Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Dear Ms. Shelter,
My name is Amy K. Burt. I am the founder of Indiana Open. We are a grassroots group dedicated to getting adoptees and first parents access to the original birth certificate. We are currently working with Senator Patricia Miller in hopefully presenting a bill for this legislative year.
Our organization has several search angels that would be willing to help her find her mother for her. We normally do not make contact with the first parents or the adoptee, whom ever is being searched. We find the information for them and hand it over to them. It is a way of empowering the adoptee or the first parent.
So many of us have had that choice taken from them by the laws of Indiana and by the adoption agency themselves.
If you would like more information on our group or just like to visit, we can be found at the following locations.
We are also on twitter, technorati, digg, and delicious. We will be adding a tag page and a facebook as well. We currently have over forty members. We also have a petition as well.
Amy K. Burt, founder/owner of Indiana Open
Pam Kroskie, co founder/search angel
Melissa Shelton, MSW co founder/ American Adoption Congress represenative
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
It looks like Arkansas might be the next target with the ACLU in this article:
ACLU of Arkansas Sues Over Adoption Restrictions
By The Associated Press - 12/30/2008 10:41:01 AM
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas says it has filed a lawsuit to strike down a new law banning unmarried couples from becoming foster or adoptive parents.
The group announced Tuesday that it had filed a lawsuit in Pulaski County Circuit Court seeking to overturn Initiated Act 1, which was approved by voters in last month's general election.
The group filed the lawsuit on behalf of 29 adults and children from more than a dozen families, including a grandmother who lives with her same-sex partner of nine years and is the only relative able and willing to adopt her grandchild, who is now in Arkansas' state care.
The group said that plaintiffs include several married, heterosexual couples who say they have relatives or friends who would not be able to adopt their children because of the new law, which takes effect Thursday.
The lawsuit was filed against the state of Arkansas, the attorney general, the Arkansas Department of Human Services and its director, and the Child Welfare Agency Review Board and its chairman.
The Arkansas Family Council, a conservative group that campaigned for the ban, said it was aimed at gay couples but the law will affect heterosexuals and homosexuals equally.
Department of Human Services officials have said they do not expect to have to remove any foster children from their homes when the new law takes effect. The state had already barred cohabiting unmarried couples from becoming foster parents and was in the process of reversing that policy when voters approved the new ban.
The law does not affect any adoptions that were finalized before it takes effect.
The ACLU had represented four plaintiffs in a lawsuit that led the state Supreme Court to overturn the state's ban on gay foster parents in 2006. The Family Council had campaigned for the initiated act in response to that ruling.
Here are my recommendations
1. Give adoptees unrestricted access to their own original birth certificates
2. Change the time frame in which a mother can change her mind. It would be a no questions kind of situation. I believe thirty days is a good number to start with. When a person buys a vacuum cleaner, they have thirty days to change their minds. It should be the same thing at the very minimum with placing a child.
3. Give relinquishing parents their own representation. They should have someone who is looking out for their best interests. Not an adoption attorney that is representation to both the adoptive parents and the relinquishing parents.
Here is the link and the story.
|Last Edited: Tuesday, 30 Dec 2008, 1:14 AM EST|
|Created: Monday, 29 Dec 2008, 7:45 PM EST|
FOX 2 News
ECORSE, Mich. (WJBK) -- A long legal fight over a planned adoption ends with the biological parents being reunited with their son. The costly court battle lasted more than five years and drained the parents' resources.
Kenneth Barnett and Christine Wolfe received word on Christmas Eve that their son, Cody, would remain with them. The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled in their favor.
"I was just jumping and screaming for joy... It's the best Christmas present ever because my baby's home," said Wolfe.
"We were so thrilled that not only will this case... keep him home for good, but being that the decision was a precedent, it's going to be... very hard... for anybody to ever do this to a set of biological parents again," said Barnett.
In 2003, Wolfe gave birth to Cody after she and Barnett had divorced. She already had another child and considered allowing a Dearborn couple to adopt him. "I wanted the best for him and I thought I was doing the right thing and it wasn't," said Wolfe.
The couple got custody and guardianship of Cody, but Barnett never gave up his parental rights and fought any anticipated adoption. Wolfe also withdrew her consent, but the couple went to court, fighting to keep him as his parents' legal bills soared.
"We're close to $225,000... This has basically impoverished us," said Barnett.
The child bounced between the parents and the guardians who wanted to adopt him. Last year, Wolfe received full custody of Cody, but the other couple tried to get the decision reversed. The Court of Appeal's ruling halted that move.
Cody's parents argue these disputes should never last this long. "He spent three years of his life with two homes, two names, two schools, two religions, two families and nobody could stop and say wait a minute, let's put an end to this," said Barnett.
FOX 2 News attempted to contact the other couple involved for a comment, but were unable to reach them.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
We will be protesting in Philadelphia this year. We are forming websites, forums, and blogs to speak out against the injustice of sealed records. The words of the National Council for Adoption are ringing hollow in the ears of legislators. They are beginning to hear us. The sealed records of the past have no effect on an expectant mother's choices now. The mothers of the past are well past child bearing age so they can't go back and have an abortion.
The women's movement today is speaking out against many of the myths and fallacies of adoption.
Stand up and join us. Its time to bring the absolute control over adoptees and their families to an end. Its time to make these agencies do right by us.
Here is the story about the Harrisons.
Father acquitted of manslaughter in July death of adopted toddler
By Scott McCabe
Examiner Staff Writer 12/17/08
Fairfax County Judge R. Terence Ney ruled that Miles Harrison’s conduct did not meet the
legal standard for manslaughter, which requires “negligence so gross, wanton and culpable as to show a callous disregard for human life.”
Harrison’s actions were “tragic” but the new father was “dutiful and devoted,” Ney said.
“The only atonement can take place in his heart and soul,” Ney said.
Harrison, 49, of Purcellville, testified that he forgot to drop off 21-month-old Chase at a day care center in Ashburn on July 8. He then left the toddler inside his GMC Yukon for nine hours while he went to work at the Project Solutions Group in Herndon.
At about 5 p.m., when a co-worker told Harrison that Chase was in the SUV, he ran from his work desk to the parking lot, threw open the car door and tried to revive his son. Chase was a Russian-born child who had been adopted by Harrison and his wife, Carol, only three months earlier.
That evening at the hospital, a Fairfax County detective and hospital employees overheard Harrison calling out with remorse.
“I want my son. I left my son, I left him in the car. Look at what I did. I left him in the car,” Harrison could be heard saying, according to court documents. “I can’t live like this. How did this happen. ... God take me. He should not have taken my son.”
Prosecutors argued that Harrison might not have wanted to harm his son but he wasn’t willing to take on the responsibilities of being a father.
The death of Chase, born Dmitry Yakolev, sparked strife between Russia and the United States over adoption regulations. The Russians opened an investigation into European Adoption Consultants Inc., the company Harrison and his wife used to bring Dmitry to Virginia.
Russian officials called on the United States to tighten its standards and banned two other unnamed international adoption agencies.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
You see I look at this different and probably similar to the Russians on this. I know that adoptive parents are not perfect. However, they are held to a higher standard that everyone else. They owe it to not only the children to do it right but also to the natural parents of that child to get it right. The adoption agencies however do not see it that way. All they see is the profit that these agencies make. The agency involved was European Adoption Consultants. This is the second child that they placed that has died in the care of adoptive parents. One really has to wonder if they are doing their jobs according to standard. Somehow I do not think so.
Here is what the Russians are saying about this so called trial:
Russia to toughen adoption rules for U.S. over Harrison acquittal
MOSCOW, December 18 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will toughen adoption requirements for U.S. nationals following the acquittal of Miles Harrison over the death of his adopted Russian-born son, a senior education and social protection official said on Thursday.
Harrison, 49, was acquitted on Wednesday of the involuntary manslaughter of his 21-month-old son Chase (born Dmitry Yakolev), who died of heatstroke after being left in a vehicle in the hot sun for nine hours in front of his adoptive father's workplace in Virginia.
"We are outraged by the court ruling and believe it to be totally unjust and unacceptable," Alina Levitskaya was quoted by the Education and Science Ministry as saying. "It questions the reliability of the U.S. system of protection of adopted children's rights, and will lead to tougher requirements for U.S. nationals in Russia."
Levitskaya said the ministry would demand that authorities in the United States step up monitoring of children adopted from Russia. She said the education ministry and the Russian Embassy in the United States would seek a guilty verdict for Harrison.
"When a tragedy occurs, even if through an involuntary action, a severe punishment should be inevitable," Levitskaya said.
Explaining the ruling, Fairfax County Judge R. Terence Ney said Harrison's conduct did not meet the legal standard for manslaughter, which requires "negligence so gross, wanton and culpable as to show a callous disregard for human life."
"No prison term is going to cause more pain than that which he has already suffered. The only true atonement here can only take place within his heart and soul," the judge said.
Over the last 10 years in the United States there have been approximately 230 fatal cases of parents locking their children in cars on a hot day.
Three adoption agencies, including that which organized Dmitry Yakolev's adoption but failed to inform Russian authorities of the baby's death, were banned from operating in the country in July.
Several calls for tighter controls on adoptions have been made in Russia in recent years over a series of scandals, notably the killing of a two-year-old girl from Siberia by her adoptive mother in the U.S. The woman, Peggy Sue Hilt, was sentenced to 25 years in prison in May 2006 for beating the child to death.
Around 120,000 Russian children were adopted both in Russia and abroad in 2007, a 6.4% increase on 2006, according to the Science and Education Ministry.
I am stunned that the adoptees, adoptive families and first families have no one that they could report unscrupulous activity. I wonder if these folks have to do background checks on themselves and their employees.
It is interesting because I read this article about adoption agencies in New Jersey. I am stunned that this is not already in place. These are people who deal in child welfare all the time. They answer to no one.
Here is the story.
WEINBERG/HUTTLE BILL TO REQUIRE BACKGROUND CHECKS FOR ADOPTION AGENCY EMPLOYEES IS NOW LAWBy CNoel
TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senator Loretta Weinberg and Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, which requires employees of adoption agencies to undergo criminal history background checks and Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) child abuse record checks, has been signed into law by Governor Corzine.
“For children, stability and structure are important to positive growth and development,” said Senator Weinberg, D-Bergen. “When children are put up for adoption, and must move from foster home to foster home in the process, they come in contact with many different people. Through the requirement of these necessary background checks, this new law ensures that all adults that these children come in contact with have their best interest at heart.”
“It is vital that we preserve the integrity and safety of our adoption process and our children,” said Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle, D-Englewood. “Background verification will provide a more secure program which will encourage more people to participate in the adoption process. That will be a welcome result.”
The bill, S-111, requires that all employees of adoption agencies that have been, or are seeking approval by DYFS, to undergo criminal background and child abuse background checks. The offenses that will bar applicants and current employees from working at the agencies include endangering the welfare of a child, abuse, abandonment or neglect, and domestic violence.
According to the bill, adoption agencies established before the bill’s effective date (six months after its signing), will have 60 days to submit employee background checks to the Department of Children and Families (DCF). Agencies established after the bill’s effective date will have to submit employee background checks to the DCF prior to opening. New hires will have to undergo a background check within two weeks of beginning employment, and will not be allowed to be left alone with children until the background check has been approved by the DCF.
Any agency found to be in violation of the bill’s provisions will be suspended and will run the risk of having its license revoked. New agencies seeking licensure from DYFS will have their application refused. Staff members who refuse to undergo the checks will have their employment terminated, the Legislators said.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Adoptee Rights Demonstration
9 am July 21, 2009
All Americans, adopted or not, have a right to access government records about their own lives. That’s why we are organizing an Adoptee Rights Demonstration, a rally and protest in Philadelphia, PA, at 9 AM on July 21, 2009. This rally will coincide with the opening day of the Legislative Summit of the National Conference of State Legislators.
Adult adoptees in most of the advanced, industrialized nations of the world have unrestricted access to their original birth records as a matter of right. In contrast, adult adoptees in all but six states in the U.S. are forbidden unrestricted access to their own original birth certificates, due to archaic laws that are a legacy of a culture of shame that stigmatized infertility, out-of-wedlock birth and adoption.
Adult adoptees and their supporters have worked diligently in different states for decades to overturn these laws, but have been opposed by well-funded lobbies representing certain adoption agencies and lawyers who have a vested interest in keeping adoptee records closed. Their unsupported claims that access violates dubious privacy rights or will increase abortions and decrease adoptions have been categorically refuted by data from states with laws recognizing the rights of adoptees, by studies such as the recently published paper from the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, and by court decisions affirming the constitutionality of access laws.
Please join us in Philadelphia as we fight to restore our dignity and equality! If you can’t attend the demonstration, you can still help. Participate in our writing campaign to inform all state legislatures of the urgency of unsealing our records to restore the equality of adoptees in the United States. Help spread the word about the protest on your blog, or to any groups or mailing lists you belong to. And if you can afford it, your donation would be greatly appreciated.
Make a difference, be a part of history and get involved today!
Adoptee Rights Demonstration 2009
Your Rights -- Your Protest
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
I wonder if that CI thinks that she can shut me and others like me down. Hah, I do not think so. You can't shut me down. We adoptees, first families and adoptive families shall prevail in this. We want control over the adoption records. They belong to us. They have our names on them. Guess what? We are tired of being treated separately under the law. You are giving special immunities and privileges to the adoption agencies with the laws in Indiana. You are violating your own constitution.
Don't worry we will fix that for you. See ya and don't want to be ya.
I recommend both of them as good people and good searchers.
The Adoptee Rights Coalition has announced the next date on the demonstration. It will held on July 21, 2009 in Philadelphia, PA. We will be making further announcements as time moves forward.
I also want to announce that Indiana Open is fully launched and operational.
We have the main page at Indiana Open. We have guestbook and informational/link page to all of the information to help others in writing legislators and newspapers to encourage adoptee access laws.
We have a forum to discuss all of our ideas and thoughts. We hope to get more people to join us on our endeavor in attaining adoptee access.
We also have a blog where we can make announcements concerning our bill, provide announcements for other organizations in other states, and provide more details on the fight itself and how to word letters to our legislators.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Here is the story.
Reward for being chosen so very special
BY JO-ANN JENNINGS
Roger and Stacey Collier, Bixby, will never forget the day they were chosen. After eight years of the wish for pregnancy bringing disappointment, and after five and a half months of paperwork, they received their first call to meet a young mother who was looking for parents for her six and a half month old son.
They were interviewed by phone on a Saturday and met Tyler and his birth mother the following day––the day they were chosen.
They talked. They clicked. “You’re the ones,” said Tyler’s birth mother. “Go get him.”
After the long wait of wanting a child, “Going to instant family was a huge adjustment,” said Stacey. “It was surreal.”
Tulsa Crisis Pregnancy Outreach instructs its hopeful parents to at least have a car seat so that if a call comes, and they need to pick up a baby, they’ll be prepared. Roger and Stacey had a crib and a car seat, but after getting the first call from the mother, decided to pull together some other things––like diapers. They knew the birth mother had also interviewed other couples, so they were not the only ones being considered.
“We did a lot of scrambling after he came home,” Stacey said. Once their families had met him and gone home, the couple looked at Tyler and experienced that realization that all young parents feel when they get their baby home for the first time. “What now?”
“It’s much like having a baby,” said Stacey, “but it’s more surreal because there isn’t nine months to prepare.”
Stacey had done one other thing to prepare which really helped when the time came. She stopped working for Family and Children’s Services full-time and started taking contract work.
Now she wants people not to be afraid to talk about adoption and try it.
Stacey said many people know about adoption but not open adoption.
“Even though open adoption sounds scary at first, it isn’t, so at least look into it,” Stacey advises others who want children. “A lot of people don’t look into it because of fear,
and CPO does many adoptions of beautiful babies every year.”
Stacey had heard the stories of others who had said adoption was impossible, that the waiting lists were five years long, but with an open adoption through Tulsa Crisis Pregnancy, it was possible.
Tyler was placed in the Collier home in February; his adoption was finalized in October. Now that everything has been legalized, the Collier’s are going to put together another “Life Book” to hopefully be chosen again, giving Tyler a little brother or sister.
(See Part II, Open Adoption, in this edition.)
I spoke with Lori Baxter a year ago. She was fairly decent to me. Although she doesn't believe in adoptee access, she is a fellow adoptee whose story is similar to mine. Because another adopted family member does not want to be found, she doesn't believe in them for that reason. I have heard good things about her from several folks. She comes off as fair in my mind.
I spoke with Candy Jones in May 2008. She stated that she was a relinquishing mother who was in reunion for many years. She was also a member of Concerned United Birthparents and American Adoption Congress. From what I hear, she is no longer a part of the AAC. This is a woman does believe in adoptee access. She came off very kind and compassionate.
My CI was Catrina Carlisle. Truthfully she is a kind woman. Truthfully, it could be my records that are messed up and not her. When I asked her three years ago how she feels about adoptee access, she said that she supported it. She never once mentioned the "birthmother" privacy. She said that she had to follow the law and the adoption agency's rules.
The last one is who I spoke with last night, Kristen Lucas. I have to say this one at a screaming tone. RUN DO NOT USE THIS WOMAN. I get the strong impression that she hates adoptees and natural parents. This is a woman who needs to step down. She told me that she processes all the court requests for adoptees and first parents in Northern Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Tennessee, and California. She quoted me the "birthmother" privacy. Now I know one thing with both the court cases in Tennessee and Oregon, there was never a document ever presented proving this privacy issue. That is why the adoption industry is now saying the privacy was presumed. Now I have talked with thousands of natural mothers all over the country. These mothers wanted privacy from the public eye but NOT FROM THEIR CHILDREN. I told her this. She tried to tell me that she has some of the records for Georgia Tann. She tried to tell me that Georgia Tann was still practicing adoption into the sixties. This horrible woman died in 1950. Her adoption agency ended in 1951. She also tried to tell me that there were open adoptions in the 1960s. I know better. Everything was closed even to the adoptive parents. Yet none of those living adoption were really guaranteed privacy. I have a letter from an adoption agency promising both the adoptee and the adoptive parents access to the original birth certificate for any further need at any further time.
She then tried to tell me that adoptees and first parents have major issues with their reunions. It was so bad that it made the news. Gee, I have been researching adoption pretty solid for the last three years. I have yet to find any such story out of Indiana. However what I have heard from those who have used her, that she is the one that causes a majority of the issues that these people face.
Hopefully we will get some more confidential intermediaries soon. Lord knows our choices are dwindling. Maybe we won't need them soon after we get the adoptee rights bill passed.
Monday, December 8, 2008
Here are the important links to visit:
We are still new and upcoming. So please be patient as we clear the dust and get our new hmoe set up.
Friday, December 5, 2008
Here is the story and the link.
The legislators worry about increases in abortion. Yet these women for the most part are way past child bearing years. These retroactive laws have no bearing on adoption what so ever. The adoptions have already been done.
It is all a matter of keeping the myths alive. Its a matter of keeping our voices separated and not in unison. Well as the adoptive parents of today start speaking out about corruption in their adoptions, the more and more we all join together. All of our voices will soon outweigh that of the adoption industry.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Here is the story and the link.
Preachers protest adoption ruling
Conservative preachers upheld stereotypes that were refuted in trial
By JUAN CARLOS RODRIGUEZ, South Florida Blade | Dec 4, 2:11 PM
A group of conservative preachers representing the Christian Coalition said they support removing adopted children of gay parents from stable homes, rather than let a ruling stand that overturns the Florida’s anti-gay adoption law.
The group, led by Rev. Paul Carbalho, held a press conference at the Wayside Baptist Church in Kendall Wednesday to protest Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman’s ruling that favored Frank Martin Gill, a gay man from North Miami who petitioned to adopt two half brothers he fostered since 2004.
In a 53-page decision, Lederman said that there is no rational basis for the 30-year-old law, known to be the most restrictive adoption law in the nation.
The Florida Attorney General’s office filed notice to appeal Lederman’s ruling.
Carbalho was joined by the leaders of three other churches including Nathaniel Wilcox, among the most vociferous anti-gay agitators in Miami-Dade County.
“We would like the adoption law to stay in position,” Carbalho said. “We don’t want to experiment with children, and [Gill’s family] is an experimental family.”
In support of their position, the conservative preachers upheld many of the same homophobic stereotypes that were refuted in the trial, including suggestions that gay people are likely to be pedophiles.
When asked whether the group supported removing Gill’s children from his home, Carbalho said that he would support placing them in the homes of straight parents regardless of the fact that Lederman and eight expert witnesses from across the nation agreed that it was in the children’s best interest to remain with Gill.
The appeal has yet to be assigned a judge or a trial according to the clerk of Florida’s Third Court of Appeal in Miami.
Here is the blog post link and the story.
Yep that is right. I just can't resist when I read a new article on some adoption agency that is being slammed by adoptive parents. The author of it does a very good expose on it. One of the comments that I found horrifying was the following:
"The adoption agency's e-mailed response admonished Harmoning for breaching contract, warning her that because of her "anger," that, "there may be some extra steps warranted before completing this adoption."
CCI's contract also allowed the agency to request extra measures at its discretion, such as parenting classes and psychological evaluations."
What I am finding with adoptive parent today is that they are wanting more transparency in the transaction concerning adoption of any kind. There is no specifics on the issue. I am also hearing that more and more adoptive parents want to control the information within adoption to belong to the triad itself. They do not want it at the control of neither the state nor the agency.
That is puzzling and alarming it itself. I remember reading over at Adoption Under One Roof this particular article. I am quoting their questions and red flag warnings on adoption agencies. It is a good indication in choosing a good adoption agency.
2. They want all the money up front; you don’t receive receipts for payments.
3. They don’t explain the adoption process in detail and you just have to figure it out for yourself.
4. They have gag clauses in the contract, or there is no contract.
5. They are wonderful when you first call, but once you’ve signed on it is hard to get hold of them.
6. When there are problems in the international adoption scene they start avoiding your calls.
7. There is constant staff turnover at the agency.
13. They don’t turn away applications even when they don’t have the staff to handle them.
14. They continue giving referrals for certain countries when it is no longer advisable to do so.
15. They don’t train their staff well.
18. They are ignorant of the culture and politics of the country you are adopting from.
19. They are disrespectful, unpleasant and impatient."
I printed down Celebrate Children International's contract. I wanted to read it myself. I also reviewed their 2006 IRS Form 990 and their website. Its amazing the amount of information that you can gleam off both of those sites. I usually use Guidestar for the tax forms. There is a free membership so anyone can join and use this information. According to the article above, the adoption agency lost their COA accreditation in May. They are no longer accepting applications from China or Guatemala. Guatemala is of course closed at this time. Unfortunately the state of Florida does not recognize COA's accreditation's process. If this were so, then the adoption agency would be shut down. They would not be allowed to operate.
Here are some rules in their contract that bother me. They are red flag warnings to all adoptive parents.
- The first part of the Adopting Parents obligations portion of the contract is number one. Adoptive parent understands that if the adoptive parent decides at any time during the adoption process to discontinue the adoption process, no refund of fees will be given and any fees that have been invoiced and not paid are still the responsibility of the adoptive parent. Nice isn't? They screw over and it is still your fault. These kind of clauses are there to protect them not you. It must be remembered that according to the adoption industry it is about them. These agencies do not look out for YOUR best interests.
- This is the number five portion of that same contract. Complete required ten hours or more of parent preparation according to the specific instruction and materials provided by the adoption agency, CCI, independent of preparaton provided during homestudy process. If an adoptive parent does not complete this to their satisfaction, it is a breach of contract. This is the start of the abuse of an adoption agency. This is a red flag warning for you.
- The next red flag is on number twelve of the contract. This is another area where they consider you the adoptive parent incapable of handling your own affairs. You can't make contact with the foreign government without their permission. So if you wanted to find what the heck was going on with your adoption, guess what? That is considered a breach of contract. The actual reading of it is this: Contact foreign government , orphanage officials, overseas facilitators and/or any other in-country individual or entity pertaining to your adoption process or the child you are adopting, lincluding but not limited to: medical personnel, foster families, lawyers, and social workers, only with the assistance and/or explicit written permission of CCI.
- The last red flag in their contract is the additional requirements which is number 14 on their contract. So they can continue to burn you if you have made them angry at any time. In addition to the one post placement, CCI may require additional home visits by a social worker, further evaluation by a social worker, pyschological evaluations, additional post placements, or any other measures deemed necessary at our discretion, at any time, before, during or after the adoption process if finalized. Furthermore, CCI has the authority to request further measures deemed necessary for CCI to initially approve or to continue to process the adoptive parent's case. The adoptive parent will be responsible for any costs incurred to these measures and/or additional visits/post-placement reports. Can you hear the bells ringing on this one? DING DING DING
Here is the information from their tax form:
Revenue monies earned: $4,570,558.
Adoption fees charged: $4,456,392.
Operating expenses: $496,338.
Susan Hedberg, Director and wife to the President of the organization, earned $269,419.
David Hedberg, Director, husband to Susan, and President of the organization.
Teresa Brown, Treasurer, earned $2,738.
Humanitarian aid was $56,968.
Donations to various organizations were $16,945.
According to their tax forms, they did not list any tax forms. What were their salaries? Even Gladney lists their top paid employees and contractors. Their agency is only a little bigger than this one. According to their website, they have several:
Angela Vance is the Assistant to the Director.
John S. Mischuck is the Staff Accountant.
Sara Eisenbart is the Haiti Program Coordinator.
Lara Carson is the Ukraine Program Director.
Carmen Lopez Cepero is their Humanitarian Aid Coordinator.
Jennifer Crist is the Assistant to the Humanitarian Aid Coordinator. I wonder if she is related to Governor Crist. Enquiring minds and all.
Tammy G. is the Kazakhstan Program Director. Interesting that she doesn't list her full name.
The various attorneys for readoption once entering the United States are done through the following attorneys.
Readoption in Orlando done through Don Meyers
Readoption throughout Florida with Jeanne Tate. This is a woman that you as an adoptive parent should run from. She violates the rights of many a natural parent consistently. She is know throughout the adoption underground movement as one of the terrible threes. The other two are Michael Shorstein and Patricia Stowbridge. Michael Shorstein guarantees all of his natural mothers will relinquish. He has a tendancy to stalk the hospitals looking for single mothers to target. He says he guarantees contact between the natural mothers and adoptive parents for up to five years but does not follow through with that kind of contact.
Readoption for Southern Florida done through Maryann Scherer.
Readoption for South Carolina done through Frederick M. Corley. He is associated with the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys. This is an automatic run for your life. You can probably smell the corruption.
Readoption for Mississippi done through Kim M. Haney.
This agency operates in Ethiopia, Haiti, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Taiwan.
One last stop in this little post is of course Adoption Agency Ratings. It is one of those highly commented on adoption agencies.
Here are some of the comments from people. I have removed the names to protect them.
Anyone that has gone through an international adoption knows the process is really, really hard! Your patience is tested, your faith is tested, and sometimes during the process you wonder if it's all worth it.
My daughter is home, so I can say with complete certainty it is worth the wait, frustration and tears.
BUT, and this is a BIG BUT - SUE HEDBERG singlehandedly made our adoption process absolutely miserable!
I honestly think she gets a rise out of intimidating AP's and using her scare tactics to bully us into shutting up.
From referral to homecoming our adoption took about one year. Long, yes, but not as long as many other people.
It was sad to lose some extra months with our child, but what hurt the most was being lied to, belittled and threatened.
Long story short. We supposedly had one of her best attorney's. The first steps of our adoption went just fine (PA, Family court, 1st submission to PGN.) Once in PGN nothing was as CCI told me. I was told of 3 PGN kickouts, give submit dates and kickout dates, given specific reasons for the kickouts, etc.
I TRUSTED CCI for many months because they told me too and I really, really wanted to. But finally the third time something felt really wrong. I started asking questions about things that weren't making sense to me and Sue tried to shove me off. I called PGN to see if my intuition was right, thinking they'd prove me wrong and I'd go on trusting CCI. Well, I called PGN and they had NO record of our file for nearly 5 months!!!!!
I immediately started pushing for information, boldly told Sue I called PGN myself and she told me I was in breech of contract. This was one of her many attempts to scare me.
I hired adoption supervisors (who were great, by the way) and they checked on the case the very same day I agreed to work with them, before I even sent them a penny. They confirmed that our file was in fact kicked out of PGN and had never been resubmitted.
I had to fight like hell to get Sue to do anything and I was for a time scared to death that she would do something to jeoparadize our adoption and our daughter would suddenly be no longer available. Fortunately it didn't work that way.
Once Sue decided to actually check on our file, we showed up in PGN almost immediately, within a day or two. Again, adoption supervisors confirmed this as did the PGN when I called. Miraculously, we came out of PGN approved in about 2 weeks.
After getting out of PGN I really didn't have to deal with Sue any more, thank God, and the final steps of our adoption went on just fine.
I AM CERTAIN and have PROOF that Sue Hedberg intentionally lied to me on more than one occasion.
What I am not certain about is why our file was KO'd for so long, how we got back in so quickly and how we came out approved in near record time.
I could probably do some more digging to find out some of the truths, but it doesn't really change anything so I may let it be. We'll just have to see what comes up!
Commenter #2I wish I could give this agency ZERO stars- they are AWFUL! Sue Hedberg, the agency's director is cruel and dishonest. She claims to be Christian but treats her clients in far less than a Christian manner. Our adoption took 3 times as long as she suggested, and 90% of the information we got along the way was faulty and inaccurate. Our case manager told us private information and badmouthed other clients (so did Sue), and both of them reprimanded us for politely asking for the truth about our case. Celebrate Children International and Sue Hedberg are unprofessional, deceitful, and not at all compassionate. Beware.
I chose Celebrate Children after months of agency research. All of my initial emails were answered promptly and in great detail. They also represented themselves as Christian individuals. I felt confident that Sue and her staff were compassionate, caring people who truly loved the children of Guatemala (and other Countries) and wanted nothing more than to see them united with their forever families. I was prepared for the ups and downs of international adoption and the many unknowns, but I was not at all prepared for the emotional abuse this agency would cause so many families entrusting them to make their dreams comes true. I prepared my dossier with little to no help from my case manager, receiving no responses to my many questions. When I became paper ready and received my referral it was told that we were represented by "one of the best in country contacts" over the next few months it became clear that everybody was represented by "one of the best". I was told that in the next 6 months I would be receiving the call to pick-up my new child. In the beginning things moved quickly and within a short time (3 months) I had DNA, exited Family Court and received Pre-Approval from the U.S Embassy. I was then submitted to PGN and kicked-out several times over the several months for errors. The weekly updates I was promised never came, my emails were either replied with two worded answers or not at all. I began to feel as if I was bothering my case manager and contact between me and this agency was gone. I had to take charge of my case. So many children celebrating their first birthday's in Guatemala, coming home a walking, talking toddler. Many families have had to hire outside help in order to complete their adoptions. Sue is well known in Guatemala, but not for her caring heart. She is a bully who abuses her families emotionally and financially. You quickly learn to remain silent if you want your child home. To many questions will result in the threat of a lost referral. If you become upset she will require a pyshological evaluation claiming you are an unfit parent. Her yahoo group is not there for support but rather a way to monitor her families. If you say something in any way contradictory to her you will be banned. Chats are often used to gossip and personal information is shared about non- participating families. If the tone becomes negative, Sue will share stories about famillies who have lost referrals or children that have died. Stating we should be happy we still have a referral. Celebrate Children was one of the last agenies to continue handing out referrals up until the very end. Many Power of Attorney's were signed the last couple weeks of December, but little information was shared with the families about the risks involved. I do feel that long ago Sue must have cared for these children, but somewhere between her office and the bank it was lost. I do not want to see any other families fall victim to this agency. Adoption is supposed to be a beautiful experience, but using Celebrate Children will take away from that and cause you a lifetime of pain.
This agency is by far one of the worst I've ever dealt with. We were put through pure hell and one week before we were to adopt we were told China rejected us. The people working there claim to be christian but I saw anything but christianity. Stay away from this agency; it's about the money. They also lied to my wife and I continually. I don't know how they can sleep at night. Shame on Celebrate Children.
There are many more comments about this agency being a very bad one. I can tell all of the adoptive parents to do as others are beginning to do. File a civil RICO case against them Join Adoption Agency Abuse for further help. Also Join PEAR. These folks will help you to get back on the right track for your adoption.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Here is the story:
MIAMI (AP) — A Miami judge has struck a blow against a Florida law banning adoptions of children by gay people.
Miami Dade Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman ruled Tuesday there was "no rational basis" for prohibiting gays from adopting children.
The ruling will allow 47-year-old Martin Gill to adopt two young brothers he has cared for as foster children since 2004.
Florida has one of the strictest bans on gay adoptions in the country. A judge in Key West ruled in September that the ban was unconstitutional, but that ruling has had limited legal impact.
Attorneys for the state said they would appeal Lederman's ruling. The appeal will ultimately decide what happens to the state ban in place since 1977.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Here is the link and the story.
To save adopted girl, U.S. couple gives her up
Like thousands of other would-be parents, the California couple made a $15,500 down payment to a U.S. agency that guaranteed quick, hassle-free adoptions of Guatemalan babies. And like the others, they were caught in a bureaucratic limbo after Guatemala began cracking down on systemic fraud last year.
Many Americans with pending adoptions lobbied hard for quick approval of their cases, trying to bypass a new system designed to prevent identity fraud and the sale or even theft of children to feed Guatemala's $100 million adoption business.
But Jennifer Hemsley did what Guatemala's new National Adoptions Council says no other American has done this year: She refused to look the other way when she suspected her would-be daughter's identity and DNA samples were faked.
She halted the adoption of Maria Eugenia Cua Yax, whom the couple named Hazel. And she stayed in Guatemala for months, spending thousands of dollars, until she could safely deliver the girl into state custody.
Her decision could mean the Hemsleys — Jennifer is a freelance designer and Todd creates visual effects in the film industry — may never be able to adopt the little girl they nicknamed "la boca," or mouth in Spanish, in honor of her outsized spirit.
"It's so crazy. None of this makes any sense," Hemsley told The Associated Press. "I miss her deeply. There are no words."
But she says it was the only thing she could have done, morally.
"It wasn't even a choice. We did what I hope any parent would do: put their child first."
The Hemsleys say they had many reasons for suspicion. But the final straw was a doctor's statement that said DNA samples were taken from the baby and birth mother on a date when Hazel was with Jennifer Hemsley. She said her Guatemalan attorney told her, "Don't worry about it, you want the adoption to go through, don't you?"
If all it takes is a doctor's signature to hide a switch in DNA, it would challenge the bedrock evidence on which the U.S. Embassy has depended to guarantee the legitimacy of thousands of Guatemalan adoptions over the past 10 years. Doctors' statements are routinely accepted on faith by the U.S. Embassy, Guatemalan authorities and adoptive American parents.
Neither country has the appetite for challenging already-approved adoptions. But Hemsley says anyone who has doubts about an adopted baby's true identity should know that the Guatemalan DNA evidence might be worthless.
Guatemala's quick adoptions made the nation of 13 million the world's second largest source of babies to the U.S. after China. But last year the industry was closed down, starting with an August 2007 raid on what had been considered one of the country's most reputable adoption agencies.
Voluminous fraud has been exposed since then — false paperwork, fake birth certificates, women coerced into giving up their children and even baby theft. At least 25 cases resulted in criminal charges against doctors, lawyers, mothers and civil registrars.
Thousands of adoptions, including that of the Hemsleys, were put on hold until this year, when the newly formed National Adoptions Council began requiring birth mothers to personally verify they still wanted to give up their children. Of 3,032 pending cases, nearly 1,000 were dismissed because no birth mother showed up.
Prosecutors suspect many of the babies in these cases never existed — that Guatemalan baby brokers registered false identities with the council in hopes of matching them later to babies obtained through fraud.
Understaffed and with few resources, the adoptions council ruled out new DNA tests as too costly and time-consuming. All but a few hundred cases have been pushed through in the months since.
"The ramifications are immense," Hemsley said. "How many children adopted by U.S. families may have had DNA falsifications such as this, and the U.S. adopting family is unknowing of the fraud?"
Prompted by the Hemsleys, Guatemalan investigators are trying to determine Hazel's true identity and have opened a criminal investigation into the people who vouched for her paperwork — from the U.S. adoption agency to Guatemalan notaries, foster parents, a doctor and the laboratory that said it collected the girl's DNA.
Jaime Tecu, a former prosecutor who now leads investigations for the adoptions council, praised Jennifer Hemsley.
"This makes me believe that there are people who still hold ethical values," he said. "She could have easily ignored her suspicions and gone ahead with the paperwork; instead she decided to risk the adoption to do what she believes was right."
In an earlier case of switched DNA, Esther Sulamita, a girl stolen at gunpoint and given a false identity, was recognized and recovered by her birth mother in July just before an unknowing Indiana couple could adopt her.
Dr. Aida Gutierrez handled the DNA for both Hazel and Esther Sulamita. Now under investigation for allegedly forging birth documents, she told prosecutors she followed established procedures. She refused an interview, saying the embassy prohibited her from talking with the media, a claim the embassy denies.
The problem could be solved by improving the chain of custody over DNA evidence — for example, by requiring new mother-and-child saliva samples taken under the supervision of a government authority that would send it directly to U.S. labs for testing.
But the embassy still says it must depend on the ethics of the Guatemalan doctors involved. The adoptions council president, Elizabeth de Larios, says more DNA tests would mean more costs and "more and more months of being away from loving families" for the babies in question.
Guatemala's old, fraud-plagued adoption industry was still going full speed in June 2007 when the Hemsleys first held the 4-month-old girl.
"It was magical and a gift, and a feeling beyond description," Jennifer Hemsley said.
But even before their case was turned over to the adoptions council, the Hemsleys were suspicious. The supposed birth mother disappeared after a brief meeting where she "had no visible reaction at all to the child," Hemsley said.
Medical reports seemed obvious forgeries, without letterhead or doctor's signature. And during a critical hearing, Hemsley said, her Guatemalan advisers tried to pay a stranger to pose as Hazel's foster mother.
"Todd and I felt a lot like, 'Gee, is this really happening?' Maybe we should just look the other way and keep plodding along, because every time I tried to tell someone, nobody cared," Hemsley said. "I couldn't look the other way. I just couldn't turn my head."
Ricardo Ordonez, the Hemsleys' adoption attorney, denied any fraud and vowed to clear his name by producing the birth mother for new DNA tests. Another court hearing is pending.
If the Hemsleys had walked away, as hundreds of other Americans did after problems surfaced, Hazel would likely have been abandoned or reoffered for adoption under another false identity, Tecu said. Instead, Jennifer Hemsley stayed with Hazel for months, draining more than $70,000 from a second mortgage on their home and paying for a trusted nanny.
"She was a real take-charge little girl," Hemsley said. "We had a little walker for her and she's just a real daredevil. She always let you know what she wanted."
Finally, as a colleague of Ordonez threatened to take the girl away, she asked the adoptions council for a "rescue."
The new rules require authorities to consider Guatemalan citizens before Americans, and several dozen Guatemalan couples are in line ahead of the Hemsleys. But they aren't giving up yet.
Jennifer Hemsley returned this month to Guatemala City, where she briefly held Hazel — now more than 19 months old — at a crowded orphanage. She emerged devastated.
Crying and shaking, she said Hazel had open sores on her face and a cut on her head. Within hours, she managed to persuade authorities to transfer the girl to a better nursery while the case is resolved.
"I think about her every day," Hemsley said. "It's horrifying on many levels. It's horrifying for Guatemalan women who may have missing children ... It's horrifying for adoptive families in the U.S. My parents are devastated over this. This affects our whole entire family, our friends, our neighbors."
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Here is the link and the story:
LINCOLN -- The Legislature was to begin first-round debate this morning on amending the safe haven law, but with a 30-day age limit instead of the original 3-day limit.
The Legislature’s Judiciary Committee on Monday afternoon heard nearly four hours of testimony -- from child welfare experts, hospital officials, parents, a former foster child and a Department of Health and Human Services official -- on two bills that would amend the law. Afterward, the committee voted 7-1 to advance the amended version of LB1, introduced by Speaker Mike Flood on behalf of Gov. Dave Heineman.
Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers argued on behalf of sending the original bill to the floor for debate, even though he doesn’t believe in safe haven bills, and doesn’t believe services are attainable for older children.
“The die is cast, the skids are greased,” he said. “You can get in the way of the train if you want to, but you’re not going to stop it. The only train that’s going to make it to the station is LB1.”
The committee expects the bill will be subjected to a number of amendments once it gets to the floor. Lincoln Sen. Bill Avery has already filed an amendment to change the age limit of the safe haven bill to 1 year.
A motion to repeal the law, to stop dropoffs of older children and to give state senators time in the regular session to deal with the issues that have surfaced is also an option, said Lincoln Sen. DiAnna Schimek, a member of the committee.
“If the question of the (age limit) puts us in knots, (repeal) might be the solution,” she said.
The committee heard from 21 people. Only a couple agreed a 3-day age limit was the answer in this special session.
Even though they knew the Legislature most likely couldn’t deal with anything but the age limit, most wanted to have their say about the problems the law had uncovered with services for older children. Thirty-four children �” none of them younger than a year old -- have been dropped off at Nebraska hospitals since the law went into effect.
Among those who spoke was Peter Meyer, who told a chilling story about his family’s experience with HHS in the 1990s and his parents attempts to get help for the troubled children they had adopted.
In the end, it destroyed his family, he said, and he believes it led to the untimely death of his mother in July.
His mother, an attorney, and his father, a doctor, brought four children into their family, beginning when Meyer was 7. Two of them had severe problems.
“The Department of Health and Human Services failed to inform my parents about the psychological condition of the children who were being adopted into our home,” Meyer said.
It became evident not long after they came to live there the children were seriously disturbed, with attachment disorders that made them incapable of forming relationships, he said.
His parents took them to many counselors. When it became clear the parents were in over their head, they wanted the children removed and placed elsewhere. HHS said if they tried that, they would be accused of child abuse and in danger of losing their biological children.
The behavior crushed the family, he said, and in the end the pressure caused his father to leave. His mother postponed surgery after surgery needed for the rheumatoid arthritis she’d had since childhood, searching for help for the children, which she never found.
“It’s really upsetting to know that a law like this with no age limit could have helped my family,” he said.
“It could have saved my family. It could have saved my mom.”
Senators also heard from the other side: a 28-year-old man who was abandoned as a boy by his mother. Scott Wosterel, now a University of Nebraska-Lincoln student, and his brothers were taken from their family when he was 9 and once in foster care moved around 15 times. Eventually he went back to his mother, but she sent him away again.
“My heart was shut down by abandonment,” he said. “It leaves a scar on a person’s life.”
Even if a parent says she loves her child as she leaves him, a child is smart enough to figure out that’s not the case, he said.
Some who testified expressed distrust that if the Legislature does not deal with older children in the special session, they will be forgotten later on.
If the pressure is taken off, said Voices for Children in Nebraska director Kathy Bigsby Moore, “I am fearful we will not see the true solution we need to see.”
Topher Hansen, representing the Behavioral Health Coalition, said the state was operating under a system dominated by cost, not care.
“We’re whittled down, and now we’re into bone,” he said.
But Judiciary Chairman Brad Ashford of Omaha told providers they must work together, come up with a plan and bring it to the Legislature by the regular session.
“You’re the experts,” he said.
Todd Landry, director of HHS division of children and family services, underwent some tough questioning from senators.
Although HHS repeatedly said none of the children dropped off at hospitals were in immediate danger of being harmed, some had threatened suicide, Omaha Sen. Steve Lathrop said.
But Landry said that didn’t mean they were actively suicidal at the time.
Only three of the 29 children still in the state’s care had serious enough problems to be placed in higher-level treatment, he said. All others are in foster homes, with relatives or in shelters.
Lincoln Sen. Amanda McGill said she was disturbed by some of the judgmental statements made by Landry about parents who used the law, and that he had not personally contacted them when they called him. He found time, she said, to personally contact members of the media.
Landry said it was not the role of government to intervene in a family’s life.
In the end, he said HHS has always tried to be as open and transparent as it can be.
“All I’m asking you to do is step it up with us in the next six to eight weeks,” Ashford said, asking for his help to solve the problems of the families who need services.
I think this decrease clearly represents the economy. I think adoptive parents now are starting to ask questions. More and more adoptive parents are wanting transparency in their adoptions. Adoptive parents are also wanting to be sure that their adopted child is actually an orphan compared to be trafficked.
St. Elizabeth/Coleman is now doing international homestudies. So I am sure this decline affects them.
Here is the story and the link.
Foreign adoptions by Americans drop sharplyBy DAVID CRARY, The Associated Press
4:32 p.m. November 17, 2008
NEW YORK — The number of foreign children adopted by Americans fell 12 percent in the past year, reaching the lowest level since 1999 as some countries clamped down on the process and others battled with allegations of adoption fraud.
China, which for a decade was the leading source for international adoptions, accounted for the biggest decline and dropped out of the top spot. It was replaced by Guatemala, which almost certainly will lose that status in 2009 because of a corruption-related moratorium on new adoptions imposed by U.S. officials.
Figures for the 2008 fiscal year, released by the State Department on Monday, showed 17,438 adoptions from abroad, down from 19,613 in 2007. The all-time peak was 22,884 in 2004.
Reasons for the decline vary from country to country. China and Russia _ the two largest sources of adoptees over the past 15 years _ have sought to care for more of their abandoned and orphaned children at home, and China has imposed tighter restrictions on foreign applicants.
The numbers were sobering to advocates of international adoption, who expect the drop to continue for 2009 as Guatemala struggles to rein in its formerly freewheeling adoption industry.
"There are still tens of millions of orphans around the world _ and we know there are millions of Americans willing to adopt these kids," said Chuck Johnson, chief operating officer of the National Council for Adoption. "Countries are very reluctant to let go of what they consider their future, even though they'll readily acknowledge the future for these kids is not promising."
By far the biggest drop was for adoptions from China, which fell to 3,909 from 5,453 in 2007 and a peak of 7,906 in 2005. Among the factors: a rise in domestic adoptions as China prospers and tighter restrictions on foreign adoptions that exclude single people, older couples, the obese and those with financial or health problems.
As a result, waiting times to complete an adoption from China have increased in many cases to three or four years, a deterrent to many aspiring adoptive parents. China offers a faster timetable for foreigners willing to adopt children with physical or emotional disabilities.
Adoptions from Guatemala also declined in the past year, from 4,728 to 4,123, and the number is projected to be sharply lower for 2009. Guatemalan officials are trying to replace an old system, which allowed abuses ranging from fraud to child snatching, with stringent new practices conforming with the Hague Convention, an international adoption treaty.
Other countries from which adoptions declined significantly included Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan and India.
The biggest increase was in adoptions from Ethiopia _ they rose from 1,255 to 1,725, moving the Horn of Africa nation into fourth place on the State Department's list, just behind Russia. No other African country provided more than 250 adoptees last year, although the continent is viewed as one of the few potential growth regions for international adoption.
Thomas DiFilipo, president of the Joint Council on International Children's Services, predicted overall numbers would drop even more sharply for 2009, to as low as 10,000 to 12,000 foreign adoptions, as China continues its cutback and adoptions from Guatemala and Vietnam diminish.
There were 751 adoptions from Vietnam in fiscal 2008, but the U.S.-Vietnam adoption agreement expired on Sept. 1 as the two countries argued about fraud and corruption in the system. Hundreds of American families seeking to adopt from Vietnam were left in limbo.
DiFilipo said he doubted any foreign country would ever replace China as the source of 7,000 or even 5,000 adoptees per year. He predicted instead that far smaller numbers of adoptees would be comimg from a pool of perhaps 40 or 50 countries, including an increasing share from Africa and Latin America.
DiFilipo said the drop-off in foreign adoptions has been devastating to many U.S.-based agencies which specialize in them _ forcing closures or mergers. He predicted that the number of direct-service agencies with programs abroad would drop to fewer than 100 by the end of 2009, a third of the peak a few years ago.
"It's a rough time for the agencies," said Joshua Zhong, president of Colorado-based Chinese Children Adoption International. "It is more difficult for the families. They feel they're waiting forever; they're very discouraged."
Zhong said his agency _ one of the largest in the U.S. that specializes in adoptions from China _ expects to place 450 children by the end of the year, down from about 1,200 in 2005. The average waiting time for his clients has stretched from 12 months to three years, he said.
One byproduct of the decline in foreign adoptions is likely to be an intensified campaign to persuade adoptive parents to take children from the U.S. foster care system. Roughly 125,000 youths in the system are available for adoption, including a disproportionately large number of racial minorities.
"We're urging families to think about these kids," said Chuck Johnson. "We have a lot of work to do."
State Dept. data: http://adoption.state.gov/adoption.homepage.html
(This version CORRECTS graphic slug.)
Here is my email that I sent the legislators in Nebraska:
I am writing to you to stop these laws. These laws encourage irresponsibility. We must as a society start treating the natural parents and children better and with more respect. These types of laws continue the shaming of women who are pregnant. These laws also deny due process to both natural parents. These laws violate . The child has the right to be raised by his/her natural parents. The child also has the right to his heritage or origins. These laws do not protect children. They make the child suffer for the decisions of their parents or other relatives. These laws were invented to circumvent adoptee access laws across the country. We owe it to the children to do things right by them.
Please end this business. Lets start with providing comprehensive sex education, providing contraception, teaching parenting classes in junior high and high school, and teach responsibility. We owe to the children of our country to get this right. The only way to do so is to eliminate safe haven laws.
Amy K. Burt
Here is the call to action by Bastard Nation:
BASTARD NATION ACTION ALERT
IMMEDIATE ACTION NEEDED RE: NEBRASKA SAFE HAVEN LAW
REPEAL IS THE ONLY SOLUTION TO LB 157.
Members of the Nebraska Legislature convened Monday, Nov. 14 for a Unicam special session to address Nebraska's disastrous safe haven law, LB157. This law allows any person to abandon any child up to the age of 19 to a state- designated safe haven. Since its passage last summer, this law has turned the safe-haven concept on its head. 34 children have been abandoned to state designated safe havens since Sept. 1st.
It is urgent that you contact the Unicam legislators at once because bills introduced on the opening day of the Unicam session, Nov. 14th, will be eligible for final passage as early as this Friday, Nov. 21st.
Bastard Nation calls for the immediate and PERMANENT repeal of LB 157. Furthermore, it calls for the defeat of LB 1, LB 3 and any other subsequent attempts by the Unicam to impose any baby dump/Baby Moses, safe haven bill on the people of Nebraska.
LB 1 and LB 3, two alternatives to LB157, were introduced on Nov. 14th. LB1 would change the safe haven law to apply to infants 72 hours or younger. LB 3 would create a 2-tiered system of "legal abandonment": one for infants up to one year of age; the other for children between the ages of 1 and 16. The second tier would also create regional and state "intervention teams" to assist families in abandonment crisis enabling them to access services and avoid abandoning their children if possible. There is no intervention team for infants and their moms.
Nebraska's experience proves that abandonment is unacceptable at any age. The legislature must concentrate on saving Nebraska families rather than saving only the infants, who by the way, are in high demand in the adoption world.
BACKGROUND OF LB 157:
On July 8, 2008, Nebraska's LB 157 baby dump bill went into effect. Unlike other so-called "safe haven" laws which limit "legal abandonment" of children anywhere from birth up to the age of 1-year, this 47-word, 2-sentence law authorizes the "legal abandonment" of any child up to the age of 19 by any person. From September 1 to today, 34 children have been abandoned by their parents or guardians. These include a family of 9 children (age 1-17) left by their father and four dumpees brought in from out of state. At least another dozen unsuccessful attempts have been reported. These include two-self dump attempts: an 18-year old male in Grand Island living in a storage unit with his grandmother after he was kicked out of his home by his mother's boyfriend and a 16-year old high school honors student with her 10-month old baby. The young mom said her own mother physically abused her and stole her government assistance money.
The nightmare consequences of legal child abandonment have become a reality in Nebraska and have quickly spread its evil tentacles to other states. One woman rushed across the river from Iowa to dump her 14 year old daughter. A Georgia mother made speedy plans to drive to Nebraska to abandon her teen "before the Unicam had a chance to meet and change the bill."
Information links: http://cornkids.blogspot.com
CONTAC T INFORMATION
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Sen. Howard, Gwen"
Clearly, there are consequences with the language that was included in the law. As a social worker for 34 years, I warned of these consequences when the age restriction was removed from the bill during debate. I have told my colleagues that we must do a better job of providing services to the struggling families who feel it necessary to resort to using the Safe Haven law. My top priority will always be the safety and well-being of every child in Nebraska.
During debate on this legislation, I supported an amendment that would have set the time limit at one year but that amendment fell two votes short of passage. The Legislature did decide to adopt language setting the safe haven limit at 30 days after birth which I ended up supporting. I am absolutely committed to addressing the availability of services to families of older children in crisis during the upcoming session in January. This experience has shown that we are not doing a very good job in helping families deal with older children with serious problems.
I appreciate your taking the time to write.
I agree with those who say three days is too short a time and would guess most of us agree. It is good to see that the public understands that age is not the issue. We have parents/guardians in great distress, often at the end of their rope. Safe Haven gets a few in by the back door. We know they should be inside for services but we do not know how to help mentally ill or troubled children get in the front door to access services. Nor do other states. Either the state or the parent has to be in charge of a child and we do not know how to share that responsibility smoothly. So, much work is to be done.
By the way, the present law has no age limit, it says “child” which by law is interpreted to be 14 years and younger.
May we work together to help all our kids to become productive citizens.