• Bulgaria: Important Notice Regarding Article 5 Issuance

    The Immigrant Visa Unit in Sophia, Bulgaria has determined that, while the Bulgarian entry restrictions for American citizens remain in place, the Embassy can issue Article 5 letters in cases where the initial meeting between the adoptive families and the adopted children is conducted online. Adoptive families must still travel to Bulgaria to complete the adoption process, and attend the final visa interview at the Embassy in person. Once the entry restrictions in Bulgaria for American citizens is lifted, or if the Ministry of Justice halts their support for initial online meetings in place of in-person meetings, the Immigrant Visa Unit will cease this exception to the normal process.

    For more information, please read this notification issued by the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues:

    July 24, 2020

    In response to multiple inquiries regarding how best to advance intercountry adoption cases in Bulgaria at this time, the Office of Children’s Issues and the U.S. Embassy in Sofia have engaged with Bulgaria’s adoption authorities to seek clarification.

    The Bulgarian Ministry of Justice has agreed to temporarily allow online socialization visits and communications between prospective adoptive parents and children. Each case must be assessed by the foreign supervised providers and social service agencies. Decisions about online meetings will be made by the Ministry of Justice on a case-by-case basis. In some cases, physical contact may present a health hazard and the only feasible option would be online socialization. In other cases, for example when the child is in foster care, physical contact may be possible. The circumstances of each case will be taken into account as they are assessed and decisions regarding online communications are made. The Ministry does not, however, support prospective adoptive parents using escorts to bring children to the U.S. at the end of the process. Parents are required to travel to pick up their children at the final stage.

    The Director for International Adoptions at the Ministry of Justice informed the Embassy in Sofia that prospective adoptive parents may be admitted to Bulgaria as an exception to entry restrictions even before the court gives them custody of their children on the basis of the humanitarian exception in the order issued by the Ministry of Health. This means that parents may travel to Bulgaria for the 5-day contact depending on the individual circumstances of the case. U.S. ASPs may continue to work through their Bulgarian supervised providers in communicating with the Ministry of Justice regarding exceptions to the entry restrictions.

    The Embassy in Sofia will issue Article 5 letters based on an online socialization visit as a temporary emergency measure due to the COVID-19 situation, but prospective adoptive parents will have to travel to Bulgaria to complete the IV application and interview process in-person. Parents may ask the Ministry of Justice for special consideration if there are exceptional circumstances that will prevent travel to Bulgaria to pick up children at the end of the process, and the Embassy will work in cooperation with the Ministry’s decision.

    If you have any questions regarding this matter you may contact the Embassy in Sofia at IV_Sofia@state.gov.

    Sincerely,

    The Office of Children’s Issues

  • International Flights to India to Resume

    India has established individual bilateral air bubbles with France, Germany and the US that will allow airlines of each country in the pact to operate international flights, said the Civil Aviation Ministry on Thursday, July 16.

    An air bubble is a bilateral arrangement with a set of regulations and restrictions in which the carriers of the two countries can operate international flights.

    American carrier United Airlines will be flying 18 flights between India and the US from July 17 to 31, he added.

    “They (United) are flying a daily flight between Delhi and Newark and a thrice-a-week flight between Delhi and San Francisco,” Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri noted.

    From India, Air India will be operating flights to France, Germany and the US under these bubbles.

    Scheduled international passenger flights have been suspended in India since March 23 due to the coronavirus pandemic.  After nearly two months of suspension to combat the coronavirus outbreak, the government resumed scheduled domestic passenger flights on May 25.

    Various states like Maharashtra have put restrictions on the number of flights that their airports can handle per day, he said, adding that he expects this would change in coming 2-3 weeks.

    He said once the domestic capacity reaches 50-55 percent of its pre-COVID capacity, the government will get the confidence about opening international air travel further.

    Before traveling to India, please review the current information from the U.S. Department of State:

  • Renewal of IAN’s Hague Accreditation

    IAN has proudly been a Hague Accredited adoption agency since April 1, 2008, and we are very pleased to announce that the renewal of our Hague Accreditation has been approved for another 4 years!

    A little more about Hague Accreditation and what it means for adoptive parents:

    The Hague Convention provides protections for children, birthparents and prospective adoptive parents under internationally agreed upon rules and procedures. Under its framework, member countries work together to help ensure that children are provided with permanent, loving homes and that adoptions take place in the best interest of the child.

    In order to become Hague Accredited, and maintain Hague Accreditation, agencies are evaluated by the accrediting entity, Intercountry Adoption Accreditation and Maintenance Entity (IAAME). IAAME was created for the sole purpose of the accreditation, approval, monitoring and oversight of adoption service providers providing intercountry adoption services, and assesses an agency’s policies, procedures, communications, recruitment of prospective adoptive parents, child placements, home study services, parent education and support, and more, in order to determine that substantial compliance with the Hague Accreditation standards has been demonstrated.

    While challenging at times, IAN’s Hague accreditation renewal process was a learning experience, and we’ve come through it even stronger, as an agency, which we believe will benefit our adoptive families and their children. It’s not only our job to provide you with information and guide you through the legal steps of the adoption process, that’s the “easy” part.  Most importantly, we are here to prepare and support you and your adopted child on this emotional, life changing journey.

    For more information on Hague – https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/Intercountry-Adoption/Adoption-Process/understanding-the-hague-convention.html 

    Please contact us for more information on our programs and how to get started on your adoption with IAN!

  • USCIS Response to COVID-19

    June 4 Reopening

    Beginning June 4, 2020, certain USCIS field offices and asylum offices will resume non-emergency face-to-face services to the public. Application support centers will resume services later. USCIS has enacted precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in reopened facilities:

    • Visitors may not enter a USCIS facility if they:
      • Have any symptoms of COVID-19, including cough, fever or difficulty breathing;
      • Have been in close contact with anyone known or suspected to have COVID-19 in the last 14 days; or
      • Have been individually directed to self-quarantine or self-isolate by a health care provider or public health official within the last 14 days.
    • Visitors may not enter the facility more than 15 minutes prior to their appointment (30 minutes for naturalization ceremonies).
    • Hand sanitizer will be provided for visitors at entry points.
    • Members of the public must wear facial coverings that cover both the mouth and nose when entering facilities. If they do not have one, USCIS may provide one or the visitor will be asked to reschedule their appointment.
    • There will be markings and physical barriers in the facility; visitors should pay close attention to these signs to ensure they follow social distancing guidelines.
    • Individuals may also have to answer health screening questions before entering a facility.
    • Individuals are encouraged to bring their own black or blue ink pens.

    Appointment notices will include further instructions for visiting USCIS facilities. Please note that USCIS locations are not accepting walk-in visits at this time. You must have a scheduled appointment with USCIS before arriving at a USCIS office. For more information, see our USCIS Visitor Policy and USCIS Office Closings pages.

  • USCIS June 4 Extension of Closure

    USCIS June 4 Extension of Closure

    This notice is linked in the International Adoption section of NCFA’s COVID-19 Resources Hub for your quick reference.

    On March 18, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services temporarily suspended in-person services at its field offices, asylum offices, and application support centers (ASCs) to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). USCIS is readying offices to re-open in compliance with local and state orders, on or after June 4. Employees in these offices are continuing to perform mission-essential services that do not require face-to-face contact with the public while the offices are temporarily closed. During this time, individuals may still submit applications and petitions to USCIS. Online filing remains the most convenient and interactive way to submit forms, check the status of your case, and receive notices.

    Field Office and ASC Appointments, Naturalization Ceremonies, InfoPass
    USCIS field offices will send notices to applicants and petitioners with scheduled appointments and naturalization ceremonies impacted by the extended temporary closure. When USCIS again resumes normal operations, USCIS will automatically reschedule ASC appointments due to the temporary office closure. Individuals will receive a new appointment letter in the mail. Those who had InfoPass or other appointments must reschedule through the USCIS Contact Center once field offices are open to the public again.

    Asylum Office Interviews
    USCIS asylum offices will send interview cancellation notices and automatically reschedule asylum interviews. When the interview is rescheduled, asylum applicants will receive a new interview notice with the new time, date and location of the interview.

    Please check to see if the respective office has been reopened before calling the USCIS Contact Center.

    In-Person Public Engagements
    Additionally, USCIS is postponing all in-person public engagement and outreach events for the duration of the temporary office closure. Please contact public.engagement@uscis.dhs.gov if you have an immediate engagement question during this time.

    For More Information
    USCIS will provide further updates as the situation develops and will continue to follow CDC guidance in response to this situation. Please visit uscis.gov/coronavirus for updates.

    Education and precautions are the strongest tools against infection. Get the latest facts by visiting the CDC’s COVID-19 website. Continue to practice good health habits, refrain from handshakes or hugs as greetings, and clean hands and surfaces appropriately.

    Kind regards,

    Public Engagement Division
    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

  • India Travel Ban

    India has shut down travel until mid-April. Please read this release for more information. If this affects you or you have questions about how COVID-19 will change the adoption process, your adoption coordinator would be happy to take your call at 303-691-0808. Thank you in advance for your patience with us. Stay healthy!

  • Referral Review: University of Minnesota Adoption Medicine Clinic

    International Adoption Net has recently completed a training from the University of Minnesota Adoption Medicine Clinic. During this training they shared with our staff more in-depth ways of reading a medical referral, what types of special needs they have seen in the countries IAN works with, and what the quality of life is for specific special needs. Judith K. Eckerle, M.D. is very knowledgeable in the international medical field and was so helpful in answering all our staff’s questions with detailed information.

    IAN is very grateful to have connected with this program to receive ongoing training about specific special needs. We are now referring families to University of Minnesota Adoption Medicine Clinic when reviewing a referral and needing medical professionals’ opinions. The Adoption Medicine Clinic has helped many families since 1986 review referrals, discuss the resources needed for the specific special need and what the severity of the need may be. The Clinic will look at the medical report, any background information on the child, and review pictures and videos. They then will discuss with the family any concerns they may see and discus how to best care for the child.

    Families can connect with this clinic by going to their website at https://adoption.umn.edu/. They have many resources for families to learn from such as how to measure head growth, fetal alcohol syndrome, child development, mental health, etc.

    They do have a fee for their different services. On their website they have a breakdown of what each service would cost. Their turn around time for looking at a referral is 1-3 days and can go quicker if it is time sensitive.

    We recommend families look at the University of Minnesota Adoption Medicine Clinic when considering or in the process of foster care, domestic or international adoption.

  • Summer Picnic

    The excitement has been spread! The news is out! IAN is having a SUMMER PICNIC!

     

    We would like to invite all families to join us as we celebrate the history and future of IAN! Whether you have completed your adoption, are in the middle of your adoption journey or are just starting, IAN would love to have you there! This is a great opportunity to meet other families in all stages of adoption and meet the IAN team! We are very excited to have Karla (adoption coordinator) from Ohio and Anu (India facilitator) from India flying in to celebrate with us!

    IAN will be providing picnic style food and drinks, balloon animals, face painting and more! Centennial Center Park has lots of activities for everyone! There is a splash pad to cool off in, a big playground with a tree house, rock-climbing area, toddler play parks, sand digging, and so much more!

    To learn more about the park IAN is having their event at please click here

    Suggested items to bring:

    Sunscreen

    • Swimsuit
    • Towel
    • Lawn Chairs
    • Picnic blankets
    • Water Bottle
    • Sunglasses
    • Hat

    Please bring your family and friends to join in on the fun!

    Date: August 31st, 2019

    Time: 1:00 PM

    Place: Centennial Center Park, 13050 E Peakview Ave Centennial Colorado 80111

    RSVP by: August 16th 2019, Please email info@internationaladoptionnet.org and share how many people will be joining you and if there are any food allergies.

    We can’t wait to celebrate with everyone!

  • China Waiting Children: Special Needs Spotlight on Dwarfism

    Let me tell you a little about Leo. I recently came across Leo’s file when I was searching China’s shared list of children available for adoption. My specific search was for “limb differences” because we have several families who are hoping to adopt children with this need. When I saw Leo’s picture, I wanted to learn more. His file specifically states “limb and trunk deformities” while it appears that his true diagnosis is likely dwarfism. I saw the sweet face of eleven year old Leo in pictures of him riding a bike and playing on the slide and wondered how this boy has waited so long for a family.

    Little People of America defines dwarfism as “a medical or genetic condition that usually results in an adult height of 4’10” or shorter, among both men and women, although in some cases a person with a dwarfing condition may be slightly taller than that. The average height of an adult with dwarfism is 4’0, but typical heights range from 2’8 to 4’8.” There are several different types of dwarfism, with the most common being achondroplasia , spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia, and diastrophic dysplasia . You can read more about the different types of dwarfism on WebMD .

    A concern with adopting a child with dwarfism is what life looks like from a medical standpoint. Little People of America states, “It varies from condition to condition, and with the severity of that condition in each individual. However, the majority of LPs enjoy normal intelligence, normal life spans, and reasonably good health. Many will require surgeries or other medical interventions to address complications and maximize mobility.

    Orthopedic complications are not unusual in people with disproportionate dwarfism such as achondroplasia and diastrophic dysplasia, and sometimes surgery is required. A common problem, especially in adults, is spinal stenosis — a condition in which the opening in the spinal column is too small to accommodate the spinal cord. People with this condition suffer from numbness and/or pain. It can be treated with a type of surgery called a laminectomy.”

    International Adoption Net recommends that all families talk to a licensed pediatrician or international adoption clinic for all medical advice and information when considering a child for adoption. Families are approved for children with medical conditions on a case by case basis after reviewing the family’s qualifications as best determined by the placement agency.

    Now back to Leo! Leo is initially shy with adults or unfamiliar people. He listens carefully, and he is thoughtful about his response. However, he really comes out of his shell around his classmates and peers. He is outgoing around other children, and in his school environment, he answers questions eagerly and loudly. Leo’s fine and gross motor skills are great. He can walk on a balance beam, use his fingers deftly, hold scissors well, and he completes all sorts of tasks such as drawing patterns and folding paper. He enjoys art and origami, but jigsaw puzzles are his favorite. He can use open ended toys such as blocks, legos, and such to create all sorts of things. He is very creative. All of his peers care for him greatly, as he is always met with a hug and teasing from his friends.

    Leo’s face is always filled with a happy smile. He is good at hands-on activities, and his painting ability is admirable. After watching an art video, the teacher provides animal pictures, and Leo can imitate the pictures well with careful attention to detail. Leo grasps new knowledge quickly, and his concentration

    and learning ability are greater than his peers. Leo is a team leader in class, and he enjoys assisting the teachers. Over the years, his language skills and confidence have grown greatly.

    Want to learn more about Leo? Email Brandie . We have several pictures of Leo to share with families who are considering adopting him!

    Little People of America offers a $1,000 retroactive grant to families adopting a child with dwarfism, and a $5,000 retroactive grant to families adopting a boy with dwarfism age 11 or older. You can find a wealth of medical information and support, as well as links to regional skeletal dysplasia clinics, at Little People of America .

  • Looking Towards the Future for Chinese Adoptions

    More changes were announced this week for the China adoption program. Just two weeks ago, agencies and families learned that the CCCWA placed tighter restrictions on adoptive families, including limiting the number of children in the home and requiring the youngest child in the home to be at least three years old before proceeding with another adoption. You can reference the complete list of changes here .

    Yesterday, we learned that the CCCWA will end One to One orphanage partnership programs that allowed orphanages and adoption agencies to form partnerships for direct referral of children. This is effective December 31, 2017. Previously, based on other announcements from CCCWA, we believed that as orphanage partnerships expired, they would not be renewed, but this is no longer the case. Instead they will just all end at one time at the end of this year, no matter the time remaining in the contract. In addition, hosting programs for waiting children will also end.

    From the CCCWA:

    Announcement

    July 18, 2017

    Relevant government departments and adoption agencies in receiving countries,

    Following the enactment of the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Administration of Activities of Overseas Non-Governmental Organizations within the Territory of China (hereinafter referred to as Administration Law) since January 1, we would like to notify as follows on relevant issues about the programs carried out by adoption agencies such as the One-to-One Assistance Program, Journey of Hope Program, and Summer/Winter Hosting Program based on the regulations of the Administrative law and conclusions of competent authorities:

    1. All activities concerning the One-to-One program, Journey of Hope Program, and Summer/Winter Hosting Program will be terminated. For children who have been assessed by adoption agencies through the One-to-One program before the enactment of the Administrative Law and whose reports have not been submitted to CCCWA, if their reports are submitted through the provincial department of civil affairs to CCCWA before December 31, 2017 (subjected to the approval date of the provincial department), CCCWA will post these files to the specific list of the original adoption agency. Agencies are requested to look for children within required deadline, otherwise the files will be withdrawn by CCCWA when the deadline is closing.

    2. Foreign adoption agencies should abide by the business scope specified in the registration when working in China. No activities with inter-country adoption as the purpose are allowed when agencies work in welfare and charity related activities.

    3. Adoption agencies should look for adoptive families according to the requirements outlined in the Review Points for Decision on the Eligibility of Foreigners Adopting from China and avoid hasty placements without discretion within the deadline.

    -China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption Center

    So, what does this mean for agencies and adoptive families?

    Agencies will no longer receive agency designated files from their previous partnership orphanages as they have in the past. Any children that Agencies are holding from one-to-one programs must be turned over to the CCCWA. Our hope will be they will eventually all be released to the database of waiting children. This could mean that their will be an increase in children available to all agencies to reserve and match with their families. This will make the process more consistent across the board for Agencies and Families, as well as more exposure for children who may have been waiting with one agency for some time. Prior to One to One partnerships, agencies requested all files from the shared list to match with potential families, so that will be the only way to match moving forward.

    For adoptive families, this could mean a longer wait time for a referral of a young, minor needs child since those referrals generally came directly from orphanages. However, this is being seen across the board for all agencies. Overall, we have seen a decline in the number of young children with minor correctable needs being placed for international adoption. The culture in China appears to be changing, as more Chinese families are adopting domestically, which is great news for the children, as they are able to maintain their birth culture. Keep in mind that “minor and correctable needs” mean different things for different families. While one family would consider multiple surgeries for cleft lip and palate minor and correctable, another family could view surgeries and years of speech therapy as a long-term challenge that they could not undertake. There are thousands of children in China with varying medical and special needs waiting for families that are ready to be adopted internationally. Now with healthier children being placed in the general database just like those with special needs, it could mean more matching opportunities. As files are returned to CCCWA and hopefully submitted to the database, we will know more of what to expect. Overall adoptive families considering China need to go into the program flexible in gender, age and prepared to adopt a child with medical needs.

    An obvious downside is the cessation of hosting, which has been crucial in years past to placing older children and those with more complex special needs. Hosting has helped hundreds of children be exposed to a wonderful experience, as well as increased opportunities to find their forever family. This option for children will be sorely missed, and hopefully agencies can work together to advocate for the return of such programs.

    What we do know is that the China adoption program remains to be a stable and predictable program for families hoping to adopt internationally. The China program has encountered changes throughout the years and is still a strong program that places many beautiful children in loving families. We will continue to work diligently to unite children with their families as we navigate these recent changes.