Drastic cuts will impact agency operations for foreseeable future
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services today announced that the agency will avert an administrative furlough of more than 13,000 employees, scheduled to begin Aug. 30 as a result of unprecedented spending cuts and a steady increase in daily incoming revenue and receipts.
USCIS expects to be able to maintain operations through the end of fiscal year 2020. Aggressive spending reduction measures will impact all agency operations, including naturalizations, and will drastically impact agency contracts.
USCIS Deputy Director for Policy Joseph Edlow says, “However, averting this furlough comes at a severe operational cost that will increase backlogs and wait times across the board, with no guarantee we can avoid future furloughs. A return to normal operating procedures requires congressional intervention to sustain the agency through fiscal year 2021.”Anticipated operational impacts include increased wait times for pending case inquiries, longer case processing times, and increased adjudication time for aliens adjusting status or naturalizing. Naturalization ceremonies will continue. Congress must still act on a long-term solution that will provide USCIS with the necessary financial assistance to sustain the agency throughout 2021 and beyond.You can read the full statement issued by USCIS at: https://www.uscis.gov/news/news-releases/uscis-averts-furlough-of-nearly-70-of-workforce
The Department of Homeland Security has announced that they are making adjustments to fees for certain USCIS services, to ensure that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is able to continue covering costs. Unlike most government agencies, USCIS is fee funded, and the collected fees account for nearly 97% of USCIS’ budget.
As required by federal law, USCIS conducted a comprehensive fee review and determined that current fees do not recover the cost of providing adjudication and naturalization services. DHS is adjusting USCIS fees by an average increase of 20% to help recover its operational costs. Current fees would leave the agency underfunded by about $1 billion per year.
“USCIS is required to examine incoming and outgoing expenditures and make adjustments based on that analysis,” said Joseph Edlow, USCIS deputy director for policy. “These overdue adjustments in fees are necessary to efficiently and fairly administer our nation’s lawful immigration system, secure the homeland and protect Americans.”
DHS and USCIS are encouraging online filing by providing a $10 reduction in the fee for applicants who submit forms online that are electronically available from USCIS. Online filing is the most secure, efficient, cost-effective and convenient way to submit a request with USCIS.
Effective October 2nd, 2020, the new filing fees will be:For Hague Convention Countries
Request Form Current Fee
Final Fee Change I-800/I-800A $775 $805 I-800A Supplement 3 $385 $400 Biometrics fingerprints $85 $30
For non-Hague Countries
Request Form Current Fee
Final Fee Change
I-600/I-600A $775 $805 I-600A Supplement 3 N/A $400 Biometrics fingerprints $85 $30
Any application, petition, or request postmarked on or after October 2nd, 2020 must include payment of the new, correct fees, or USCIS will not be able to process the documents.
For more information on USCIS and its programs, please visit uscis.gov.
Recently China updated their adoption regulations concerning international families who desire to adopt. There are new qualifications to consider if you are interested in adopting from this program. Some of these have been in place for some time, and are now being reinforced. We are seeing an increase in denials of adoption applications with the CCCWA due to these stricter guidelines. While we are disappointed to see there will be more families who do not qualify, we are understanding that this is a direct result from non-compliance to post adoption reporting, as well as their concerns with placing multiple children with medical needs into the same home. This is still a viable program for the majority of families, and the need is still very great.
If you have any questions about how this will affect your adoption, or if you still qualify for the program, please contact your coordinator.
Here is the update from the CCCWA:
Relevant government departments and adoption agencies in receiving states,
In order to further promote the scientific and standardized level of inter- country adoption, and implement our working principle “everything for the children”, we have refined and improved the review points for deciding the eligibility of foreigners adopting from China, in accordance with the Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, and Measures for Registration of Adoption of Children by Foreigners in the People’s Republic of China, as well as the practice of paper review of CCCWA.
1. The prospective adoptive parents (PAPs) should reach the age of 30, and the age difference between the PAP and the adoptee should be not more than 50 years.
2. When a couple adopts together, the age difference should be counted based on the age of the younger party.
II. Marital Status
1. The PAP(s) should be a couple of one male and one female, or a single female with no homosexual tendency.
2. In the adoption by a couple (couple adoption), the PAPs should have a stable marital status, either party should have not more than 2 divorces. If one party has no divorce history or 1 divorce, their current marriage should last not less than 2 years. If one party has 2 divorces, their current marriage should last not less than 5 years.
3. In calculating the marriage lasting time for PAPs, the time living together before their marriage can be included. When calculating the number of divorces, widow and remarriage after divorce are not included.
III. Health Conditions
The PAPs should be physically and mentally fit, with the ability to raise and educate the adoptee, but without any of the following conditions:
(1) Intellectual disability;
(2) HIV positive, or infectious disease that is actively contagious;
(4) Mental disorder including mania, depression, bipolar affective disorder, anxiety and phobia, etc. PAP(s) with minor symptoms and are under good control by taking medicine, assessed by a psychological professional as having no effects on their normal work and life and fit to care and educate the adoptee, will be exempt from this limitation;
(5) Binocular blindness, binocular low vision or monocular blindness with no ocular prosthesis;
(6) Severe facial deformation;
(7) Binaural hearing loss or language function loss; PAPs who adopt children with identical conditions, or with one party of a couple healthy will be exempt from this limitation;
(8) Non-function or dysfunction of limbs or trunk caused by impairment, incomplete limb, paralysis or deformation;
(9) Diseases that require long-term treatment, and have bad prognosis which will affect PAPs’ child care ability such as lupus, nephrosis, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, etc.; In a couple adoption, if one party is completely healthy and the other suffers any of such diseases but is under good control after treatment, they will be exempt from this limitation if they can provide a doctor’s note to attest that the illness has no effects on their normal work and life and fit for caring the adoptee;
(10) Skin cancer, thyroid cancer, breast cancer and testicular cancer that has been cured for less than 3 years; other kinds of cancer or malignant tumor that has been cured less than 5 years;
(11) Vital organ transplant within 10 years; In a couple adoption, if one party is healthy and the other party had organ transplant within 10 years but has recovered to live a normal life, they will be exempt from this limitation;
(12) BMI (BMI=weight (kg)/ height2 (m2) )≥40;
(13) Short stature or dwarfism; PAPs who adopt children with identical conditions will be exempt from this limitation.
IV Educational background
The PAPs should have received senior high school education or above, or vocational and technical skills education of the same level. V. Family Financial Conditions
1. The PAPs (at least one party of a couple in a couple adoption) should have stable occupation and income. The per-capita annual income of a family including the prospective adoptee should reach 10,000 USD; When calculating the family per-capita annual income in an adoption by a single parent, the number of family members should be one more than the actual family member number after adoption
2. Couple adoption’s family net worth should reach 80,000 USD, and single adoption’s family net worth should reach 100,000 USD.
3. Welfare allowance such as relief fund, pension, disability benefits, adoption subsidy, foster care subsidy and disabled child subsidy, etc. are not included in the family annual income.
4. Proper relaxation can be granted to foreigners living in China on the aspects of family annual income and net worth.
VI Moral Characters
The PAPs should have no record of criminal penalties, have good moral characters, honorable behaviors and abide by laws and regulations, without any of the following circumstances:
(1) a history of domestic violence, sex abuse, abandonment/abuse of children (even if they were not arrested or convicted);
(2) a history of taking drugs including opium, morphine, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, smokable methamphetamine and etc;
(3) a history of alcohol abuse and have stopped drinking for less than 10 years.
Adoption application will be given due consideration when the PAPs have had no more than 3 criminal records with minor violations and no severe outcomes, and the time for correction has reached 10 years; or have had no more than 5 records of traffic law violation with no severe outcomes.
VII Children in the House
1. The adoption of orphans, disable children, or abandoned infants and children whose parents cannot be ascertained or found, are not subject to the requirement that the adopter should be childless.
2. The PAPs should have enough time and energy to take care of the minors in the house including the prospective adoptee. In a couple adoption, the number of minors living in the house of the PAPs should be not more than 5; in a single adoption, the number of minors in the house of the PAPs should be not more than 2.
3. The youngest child in the house should reach 3 years old.
VIII Adoption Frequency and Numbers
1. Adopters should submit post placement reports as required after the adoption; There should be a 1 year interval between the second adoption application and the previous one (from the registration date of the previous adoption to the current adoption application date).
2. In principle, the PAPs should adopt 1 child from China at a time.
3. In a couple adoption, if adoptee is a twin or multiple births or have siblings, the adoption will be exempt from the limitation of item 2.
1. The PAPs should receive pre-adoption training to have a correct cognition and understanding of the possible risks of inter-country adoption, be fully prepared for the adoption and care of the adoptee. The PAPs should promise in the inter-country adoption application letter that they will not abandon or maltreat the child to be adopted, and will submit post placement reports as required.
2. As for PAPs residing in countries other than their birth country, if they intend to apply to adopt from China, they should reside in countries which have cooperative relationship with China in inter-country adoption, or in contracting states of the Hague Convention.
3. This document does not apply to stepchild adoptions. As for the adoption of a child belonging to a collateral relative by blood of the same generation and up to the third degree of kinship, relaxation will be granted properly.
4. Time or age is calculated based on the adoption application dossier’s log-in-date at CCCWA.
5. This document shall enter into force as of the date of issuance. In the event of any inconsistency between this document and previous CCCWA regulations or notices, the review points of this document shall apply.
China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption
At least when the adoption is done, I won’t have any more paperwork!
By the time adoptive parents are granted legal custody of their child, they have completed pages and pages—and what seems like books—of paperwork. Contracts, medicals, financial statements, letters of intent, employment documents, picture pages, THE HOMESTUDY, and so, so, so much more. Whole reams of paper, pens of ink and cartridges of toner are committed to the adoption process. It seems like a never ending battle to get that one last document finished. By the time the adoption is done, you are ready to just move on with life and never, EVER do another piece of paperwork as long as you live (or at least until your next adoption).
However, the point of adoption is actually the beginning of a whole other set of paperwork for many adoptions and especially so for those who internationally adopt. Most countries require at least one post-adoption report with many requiring multiple reports over the span of time. In most cases, the country has a set amount of required reports as determined by the country, but some cases may require more reports, especially in countries where a birth parent is involved in the process. Some countries even require reports until the child is 18 years old (that’s a lot of reports for kids who are adopted as babies or toddlers!). Even if the country does not require post-adoption reports, most placing agencies or at least home-study agencies require reports per agency or state policies.
Post-adoption reports are an important part of a country’s decision to move forward with their adoption program. Reports allow a country to measure the success of the program and the outcomes for children. It also allows them to know that the children are alive and still in the original adopted home, or in the case that they are not, where they are and whether the new adoption/placement was done correctly. (Note: post-adoption reports need to be honest and never cover up any issues. No one expects everything to be perfect and even knowledge of issues can be enlightening for change.) In some countries, birth parents/family and/or the orphanage that cared for the child have the right to review the reports in order to maintain knowledge of the child’s well-being.
At the onset of an adoption, parents are informed about the expected post-adoption reports (to the best of the agency’s ability as things do change over time), and parents sign documentation stating they understand the requirements and will abide by them. In addition, most countries require the adoptive family and/or placing agency to submit documentation as part of the dossier stating they will complete the reports as required. Unfortunately, not all parents fulfill this obligation to their child’s country and adoption agency. When that happens, there can be dire consequences for the children remaining in the country and/or for the children that could be placed by the agency in the future.
The Department of State recently published the 2016 Annual Report on Intercountry Adoptions. DOS reports that it met with 30 countries in 2016 regarding intercountry adoption. In these meetings, three main concerns were presented by countries as concerns—prominent among them was post-adoption report compliance. “Even after adoption, countries maintain a strong interest in knowing how children from their countries fare. Officials become concerned when they receive no reports about a child after adoption, often fearing that the adoption has disrupted or dissolved, or that the child has been harmed. When parents fail to fulfill the obligation they agreed to, it reflects badly on U.S. adoptions and may impact the country’s willingness to continue to engage and partner with the United States.” Countries have shut down over non-compliance in the past (for example, Ukraine closed for some time in October 2005 due to missing reports— link ) which hurts remaining orphans and potential parents in the short-and-long-run. “Several countries have conditioned the resumption of intercountry adoptions on receiving post adoption reports from parents who previously adopted children from that country.” (Quotes taken from the above mentioned report.)
The Department of State has since issued further notices regarding the importance post-adoption reporting. A May 8, 2017 notice states “Missing or delinquent post-adoption reports can negatively impact adoption service providers seeking authorization in affected countries, as well as U.S. citizen parents seeking to adopt in the future. The consequences of failure to comply with post-adoption reporting requirements are significant, particularly for thousands of children in need of permanency who would be adversely impacted if intercountry adoption programs are suspended or closed.” ( https://travel.state.gov/content/adoptionsabroad/en/about-us/newsroom/Post-AdoptionReportingOverview.html .)
It’s understandable that parents get busy and life moves on. In addition, it is clear to agencies that the vast majority of adoptive parents are devoted to the cause of the orphan and to the orphans and vulnerable children that remain in their child’s country. Agencies often see parents fundraise for or even create projects of humanitarian aid in their child’s country of origin. It is important for agencies and even countries to recognize these efforts made on behalf of the children. However, it is also important for adoptive families to realize that one of the most important things an adoptive parent can do to help orphans in their child’s country is to complete post-adoption reports on time and encourage others to do the same.
If you are an adoptive parent who has fallen behind on your reports, please contact your placing agency today to find out how you can help adoption remain a viable option for children in your child’s country of origin by catching up on missing reports. Please share this article and/or the Department of State’s notices in any way you can to encourage other adoptive families to do the same. If you have adopted a child after the dissolution of an international adoption, please contact your child’s original placing agency regarding reports as the countries still require them even if you are not legally bound to provide them. If your placing agency has closed, please contact the Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues for information on how to comply with reporting.
As many of you know, EACI adoption agency lost it’s Hague status in December of 2016. As a result they had to move all their programs to other agencies. IAN was identified to take on India and China Cases. We have spent the last month or more working to make this transfer as smooth a possible and welcoming these families to IAN. It has been a difficult time for all those families involved, but we are happy that the transfer is completed and we can focus on serving our new families and their prospective adoption children!
The State Department issued more information for those transfer families on Friday, and we are posting that here so that our new families can stay informed! Please be sure to read this carefully, and follow up with our office as needed. Thanks to all our families’ patience, current and new, as we have worked on this. We are so thankful to be serving our growing network of families and children.
Here is the full text of the update from the State Department:
EAC Case Transfer Approval InformationFebruary 3, 2017
The Department of State confirms that the Council on Accreditation (COA) reviewed case transfer plans for the following European Adoption Consultants, Inc. (EAC) intercountry adoption programs. If you have been working with EAC to adopt a child from a country that is not listed below, COA is currently reviewing EAC’s case transfer plan for that country. We will update this site with new information as it becomes available.
Date Plan Finalized
Global Adoption Services, Inc.
January 13, 2017
International Adoption Net
January 13, 2017
Little Miracles International Inc.
January 20, 2017
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
1:17 Center for Global Adoption
January 18, 2017
All Blessings International Inc., dba Kentucky Adoption Services
January 18, 2017
Little Miracles International Inc.
January 18, 2017
International Adoption Net
January 13, 2017
Global Adoption Services Inc.
January 20, 2017
Little Miracles International Inc.
January 20, 2017
Uganda (families without referrals)
Little Miracles International Inc.
January 20, 2017
Creative Adoptions Inc.
January 20, 2017
Please note that EAC clients are under no obligation to work with the adoption service provider (ASP) named in EAC’s case transfer plan. EAC is required to execute a plan to transfer their in-process adoption cases to a designated agency, however, some families may instead request that the case be transferred to an alternate primary provider. COA has advised that in those cases, prospective adoptive parents should send a request to EAC indicating a preferred ASP to which EAC should transfer the case. COA should be copied on this correspondence.
COA has also advised that EAC reports they will be reaching out to clients to obtain written consent to release records. Such consent should comply with the guidance provided here . COA expects EAC to execute their case transfer plans within 10 days of receipt of COA’s letter confirming its review of EAC’s case transfer plan.
The state of Ohio, where EAC is licensed, has informed the Department of State that under Ohio law, if a prospective adoptive parent submits a request to have their case transferred, the agency must act upon that request pursuant to Ohio Administrative Code 5101-2-48-19. Prospective adoptive parents may wish to copy the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, email@example.com , on email communications with EAC regarding case transfers. Please include “EAC” in the subject line if you do so.
The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services has also informed us that families experiencing difficulties getting EAC to transfer their file, or experiencing any other issues with EAC, may wish to submit a statement to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/about-ag/file-a-complaint , or call the hotline at 800-282-0515 or 614-466-4986. The hotline takes complaint calls Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. EST. Prospective adoptive parents who submit concerns in writing should include “EAC” in the subject line.
REVIEW OF CASE TRANSFER PLANS
When reviewing the transfer plan, COA verifies that the ASP selected to receive the adoption cases meets the following criteria:
- the ASP is currently accredited or approved;
- the ASP’s accreditation is valid for a sufficient period of time or the ASP has an application for renewal of its accreditation or approval pending and has made significant progress through the renewal process;
- the ASP is not currently subject to an adverse action compromising their accreditation status; and
- the ASP is authorized to work in the country they will receive cases for if such authorization is required.
COA’s review of the transfer is limited to the criteria listed above. It is important to note that while COA has verified that the ASPs are eligible at this time to receive EAC’s cases, there is no way to guarantee the new primary provider will remain eligible to provide adoption services.
POST-PLACEMENT AND POST-ADOPTION REPORTING
EAC is prohibited from providing adoption services, including “monitoring a case after a child has been placed with prospective adoptive parent(s) until final adoption”, and therefore EAC is prohibited from providing post-placement services, including post-placement reporting. Prospective adoptive parents who obtained custody or guardianship of a child and have not yet finalized the adoption need to find an accredited or approved ASP to provide any remaining services, including completing post-placement reports as required by the child’s country of origin.
The prohibition on providing adoption services does not apply to completion of post-adoption reports, which are required after an adoption has been finalized, to the extent allowed by state law and the country of origin’s requirements. Please be aware, that a foreign government may choose not to accept post-adoption reports from a debarred adoption service provider.
Families should be advised that the government of India has informed us that they will not accept post-adoption or post-placement reporting from EAC. We will provide additional information as it becomes available.
Federal regulations require EAC to complete the refund of fees paid for services not yet rendered within 60 days of the debarment. EAC should provide prospective adoptive parents with information on any refunds they may be eligible for or details of any fees that have not yet been expended for providing services that can be transferred to a new agency.
THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE’S ROLE
The Department of State’s role with case transfer plans is limited. As stated in the Notice regarding Case Transfer Responsibilities of Intercountry Adoption Service Providers , under 22 CFR 96.87, the agency or person’s execution of its transfer plans is under the oversight of the Accrediting Entity, the Council on Accreditation. The Department of State does not review or approve case transfer plans. The Department does, however, communicate with foreign Central Authorities and competent adoption authorities about the accreditation status of agencies and persons and case transfer plans, as needed.
Please continue to communicate directly with EAC and COA regarding specific questions related to your adoption case transfer.
For those of us who are lucky enough to have a loving Father, we know the feeling of love and protection. Little Zi knows this love…and misses it.
In all my years of working as an international adoption specialist, I have heard and seen a multitude of children’s stories—some sadder than others. Yet in all my days, no story has left me wanting a family for a child so badly as I want one for precious 8-year-old Zi.
When Zi was born, her birth mother left her father and much older sister to remarry. When many fathers might choose otherwise, her father raised her and her sister as best he could. In June 2014, the family got into a car accident that left Zi paralyzed from the waist down. Still, even as poor as they were, her father cared for her. Tragically, her father found out that December that he had liver cancer and died the next month. Zi and her sister went to live with a blind uncle while officials contacted their mother who once again refused to care for them. The children were then admitted to an orphanage. Her sister is now 18—too young to care for her and too old to be adopted with her.
When Zi came into care, she was in poor physical condition and would not speak. After being in the care of the orphanage, she is active and cute again, ready to smile, and has a good spirit. The orphanage personnel say she is very smart and cute, introverted and shy, can have a temper, and usually helps the nurturer look after the younger children. She likes writing, drawing, listening to music, watching TV and chatting. Her life is fulfill and happy with the exception of one important aspect—a family.
While single women can adopt from China, International Adoption Net feels this child needs both a mother and a father so she can once again have a Daddy . Could this little girl wrap your fatherly hand around her finger?
Contact Angela regarding this little girl, angela@
/contact/ This is a guest post from our partner Diane Hogan. She is an adoptive parent twice over, adoption and education expert, and President of A Step Ahead Adoption Services.
Are you a family who want to start or build your family and don’t know if adoption is right for you? If so, you have probably been on the Internet looking at all the choices, options and decisions you would need to make to just take the first step into adoption. Hopefully this article will help you understand your choices, fine tune your options and guide your decision-making process.
There are 3 primary paths to adopting a child – domestic (US) adoption, international adoption and/or foster-to-adoption. How do you know which path is best for you? Consider the child you see coming into your home and ask yourself these 5 simple questions:
1) What age is this child? Most domestic adoptions are newborn-to-1 year of age placements; most international adoptions are toddler-thru-school aged; most foster-to-adoption placements are 1-year to 18-years of age (after 18, most children “age out” of the foster care system).
2) What race or races of child can you consider? In domestic adoption, you have children of all colors of the rainbow and racial combinations; however, the least placed race (in the US) is Asian. For foster-to-adoption, again all the possible racial combinations of children are eagerly awaiting their forever families. International adoptions, you have to be country-specific, thus you will be defining race(s) upon selecting a country. To get an overview of options in this area, see: https://travel.state.gov/content/adoptionsabroad/en/adoption-process.html
3) What timeframe are you considering? Most domestic (US) adoptions can occur in 1-year or less unless you are gender-specific and then that could take up to 2 years. International adoptions are country-specific and will be dependent on how well your US agency or attorney is connected with the foreign country’s embassy, orphanages and laws. Generally speaking allow a minimum of 2 years for the process. For foster-to-adoption, you would need to be able and willing to foster a child until they are eligible for the adoption rolls. That process is often 1-2 years depending on your county’s policy for a birth parents time to attempt reunification – the goal of the foster system.
4) Are you gender-specific? If so, then focus more on international or foster-to-adoption because it is much easier to select a boy or girl, or both! In domestic adoption, you become dependent on a gender-defining ultra sound or waiting for a born baby.
5) Do you have a budget defined? Most domestic and international adoptions are running $30,000 -$50,000 for the cost of preparing, adopting and traveling. Foster-to-adoption is more affordable as you may only be asked to pay for legal fees and travel. Remember, we currently do have an adoption tax credit that may assist you after you adopt. For more information, see: https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc607.html
Still confused? Feel free to send us an email or give us a call. We provide adoption education, guidance, support and resource referrals for many various aspects of adoption. If you are a family desiring a domestic adoption or adoption education, we have consultants across the US to talk with you and discuss the process of domestic adoption. If you are considering an international or foster program, we can connect you with agencies speializing in the programs you are interested in.
Diane Hogan is an adoptive mom of two “babies” (now respectively 21 years of age and 18 years of age). Along with her husband she adopted domestically and has two open adoptions. She hold BS and MA degrees in education. Worked for 20 years in public education (classroom teacher, curriculum developer, program specialist, teacher trainer). Besides her two children, she is most proud of her 2-years or remission from Hodgkins’ Lymphoma! Diane now owns/operates A Step Ahead Adoption Services for the last 16 years from Colorado Springs, CO. A Step Ahead Adoption Services (ASA), in the big picture, is a consulting services designed to help adoptive parents seeking a domestic adoption through an agency or attorney in the US. We educate, guide, support our client families who are seeking a domestic or international adoption. ASA also provides education for agencies and law firms that work in adoption. They can offer 1:1 classes, workshops and seminars. They have an extensive online adoption & parenting library for client families (over 80 documents), a prerecorded 20-minute class on the domestic adoption procedure and 45 short vignettes of interviews with adoptees, adoptive parents and an occupational therapist. Our ASA clients have access to all of those educational materials. ASA contracts with consultants who work for us across the US to support adoptive families and agencies. If you prefer to go international or foster-to-adopt, we will happily refer you to professionals in your area. ASA website is: www.astepaheadadoption.com .
If you would like your article posted as a guest on our blog, please contact us.
Over the past year or so the Ethiopian program has seen many changes, both with the US side of the process as well as the process with the Ethiopian authorities. As many of you know the PAIR process, which went into effect late 2013, has added several months to the processing times for our cases. Some families are unfortunately experiencing a greater wait time than others. Additionally, more and more paperwork is now required to complete an international adoption, both from US Embassy and for the Ethiopian authorities. While we support these measures as a way to cut down on unethical adoptions, we do understand that this is frustrating for families both on the waitlist and in process to see such a slowdown.
Here are few things to keep in mind as things stand now with Ethiopia:
- Wait times for referrals are getting longer. While we can’t say exactly how long the wait will be for a referral, we do know that all agencies in Ethiopia are experiencing a slowdown in the process. We can promise you that our staff is working very hard to gather all necessary paperwork and complete investigations in order for us to give referrals. There are several steps a child’s case must go through before they are available for international adoption. First, MOWA has to approve the child for international adoption, then the agency is referred the child, initial paperwork is gathered and then we refer the child to the adoptive family.
- The process is taking longer. We currently have families that have been in process with a referral for over a year. We are doing everything we can to keep the process moving forward as quickly as possible, but there are several steps that need to happen in the adoption process, and many of these steps are currently taking longer and requiring more to be completed.
- The process can change at any time. Both the PAIR process and the Ethiopian side of things can add or change requirements at any time. We do our best to keep up with and anticipate those changes, but sometimes they can add significant time to processing time. It is important to be flexible with estimated wait times and to know that your case may hit a bump in the road to extend your overall time in process. These additional changes are out of our hands, but we do the best we can to gather the necessary information as quickly as possible.
As of now we are still receiving referrals, though on a much smaller scale than a year ago. We are continuously working hard to continue adoptions in Ethiopia because we know there are children that need loving families. We have been assured that Ethiopia has no plans to officially close anytime soon, but it is no longer a quick or easy process. The slowdown, as far as we can tell, is a rather intentional move to minimize the amount of children internationally adopted in order to better regulate the process and verify orphan status.
We do not share this to be discouraging, but we just wanted to update our families on the current climate of Ethiopia. As always, please feel free to contact your coordinator for more details about any changes in the process or concerns you may have. We know this is not an easy process, and we will continue to work to make improvements to the process where we can.
In other news, we have learned of a small change that will make the process a little easier on our adoptive families! Now, whenever you apply to update your I-600A fingerprints, you send in your request, and they will send out an updated I-171H form with a new expiration date. You will not need to actually go to the USCIS office anymore to have your fingerprints taken again. So is great news! You will still need to submit an updated homestudy to extend the actual I-600A form, so please keep track of those expiration dates so you can update them when the time is right.
Finally, as many of you know, we have partnered with Project 143 to start a hosting program for older children in Ethiopia! We have had several families contact us to learn more about hosting and we are so excited to see the involvement from all of you! This is such a great opportunity for these children as they are often overlooked for adoption purposes. By hosting, the child gets to experience American culture while meeting several potential adoptive families in the process. If you decide not to move forward with the child’s adoption, maybe one of your friends will. We hope that through this program, we can promote older child adoption and find some of these children that have been waiting so long wonderful families! For more information about the hosting program and the children available, please visit http://www.projectonefortythree.com/ .
Citizenship Certificates and Social Security Cards
We have a little update for you about post arrival documents. First, it seems to be taking longer for Citizen Certificates to come in via the mail than the stated 50 day period. We are seeing an average of about 3 months. If it has been about 3 months since your child arrived in the US (with an IR3 visa) and you don’t have the citizenship paperwork yet, you can check the status by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and giving them the registration number off your child’s visa. This seems to encourage them to mail it out, so definitely give this a try!
For Social Security cards we also have lots of families wondering about where these are! With the DS 260 online Visa application, the cards are supposed to come automatically in the mail like the citizenship card. This does not seem to be happening for all of our families. We even had one family home with two children, where one got their card and the other didn’t! So we have been trying to get answers from NVC, USCIS and the Social Security Administration for several weeks now. Today we got what will probably be the most helpful answer that we will get:
Thank you for your patience. After further research it appears that this issue is not related to the electronically filing of the DS260. It appears to be an unrelated processing exception that will be further reviewed.
However, if it has been more than three weeks since the applicant applied for the SSN and was admitted into the U.S., then he or she will need to go into the local SSA office with all of his/her evidence (birth certificate, foreign passport, immigrant visa, (I-551) to apply for the SSN.
If there is anything else we can do to assist you, please do not hesitate to let us know.
National Visa Center
So unfortunately, if you have been home over a month and not gotten your social security card, it looks like you will need to apply at your local office. We were hoping that the DS 260 would allow our families to skip this added paperwork once home, but it looks like the system is not processing like it should. Instructions for applying for the social security cards can be found in your welcome home packet or here http://www.ssa.gov/people/immigrants/children.html
If you have any further questions about this please contact your coordinator or email email@example.com and we will get back to you as soon as we can.
Thanks and hope you are all having a great start to the Holiday Season!