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Holt International and Adoptees for Children present: The 55th Year Perspective – three generations of international adult adoptees Conference/ April 14-16/ Washington, D.C. Hyatt Regency Hotel

Posted by FAN Admin in Events, FAN Announcements, Home, International/Adoption Philippines, News on 03 25th, 2011
http://www.holtinternational.org/conference/internationalForum/

Overview

Approximately four-hundred-thousand children worldwide have been adopted internationally since the mid 1950s. What began as a humanitarian response to orphaned and abandoned children has become an accepted global institution as defined by The Hague Conventionon Intercountry Adoption.

In the past five decades the social practice of intercountry adoption has evolved dramatically. In 1956, when the modern era of intercountry adoption began, children from Korea were adopted to families in the U.S. who were encouraged to “Americanize” their children as soon as possible. “Fitting in” and becoming acclimated to their adopted nationality was considered the priority. Issues of race, culture and identity were not even a consideration in preparing a family to parent a child of another race and ethnicity.

What we know today is that issues of race, identity, culture and heritage are significant. As families go through the adoption study and are preparing to adopt a child internationally, these issues cannot be an afterthought–or something to present lightly–they are critical to adequately prepare families for the life-long experience of adoption.

There have been positive advancements in intercountry adoption practices, but it still falls short of what is needed to adequately meet the predictable developmental and social challenges that international adoptees may encounter throughout their life. For international adoptees to be prepared to face the challenges, to be confident of who they are, and to understand the balance of their place in the world—the families who adopt them must acknowledge and understand these issues. It is essential that the professional adoption community, policy makers and advocates understand and embrace the lessons learned by international adult adoptees.

Three generations of internationally adopted children are now adults.

Acknowledging the collective wisdom of the international adult adoptee community to the field of adoption, Holt International and Adoptees for Children (A4C) believe the time has come for an

International Forum: “Intercountry Adoption ~ Moving Forward From A Fifty-Five-Year Perspective.”

The lessons learned through the life experiences of three generations of international adoptees provide important insights that are both individual and collective. The International Forum will deliberately focus on adoption issues from the adoptee perspective and bring together non-traditional partners to collaborate more effectively on behalf of children—to share ideas and strengthen the collective intercountry adoption community.

This unprecedented examination of adoption through the lens of internationally adopted adults will provide opportunities to respond to and learn from them. The International Forum will inform policy makers and improve and enhance how the professional adoption community designs systems and provides services to educate and prepare adoptive families to successfully parent.

Registration

When: April 14-16, 2011
Where: Washington, D.C. Hyatt Regency Hotel 400 New Jersey AvenuePlease note that conference and hotel registration are separate

Click here for CONFERENCE registration

Joint Council Members, click here for CONFERENCE registration

Registration: $400 per person
(full registration includes materials, most meals & Gala dinner)

Saturday only: $100 per person
(includes Saturday sessions, lunch & breaks)

Gala dinner only: $100 per person

Click here for HOTEL registration
(reservations directly through hotel)

Preferred rate for Forum: $219 single or double



Philippine Inquirer: Baby found in plane’s trash bag

Posted by FAN Admin in Home, International/Adoption Philippines, News on 09 13th, 2010

Baby found in plane’s trash bag
By Jerome Aning
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—The plane from Bahrain to Manila was carrying more than 200 passengers, mostly Filipinos. One of them was unmanifested—a newborn baby found inside a plastic trash disposal bag after the aircraft touched down in Manila.

The baby boy was alive and kicking.

A doctor on duty at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) said the boy weighed three kilograms and measured 48 centimeters long.

An investigation has been launched.

The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), which operates the NAIA, said its medical team had named the infant “George Francis.”

The initials GF refer to the code name assigned to Gulf Air, Bahrain’s principal flag carrier, by the International Air Transport Association.

The baby was found on Flight GF-154, which landed at NAIA Terminal 1 at 11:18 a.m.

MIAA media affairs chief Connie Bungag said the boy was immediately given full medical attention, with medical personnel pooling their resources to buy baby clothes, medicines, bottles, and milk for him.

“Apparently, the baby was born on the plane,” she said.

George Francis was later turned over to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), which has become his custodian.

Asked by reporters if the boy was “a foreigner,” the duty doctor and pediatrician, Dr. Ma. Theresa Azores, said: “It doesn’t seem so. He looks Filipino.”

According to a report from the MIAA medical office, the aircraft cleaners found the garbage bag containing the baby at the plane’s toilet at around 11:50 a.m.

Not wanting to lose time, Gulf Air security agents Tristan Dimaano and Noel Franco loaded the bag onto a tow truck and rushed the infant to a medical clinic at Terminal 1.

The medical report described the baby as wrapped in blood-stained tissue paper napkins.

The doctors said they first cleaned up the baby’s mouth—and the boy gave a good cry. His breathing and heartbeat were also normal.

Search for mother

The baby was cleaned to prevent infection. He was shown to have healthy pinkish skin, good reflexes and normal testicles.

Doctors injected the baby with Vitamin K and an antibiotic, and applied ointment to his eyes.

The attending doctors were Azores and Dr. Ma. Caridad Ipac-Nuas, airport officials said.

Alfredo Vasquez and Danny Gemarino, MIAA action officers, led the turnover of the baby to a DSWD contingent headed by Maria Lanie Tabios.

The MIAA is tracking the passenger who could have given birth to the boy or could have carried the boy into the plane. An inspection of the plane showed that two adjacent passenger seats had blood smears.

Airport officials said that while they had the name or names of the occupants of the seats, it was also possible that the woman who gave birth might just have transferred to the seat.

Gulf Air officials were not immediately available for comment.

Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman said she was outraged by what happened and would order officials to try to locate the infant’s mother, who could be criminally charged.

Soliman said the baby would be turned over to the mother’s relatives or put up for adoption.

The DSWD said it would ask the police to investigate.

Delia Bauan, DSWD-NCR director, said the investigation would be part of the process for the baby’s possible adoption.

The process includes informing the public of the birth of the boy to gather more information about him.

The baby will be put to foster care “if nobody claims him,” Bauan said.

Under state care

Social welfare and airport officials gave a conflicting guess on when the boy was actually born.

While the MIAA media affairs office said the boy seemed to have been born during the flight, Bauan said the report she received from her staff was that he “was a few days old.”

Bauan said the baby had been taken to the Reception and Study Center for Children run by the department.

“The state will take care of the baby,” she said. With a report from Kristine L. Alave and Associated Press



NYT Magazine: An Adopted Boy Considers His Origins

Posted by FAN Admin in Home, International/Adoption Philippines, News on 09 5th, 2010

An Adopted Boy Considers His Origins

By MELANIE BRAVERMAN

Jonah, our youngest, spent the day in the water again. At 5 he’s already an exquisite swimmer, diving for coins our Provincetown neighbors throw into the tide for him to fetch. Now we’re lying in his bed together waiting for him to fall asleep, and he’s thumping my stomach like it’s a beach ball.

Holly Wales

Readers’ Comments

“Are you going to have more babies in your belly?”

“You know I’ve never had any babies in my belly,” I tell him.

“Well, whose belly did I come out of?” he says.

My girlfriend, Molly, and I have always been frank about the fact that Jonah and his brother, Sam, were adopted, though until recently they’ve really only shown interest in the few details that feel glamorous: for instance, Jonah enjoys knowing that he was born on an island. The rest of how the kids came to us is so complex and adult, we’ve so far opted to leave it alone.

Scratch the surface and nobody’s birth story is typical. Our two children are biological brothers, and they have an older sister a friend of ours adopted first. Because of her special relationship to the boys, Sister plays a starring role in our house. Looking at the three of them leaves little doubt they’re related: ignore the height difference, and they could almost pass for triplets. A few days earlier we were having a bonfire at the beach. It was one of those ridiculously idyllic summer evenings at the seaside, replete with rainbows and a dolphin release the kids ran down to see. On the way back to the fire, Jonah tripped, catapulting him into a flood of tears. Sister grew more agitated the louder he wailed. Finally, in some kind of attempt to shut him up, she turned to him and said, “You didn’t come out of your mommy’s belly.”

“Now isn’t the time for this conversation,” Molly told her.

“You didn’t,” Sister continued, “you came out of the same belly as me. Her name was Cheri.” For Jonah, that belly never had a name before. That name was so revelatory you could almost see a light bulb in a thought bubble hovering above Jonah’s head. He began crying louder.

To Molly and me, our children are so completely ours it feels impossible that anyone else had anything to do with them. But for Jonah, who knows? Some would say, for example, that it was the hand of God that saved his namesake, the original Jonah, from the belly of the whale; others, that it was luck that caused the beast to spit him out.

So here I am in the bed with our youngest boy, telling him the truth as I see it: “Some babies come out of their mommies, and some come through other bodies to get to their mommies. My body couldn’t make babies, so we had to find another way to get you here.” I’ve told him this before, but the story no longer satisfies the way it once did. He may be only 5, but it’s time for Jonah to begin making his own version of the narrative.

“Whose belly?” he demands.

“Her name was Cheri,” I say, affirming it for him.

“I should be there with her,” he says.

I take a breath. “No,” I tell him. “Wherever Sam and your other mommy and I are, that’s where your home is. That’s where you should be.” And in a sure sign he knows that what he’s hearing is correct, he begins to cry hard.

In a little while I feel him exhale long and slow, his back relaxing against my hands that are holding him in place like bookends: Your body begins here, and it ends here. You are safe. By now he’s exhausted, but he’s too smart to take my word for anything yet. “What if you and Mommy and Sam get dead and I’m left here all alone?” he says.

Even though I can’t say for sure, I opt for kindness over stark possibility, which I maintain is every parent’s prerogative. “Not gonna happen,” I tell him. And he falls asleep.

For days after, Jonah vacillated between being demonstrative and being withdrawn, all the thinking about his origins rendering him tender, as if from sunburn. The summer carried on in its relentless perfection. We were on the beach the other day when I overheard him tell a friend, “I was born on an island, you know.”

“Really?” the friend said.

“Yes,” Jonah said, “and they weren’t my mommies,” pointing like a hitchhiker with his thumb to Molly and me.

“So how’d you get here?” his friend asked.

“I swam a hundred miles to get home,” he said.

Melanie Braverman, a poet and novelist, is the Jacob Ziskind poetry fellow at Brandeis University.



Adoption Stories Series on PBS

Posted by FAN Admin in Events, International/Adoption Philippines, News on 09 1st, 2010

Adoption Stories Series on PBS

http://www.pbs.org/pov/adoption/

POV (Point of View) is featuring three films about adoption and launching a national public awareness campaign to explore the challenges of adoptees forging new identities while holding on to their cultural and racial identities, and of parents helping their adopted children make sense of their new lives.

August 31: Wo Ai Ni (I Love You) Mommy by Stephanie Wang-Breal
September 7: Off and Running by Nicole Opper
September 14: In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee by Deann Borshay Liem

Help to spread the word about these broadcasts airing on PBS in just a couple of weeks!

1. You can post the trailer on your site or use graphics on your blog or Facebook page: http://www.pbs.org/pov/adoption/promote.php

2. Host screenings, or night of broadcast parties. Simply register in our community network and we’ll loan you a copy of the film for free! http://www.pbs.org/pov/outreach.

3. Sign up for our Adoption Stories Mailing List: http://www.pbs.org/pov/adoption/email.php where you will receive periodic updates, news of special events and information about our public awareness campaign.

This campaign affords a unique opportunity to expand public dialogue, engage key constituencies around adoption issues, and dispel some common myths and misconceptions about adoption and adoptive families.



Adoptive Families Magazine: Positive Adoption Language

Posted by lecrowder in Connections, Home, International/Adoption Philippines on 05 17th, 2010

To Subscribe, visit www.adoptivefamilies.com/order or call toll-free 800.372.3300
©1992–2003 Adoptive Families Magazine. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited.
Reprinted from OURS Magazine, May/June 1992 www.adoptivefamilies.com
Positive Adoption Language
The way we talk—and the words we choose—say a lot about what we think and value.  When we use
positive adoption language, we say that adoption is a way to build a family just as birth is.  Both are important, but one is not more important than the other. Choose the following positive adoption language instead of the negative talk that helps perpetuate the myth that adoption is second best.  By using positive adoption language, you’ll reflect the true nature of adoption, free of innuendo.

Words not only convey facts, they also evoke feelings.  When a TV movie talks about a “custody battle” between “real parents” and “other parents,” society gets the wrong impression that only birthparents are real parents and that adoptive parents aren’t real parents.  Members of society may also wrongly conclude that all adoptions are “battles.”

Positive adoption language can stop the spread of misconceptions such as these.  By using positive adoption language, we educate others about adoption.  We choose emotionally “correct” words over emotionally-laden words.  We speak and write in positive adoption language with the hopes of impacting others so that this language will someday become the norm.


Positive Language                           Negative Language
Birthparent                                       Real parent
Biological parent                             Natural parent
Birth child                                        Own child
My child Adopted child;                Own child
Born to unmarried parents           Illegitimate
Terminate parental rights             Give up
Make an adoption plan                  Give away
To parent                                          To keep
Waiting child                                   Adoptable child; available child
Biological or birthfather               Real father
Making contact with                      Reunion
Parent                                               Adoptive parent
Intercountry adoption                  Foreign adoption
Adoption triad                                Adoption triangle
Permission to sign a release        Disclosure
Search                                              Track down parents
Child placed for adoption            An unwanted child
Court termination                         Child taken away
Child with special needs              Handicapped child
Child from abroad                         Foreign child
Was adopted                                   Is adopted



St. Louis Beacon – Lost and found: Jim Zimmerly returned to Vietnam with adoptive family to meet his biological one

Posted by FAN Admin in Connections, Home, International/Adoption Philippines, News, Our Stories on 03 12th, 2010
Lost and found: Jim Zimmerly returned to Vietnam with adoptive family to meet his biological one Print E-mail
By Kristen Hare, Beacon staff

Video by Kristen Hare

Posted 10:24 a.m. Fri., 03.12.10 – They met outside Ho Chi Minh City airport.

He was exhausted, unprepared and unsure, but Jim Zimmerly stood there surrounded by a crowd of people, in the arms of his crying mother. His biological mother. The woman who adopted him at 1, who raised him and loved him and put him through school stood nearby.

She cried, too.

Thirty-two years before, their lives all intersected when Zimmerly’s biological mother in Vietnam gave him up for adoption and a family in St. Louis signed up to adopt a child from a country still in tatters from war.

Close to 3,000 children were adopted into families in the United States during the time, with thousands more in Europe, Canada and Australia. Zimmerly was one of those children.

But it was 2007 now, and Saigon was Ho Chi Minh City, and Zimmerly wasn’t a baby, but a 32-year-old back in Vietnam for the first time.

His birth mother was small, fragile, it seemed, her hair cut short. She cried throughout the day and touched him all she could, his face, his back, as they sat at her small home around the coffee table eating plates of rice and shrimp and fish, sweating and sipping bottled water, as he met his younger brother, two younger sisters and their families.

During that trip, he probably spent a total of 10 hours with his biological family.

“I wish there was more, but it seemed like more than enough,” he says now, seated at a Starbucks in St. Peters. “What do you talk about, you know? We just sat there. You go into it thinking you’re going to have all these questions, like, who my father was.”

But once he met her, Zimmerly couldn’t ask those questions. “I didn’t know what to do.”

He points to a photo of him and his biological brother, who have the same smile. His brother was born just 10 months later, and Zimmerly thinks, that could have been me, I could have stayed in Vietnam, he could have been adopted.

It’s something he’s thought about a lot — chance. Like how easily he might have been among half of the passengers who didn’t survive the C5 Galaxy crash 35 years ago during the first flight of Operation Babylift. Or how easily he could have ended up with a family who mistreated him.

“It’s fate and destiny and a lot of luck, obviously, to survive a plane crash,” he says.

But chance hasn’t shaped everything in his life.

Family has.

ST. LOUIS, 1970s

In Vietnam, Zimmerly couldn’t ask questions about his past. But in St. Louis, they always came easily. They started as a child and often included this one: Why did you and dad decide to adopt the child of a stranger from another country?

“I’ve always known that story,” he says. “And I always remember it.”

screening

What: “Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam”

When: 7 p.m., Mon., March 15

Where: Anheuser-Busch Hall, law school at Washington University.

What else: Panel discussion afterward about intercountry adoption and cultural identity, including Sister Susan McDonald and adoptees Dan Bischoff and Jim Zimmerly.

RSVPs are required. Click here for more info.

In the 1970s, Wanda and Mel Zimmerly sat on the beach one Sunday, having a picnic during a two-week visit with her brother in California.

There, playing in the sand, was a little girl from Korea. She’d been adopted, they found out.

“Wouldn’t that be nice if we could do something like that?” Wanda Zimmerly said to her husband then. They talked about it again on the trip home to St. Louis.

About a year later, she saw an article in the newspaper about adoptions and how to help the children of Vietnam. She got more information and applied. The Zimmerlys, who worked through Friends for Children of Vietnam, had a home study and got on a waiting list. Then, they waited.

a new home

zimmerly150toddler.jpg

Photos provided by Jim Zimmerly

In February 1975, when the Zimmerlys’ daughter and son were 10 and 8, the family got a photo of a little boy. He was about a year old and weighed 13 pounds. They assumed his mother was dead. They had 10 days to decide if they wanted him. They did. They’d name him Jim.

One morning that April, Mel Zimmerly left for work like he always did. A little after 6:30 that morning, the home phone rang. Wanda Zimmerly answered.

“Wanda, there’s been a plane crash in Vietnam,” a friend said.

She knew they were trying to get the kids out of Vietnam, but she didn’t know if the little boy they adopted was on the plane that crashed. Later that afternoon she saw the news on TV.

The C5 Galaxy carrying Americans and orphans crashed several minutes after takeoff. Nearly half of those on board had died, including children.

Wanda Zimmerly was devastated.

A few days later, a social worker in Colorado called her and said, “I think we found Jimmy.”

Wanda Zimmerly arranged for a friend to bring the little boy from Colorado once the paper work was cleared. He arrived on a Saturday night, the day before his first birthday.

His new sister, Melissa, was 10 when Jim arrived. She remembers he was tiny and couldn’t walk, how he loved ice cream and never fussed.

Three years later, a letter arrived from Friends for All Children in Colorado.

“In April of 1975, a plane evacuating 228 of our children from Viet Nam crashed. Seventy eight of the children and six staff were killed. One hundred and fifty children survived. Your child was one of the surviving children.”

ST. LOUIS/WASHINGTON D.C. 1978-1981

For several years, the Zimmerly family traveled to Washington, D.C., regularly, like other families in the lawsuits against Lockheed and the government for the crash of the C5 Galaxy.

a new family

zimmerly300withsibs.jpg

Jim is held by his sister, Melissa, as his brother, Melvin, stands by.

During those trials, it came out that the rear doors of the cargo plane had blown off after takeoff, as they’d done 17 times before. There was no oxygen, and children passed out as the plane crashed. That loss of oxygen caused some of the children to suffer minimal brain damage.

Jim Zimmerly saw doctors, was strapped down for a cat scan and visited an empty courtroom. To him, it was a big vacation. He started bragging to friends about how many times he’d been to D.C.

The first trial ended in mistrial, and a second trial proceeded, where the Zimmerlys were included in a class action suit. That trial ended in a settlement and the Zimmerlys returned to St. Louis, but Operation Babylift remained an important part of their lives.

ST. LOUIS, 1980-2005

Nearly every summer through the end of high school, many of the Operation Babylift families vacationed together.

They went to Colorado, Cape Cod, Wild Dunes, S.C., Oregon, Disneyland and even St. Louis. They stayed in their own rented houses or hotels, but gathered together for meals and activities.

Friends with a common bond

zimmerly300returneesteens.jpg

Jim is the first person on the right in a vacation photo with other Operation Babylift families.

Though all the kids lived in different parts of the country, Jim Zimmerly grew to think of them as a family. Among them were an understanding and a connection that didn’t require explaining or a map. It was easy.

Zimmerly always knew he was adopted, he’d heard the story again and again. And though his father’s side of the family were traditional German immigrants who saw black, white and Asian with clear differences, Zimmerly’s father wouldn’t allow that kind of thinking in his own home.

As a child, if Zimmerly cracked a joke about not really being his son, his father got angry.

“He would almost hit me, saying ‘I am your father. Don’t say that.'”

The signals weren’t always so clear in other places though. Zimmerly, who went to Country Day School, was often asked where he was from.

Vietnam, he’d say.

Oh, the war, kids replied. Which side are you on?

He had no idea what they meant.

During his teen years, Zimmerly distanced himself from Operation Babylift. He had his adoptee friends, but didn’t want to know the details of the crash or the war or anything to do with Vietnam.

In 2005, a 30-year reunion changed that. The group, organized by Sister Mary Nelle Gage, one of the nuns at the Vietnamese orphanages, met in Estes Park, Colo. Twenty-six of the adoptees came, including the crowd Zimmerly had grown up with. By then, most of them were 30 and had already been back to Vietnam. (Story continues below the photo of the 30-year reunion)

zimmerling550returnees.jpg

At one point during the long weekend was a group session to talk about how people were doing.

“It was awful,” Zimmerly says. “I mean, it was awesome, but it was awful at the same time.”

He heard a lot of pain, a struggle for identity and issues with adoptive families.

And he thought, that could have been me.

Zimmerly decided to return to Vietnam, to see it for himself, and soon, his mother had located two brothers and a sister who were also adopted in the United States. Through them, she found out that his birth mother was still living.

In 2007, with the mother who raised him and his sister, the Zimmerlys went over to meet is birth mother.

ST. LOUIS, 2010

In 2009, Jim Zimmerly and Wanda Zimmerly returned to Vietnam for a second time. He saw his birth mother again, but a stroke she’d had 10 years before was causing her health to decline.

That same year, at 34, he was diagnosed with heart disease. Shortly after that, he had heart surgery.

“I dodged a bullet twice,” he says.

he ‘knows who he is’

zimmerly150jim2009.jpg

Jim Zimmerly, easy going and quick to laugh, has always been that way. But after his heart surgery, it takes even more to get him rattled.

Still, it happens.

People say stupid things all the time, like how he looks like that guy from “Entourage” or “Mad TV.” They’re small things, like the comments growing up. But they continue.

“I think it’s ignorance,” he says, “but sometimes it does get to me.”

“The discrimination is what amazed me,” says his sister, Melissa Narez. “I forget that he’s Asian and he doesn’t look like me.”

Jim Zimmerly knows that he and the other Babylift adoptees didn’t have what kids have now when they’re adopted transracially and internationally. There weren’t any culture camps back then, or books or classes for parents.

“I don’t speak Vietnamese; I don’t know much abut the food,” he says.

He wishes he did.

And though he’s met his biological family, there’s no bond there, not with his biological mother or siblings.

He wishes there was.

While he doesn’t let it get to him, sometimes, Zimmerly feels like there’s no real place for him.

“Here, you’re Vietnamese,” he says. “There, you’re an American.”

In the 35 years since Operation Babylift, Sister Susan Carol McDonald has seen how differently adoptees handle their identity.

babylift150sistersusannow.jpg“Well, most of them would say that they grew up and realized they looked different from other people and some didn’t have a problem with this, some did,” says McDonald (right), who cared for orphans in Vietnam from 1973 to 1975. “Many of them were wishing they had lighter color skin, that their eyes were shaped differently, that their hair was curly or blond, wanting to fit in. Most of them had other children teasing them with karate moves or making Chinese eyes or talking in some gobbledygook language. So they knew that they were different.”

For some, it wasn’t a big deal. For others, it was.

The issues of racial identity might be specific to transracial adoption, but the issue of identity in general isn’t. McDonald thinks many adoptees hesitated in asking more about their past because they didn’t want to hurt their adoptive parents.

“Parents would say, oh, he’s an all-American boy, she’s an all-American girl. I think some felt they had to live up to that.”

In fact, she says, some rejected their heritage because they didn’t see it in their families. Wanda Zimmerly, who still speaks on a weekly basis with other Babylift families, doesn’t know much about transracial adoption today. But without meaning to, she and the other families helped their children have a place to process their identity every summer. While the reunions ended after high school, in the last few years, many of the adoptees have reconnected online.

“Jimmy knows who he is,” his mom says.

And he agrees with that. He’s 35, a tax consultant, laid-back, single, living the life. He’s adopted from a place remembered for war, the survivor of a crash that killed half of those on board, the youngest of three, a St. Louis native and a St. Charles transplant. All those things are part of him. His family had a lot to do with his acceptance of that, he says.

“They made me belong.”

Next year, Jim Zimmerly plans on returning to Vietnam with his mom. While there, they’ll visit his birth mom again.

NEXT: Sister Susan Carol McDonald plans a trip back to Vietnam with adoptees for the 35th anniversary of Operation Babylift.



Post Adoption Services: Beginning Your Search and Reunion

Posted by FAN Admin in Back To Our Roots, FAN Announcements, Home, International/Adoption Philippines, Our Stories on 03 11th, 2010

At some point as adoptees, we wonder about the woman that gave us life, the caregivers that looked after us, what our medical history is, what physical attributes were passed down to us and so on. It is not an easy decision to start a search considering the many implications, frustrations, or worries that may raise.  Just know that you are not alone.

FAN has assisted dozens of adoptees and families who have inquired about search and reunion. Through the Network we’ve connected with adult adoptees who have begun their search and a handful who have successfully reunited with their birth family. Our close partnership with the  Intercountry Adoption Board has also provided needed assistance.

Feel free mail info@filipino-adoptees-network if you have an inquiries.

* Please note that if you are under the age of 18 years old, you MUST have the consent of your legal guardian to initiate a search and reunion.

* There is no guarantee that a search will be successful but this should not deter you from doing so. A search can actually provide unknown information that you were unaware of and can sometimes fill the gaps in your adoption story.

Before you decide to contact ICAB, the following information will be very helpful. It can be found on your birth certificate or the case study conducted before your adoption.

– Date of Birth

– Location of Birth

– Name of orphanage in the Philippines if you resided in one before your adoption

– Whether your adoption was private or not

– Name of foreign adoption agency i.e. U.S agency

– Date of adoption

– Name of birth mother

The Intercountry Adoption Board oversees all international (and domestic) adoptions and also has a team that provides post adoption services to assist you in your search. You can request for your original birth certificate and adoption records although if you were privately adopted prior to the 1980’s there is no guarantee of such records.

SERVICES OFFERED BY ICAB FOR SEARCH AND REUNION:

Counseling about adoption issues.

Access to original birth certificate

Provision of adoption records

Assistance to interpret and clarify information in the records

Search assistance  to find birth family and relatives.

Other intermediary services for adoptive parents, birth parents  and relatives.

Motherland Tour

RECORD KEEPING/DATA BANK/ DOCUMENTATION

  • DSWD Archive
  • Inter-Country Adoption Board

PROCEDURES:

A. Search process:

  • The intent to search may be allowed only upon the personal request made by either  the adult adoptee, adopter or the biological parent/s. Minors who are interested to search for his/her biological parent/s shall be represented by his/her adoptive parents.
  • The request must be made in writing  by whoever intends to trace his/her roots to the Executive Director  of the Inter-Country Adoption Board.
  • Assess and determine the motivations and preparedness of the individual  to pursue the search.
  • Identifying information e.g., names, address, personal  background etc. may be shared only between  and among the adult adoptee, adoptive parents and his/her birth parents and only of they give their written consent.
  • Non-identifying  information e.g., medical records circumstances which lead to the adoption of child but not  necessarily  divulging  the identity  of concerned individual etc. may be made available  to both adoptive parents/s and birth parents and the adoptee under 18 years old.
  • The use of tri-media.

B. Meeting/Reunion:

  • Approval/Consent from the birth parents, adoptive parents and the adoptee must be secured before  contact and/or  reunion with each other can be arranged.]
  • When reunion is decided, preparations of all concerned must be carefully planned to avoid any possible  negative experience. The social worker must also consider the decision and the readiness of  the adoptee  and the biological parent/s on whether to involve  the significant  person/s in their  present lives.
  • The timing of any approach  to family members  is very critical  and incredibly important at this point. The social worker  must be aware of the impact  on all parties desiring contact. He/She  must  be able  to offer  a mediating approach  to support  people at  this time, and to try  and negotiate and agreeable outcome for all concerned, while  at the same time  providing  support the process.
  • The birth parent/s and the adoptee  must be given time and space to arrive at a decision at how their lives will move on after the reunion.


Adoptive Families: Grants and Loans resources

Posted by FAN Admin in International/Adoption Philippines, News on 02 5th, 2010

Expenses for adoptions, whether international, domestic or through foster care can add up quickly and has sometimes been the reason why some families choose not to go through the process.  Below is a useful list of organizations that offer grants and loans to help fray costs and fees. Do some research to determine if you are eligible.

  • Gift of Adoption Singles and married couples pursuing domestic adoption or adoption from a Hague-compliant country may apply for grants from $500 to $7,500. giftofadoption.org
  • HelpUsAdopt.org Married couples and singles may apply for financial awards ranging from $500 to $15,000. helpusadopt.org
  • National Adoption Foundation Singles and married couples may apply for grants ranging from $500 to $2,500. nafadopt.org
  • Shaohannah’s Hope Singer Steven Curtis Chapman’s organization awards grants of $2,000 to $7,000 to Christian families pursuing adoption. showhope.org
  • Parenthood for Me Grants are available for parents building their families through adoption or assisted reproductive technologies; founded by AF reader Erica Walther Schlaefer. parenthoodforme.org
  • A Child Waits International adopters may apply for loans of up to $10,000, with a five-percent interest rate; grants are available for special-needs children. achildwaits.org
  • International Association of Hebrew Free Loans The organization’s website offers state-by-state listings of interest-free adoption loans available to Jewish families. freeloan.org
  • Oxford Adoption Foundation Loans of up to $5,000 per child adopted internationally are interest-free for the first three years. oxfordadoption.com
  • The ABBA Fund Christian couples may apply for interest-free adoption loans. abbafund.org

* list compiled from Adoptive Families Magazine



Philippine Inquirer: Illegally adopted Filipino babies traced

Posted by FAN Admin in Home, International/Adoption Philippines, News on 02 1st, 2010

Illegally adopted Filipino babies traced
By Cathy C. Yamsuan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:54:00 02/01/2010

MANILA, Philippines—Humanitarian workers using DNA tests are offering to help track down Filipino babies illegally sent to Singapore for adoption in affluent countries.

“Women posing as their mothers would go to Singapore using fake identification to make authorities believe that the babies are theirs,” said Amihan Abueva, regional coordinator of the NGO Asia Against Child Trafficking.

“But once in Singapore, the babies are left behind,” Abueva told a forum on “DNA-Prokids: Using DNA To Help Fight Child-Trafficking.”

“The trouble is that there are no complainants,” Justice Undersecretary Ricardo Blancaflor told reporters on the sidelines of the forum at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.

“Parents also do not know where to go. They do not even know whom to accuse since no one knows where the child went,” Blancaflor said.

DNA-Prokids is an international humanitarian initiative that establishes and uses the genetic identification of children taken by force in an effort to return them to their families.

Began in 2004, the effort is headed by two forensic scientists—Dr. Jose A. Lorente of the University of Granada in Spain, and Dr. Arthur J. Eisenberg, co-director of the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification.

The UP Natural Sciences Research Institute’s DNA Analysis Laboratory recently joined DNA-Prokids’ efforts to deter child trafficking by providing free services to families with missing children.

Lorente warned the meeting that child trafficking was now considered an international epidemic and could be “the No. 1 crime worldwide by 2010.”

“Heroin, at least, can be detected. But it is very difficult to prove that the child carried by an adult is really his,” he said.

No systematic method

“As long as there is no systematic method to track down parents and bring back their children to them, children [will continue to be] abducted. Guatemalan children, for example, are abducted and brought to the United States and Europe where there are markets for illegal adoption,” Lorente said.

Dr. Maria Corazon de Ungria, head of the UP National Scientific Research Institute’s DNA Analysis Laboratory, explained that DNA or deoxyribonucleic acid “is the blueprint of all living creatures and those once alive.”

DNA tests are now commonly used to establish the paternity of a child, especially in child support cases.

According to De Ungria, a child inherits DNA properties from both the father and the mother. Y-DNA testing, which detects the male Y chromosome, establishes the father-child link.

Mitochondrial DNA that is passed on from mother to child is used to trace the mother’s family or genetic lineage.

Because DNA is chemically stable, can survive over several years even after the death of an individual, and is unique to every creature, it is considered a reliable measure of genetic origin.

Right to identity

Lorente identified northern India, China and the Philippines among the Asian countries with “statistically large percentage of cases” of illegal adoptions.

This means many children from these countries end up abroad and become victims of trafficking “whether through prostitution, forced labor, militant activities or illegal adoptions.”

The forum’s program stated that 50 percent of the 600,000 to 800,000 people “trafficked across international borders each year are under 17 years old.”

Lorente said UN studies showed that Central and South America, Africa, Central and Southeast Asia were the prime sources of children brought to North America, Canada, the United States, Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

“One of the basic rights of a child is the right to identity. If a child is without documents, his identity can still be established through DNA analysis. But this requires the help of governments concerned and needs cooperation and coordination of their agencies,” Lorente said.

De Ungria wants the UP DNA laboratory to work with the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking and get a sponsorship from the Department of Science and Technology “because DNA tests are admittedly expensive.”

Lack of coordination

All cases of free DNA testing that the UP laboratory accepts will be financed by DNA-Prokids International provided these are done in efforts to reunite abducted children and their parents.

The UP institute indicated that DNA analysis ranged from P3,000 for the “sampling, extraction and storage of a biological sample for five years” to P60,000 for samples taken from a child and two parents for use in legal cases.

Lorente said that efforts to reunite parents and kidnapped children had been marred by the lack of coordination among government agencies in various countries.

He noted that in the Philippines, “there is a problem of processing evidence and DNA testing so DNA-Prokids International will collaborate by offering its support and finances from grants.”

Lorente said DNA-Prokids International released its first batch of DNA analyses in 2005 that was used in efforts to recover children forcibly taken from Latin America, Nepal, Guatemala and India.

Index system

In Guatemala, cheek swabs taken from 23 children rescued from an illegal adoption syndicate allowed authorities to track down their families who reported that they were abducted, Lorente said.

Lorente and Eisenberg are working on a combined DNA index system, an international database of DNA profiles taken from rescued children and parents who volunteered theirs.

The scientists foresee that once a worldwide system is in place, it would be easier for authorities trying to track down missing children if DNA profiles are readily available for a possible analysis with those claiming to be their biological parents.

Eisenberg said that the sharing of such data would be limited.

“Subjects would only be known by the serial numbers provided by the laboratory. There will absolutely be no sharing of DNA-Prokids information with other agencies. We will only have an exchange of critical information and share profiles in a protected environment using only ID numbers,” he explained.

“Reliability is the key. We want to provide a system that is accurate, whose interpretation is without question and that would be provided and shared at no cost,” Eisenberg said.