Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Utah agencies admit 'routinely' violating ICPC

The Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC), was formed at the federal level to oversee adoptions which cross state lines. Here's how it should go:

When a child is to be placed for adoption in a state other than his state of birth, it is the responsibility of the adoption brokers in the "receiving" state to notify officials in the "sending" state (state of child's birth) of the proposed adoption. The sending state then initiates the placment process. It verifies that the parents' relinquishments, voluntary or court-ordered, have been properly executed according to its own state laws and sees to it that the parents' and child's rights are being protected in the adoption process. In turn, the receiving state verifies to the sending state that home study and other requirements of the prospective parents have been satisfied. When all the paperwork is complete, then and only then can the out-of-state agency legally take custody of the child for placement with adoptive parents.

Not only was A Cherished Child guilty of ignoring the ICPC's procedures in Tamia's adoption attempt, but her case represented the fourth complaint to ICPC against A Cherished Child since its founding in 1997; three cases have resulted in violation findings. But the agency's attorney complained that it was being punished for doing something that was
"a common practice by all agencies" in Utah. The following is an excerpt from an Associated Press article published in the Boston Globe, 'Baby is back with mother after suit':
"...adoption agency attorney Richard Van Wagoner said the agreement that is supposed to coordinate the transfer of children across state lines is routinely violated by adoption agencies. (emphasis added)

''A mother might back out of the decision or make a commitment and not show up," Van Wagoner said. ''So, the paperwork ends up being completed on this end. This was a technical violation, and the practice is not a secret to the state."
A mother might back out of the decision or make a commitment and not show up?

This was a
technical violation?
H - E - L - L - O !!!!!!

What does all this mean?

It means that Utah adoption brokers can't trust adoption professionals in other states to deliver a 'promised' baby to them because other states' safeguard standards for mothers and children are higher than their own.
  • It means that in cases like Tamia's, a mother going through a difficult time emotionally and/or financially can be recruited through glitzy newspaper or phone book ads in her home state, flown to Utah, 'counseled' briefly by adoption brokers in a hotel room, and required to relinquish her child there - all within hours of her arrival.
  • It means that when an adoption in Utah is to be brokered by a licensed agency (as opposed to a privately-arranged adoption), Utah law doesn't even require that the mother go to court to sign the surrender before a judge; she can sign it in a hotel room with only an agency representative and a hotel clerk as witnesses. The hotel clerk who witnessed Carmen McDonald's relinquishment signing said she has witnessed "many" such signings. "They always cry," she said.
  • It means that once a mother has signed the relinquishment document, it is irreversible, even if obtained through coercion, intimidation, or - like Baby Tamia's mother - being threatened with not being given a return airline ticket home if she failed to relinquish. (One newspaper report of the Tamia case erroneously reported that a mother has 24 hours in which to change her mind. What the law actually says is that a mother has 24 hours after her child's birth to consider relinquishment before being asked to sign a surrender document.)

Spend some time on
Pound Pup Legacy to read about more of the unethical tactics used by representatives of A Cherished Child and other Utah agencies to obtain infants. Agency representatives have been known to become extremely angry and extremely intimidating in their efforts to get mothers to sign relinquishments.

'Tri-state adoptions'

Utah has become a fast track for what is being termed tri-state adoptions. In other words, not only is the baby imported from another state, but the prospective adoptive parents are from out-of-state, as well. Follow the link 'Judge: Baby Wade Stolen", above, and you'll see that the couple who tried to adopt Baby Wade (another Illinois baby) through A Cherished Child in Utah came there from Arizona.

A discussion thread at the website of included these posts by a prospective adoptive father:

Posted by Steve on 09-30-04 01:17 AM:
Adopting in December:
Has anyone ever heard of a Tri-State adoption. Where you do not finalize in the state you reside or the state you are adopting from but actualy finalize in the state of utah?? This is what we are being told to do by our agency. (emphasis added) I trust them but had just not ever heard of this until the last week or so.
Later post from Adopting in December:
The way I have been made to understand how this Tri State adoption works is that 24 hours after the birth of the baby the mother will sign papers to relinquish parental rights under the accordance of the laws of Utah. Even though she is in NY state. Othewise my wife and I were going to have to stay within the state for 45 days. Once she signs the papers it is immediate and no changing of mind. Also, 6 months later we fly to Salt Lake City to appear before a judge to finalize it all. I was told that the law of Ohio and NY (the two states in question) were very complex and that doing it this way would save time and money and be legal and binding.
Who are these agencies in other states that are counseling would-be parents to process their adoptions through Utah to avoid the "complexities" of adoption, as well as to save time and money, in their home states? What kind of adoption "professionals" would advise taking measures that short-circuit a birthmother's home-state protections, as well as subject potential adopters to such risky inter-state transactions?

Are adoption brokers in YOUR state working with Utah brokers to arrange 'tri-state adoptions' processed in Utah?

Illinois took steps to protect its citizens against this kind of predation, as you'll read in the next blog entry. ALL states need to pass similar legislation. There is much that we can do. The time to begin is

No comments: