International Solutions for Connecting US Foster Care Children with Families

Judge Dean LewisJ. Dean Lewis, Judge (retired)
Former Member, National CASA Association Board of Directors
Past President, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges

Summary: Dependency court stakeholders have encountered hurdles making interstate and international permanency placements for years. Julie G. Rosicky, executive director of International Social Service, United States of America Branch, Inc., offered to secure articles written by experts in the field to help those involved in dependency court cases gain insight into the need to think globally when it comes to permanent placements for US foster children. ~ J. Dean Lewis, editor

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The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (Public Law 110-351) requires that Title IV-E agencies exercise due diligence to identify and notify all adult relatives of a child within 30 days of the child’s removal and placement in foster care regarding the options to become a permanent placement resource for the child. That same act grants states access to the Federal Parent Locator service to assist in locating absent parents. What happens when the agency finds a parent or prospective permanent placement relatives who reside outside of the US? What happens if the agency finds, during the course of the case, that there are no US relatives willing or able to take the child and other efforts to locate a permanent placement for the child domestically have been exhausted? Dependency court stakeholders have encountered hurdles making interstate and international permanency placements for years. New legislation appears to offer promise in making these placements.

Judges, child welfare agencies, attorneys for children and CASA/GAL volunteers have been frustrated by barriers to placing foster children with relatives between states under the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children. Revisions to the ICPC are being circulated for ratification among the states. Additionally, provisions of the Safe and Timely Interstate Placement of Foster Children Act of 2006 (Public Law 109-239) should help streamline interstate placement of children. Dependency court stakeholders hope that these revisions will improve the process and eliminate barriers to interstate placement of foster children.

The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption of 1993 was entered into force for the US on April 1, 2008. (See Howard Davidson article in the February 2008 issue of The Judges’ Page). The convention offers a government-regulated system for US foster children to be adopted outside the country.

Dependency court stakeholders welcome improved systems regulating interstate and international adoption placements for foster children and recognize that in order to provide these children and youth a safe, permanent home in a timely manner we must look beyond the borders of our state and nation.

Julie G. Rosicky, executive director of International Social Service, United States of America Branch, Inc. (iss-usa.org) offered to secure articles written by experts in the field to help those involved in dependency court cases gain insight into the need to think globally when it comes to permanent placements for US foster children. This issue of The Judges’ Page includes the following articles on aspects of international adoption of US foster children:

  • William J. Bistransky, division chief for intercountry adoption at the US Department of State, offers a guide for judges involved in outgoing adoption cases under The Hague Adoption Convention.
  • Richard Klarberg, president of the Council on Accreditation, explains the role of The Hague accreditation process in protecting the best interest of the child.
  • Julie G. Rosicky and Felicity S. Northcott explain the “principle of subsidiarity” and the process to seek an appropriate permanent family in another country when a domestic placement is unavailable for a US foster child.
  • Karen Smith Rotabi and DeGuerre Blackburn explain the process of implementing an overseas adoption.
  • Dixie van de Flier Davis and Kathleen Moakler share the heartwarming story of adoption by US military families and the vast number of services in place that safeguard an adoption placement with a military family stationed overseas.
  • Beth Englander explains the policy and procedures being developed to implement new legislation in Oregon regarding the adoption of foster children outside the US.
  • Suzanne Dosh and Kathy Ledesma inform us of the efforts being made to recruit permanent families for US foster children, while reminding us that to be successful, those recruitment efforts must be worldwide.
  • Hans van Hooff explains the policy of the Netherlands regarding adoption of US children.
  • Susan Soonkeum Cox shares her story as a Korean child adopted to the US and the importance of permanency.
  • Paula Campbell gives us web resources on the topic of international adoption.

Editor’s Note: For additional information see The Judges’ Page February 2008 issue: “International Issues in Dependency Court.”

ISS-USA provides international home studies and follow-up placement reports. The organization also assists child welfare agencies making arrangements for the transfer of children internationally. The ISS-USA website gives further details: iss-usa.org.

 

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