, just a single signature here and there, one at a time.
And it began to look like maybe we might get enough to make some noise, but certainly not in time to help us, but we kept trying, because you don't enter into something like that for yourself alone, but with the knowledge of how it could affect so many others, and if you have the chance, if you have the platform and the opportunity to reach one person who can make a difference for one other person, you owe it to the world to take the time to do that.
And so we kept plugging away, posting more posts, and fielding the arguments and the naysayers, because it was important to make a difference if we could.
And you, you wonderful people in the adoption community and our friends, you kept signing on, one at a time.
And little by little, over time, it was not Dave and I who made the difference, but all of you, with your signatures, with your phone calls, with your effort, with the gift of your time.
You can make the same difference now. People will tell you that it's a waste of your time, and that it cannot be changed, and that congress is too busy or too jaded to care, but you can show courage, Atticus Finch courage, and do it anyway.
Please sign on to these petitions today, and help more children come home to the USA, and help more children all over the world live their lives in families, adoptive or bio-related families, rather than institutions.
Thank you for your courage.

Friday, July 24, 2009


Jount Council really needs your signature on a petition before you go home for the weekend.
Remember, they are the ones who helped us get our 1600 petition passed, and Joint Council means a joint council of government, parents, and agencies. Won't you please help? Won't you be a part of the council?
Thanks so much!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Joint Council Call to Action: Families for Orphans Act

Hello Friends~
I hope we can do whatever we can to help JCICS, as we owe them so much for helping us with the I600A so that we could continue our adoption of Sophie.
So, please consider helping Joint Council pass the landmark: Families for Orphans Act
Go here to follow the steps to help pass the act:
Below is the crux of the act.
Thanks so much friends!

The Families For Orphans Act

The Need

UNICEF estimates 143 million children live as orphans. Some have lost both parents; others are at risk of being orphaned. Millions more live outside the scope of available census data: on the streets, in temporary care, or in unregistered institutions. Deprived of basic human rights, these unknown children are denied the nurturing needed to thrive as children and later as members of our global society. They lack the physical and emotional safety that only a permanent family can provide. Perhaps most importantly, they are deprived of the love needed to realize their full human potential.

A Gap Exists

Efforts by the aid and development community are currently focused on survivability: nutrition, housing, education, and medical care. Community development programs only indirectly prevent family dissolution and do not appropriately address the needs of children living outside of permanent parental care. A continuum of care is needed to ensure that children mature into productive members of the world community. This continuum lacks the programs, funding, focus, and leadership needed to move these children from survivability to permanent family life. The focus on survivability creates a gap between surviving in temporary care and thriving in a permanent family. This gap only increases the world orphan crisis and leads to the continuing deterioration of the world's social fabric. Evidence based research, in the U.S. and internationally, clearly supports the need for permanent family life in preventing incarceration, suicide, mental health disorders, and deterioration of physical health. In addition to assuring the human right to a permanent family, this research also points to the validity of expanding aid and development efforts to include permanent family life.

Within U.S. strategies, four hurdles impede efforts to ensure a permanent family for every child:

  • Currently U.S. programs are disconnected, are without an overriding policy or goal and discount the basic human need of a permanent family. Programs exist in a silo structure, which often results incounterproductive and mutually exclusive programs.
  • A lack of proactive diplomacy results in reactionary initiatives, which address problems and not the cause. Further, U.S. agencies and officials lack the authority and resources needed to engage foreign governments.
  • While developing countries are actively seeking assistance with the development of sound public policy and support for permanency programs, U.S. expertise, leadership and support are restricted by current U.S. mandates and structure.
  • There is a lack of definitions and metrics. Without definitions on terminology (i.e. orphans) and little verifiable data including the number of children living outside of permanent parental care, the scope and depth of the problem cannot be quantified and program evaluations are therefore unreliable.

The Solution

The Families for Orphans Act overcomes these barriers by establishing the Office of Orphan Policy, Development and Diplomacy. The office, headed by an appointed Coordinator, will promote and support the preservation and reunification of families and the provision of permanent parental care for orphans. The primary functions of the office as related to family preservation and permanent parental care are:

  • Act as the Primary Advisor to the Secretary of State and President
  • Provide Diplomatic Representation on matters related to permanent parental care
  • Develop an evidence-based Comprehensive Global Strategy
  • Support foreign governments through Sound Policy and Technical and Financial Assistance
  • Develop Best Practices and ensure Cultural Sensitivity in the area of permanency
  • Support in-country family preservation, reunification and permanency as Primary Solutions
  • Coordinate Foreign Policy related to family preservation and permanent parental care
  • Coordinate U.S. Domestic and International Permanency Policies
  • Conduct a Biennial Census of children without permanent parental care
  • Develop Permanency Indicators and metrics
  • Report Annually to Congress

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Don't pay for USCIS forms & JCICS Update news

Hi All~
I just saw this on the RQ and thought it merited a re-post here as Dave and I also almost paid for forms when we were looking to download them online. I may have posted these links before, but it's a good time for an update:

"Warning! Many non-USCIS websites offer immigration forms. Some will sell you a downloadable form for a fee. These sites are not affiliated with USCIS, and these sites may not have the latest versions of forms. In some circumstances, use of older forms may result in your application or petition being denied or delayed. The latest version of these forms is always available on"

Copy and past any of the links below into your browser.

I600 in Tiny URL:
Standard URL:

I600A in Tiny URL:
Standard URL:

All USCIS forms in Tiny URL:
Standard URL:

Don't be folled into using pay sites. :)
If you find any links on this blog that are "bad" (don't work) would you please email me?

Joint Council On International Childrens' Services (JCICS) is working on some key issues for adopting families right now. Two that I will mention are extending the US Adoption Tax Credit and helping adoptive parents with the new TB rule.
You can see JCICS' updates all the time yourself by "friending" them on FACEBOOK:
JCICS Facebook Tiny URL:
Full URL:
JCICS has had their funding cut like so many agencies, but they continue to work miracles for children in need and adoptive families. Please consider becoming a member. I believe the cost is $40/year.
They are really just amazing at JCICS. Recently they pulled together with WPs waiting to adopt from Kyrgyzstan to bring a Kyrgystan delegation to the USA for talks. So, help them out with a little $ if you possibly can, and join them on Facebook to get all the news while it's still hot.
(Just an aside, if you haven't been on Facebook it is not like My Space. It is actually a non-intrusive, non-see-2B-seen kind of place that makes it easy to keep in touch with a lot of people or causes or both, at once. In 5 minutes you can check on all your friends and all your groups. Give it a try! It's free too.)

So, how are you doing with the wait? I have seen some families, marriages, and people devastated by the wait, and it really tears my heart up. I have seen many more, though, make it to the child waiting at the end. Please reach out and get some support for the wait process. If you want to talk or join swaps/activities with others in for the long haul, we would love to have you join us:
Click to join WWFChina2006

Click to join WWFChina2006

I also suggest that you network with people in your area. Advertise on the Yahoo groups or RQ for locals waiting too, and be the one who plans an event. In my experience you'll be glad you did!
Hang in there!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all the Mothers who hold their children in their hands and all who hold them in their hearts!
Here is a message from JCICS on their latest news and efforts for children and mothers:

This Month at Joint Council - Happy Mother's Day!

May is perhaps my favorite month of the year. The flowers are really beginning to bloom, the sun feels wonderful against your skin and in the month of May we celebrate one of my favorite holidays - Mother's Day. We celebrate and honor all of the women in our lives who have dedicated their lives to the children they love. We honor their undying love, commitment and peace. Every year on this joyous day I think of the wonderful mothers I know - from the birthmothers I worked with in Mexico who gave their children the most selfless gift. To the adoptive mother of three boys in Montrose, CO who is in many ways is a mother to everyone she meets. To the mothers waiting for their children from Guatemala, Kyrgyzstan, Vietnam, Romania and Cambodia. To my mother. To the biological mother and grandmother of my siblings. You are all such amazing women and I honor each of you for the gifts you have given to your children, to me and to the many generations that will follow. Thank you for your permanency, safety and love! Happy Mother's Day!

Rebecca Harris
Government Relations and Communications Manager

The Faces of Forever - A Playground Worth Remebering

"Years will pass. Children, that by the will of fate were orphaned in Russia and ended up adopted and the citizens of the United States, will grow up. Of course the United States will be their new motherland, but maybe their parents and relatives, their firends and they themselves will feel something that connects them with Russia. Maybe the children's arms, stretched from one country to the other, through the borders, above the heads of the politicians, in spite of the tales and bad will of some people, will be able to tie our people with mutual fate, love and care better and stronger than any official international agreement."
- Cara Sadouskaza, Citizen of the Russian Federation
Dwight and Jenny Griffith first saw Alex's picture on a flyer of waiting children with special needs. The Griffiths had suffered through the emotional roller coaster of infertility, followed by ten years of the highs and lows of adoption and fostering. Finally, the adoption of their now 17 year-old daughter stuck. Then in 1994, just two years after the fall of the Soviet Union, the Griffiths traveled to the city of Krasnoyarsk in the remote Siberian region of the Russian Federation to adopt their son Alex at 11 months of age; Alex was still in the hospital he had been born - premature and weighing less than 2 pounds. Alex's adoption was followed by three more domestic adoptions - Douglas now 12 and twins William and Katrina who are 10.

When Dwight and Jenny arrived at the hospital, Alex was malnourished, had rickets and was diagnosed with mild cerebra palsy. Alex, who has since been diagnosed with ADD, ADHD and sensory integration has faced many, many challenges in his 15 years but he has not let them stop or deter him. One of the many successes of his short life is the work he has done through his required service project to become a Eagle Scout, the Boy Scout of America's highest honor. Alex decided that he wanted to perform service for his first community, his community in Russia where he was born. After seeing pictures of the playground at Children's Hospital #20 where Alex spent the 1st year of his life he decided to build a new playground so that the children of Krasnoyarsk could have a safe, fun place to play.

Over the last two and a half years Alex has worked over 700 hours, received over 1000 hours of other volunteer help and exchanged over 1000 emails in the planning, design, fundraising, preassembly and quality check of the playground. With the help of the Rotary Organization, fellow Scouts and friends, Alex raised over $60,000 to purchase and ship the playground to Russia and buy the materials needed to complete the installation. Alex will travel to Russia with five other friends and family members this August to install the playground. He will celebrate his 16th birthday in his country of birth with the grand opening of the playground he planned, designed, raised money for and built with his own hands.

Alex's playground is designed for children from five to twelve years of age and will be red, white and blue - the colors of both the Russian and American flags. To complete the playground Alex created two wooden totem poles for the entrance of the playground. One will be of a bear, the unofficial symbol of Russia, and one an eagle, the official symbol of America. Alex hopes that the totem poles will show the unity between the two countries.

The project has truly become a worldwide effort with Alex communicating and working with over 500 people in 23 states and
73 cities in four countries. Additionally, one of the best parts of the project is that Alex is now receiving emails from other adopted children around the world who want to do something for their birth homes. Alex hopes that his project will expand into a larger project of children helping other children around the world.

For more information about Alex's project you can check out the project's website at of if you would like
to communicate with Alex on how other adopted children can provide service to their birth homes you may contact him by email at

Do you want to be next month's faces of forever story? Send your story and a family photo to
Joint Council to host webinars for adoptive families!

Following the success of our first adoptive parent webinar in January, Joint Council will begin to host monthly webinars for adoptive parents. Webinars will be held the first Tuesday and Thursday of every month starting in June and topics will include country specific information, a variety of medical topics, attachment issues, accessing your government and more.

The first two webinars, on Tuesday, June 2nd and Thursday, June 4th from 7 - 9 pm EST are free and will cover Joint Council's role in permanency services and intercountry adoption and how you can join Joint Council to ensure more children find safety, permanency and love. Unless otherwise stated webinars will be $10/family.
To join June's free webinars, click here:, then choose the option to "Sign up for Joint Council news and free webinars," fill in your information and hit submit. After you have signed up, you will receive a confirmation email and a follow-up email the week before the webinars with further details about logging in on the 2nd and 4th.

Information on upcoming webinars will be posted in upcoming editions on Mbali's Message as well as on Joint Council's website.

Country Update - Strong & Steady in Ethiopia

I'm constantly asked by prospective adoptive parents, adoptive parents, professionals and other interested individuals on the state of permanency services, child welfare programs and intercountry adoption in just about every country in the world. To spread the word on permanency services for children in countries throughout the world Mbali's Message will now include a section dedicated to keeping you up-to-date and informed on various countries. In each month we will highlight one country. The county will rotate from three categories. One, a country whose child welfare practices are sustaining themselves or growing. For example, this month, Ethiopia. Two, a country whose child welfare programs have faced difficultly in recent months - like Guatemala or Vietnam. And three, a country who is developing new standards and programs to ensure more children live, grow and flourish in a family - like Ecuador and South Africa.

Strong and Steady: Ethiopia

The permanency services that are being formed in Ethiopia are perhaps some of the most interesting and revolutionary in recent memory. In Ethiopia the government has acknowledged the high number of orphans residing in the country (UNICEF estimated that in 2005 there were over 4,800,000 orphans living in the country). The government partners with other governments, NGO's, and adoption service providers to ensure that as many children as possible are able to stay with their biological family, are cared for through permanent kinship care, are adopted domestically or are placed for intercountry adoption.
The services that many adoption service providers are providing in Ethiopia are unlike those in many other countries. For example, last year 287,000 children and families were served through the family preservation and community development services provided by adoption service providers in Ethiopia. This is compared to only 1.700 intercountry adoptions into the U.S. from Ethiopia last year. This is perhaps one of the most impressive family services to intercountry adoption ratios I am aware of.
Despite the amazing growth and work occurring in Ethiopia there is also a growing concern about unethical services - people, individuals and organizations who choose to take advantage of the situation. However, Joint Council, The Network (a team Ethiopian child welfare professionals who partner in working for ethical permanency services), adoption service providers, the Ethiopian government, the U.S Embassy in Ethiopia and the Department of State's Office of Children's Issues, are all committed to ensuring that unethical practices are stopped and more importantly, prevented. It is our collective goal to ensure that ethical permanency services, including intercountry adoption continue to serve the children and families of Ethiopia. This collaborative effort was the theme of last month's Joint Council advocacy trip to Ethiopia.
During the trip Joint Council's President & CEO, Tom DiFilipo, met with The President of Ethiopia, The State Minister of Ethiopia, The Ministry of Justice and Foreign Affairs, U.S. Consular Office, and The Network. During the meetings the growing concerns of unethical practices were raised and ideas were exchanged to ensure the continuation of ethical permanency services. Additionally, in honor of the fifth anniversary of CHSFS-Ethiopia Tom spoke at United Nation Africa Center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. As a follow-up to the advocacy trip Joint Council is revising its Standards of Practice for Ethiopia, developing an easily assessable network for in-country coordinators to share in the exchange of ideas, and dedicating a part-time summer intern to our advocacy efforts for the children and families in Ethiopia.

In the coming weeks Joint Council will be posting photos of this trip on our Facebook page. To find us on Facebook, click here:

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

7 weeks, and Hep A

Just FYI, Dave and I just received our new (and hopefully 3rd time's the charm) I-171H. Here in Los Angeles it took 7 weeks for them to process. We re-did our fingerprints in October of 2008, but with the current rate of referral, which seems even slower if that is possible, it seems we might need to redo those again. If you know how long I-171H's are taking at your local office would you please reply to this thread with that info.? (You can "leave a comment" to do that, and thank you!)
For referral dates and rates check:
In other news, since you all will eventually travel, it's never too early to plan ahead. I wanted to pass on a recent post from the Our Chinese Daughters' Foundation ( about Hep. A (below). Keep yourself healthy, and here's hoping your spirits stay up whether the "numbers" go up or down.

An article in this month's Pediatric News cites the need for close personal contacts of newly arriving children adopted internationally to be immunized against Hepatitis A.
This disease is usually passed by contaminated water and food, as well as unsanitary hygiene (including poor hand washing after changing diapers).
Hepatitis A vaccine is very safe, and is currently recommended for all children ages 1-2 years old. Some medical practices are also giving it to older children, although officially it is not yet recommended for all of those children (to avoid running low on the vaccine for the target group). Two doses are given, 6 months apart. Most people traveling internationally outside of the US, Canada, Australia, and western Europe should receive this vaccine.
What is new about this recommendation is that anyone who will be in close contact with the child within 60 days of arrival should also be immunized, even if they did not travel. This recommendation was prompted by the death of a 51 year old grandmother who acquired the disease from adopted twins. The twins were contagious, yet had no symptoms of the disease. Most adoption docs are now (within the last month or so) testing for this disease with the routine tests done upon arrival.Please share this information with other adoption groups, including outside of the China realm. The link for the article is:
Just a reminder: for adoption trips, most families need the following:

  • Hepatitis A vaccine: preferably 2 doses, 6 months apart
  • Hepatitis B vaccine: three doses spread over 4-6 months
  • Tetanus update: the new TdaP vaccine includes protection against Pertussis(whooping cough), so you especially want to receive this prior to travel
  • Chicken pox: either disease or vaccine
  • MMR: two doses of vaccine or proof of immunity with antibody level (if born in1957or later)
  • Polio: one dose as an adult
  • Flu shot: recommended whenever you travel, especially with the ever present concerns about Avian flu in China.

Again, please feel free to share.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Oh the Paperwork, Paperwork, Paperwork!

Sometimes the paperwork seems never-ending, sometimes it seems offensive, sometimes it seems confusing.

I just thought I'd share something I received today that, perhaps, counterbalances that a bit:

Click on the image to see it full size (and be able to read it w/o glasses!).

The statistics can really give you pause; can't they?

Today my heart is full of love, and my head is full of children. Hopefully, one day soon, my house will be too. And I wish you the same.
Happy Valentine's Day everyone, whether it's a "Hallmark" day or not, it's good to take a day to stop and remember love, n'est ce pas?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

New FAQs from USCIS

Hey all, USCIS has put out new FAQs today.
I will list them here, but here is the link too:
(or the whole link if you prefer: )
And here is the text:

How to File a Grandfathered Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition, Form I-600A
Q-1: Why is U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issuing this announcement now?
A-1: USCIS is issuing this announcement to clarify the filing process for grandfathered Forms I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition, filed for adoptions from Hague Convention countries where the corresponding Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, has not yet been filed.
Q-2: What is a grandfathered Form I-600A?

A-2: Department of Homeland Security regulations allow only one extension of the approval of a Form I-600A. If that extension is also scheduled to expire, the only alternative is to file a new Form I-600A, with a new filing fee. Generally, a Form I-600A may not be filed after April 1, 2008, for the adoption of a child from a Hague Convention country. Under the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 8, Subpart C, Intercountry Adoption of a Convention Adoptee (8 CFR 204.300(b),) however, a case may continue as an orphan case if a Form I-600A was filed before April 1, 2008. USCIS interprets this provision as permitting prospective adoptive parents whose Form I-600A approval is still in effect, but is about to expire, to file a new Form I-600A, as long as they file the new Form I-600A before the current approval expires. A new Form I-600A that is filed after April 1, 2008, will be considered grandfathered only if the following criteria apply:

  • (a) the new Form I-600A is filed before expiration of a previous period of approval of the extension of Form I-600A; AND
  • (b) the previous extension of approval of Form I-600A, that is about to expire was for a Form I-600A which itself was filed before April 1, 2008; AND
  • (c) no Form I-600 has been filed on the basis of the previous Form I-600A.

Q-3: When can I file my grandfathered Form I-600A?

A-3: USCIS must receive the properly filed application no more than 90 days before the expiration date of the approval of the one-time, no fee “extension” of the original, approved Form I-600A, but before the approval expires. For example, if the “extension” approval is valid until December 31, a grandfathered application may be filed from October 2 until December 31. If the application is filed after December 31, a Form I-800A, Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country, must be filed and the case must be processed through the Hague Adoption Convention procedures.Note: The approval expiration date of a Form I-600A or its “extension” is calculated by adding 18 months to the date found in the “date of completion of advance processing” located in the upper right corner of the Form I-171H or Form I-797c.
Q-4: What does “properly filed” mean?

A-4: The term “properly filed” means that the application is submitted to USCIS with the proper signature(s) and fee(s) as required by the instructions of the Form I-600A. At the time of filing, the applicant must also submit all required documentation, and evidence that his/her application meets the requirements for grandfathering an application as outlined in the second question of this document. Evidence that can be submitted to demonstrate eligibility includes, but is not limited to, a copy of the:

  • Form I-600A Extension Approval Notice for I-600A filed prior to April 1, 2008 Form I-171H, or Form I-797c
  • Acknowledgement Notice for Form I-600A filed prior to April 1, 2008, and/or
  • Fee receipt that was received from USCIS for a Form I-600A filed prior to April 1, 2008
  • It is also necessary for the applicant to submit a written statement, signed under penalty of perjury, attesting that a Form I-600 has not been filed on the application. Where original approval of Form I-600A (filed prior to April 1, 2008) has been issued for more than one child, the prospective adoptive parent would attest that the corresponding number of Forms I-600 had not yet been filed.

Q-5: What about filing the home study? (The Form I-600A instructions say I can submit it within a year after filing the application.)

A-5: Under 8 CFR 204.3, Orphans, a home study may be submitted up to one year after the date of the filing of a Form I-600A. No action can be taken on a Form I-600A, however, until the home study is filed. If the applicant does not file a home study with the new Form I-600A, the new Form I-600A will still be grandfathered, if the applicant files the new Form I-600A before the approval of the prior Form I-600A expires. The new Form I-600A will not be approved, however, until after USCIS has received and reviewed the home study. To avoid delays, the applicant should always submit the new home study with the new Form I-600A. The applicant may, of course, submit a copy of the original home study, so long as it has been updated or amended so that it is current (not more than six months old) when it is submitted.
Q-6: When does the approval validity date start?

A-6: Because the intent of grandfathering the Form I-600A is to maintain validity of an approval in order to continue a transitional case that is already in progress for an adoption, the validity period is not governed by when the home study is submitted to USCIS. The 18 month validity period will begin on the date of expiration of the approval of the original Form I-600A extension. For example, if the validity of approval of the original application expired on May 15, 2008, the “extension” validity of the application began on May 16, 2008. The validity of the grandfathered Form I-600A would, therefore, begin on Nov. 15, 2009 (upon expiration of the extension) and expire 18 months later. Since the new 18-month approval period will extend from the date the earlier approval expired, and not from the date of the decision approving the new Form I-600A, applicants are encouraged to submit all the necessary evidence, including the home study, with the new Form I-600A. Even if the decision is delayed because the home study or other evidence has not yet been submitted, the approval period will still expire 18 months after the earlier approval period. For example, if a Form I-600A approval will expire on Nov. 30, 2008, and an applicant files a new Form I-600A on Sept. 30, 2008, but does not submit the home study until September 30, 2009, the new approval will still expire May 30, 2010.
Q-7: Where can I file a “grandfathered” Form I-600A?

A-7: Grandfathered Forms I-600A are filed at the field office having jurisdiction over the applicant’s current residence. If the applicant has moved to the jurisdiction of a new USCIS office since the approval of the extension of the original application, it is helpful if he/she notifies the previous office of the move. The two offices may then coordinate the transfer of any necessary information concerning the case.
Q-8: If I moved after approval of the Form I-600A and extension is about to expire, where should I file the grandfathered I-600A?

A-8: Grandfathered Forms I-600A are filed at the field office having jurisdiction over the applicant’s current residence. If the field office jurisdiction has changed, it is best to let the previous office know that there has been a change of address because this will save time consolidating the information from both offices.
Q-9: Can I use a Form I-600A approved for one child to apply for the adoption of a second child or third child?

A-9: If the approval of the original I-600A was for more than one child, then a new Form I-600A will be “grandfathered” only for the total number of children for which the original Form I-600A was approved, minus the number of children for whom a Form I-600 has already been filed. For example, if the original Form I-600A was approved for three children, and two Forms I-600 have been filed, the new Form I-600A will be grandfathered only for one additional child. If you ask to be approved for more children than the number approved with the original Form I-600A, and the request is granted, any additional children will have to be from non-Hague countries. The only exception to this limit is if the applicant seeks to adopt a birth sibling of a child who the applicant has already adopted, and seeks to adopt the birth sibling at the same time as the adoption of a child whose Form I-600A is grandfathered. If a birth sibling is located after the total number of children on the grandfathered Forms I-600A have actually immigrated, the birth sibling’s immigration would be governed by the Hague Adoption Convention and 8 CFR 204 subpart C, Intercountry Adoption of a Convention Adoptee.

  • Example 1: Applicant was approved to adopt three children on a grandfathered Form I-600A. Applicant has filed Forms I-600 for two children, Anna and Ben, and they have immigrated. Applicant then files a new Form I-600A to grandfather the one remaining child covered by the earlier Form I-600A. Applicant goes abroad to adopt Chris, whose case is grandfathered. While abroad, David is located. David is Chris’s birth sibling, and Applicant wants to adopt David and Chris on the same trip. Because David is Chris’ birth sibling, and will be adopted on the same trip, Applicant may have the Form I-600A approval amended to allow one additional child.
  • Example 2: Applicant was approved to adopt three children on a grandfathered Form I-600A. Applicant has filed Forms I-600 for two children, Anna and Ben, and they have immigrated. Applicant then files a new Form I-600A to grandfather the one remaining child covered by the earlier Form I-600A. Applicant goes abroad to adopt Chris, whose case is grandfathered. While abroad, David is located. David is not related to Chris, but is Anna’s birth sibling, and Applicant wants to adopt David and Chris on the same trip. Because David is Anna’s birth sibling, and will be adopted on the same trip, Applicant may have the Form I-600A approval amended to allow one additional child.
  • Example 3: Applicant was approved to adopt three children on a grandfathered Form I-600A. Applicant has filed Forms I-600 for two children, Anna and Ben, and they have immigrated. Applicant then files a new Form I-600A to grandfather the one remaining child covered by the earlier Form I-600A. Applicant goes abroad to adopt Chris, whose case is grandfathered. Chris immigrates. After all three children have immigrated, David is located. David is a birth sibling of one of the children already adopted. Applicant has already filed the total number of Forms I-600 permitted, and all of those cases are completed. For this reason, David’s adoption and immigration are governed by the Hague Adoption Convention and the Hague Adoption Convention procedures must be followed in David’s case.

Q-10: Does the new home study need to be compliant with the Hague Adoption Convention?A-10: No. Because the application is “grandfathered” into the Orphan Process, it is also “grandfathered” into all regulations relating to that process. This includes all parts of the Orphan Process. In other words, the home study should comply with the Orphan regulations which can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations at 8 CFR 204.3.
Q-11: Will I be able to use a one-time, no fee extension on this grandfathered Form I-600A?A-11: Yes. To request an extension, prospective adoptive parent(s) must submit a written request to USCIS. The written request must explicitly request a one-time, no fee extension to the current approved Form I-600A. Applicants must also submit an amended/updated home study and any other supporting documentation of any changes in the household. The home study amendment/update must address each issue under Section 204.3(e) of Title 8 of the Code of Federal Regulations, (8 CFR §204.3(e)) and indicate any changes. The home study must also address any changes to answers submitted with the initial Form I-600A and must say whether approval is still recommended.
Q-12: Can the number of children authorized increase when the grandfathered I-600A is filed?

A-12: You may ask for and receive an increase of the number of children that you are approved for. As stated previously, however, the total number of adoptions to which “grandfathering” will apply cannot be increased after April 1, 2008. A new Form I-600A will be grandfathered only for the number of children specified in the original Form I-600A, minus the number of children for which a Form I-600 has already been filed. The only exception, as noted earlier, is for birth siblings who are adopted at the same time as a child whose case is grandfathered. For example, if you were approved for two children before April 1, 2008, and you are approved for five children under a new Form I-600A, and have not filed any Form I-600, the Form I-600A will be grandfathered for two children, but not grandfathered for the other three. The result is that you will be able to file up to two Forms I-600 for children from a Hague Convention country (plus any birth siblings adopted at the same time), but any additional Forms I-600 will have to be for children from a non-Hague Convention country.
Q-13: Does this policy affect the rules of other countries?

A-13: No. This guidance pertains only to the United States transition case rules. It does not address what the country of the prospective adoptive child’s origin may consider to be an appropriate application for its own intercountry adoption processes. Prospective adoptive parents remain subject to the requirements of the child’s country of origin, should that country require that the intercountry adoption be completed under the Hague Adoption Convention.

(That is the end of the USCIS FAQs)

One thing I notice is that it does look as if you are now going to be able to use the I600A for the total # of children you were approved for, as long as you can do it before you run out of renewals. So, for example, DH and I got approved for 2 children in the unlikely chance that China refers twins to us. If they only refer one child to us, and our 4 I600A filings have not been used-up, it looks like we could still use our I600A to adopt a second child. However, if, like us, you are adopting in the NSN track from China, it seems pretty clear that you will run out of I600A renewals before you could adopt a second time, even if you went SNs for your second adoption.

If you have questions feel free to leave a comment and I will try to get them answered.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

New Letter Required for I600A Renewal

The USCIS offices across the country are gradually requiring their customers to add a new, extra letter to their I600A renewal packet. Some offices have required this now, and some have not yet, but I believe that little by little all the I600A renew-ers will have to do this.
We just did ours, and as per our USCIS officer's wording we attached a letter to our renewal packet that said:
We certify that we have not used this I600A to file an I600.
And we signed it.
I had heard that the Chicago office required this to be notarized, but our Los Angles office did not.
This new form is being asked for because, I believe, people used to be able to use their I600A more than once.
For example, my DH and I are approved for 2 children in our HS, just on the off-chance that China gives us twins. If we only get referred one child, we could have, in the past, turned around and signed up for a second adoption on that old I600A because we still had a second child approval on it.
You can no longer do that.
I think we have to be smart consumers and realize that the whole NBC I800A thing is so the local offices don't have to process us anymore; they don't want to. So, for them to continue doing the I600A grandfathering for us is a big deal, and a big victory for us. But, they are going to try to get rid of us ASAP I think, by looking for people who have let things expire, and by denying re-use of old I600As that have already been used for one adoption.
This new requirement to certify that you have not already used the I600A you are renewing is just another way to bump people over to the I800A form.
As long as you haven't used this current I600A for another adoption in the past, you should be fine. Just write the note and send it in. If you have used it for a previous adoption I suspect they are going to tell you to go to I800A. I do not recommend you try to sneak by (although I understand the inclination), i.e. do not say you haven't this I600A before to complete an adoption if you have actually used it, because you're betting they won't know; I think that might put you out of the game all together, meaning you won't get approved for anything. Be honest, and if you have already used this I600A once, you will probably have to go I800A. DH and I tried to pay for our fingerprints, but they checked their files, and we have had no free fingerprints so far, so they sent back our check, and this was the Los Angeles office, which I'm sure must be one of the more high-traffic offices. They may not respond to phone calls ASAP at your office, but they do keep excellent records.
For those out there still on a grandfathered I600A that they have not used previously, please be scrupulous not to let anything expire, just in case. I do not think the USCIS offices are going to be understanding about mistakes; they are simply going to send you to the I800A.
Had a different experience or heard of something new? Please leave a comment with your info. I will put it into a post and remove your personal information.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Copies of Documents for You to Print. :)

USCIS FAQs about I600A Renewals.

Page #1: Click on the JPG to enlarge and print. :)

Page #2: Click on the JPG to enlarge and print. :)

Page #3: Click on the JPG to enlarge and print. :)

USCIS Update:

One page only: Click on the JPG to enlarge and print. :)

And here is a link the the USCIS forms should you need to download and I600A form. It looks like the forms are updated each September, so make sure the form you use is current.
Please bookmark the page so you'll always have it.
Good luck filing what is hopefully your last I600A for this adoption.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

UPDATE ON I-600A Continued Renewals

Hey hey~
Just wanted to put it out there that several people (that I know of)have had some trouble getting their 3rd I-600A renewal done (the paid-for one). I called my USCIS office today (Los Angeles) because I am about to take mine in tomorrow, and she told me that she just received the new guidelines today. What others have told me is that their offices are the same.
So, what it seems is occurring is that the offices are the last to know about this.
In my case the officer was very sweet and started looking through it with me on the phone; others have not been so sweet.
We spoke with JCICS about it, and according to them, the larger the office the less-aware they may be of the changes simply because they may have heavier workloads (no time to read bulletins perhaps?) or more worker turn-over.
If your office doesn't know what you are talking about I suggest you send them the information in an email, and ask them to please check it out with the higher-ups and get back to you. The information is here: (see the * below)
Try to be calm and sweet when you speak with your office, not that anyone would be otherwise, but these encounters could make a saint swear sometimes.
Everyone who has had this little mix-up occur has been able to file, so again, please realize that if it happens to you it just means that your office hasn't been educated yet. And if the person on the phone doesn't know, it's not his/her fault, and it's probably embarrassing to hear it from outside the office first, so send over the info. and give the worker a day or two to get up to speed. :)
You now need to include in your renewal packet a letter, signed by you and your spouse if you're not a single, that says: I/we, the undersigned, certify, under penalty of perjury, that I/we have not filed an I600 related to this I600A. and both of you sign it.
It does not need to be notarized.
When problems with offices like USCIS occur, JCICS is one agency that will advocate for you. They try to represent orphans, agencies, and adoptive parents to our government.
Because times are tough all over, JCICS has had their budget reduced, and they may now lack the staff to take on as many cases as they have in the past.
Just like a union, they help people regardless of whether or not they are members (as, clearly, orphans are not able to pay for a membership).
However, you can become a member and if you become a member you are giving a gift to all adoptive parents out there who may need JCICS to help them one day like they helped us. They are directly responsible, in addition to your signatures on the petition, for all of us getting our I-600A extensions. Now they need our help, so please consider becoming a member.
Right now they are working very hard to get the Vietnamese government to re-open, something which may really be important to many of us, and getting the adoption tax-credit re-authorized. Their contact info. is in sidebar.

There has also been a change in the forms I-600A and I-800A parents will have to fill out after they receive their referral. Those changes are explained in the post below: .

* What follows is stuff you can send to your USCIS office if it does not know about the I-600A renewal changes:
The crucial part of the USCIS press release is in paragraph 1.

“…may file one additional Form I-600A…”

The I-600A itself includes a one-time free renewal. So the filing of an I-600A would imply the inclusion of a one-time free renewal.

BELOW is the really crystal-clear evidence of this. Everyone should print and bring a copy of this document to their USCIS office when refiling:
The most important part of this document is the example they give which clearly states that the new Form I-600A gets one extension (which is why in the example they give [below] the new form is filed February 1, 2010 and expires March 10, 2013. That’s over 36 months (ie, 18 months for the first and another 18 for the free renewal)! They can’t dispute this because it’s THEIR example…

Q: Can you give some examples of how the “grandfathering” interpretation works:
A: Yes, please see below.
𐂃 EXAMPLE: Form I-600A was approved, with the approval expiring on August 1, 2008. The
applicant requested and obtained a one-time extension, with the new approval period expiring
February 1, 2010. In January 2010, they still have not filed a Form I-600. On February 1, 2010,
they file a new Form I-600A. The “grandfathering” of the original Form I-600A will be extended
to the new Form I-600A, since it was filed before the approval of the original Form I-600A
𐂃 EXAMPLE: Form I-600A was approved, with the approval expiring on August 1, 2008. The
applicant requested and obtained a one-time extension, with the new approval period expiring
February 1, 2010. In January 2010, they still have not filed a Form I-600. On February 1, 2010,
they file a new Form I-600A. The “grandfathering” of the original Form I-600A will be extended
to include the new Form I-600A, since it was filed before the approval of the original Form I-
600A expired. The new Form I-600A is approved, with the approval (after one extension)
expiring March 10, 2013. On March 10, 2013, the applicant files yet another Form I-600A. This
third Form I-600A is not grandfathered, since, although the expiring Form I-600A was
grandfathered because the first Form I-600A was grandfathered, the expiring Form I-600A was
actually filed after April 1, 2008.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Letters of Seeking Confirmation??? What Does it Means to the I-600A Transitional Cases?

By now, or very soon, you will be hearing a lot about governmental changes that will affect families adopting from China. The changes were mutually agreed-upon by CCAA and USCIS and are applicable for all Hague Inter-country Adoption Convention cases between China and any Hague Convention country.

It all adds up to (surprise!) more paperwork. Specific changes are regarding two documents that are sent to families from CCAA when the referral is sent:

1. Letter of Seeking Confirmation from Adopter
2. Letter of Seeking Confirmation - Central Authority of Receiving State

But don't open up that Heaven's Gate suicide beverage just yet; the news is not really bad for I-600a Transitional Cases. In fact, those with a current I-171H/I-797C under the I-600A application who plan on keeping their I-600A application current until traveling to adopt their child need not worry over these new changes.

Under the new process, as of January 1, 2009, CCAA will send out the same documents for ALL cases (transition cases and Convention cases). These documents will include the “Letter of Seeking Confirmation from the Adopter” and the “Letter of Seeking Confirmation - Central Authority of Receiving State” at the time the referral is sent. For transition cases, families will continue to sign and return the “Letter of
Seeking Confirmation from the Adopter.” No action is required on the “Letter of Seeking Confirmation from the U.S. Central Authority.”

So, good news (for a change) for Transitional cases.

Bottom line: You will have to sign and return a Letter of Seeking Confirmation from the Adopter. But this is nothing new or different. The process for when the referral is sent out is basically three-fold:

1. Receive referral and Letter of Seeking Confirmation from the Adopter.
2. Sign and return letter to CCAA.
3. Receive Travel approval.

Okay, the above is a Cliffs Notes example of the process at that point, but who wants to read War And Peace anyway? Those 3 steps above represent the crux of what happens. Transitional cases just need to remember that even though they will ALSO receive a second letter with their referral entitled "Letter of Seeking Confirmation - Central Authority of Receiving State", they do not need to do anything with this letter. Note this letter is listed on DOS as "Letter of Seeking Confirmation from the U.S. Central Authority" and DOS sums it up here: (the take-home is the last sentence of paragraph 1).

I-800A's filed AFTER April 1, 2008 and those I-600A cases who have, unfortunately, let their paperwork expire, will need to sign and return both documents. Of course, all of this (as we've come to learn) is subject to change. But as of January 23, 2009, that be the story.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Deadline Is Tomorrow!

Hey all:
JCICS is having a webinar about the US government and international adoption. Sign up here:
and here are the details:
This Webinar will explain the role of individual government agencies in the adoption process, while providing an overview of the responsibilities and decisions in their realm. It is our hope that this Webinar will not only increase your awareness of intercountry adoption, but also help you advocate for your case and avoid unnecessary delays.
The Role of the U.S. Government in Intercountry Adoptions Webinar will occur January 29th from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. EST.
Joint Council will be joined by Bill Bistransky from the U.S.Department of State; Karen Eckert from U.S. Citizenship & ImmigrationServices; Donna Campagnolo from the National Benefits Center (I800A processing); and Mark Moore from the Congressional Coalitition on Adoption Institite.
There will also be an opportunity for Q&A.