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American Families Struggle with Foreign Bans on Intercountry Adoptions

Kyrgyzstan-mountains_in_summer_panorama.jpgAmerican families who wish to adopt a child from abroad face an array of challenges. While federal immigration law places few, if any, barriers to citizenship for a child adopted by U.S. citizen parents once the child is in the U.S. and the adoption is complete, the process of actually getting the child to the U.S. can be difficult, depending on the laws of the child’s home country. Several countries have instituted bans on intercountry adoptions with the U.S., including adoptions that were in progress. This has prevented some families, who have already met and bonded with the children they want to adopt, from bringing them home.

The AP reported on the “Kyrgyz 65,” a group of Americans who are trying to adopt sixty-five children from Kyrgyzstan in central Asia. The adoption process stalled in 2008, when the Kyrgyz government halted international adoptions because of alleged corruption. Kyrgyz government officials were accused of “dealing in what was effectively a trade in children,” according to the AP. The situation grew even more complicated in April 2010, when an uprising deposed the country’s president, who fled to neighboring Kazakhstan and then to Belarus. Two months later, ethnic violence broke out between Kyrgyz, who constitute the majority ethnic group, and minority Uzbeks.

Kyrgyzstan’s new president signed a law in May 2011 establishing new guidelines for adoptions, but much of the law still has not taken effect. The Kyrgyz government shut down adoptions again in July 2012 because of corruption charges. While some of the Americans have given up in the roughly five years since their adoption processes started, about fifteen families continue to travel to Kyrgyzstan to visit the children, and they regularly send letters and packages. The U.S. State Department last updated its adoption information for Kyrgyzstan in June 2011.

A similar situation has developed in recent months with intercountry adoptions from Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law in December 2012 blocking adoptions of Russian children specifically by Americans. The law originated from diplomatic problems between the two countries related to criticism of human rights issues in Russia. The law’s impact, however, is felt by the Russian children, some of whom suffer disabilities, and the American families who still hope to adopt them. In many cases, children in Russia had been told they would be leaving for America soon when the law went into effect. CNN reports that forty-six American families are caught in a sort of limbo, having nearly completed the adoption process but still unable to bring the children to the U.S.

Intercountry adoptions by American parents appear to be in decline. An AP report states that the only adoption agency in the U.S. with Kyrgyz accreditation is closing, citing financial issues. After hitting a peak in 2004, when Americans adopted 22,884 children from abroad, the total for fiscal year 2012 was only 8,668. The intercountry adoption process can take four or more years, even when the child’s home country is not experiencing political turmoil, and can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Once the child arrives in the United States, however, obtaining the child certificate of citizenship is typically just a matter of completing paperwork.

The immigration attorneys of Samuel C. Berger, P.C. help immigrants seeking visas through family members or employment, and help New York or New Jersey businesses to petition for skilled immigrant employees. To schedule a consultation with one of our lawyers today, contact us online or at (212) 380-8117.

More Blog Posts:

Understanding the State Department’s Monthly Visa Bulletin, New York & New Jersey Immigration Lawyer Blog, August 9, 2012
DHS Re-Designates Somalia for Temporary Protected Status, Grants 18-Month Extension, New York & New Jersey Immigration Lawyer Blog, May 23, 2012
International Adoption and Immigration Remains Popular, but May Hide the Risk of Abuse and Fraud, New York & New Jersey Immigration Lawyer Blog, May 11, 2012
Photo credit: PKNirvana at pl.wikipedia [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], from Wikimedia Commons.