The US State Department has released its Annual Report on Intercountry Adoption for Fiscal Year 2012, showing that visas were issued for a total of 8668 children, down from a total of 9,319 for FY 2011. The most frequently represented countries of origin are China (2,967 children), Ethiopia (1,568), Russia (748), South Korea (627), Ukraine (395), Congo (240), Uganda (238), Nigeria (197), Colombia (195) and Taiwan (177). The report also indicated that there were 99 outgoing intercountry adoptions during the same period. See also Rachel Swarns, American Adoptions From Abroad at Their Lowest Level in Years (NY Times Jan. 24, 2013).
Also this month, President Obama signed S.3331, the Intercountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act of 2012, which will take effect on July 14, 2014. Here is the announcement from the State Department, and here is the text of the legislation.
Legislation to extend full marriage rights to same-sex couples is on the political agenda in both France and the UK for 2013. See Harvey Morris, Gay Marriage Fight Intensifies in Britain and France, International Herald Tribune/NY Times, Dec. 12, 2012.
In Britain, this would add an option in addition to civil partnerships, which became possible under legislation enacted in 2004. The latest debates have focused on how the legalization would affect the Church of England. See Sam Jones, Church of England and Church in Wales protest at gay marriage ban, The Guardian 13 Dec. 2012, and Government’s gay marriage plan a mess, says Labour, The Guardian 14 Dec. 2012; Owen Bowcott and Rajeev Syal, David Cameron faces Tory Revolt over vote on same-sex weddings, The Guardian 7 December 2012. See also John F. Burns, British Plan for Gay Marriage Would Exclude Anglican Church, NY Times, Dec. 12, 2012.
In France, same-sex marriage would join le PACS, or pacte civil de solidarité (civil solidarity pact), the contract-based regime that has been available for same-sex and opposite-sex couples since legislation in 1999. See Angelique Chrisafis, François Hollande under fire as gay marriage bill divides France, The Guardian 14 Dec. 2012; Maia de la Baume and Steven Erlanger, French Cabinet Advances Gay Marriage Bill Despite Conservatives’ Opposition, NY Times Nov. 8, 2011.
The United States Supreme Court is expected to rule this spring on Chafin v. Chafin, a case under the Hague Child Abduction Convention that was argued on December 5. Previous posts are here and here.
The unfolding drama surrounding intercountry adoption in Russia is the biggest international family law story of the year, with events now posing a crisis for many US families whose adoptions had already been approved. The State Department posts updates on their web page at www.adoption.state.gov, including an alert on December 28 announcing that President Vladimir Putin had signed Federal Law No. 186614-6 , which will go into effect on January 1, 2013.
According to the alert, the State Department “remains actively engaged with the Russian government to determine how this will impact the resolution of adoptions by U.S. families in various stages of the adoption process,” and asks that US families in the process of adopting in Russia provide contact information to facilitate communication with the State Department. News accounts suggest that about 1500 American families are currently in the process of adopting in Russia, and 46 children had already been matched with American parents. In fiscal year 2011, a total of 962 families obtained visas to bring adopted Russian children into the United States; in previous years, this number has been much higher, with a total of about 60,000 children from Russia adopted into the United States over the past 20 years.
Many news stories and blog posts in all news media around the world have covered this story. See, for example, David M. Herszenhorn and Andrew E. Kramer, Russian Adoption Ban Brings Uncertainty and Outrage, NY Times Dec. 29, 2012, Michael Birnbaum, Russia advances law to ban U.S. adoptions, Washington Post, Dec. 19, 2012; Max Fisher, The real reason Russia wants to ban adoptions by ‘dangerous’ American families, Washington Post “World Views” Dec. 28, 2012; and Olga Khazan, Russia is one of the most popular countries for U.S. adoptions, Washington Post “World Views” Dec. 27, 2012.
With the accession of the Republic of Korea earlier this month, the Hague Child Abduction Convention now has a total of 89 contracting states. The Convention will enter into force in Korea on March 1, 2013.
A new Policy Memorandum from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) offers “Guidance for Determining if an Adoption is Valid for Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) Purposes” (PM-602-0070.1) (Nov. 6, 2012).
This week marked the second appearance of the Hague Child Abduction Convention in the U.S. Supreme Court, with the oral arguments in Chafin v. Chafin (see my previous post here). The argument was covered by Adam Liptak for the New York Times, “Custody Case in Scotland Goes Before U.S. Justices” (Dec. 6, 2012), and Robert Barnes for the Washington Post, “Justices Consider Court Role in International Custody Cases” (Dec. 6, 2012). The transcript of the oral arguments is available from the Supsreme Court web site.
Ireland. As reported in the New York Times, a British non-profit organizaiton was set to open an abortion clinic this month in Belfast, the first ever in Ireland. See Douglas , Belfast Clinic for Abortions Due to Open (October 11, 2012). For more information, see the Marie Stopes International web page. The opening was met with protests; see these reports from the Belfast Telegraph (and also here), the BBC, and the Guardian (and also here). In the U.S., here’s coverage of the protests from the Huffington Post.
Poland. On October 30, 2012, the European Court of Human Rights entered a judgment against Poland under Article 3 and Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights in P. and S. v. Poland for inhumane and degrading treatment of a 14 -year-old rape victim after authorities tried to prevent her from obtaining an abortion. The New York Times posted this story by Reuters.
Among other news from the Hague Conference this month:
An informal “expert group” met on October 8-9, 2012 in The Hague and adopted recommendations regarding the financial aspects of intercountry adoption. The group endorsed and recommended some revisions to a “Discussion Paper on the Financial Aspects of Intercountry Adoption” prepared by the Permanent Bureau and available on the Hague Conference web site. The recommendations include the use of more standard terminology in this area and tables designed to elicit information on the costs and contributions associated with intercountry adoption in different countries.
Sweden has ratified the 1996 Child Protection Convention, bringing the total number of Contracting States to 39.
Albania has ratified the 2007 Child Support Convention, the second country to do so (after Norway). Under the terms of theConvention, this means that it will come into force on January 1, 2013. (The United States and the European Union have also signed teh Convention, but have not yet ratified it.)
The U.S. Supreme Court begins its new Term today with a Hague Child Abduction case on the docket, set for argument on Wednesday, December 5, 2012. Chafin v. Chafin (#11-1347) will address a Circuit-split question regarding whether the return of a child to the habitual residence moots an appeal in the case. Here is the link to the question presented on the Supreme Court website, and here’s a link the the ABA Supreme Court Preview coverage of the case.