Landmark Adoption Ruling in Maine

31 08 2007

Just thought this was a rather momentous case in Maine.  Take a look.  G.S.

Lesbians win Maine court OK

PORTLAND, Maine – The state’s highest court yesterday overturned a lower court decision and opened the door for a lesbian couple to adopt two siblings who have been in their care for six years.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court unanimously ruled that state law does not preclude Ann Courtney and Marilyn Kirby of Portland from adopting the 10-year-old girl and her 6-year-old brother.

Courtney and Kirby became the children’s foster parents in 2001; last year, they filed petitions with the Cumberland County Probate Court to adopt.

Their petitions were rejected, but the high court concluded that state law does not prohibit two unmarried people from adopting a child together. As a result of the ruling, the matter will be sent back to probate court for further proceedings.

“We love these kids, and their well-being means everything to us,” Courtney said. “Our daughter and son can now know that we are a family, and we’ll always be a family.”

Courtney and Kirby, who were not identified in court documents but made their names known following the decision, became foster parents after the children, then 4 years and 4 months old, were removed from the care of their biological parents.

The children have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, reactive attachment disorder, and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder.

Courtney, who is a lawyer, and Kirby, a counselor, later filed two petitions with the probate court seeking to jointly adopt the children. The court, however, denied the petitions, saying it lacked jurisdiction.

Courtney and Kirby then appealed to the Supreme Judicial Court. Attorney General Steven Rowe also filed a friend of the court brief arguing that prohibiting the adoption would be counter to Maine’s Adoption Act.

The high court said that the probate court has jurisdiction and that state law allows for an unmarried couple, not just married couples or one unmarried person, to adopt. The overriding objective of the law is to protect the children’s welfare, the justices ruled.

A joint adoption assures the children’s’ continued relationship with a surviving parent in case of a death and also enables them to be eligible for public and private benefits ranging from Social Security to health insurance and family leave, the justices wrote.

“Most importantly, a joint adoption affords the adopted children the love, nurturing, and support of not one, but two parents,” Justice Jon Levy wrote in the ruling.

Mary Bonauto, an attorney with Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders who represented the couple, said state adoption workers, the children’s guardian, and a social worker who completed a home study all agreed that Courtney and Kirby are good parents. “This decision is in the best interest of the children, who have flourished under Ann and Marilyn’s care,” Bonauto said.

Adoptions by unmarried couples are permitted in a dozen other states, including Connecticut, Vermont, and Massachusetts, Bonauto’s group said.





Korean Adoptees Examine Origins, Upbringings

29 08 2007

Thanks to the K@W list for posting this NPR piece on the IKAA Conference. G.S.

by

All Things Considered, August 25, 2007 · Some 600 adoptees from South Korea recently attended a convention in Seoul to share experiences and to learn more about their birth country. Since the Korean War in the 1950s, more than 200,000 orphaned South Korean babies have been sent to live with Western families — over half of them to American homes. While the number of overseas adoptions from South Korea has declined, it still sends about 2,000 children abroad each year.





“Daddy and I”

27 08 2007

I spotted this on Racialicious courtesy of Harlow’s Monkey.  I just thought I’d pass the word on about this particular photo exhibit of sorts…Here’s the creator of this abomination (click and prepare to be offended if you’re an adoptee)

I will have to agree that the nature of these photos strikes me as completely inappropriate, racially sexualized, and offensive.  It’s one thing to photograph your kids and another to pose them in suggestive/exoticized stereotypical clothing.

G.S.





Adoption probe traps babies

24 08 2007

Adoption probe traps babies

Guatemalans’ seizure of orphanage leaves Mass. families in limbo

They gave her a bottle, put her down for naps, snapped photographs. Over five days in June in Guatemala, Ellen and Sean Darcy lived like a family with Carolina, the 4-month-old baby they planned to adopt.

Back home in Newton, they bought a double stroller for Carolina and Dylan, 22 months, whom they adopted from Guatemala last year. Ellen Darcy sewed Carolina a pink quilt, and bought her pajamas.

Eight weeks later, armed officers seized Carolina’s orphanage, confiscated paperwork, and detained orphanage lawyers. Guatemalan officials alleged that babies there may have been abducted or their mothers forced into giving them away.

Now the Darcys fear they may never see Carolina again, and Ellen Darcy worries that authorities are neglecting Carolina. She searches for news from Guatemala. She cannot bring herself to set up Carolina’s crib.

“It’s been horrible; it’s been heart-wrenching,” Ellen Darcy said. “I don’t think we can breathe easy until we go to pick her up and we have her back in the United States.”

Forty-two US families, including four from Massachusetts, who are trying to adopt babies from the orphanage are caught in limbo. Unsure of the treatment the children have received and uncertain whether the allegations will be resolved, they have pleaded with members of Congress to send US officials to check on the babies’ welfare. They have turned to one another for advice, solace, and any scraps of news.

“It’s been an emotional nightmare,” said Chip McIntosh, 39, a nurse practitioner and Air Force reservist from Quincy who recently began the process to adopt 2-month-old Edwin from the Casa Quivira orphanage. “You feel helpless. You want to be there and check on your child and make sure he’s OK, and you can’t.”

Guatemalan authorities said after the Aug. 11 takeover that they may charge two Casa Quivira lawyers with human trafficking. They said most of the 46 children at the orphanage lacked documents showing their mothers had given them up willingly. Casa Quivira’s directors, a Floridian named Clifford Phillips and his wife, a Guatemalan named Sandra González, denied that allegation.

“We will clear our name,” Phillips said by phone from Florida. “We have nothing to hide.”

Guatemala has been under pressure from the United States for several years to clean up its adoption industry, which has placed more than 25,000 children in American homes since 1990. The US State Department has raised concerns that Guatemalan mothers have been threatened into giving up babies for adoption or pressured to do so for money. The State Department has also said that some parents who adopted from Guatemalan agencies have reported being asked to pay large sums of cash in order to complete adoptions.

Guatemala’s attorney general said last week that his office was preparing for tougher rules that go into effect Jan. 1, when Guatemala will implement the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoptions. The convention will require the government to establish an agency to monitor foreign adoptions and ensure that babies are given up willingly.

“What we’ve done does not mean parents will not be able to adopt,” Attorney General Mario Gordillo said. “It will just take more time because the birth mothers will need to appear for DNA tests to determine their blood relation and so they can be asked again if they want to give their children up for adoption.”

Phillips said Casa Quivira is being scapegoated. He said the orphanage, which opened in 1994, has handled 800 adoptions and has a spotless record. He said the babies come from mothers who are too poor to care for them. The mothers are not paid, he said.

DNA test results for all but five of the Casa Quivira orphans show they are the children of the mothers who brought them to the orphanage, proving they weren’t taken from mothers who didn’t want to give them up, Phillips said. The other five will undergo DNA tests once they are further into the adoption process, he said.

“I believe they are beating us up to try to demonstrate that they’re tough on adoptions,” Phillips said. “We’re the most visible, most transparent, legal organization processing adoptions in Guatemala.”

The takeover has alarmed some adoption specialists who handle cases in Guatemala.

Maxine G. Chalker, executive director of Pennsylvania-based Adoptions From The Heart, said Guatemala is cracking down on adoption lawyers because a few, seeking cash, have coerced mothers into giving away babies.

“It doesn’t sound to me like they’re going to work this out anytime soon, which is really a concern,” said Chalker, who has handled Guatemalan adoptions for 10 years.

Since the police entered Casa Quivira, Guatemalan social welfare officials have been running the orphanage and caring for the children. Nine children were hospitalized with respiratory infections, which prompted the Darcys and others in line to adopt to ask members of Congress to intervene. Authorities have let two adoptions by Americans proceed since the takeover, raising hope that more might follow.

Ellen Darcy, 34, a nurse, and her husband, a pharmaceutical safety specialist, have gone through adoption ordeals before. After struggling with infertility, they adopted Dylan from another orphanage in June 2006. Then Dylan’s brother, 4-month-old Jeremy, whom they wanted to adopt from the same orphanage, contracted meningitis and pneumonia and died before the Darcys could bring him to Newton.

In June, they traveled to Guatemala and stayed with Carolina in a guesthouse near Casa Quivira. Photos from the trip show Ellen and Sean Darcy playing with Dylan and Carolina.

They expected to finalize the adoption this fall. Now, they are not sure whether to buy Carolina a plane ticket for their Christmas vacation to Ireland.

“This situation is compounded by years of disappointment and loss, and if it weren’t for our son, who is the light of our lives, we would believe there is a black cloud hanging above us,” Ellen Darcy said. “But even if this doesn’t work, we’ll adopt again, because he has blessed us in a way that makes all this heartache worth it. He is truly a miracle.”

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. Michael Levenson can be reached at mlevenson@globe.com.





Boston Creates “Baby Safe Havens” for Children

22 08 2007

 I just saw this article in the Boston Globe today about the creation of what is being called “Baby Safe Havens.”  The idea is to curb the number of abandoned newborns under 7 months by creating a safe house where mothers can relinquish their children.

These Baby Safe Havens reminds me of the Public Baby Cradles and Baby Boxes that countries such as Japan and India have created.  The only difference is that the PBCs and BBs do not necessarily have a baby age limit (correct me if I’m wrong).

Baby Safe Haven act to remain in force

DSS lauds impact on infants, parents

More unwanted newborns will survive and live with caring families across the state now that lawmakers have made permanent the Baby Safe Haven Law, Department of Social Services officials said yesterday.

Governor Deval Patrick signed the law last week to allow a safe alternative for mothers who might otherwise abandon their babies. The law, passed in 2004, had been set to expire next year.

“The Baby Safe Haven Law saves lives,” Angelo McClain, commissioner of the Department of Social Services, said in a statement. “By making this important piece of legislation permanent, Massachusetts offers parents a safe alternative and helps protect babies from abuse and neglect. DSS enthusiastically supports the law, and we are pleased to see it extended.”

The law allows a parent to surrender a newborn 7 days old or younger to a designated Baby Safe Haven, which includes any hospital, police station, or manned fire station, without the threat of a prison term. Six babies have been safely surrendered since the law’s inception, DSS officials said.

A surrendered child goes immediately into DSS custody and, after a medical screening, he or she is placed in a preadoptive home. DSS spokeswoman Denise Monteiro said preadoptive homes allow for the newborns to have the best chance of staying with one family, as opposed to placement in a foster home.

The law not only eases the surrendering of children, but offers information to expectant mothers. One of the most successful components of the program, Monteiro said, has been the Baby Safe Haven Hotline, which gives would-be parents information about the law, crisis intervention services, and referrals to teen pregnancy shelters.

“We have the services out there; we just need to connect the expecting mothers to the service,” Monteiro said.

Through the hotline, 35 mothers have developed a successful pregnancy plan with the staff, ensuring that those newborns were not abandoned, DSS officials said. The Baby Safe Haven Hotline can be reached 24 hours a day at 866-814-SAFE.





A Few Updates

17 08 2007

I currently have around 200 new emails in my mailbox which have accumulated over the past week and a half. In trying to catch up I decided to throw together a small compendium of noteworthy items. G.S.

1) Korean First Lady Kwon Yang-suk sent a video message to Korean Adoptees attending the IKAA Conference in Korea.

2) A Peruvian adoptee battles with cancer and asks that his one wish be to bring his birth family to see him in the U.S. -Kind of a tear jerker, and I can’t imagine how his family is doing now since the earthquake… read more here

3) “I still felt like a minority. It’s like you’re rejected from your
homeland but also from your adopted land. It was the kind of this
purgatorial state I faced for the first time,” she said.

Her black and white pictures, capturing the solitude and trauma of
adoptees and orphans, are on display at the “Adoptee & Alien: Visions
from the Periphery” exhibition being held at the newly-opened Museum of
Fine Arts at Kyung Hee University. Article Number 3

4) Sadly CARA leaves all Post Adoption work to the agencies. Our unfortunate experience is that the placement agencies as well as the foreign agencies are often not cooperative when it comes to a search for roots.

It would also be very desirable to have post adoption work and counseling for all triad members to be available independently from agencies.

We appreciate that CARA acknowledges our right to ethnicity but we know from our own experiences that many adult adoptees are not even able to travel to India. All they know about India often comes only from books, films, internet etc.

We kindly request the government of India to set up a scheme which enables adoptees to visit our Country of Birth.

We also would like to have the opportunity, support and cooperation to set up an independent organization run by Adoptees for Adoptees who are returning to their Country of Birth, be it just for a holiday visit, an in depths search for roots or even to settle in India. Similar support organizations have been set up in other countries and have been resoundingly helpful to returning adopteees (e.g., GOA�L in Korea). Right now, there is no one to turn to, apart from the often non- cooperative agencies. READ MORE HERE…

5) G.O.A.L.’s Summer 2007 Newsletter READ MORE HERE…

6) An interesting organization called CUB Concerned United Birth Parents READ MORE HERE

7) The 29th Annual AAC Conference will be held on March 26-29, 2008 at the Portland Downtown Waterfront Marriott, 1401 SW Naito Parkway, Portland, Oregon 97201 READ MORE HERE

8) The 2008 KAAN Conference will be held in Chicago, July 18-20, 2008. As it
is our TENTH annual national conference our theme will be: Celebrating Ten
Years of Community Building. We are beginning our program selection
process and are soliciting proposals. To download a proposal form got to
<http://www.kaanet.com/> www.kaanet.com click on 2008 Conference.

9) H.O.T (High-Five of Teenagers) show off their acting skills in this short Super Sunday film “WooJHungEurl WeeHaYuh”(For the sake Of Friendship) back during their Candy days. Hee Jun, Woo Hyuk, and Tony are friends that grow up in an orphanage until one day Hee Jun is adopted. As Hee Jun leaves he leaves his ring behind with Tony to remind him of their friendship. Years later, they bump into one another again, but Hee Jun has changed.
This is the feature that got me hooked on H.O.T (that and “Candy”). Read More Here

10)      “It began when he was adopted by two school teachers named Bill and Kandy Hanson, and arrived when he was just a few weeks old from Dallas. The Hansons already had three other adopted kids then, but Andrew was the first African-American one, a black baby coming to live with a white family in a white town.”  READ MORE HERE





Adoption Ethics Conference

16 08 2007

I just wanted to pass the word on about the Adoption Ethics Conference which is coming up pretty soon.  I’ve been told by the Evan B. Donaldson Institute that they are extending the application deadline.  So if you’re interested, make sure you check their website out.

Adoption Ethics and Accountability Conference
October 15-16, 2007
Arlington, Virginia

The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute and Ethica, Inc. are co-sponsoring an exciting and timely conference, Adoption Ethics and Accountability, in Arlington, VA. This is the second conference hosted by the Adoption Institute that focuses on critical ethical issues in the field today.

Join us as we explore ethical issues in adoption with adoption experts and members of the adoption community. Conference participants will have the opportunity to attend panel discussions and workshops focusing on a variety of issues including birthfamily rights, transracial adoption, birthfamily and records searches, industry regulation, and best practices.

Dates: Monday/Tuesday – October 15-16, 2007

Fee: $275 if you register by August 17, 2007 ($137 for one day)

$325 full conference registration ($162 one day) after August 17

Location: Marriott Crystal Gateway
1700 Jefferson Davis Highway,
Arlington , VA
1-800-228-9290 or 703-920-3230

When making your hotel reservation, reference Adoption Ethics Conference to get your reduced rate:
$179 for single/double; $189 for triple and $209 for quad.

Book now - Rates are normally $269 to $329 and higher.

For more information, please contact Mari Cochran at 617.680.0808.





Jessica Simpson Wants to Adopt?

14 08 2007

This doesn’t really surprise me, and NO i don’t actually read this magazine – it was forwarded to me by K@W.  I so hate hearing about adoption as charity and philanthropy.

What makes it worse is that she wants to adopt before she has “her own children.”  Give me a break…

Singer to follow in Angelina Jolie’s footsteps

Jessica Simpson has revealed her secret wish – to adopt orphans, like fellow actress Angelina Jolie.

‘I think Angelina Jolie has done amazing things,’ she tells Self.

Jessica, 25, regularly visits Casa Hogar Elim orphanage in Mexico.

‘The first time I went to the orphanage I was 16,’ she says. ‘I remember holding this baby who was found in a dumpster. I wanted to adopt him right then and there.

‘I want to adopt before I actually have my own kids.’





Children Seized in Adoption Home Raid

14 08 2007

More adoption scandal in Guatemala. Whenever there is money involved, these sort of incidents are prone to occur. Whether people want to believe it or not, adoption puts dollar signs over the heads of children. Necessary visas, doctor visits, etc. contribute to the rising costs on adoption. There need to be more safeguards monitoring these sort of home-operations that prey on poor families and take advantage of adoptive parents. Fortunately this operation was shut down. Take a look. G.S.

Children seized in adoption home raid

GUATEMALA CITY — Authorities searched an adoption home run by an American man and his Guatemalan wife and rescued 46 children they believe may have been stolen or coerced from their parents, police said yesterday. Guatemalan National Police spokesman Carlos Calju said the children, ranging in age from a few days to 3 years old, were found Saturday at the Casa Quivira children’s home in Antigua. Calju said Casa Quivira is run by Clifford Phillips of Deland, Fla., and his wife, Sandra Gonzalez. (AP)





Municipal Zoo

10 08 2007

I’m not really quite sure how to address this since there very well may be a number of people reading this post in relation to an editorial my mom posted her local newspaper.

Last weekend, I went home to visit my family in Southern Maine.  I had a chance to read up on some local news and stumbled across an article about an adoptive family with around 10 children.  Most of them are adoptees and hail from Asia and Africa.

The interview was focused the father’s solar panel business, yet had a rather large photo of his family on the front with an article title that read “Welcome to the ______ Municipal Zoo.” (I’ve omitted the town name for anonymity).  Next to it was a large photo caption describing the family and adoptees ranging in age and in origin.

Both my mother and my sister were quite stunned.  The quote came from the father who was asked to create a title that most accurately describes his family.  What had probably seemed like an innocuous answer at the time, felt quite strange to me.  Were we as adoptees considered different animal breeds in our transracial families?  I had never really thought about it, but in this day and age of perverted multiculturalism where many adoptive parents seek to diversify their families through adoption I guess I really shouldn’t be that surprised.

I’m not incredibly surprised by his comment and I don’t completely feel that he should absorb all the blame, but I feel that the local paper deserves much the same if not a majority of the blame for shamefully and irresponsibly taking that quote out of context.  I wish I had the full article to post however, it being a small local paper, the article does not appear on their website.

I’m embarrassed for the father who made the remark, but I’m more ashamed of how the news paper handled writing the story.  I’m proud of my mom who made it a point to immediately write an op-ed for denouncing the newspaper of its misleading error.  It’s too often that people of color are often handed the educational role of correcting those who offend.  I’m glad that to know that my mom has taken a proactive rather than passive role in righting the wrong, and I hope that other a-parents will also take the lead in not just issues related to adoption, but issues of race as well as socioeconomic status.  We’re all so privileged in many regards as adoptees and a-parents; which assigns transracial adoptive parents even more responsibility when it comes to the ways in which you raise us, and the ways in which you portray us to the non-adoptive world.








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