It’s an oldy but a goody, something I posted on the the Pakistani Adoption Group some time ago-

 

 

I wanted to share my thoughts and experiences with everyone on private adoptions in Pakistan.

First, let’s look at the laws. The United States adoption laws can be found in the Immigration and Nationality Act. The federal regulations provide us with definitions and additional rules which congress applied to US adoption and immigration law. The first thing I’d like to say is that there is one set of laws which applies to every US citizen who wants to adopt no matter what country they want to adopt from, regardless of whether or not they are Muslim or if they adopt from a government run orphanage or a relative. So, Ali and Farida who want to adopt in Pakistan have to follow the exact same set of rules as Jose and Maria who want to adopt from Honduras.  Everyone on this site knows that to get a US visa the child has to be considered an orphan.  As I just mentioned, the same set of rules applies to everyone, regardless of what country they adopt from. The definition of orphan IS NOT “a baby who comes from an Edhi home or an SOS home.”  Rather, a child can be considered an orphan for any number of reasons- death, abandonment and the list goes on.

 

So why do we have so many problems getting visas for children who do not come from Edhi or SOS?  The short answer is because bad people have done very bad things in the past when it comes to adoptions. And we’re not just talking about Pakistani’s here. There are evil folk all over the world who are more than willing to make a quick buck at the expense of biological parents, adoptive parents and worst of all innocent babies. If you don’t believe me, or if you’re just interested in that kind of thing, google the Marshall Island adoption scandal, the Cambodian adoption scandal or Guatemalan adoption fraud.  Read Finding Fernanda. You’ll find sordid tales of biological parents thinking that they were signing medical care consents only to discover too late that their children were gone forever, children bought from relatives, children brokered through kidnappers (the cute ones get adopted, the not so cute are sold as prostitutes or worse) (yes there is worse, I’ve talked to the FBI about it). Lots of Guatemalan babies were granted visas and it was later discovered that birth certificates had been forged, babies had been stolen  and we had no idea who these new little US citizens were.  And it’s not just Americans who fall victim to this kind of thing. Last year several Mexican mothers were convinced to release their babies to “baby photographers” for 48 hour “modeling sessions” only to discover that their children were immediately adopted by unsuspecting Irish adoptive parents. It’s a world wide problem.

 

What does all of this have to do with anything? A lot. The US embassy in Pakistan is in the extremely difficult position of determining who is eligible for a visa and who is not. Read that again- they are there to determine who is eligible for a visa and who is not. They are not there to be your social worker, friend, confidante, shoulder to cry on or to help you bring your child to the United States. Everyone knows that Edhi and SOS are reputable agencies doing great work. If a baby comes from these organizations, the embassy is pretty sure that the baby has not been bought or stolen.  What about babies from not so well known places? Sometimes, it’s just too difficult for the embassy to tell with any certainty where these babies come from.  Nobody wants to be involved in child trafficking. Note, there are a couple of new, less well known organizations that I believe are doing excellent work and whose children can and will get visas- Imkaan for one.

 

Don’t think that your adoption has nothing to do with politics. It does. And again, it’s not just with Pakistani babies. Ever wonder or notice why undocumented Mexican children in the US don’t get adopted? It’s because its almost impossible to do it.  Right now, the Mexicans are the focal point of the immigration debate and its very, very difficult to adopt a Mexican child here- but that’s another post for another forum. Given the political climate and the tenuous relationship between the United States and the Muslim world, nobody wants “a tug of love” international headliner involving a stolen baby being granted a visa to the United States. The most obvious way for an immigration official to deny these visa applications is by saying that “XYZ home” is not a child placing entity, registered by the Pakistani government, authorized to place children. And they’re right- XYZ home probably isn’t one.

 

That said it is absolutely possible to obtain an immigrant visa for a child that comes from a less well known adoption facility, children’s home or clinic IF that child falls under the definition of orphan. The case has to be properly prepared from the outset so the embassy can see that the child qualifies as an orphan. I know this to be true because I have processed lots of these cases and I have successfully gotten visas for these children. It is absolutely imperative that you hire a US immigration lawyer who is super familiar with adoptions from Pakistan and by super familiar, the lawyer should have processed a number of cases for children who did not come from Edhi or SOS. The lawyer should be able to give you an answer on the spot about the viability of your case. If the lawyer says “give me some time to research it” you should understand that to mean “I have no idea how to do this. The typing you hear is me googeling as we speak and I’m going to spend some time trying to figure it out. Oh and by the way, I plan to charge you for that.” Move on to the next lawyer! Your baby is not a test case.  Also, just a side note- every good immigration lawyer I know is a member of AILA (the American Immigration Lawyers Association).  It is infinitely preferable that you consult with a lawyer before you make the ultimate decision to accept a child for adoption. There is nothing worse than telling parents who are already attached to their long awaited bundle of joy that there is essentially no way said bundle will join them in the United States in the near future. You should DEFINITELY hire an immigration lawyer before obtaining a guardianship order or filing immigration paperwork.

 

[Other signs that you should pick another lawyer – the lawyer can’t tell you which regulations apply; the lawyer has never heard of the Edhi foundation; the lawyer doesn’t know what a NICOP card is; the lawyer has only processed regular family cases and business visas;  the lawyer wants to charge you excessive fees “to assist” but there is no specific plan in place as to what exactly should be done.]

Now let’s move on to relative adoptions. Can they be done? Yes. How do I know? Because I have done them. Relative orphan cases are perhaps the most complex orphan cases. Not every relative baby will qualify for an orphan visa and I won’t go to the embassy with a bad case. I think it’s kinder to advise the parents up front that a particular child won’t qualify for a visa rather than allow them to go through the embassy process, getting more attached each day only to have their dreams shattered by an embassy officials. I’m sure the embassy officials don’t enjoy that part of their job either- who wants to see a parent separated from a much longed for baby? Again, you need to talk to a lawyer- preferably before any final decision is made to adopt the baby.

 

My final thoughts:

 

1. Adoption agencies in the US.  As far as I know, there are no US adoption agencies that have a proven adoption program in Pakistan. This is because none of them has done the correct homework before embarking on their program. Believe me when I tell you that this has lead to serious heartache for many adoptive parents. I always get in trouble with adoption agencies here in the US for telling people to stay away from their poorly thought-out (pilot) programs. Let me respond to complaints now in advance:  Yes, I think I can tell you how to do your job, especially if you are not doing it right. Feel free to contact me directly if you would like to discuss. I have lots of  great ideas.

Adoptive parent:  remember that you are not a test case, neither is your baby- steer clear of new adoption programs- (unless you run it by me first. I know which agencies are doing their home work and which aren’t.)

 

2.  Don’t lie to the embassy ever. Never. Under any circumstance. It’s a crime and they can permanently bar you from adopting a child.

 

3. What do you do if you really cannot get a US orphan visa for a child? First, you should speak to a good immigration lawyer to see what other options there might be. Second, you should feel empowered to try to adopt another child. I know that this will be an unpopular comment but I firmly believe that adoption is about families for children and not children for families. God, in his infinite wisdom, knows which child needs to be in your family and which child will thrive in another.

 

4. What do you do if you don’t like my suggestion in point 3 above- you don’t want to try to adopt a different child? I would say this- First, you don’t have to listen to me, but you should. Second, I have never come across an immigration problem that has no solution. You may not like the solution; the solution may take hard work, months or years of waiting, stress and financial hardship- but there are almost no immigration problems that cannot be solved.