Results tagged “international adoption” from Indiana Family Lawyer Blog

Orphan Visa Denials or Revocations - What you need to know about the Universal Accreditation Act

January 13, 2014

quoteblock_clinton.jpgThe Intercountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act of 2012 (UAA) goes into effect on July 14, 2014. As of that date, all agencies or persons that provide adoption services in support of the two forms listed below must be accredited or approved, or be a supervised or exempted provider, in compliance with the Intercountry Adoption Act and accreditation regulations. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), adoptive parents who are not working with an accredited or approved adoption provider and filed Form I-600A or Form I-600 (Application for Orphan Visa) on or after July 13, 2013, may be denied an orphan visa. An Adoptive parent that has filed the appropriate adoption application to the appropriate foreign authority for adoptions prior to July 13, 2013 may also be grandfathered into old regulations and USCIS may not require them to use an agency/provider under the UAA.
This means that many parents may be given a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) or a Notice of Intent to Revoke (NOIR) if they attempted an independent international adoption or used as their placing agency an organization or agency that was not approved/accredited per the UAA unless they filed the above forms/document prior to July 13, 2013. If you receive a NOID or NOIR, it can be a serious complication in your adoption process and may prevent you from completing the international adoption process. The Orphan Visa enables a child adopted from a foreign country to enter the United States. Without the Orphan Visa it may be impossible for the child to legally enter the United States. Our team can assist you with your Rebuttal of a NOID or Appeal of Denial with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Our legal team may also be able to explore other immigration options with you as well.

Denials & Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) Orphan Visa
If an I600A/I600/I800A/I800 is not approvable, it will be denied. If denial is based on information not previously known by parents, USCIS must issue a Notice of Intent to Deny the orphan visa, prior to a final denial. USCIS may issue a final denial if appropriate and at their discretion based upon the findings of their Orphan Visa investigation (I-604 Investigation).

Why would USCIS issue parent(s) a NOID notification or denial?
This letter would be issued if adoptive parents are not working with an accredited or approved adoption provider and filed Form I-600A or Form I-600 (Application for Orphan Visa) on or after July 13, 2013. The parent may also be able to move forward if they filed these forms after this date but filed an appropriate adoption application with the foreign authority responsible for international adoptions. The exact parameters of appropriate application and proper foreign authority may leave room for interpretation and discretion. Beyond not meeting these deadlines a NOID or NOIR can also so be issued upon a suspicion of fraud, undue influence, duress, or ineligibility of child to be adopted internationally.

What is a NOID?
This is a response from USCIS to your 1600/I800 Petition to Classify Orphan as Immediate Relative, which will provide you with Orphan Visa (IR3 or IR4). The purpose is to notify parents of intent to deny an orphan visa for your child. Prior to a NOID you may also receive a Request for Further Evidence (RFE) in an effort for the parents to have time to provide additional information to USCIS regarding their adoption process or child's eligibility.
The NOID/NOIR/RFE will state the reasons for issuance.

What to do if you receive a NOID letter?
Contact an attorney who has experience with these matter immediately as parents and their attorney have thirty (30) days to respond with a rebuttal of reasons stated. Attorney Michele Jackson at Harden Jackson Law has experience dealing with these matters. Please note that an immigration attorney or adoption attorney may not automatically be experienced in this area. The rebuttal or appeal that is drafted by you or on your behalf may not be successful. Also remember that you may be given a specified time in which you can respond and any answer post deadline may not be accepted.

What to do if you receive a Final Denial of the orphan visa?
Again, time is of the essence. Contact an experience attorney immediately, as parents may appeal denials if "appealable."

Attorney Michele Jackson interviewed regarding Congo Adoptions

January 10, 2014

Thumbnail image for MLJ WEB2.jpgAttorney Michele Jackson was interviewed by the Associated Press about the desperate situation for the children and adoptive parents in the Congo. The article appeared in many national publications, including the Huffington Post. To link to the article, click here. Otherwise, the text is below.

"Justin Carroll is the proud dad of a 6-week-old daughter in Tennessee, but thus far he's done his doting via Facetime video phone calls from Africa. Since mid-November, Carroll has been living in Congo, unwilling to leave until he gets exit papers allowing two newly adopted sons to travel with him.
Carroll and his wife, Alana, are among scores of U.S. couples caught up in wrenching uncertainty, as a suspension of all foreign adoptions imposed by Congolese authorities has temporarily derailed their efforts to adopt.
While most of the families are awaiting a resolution from their homes in the U.S., Justin Carroll and a few other parents whose adoptions had been approved have actually taken custody of their adopted children in Kinshasa, Congo's capital. However, they say that promised exit papers for the children are now being withheld pending further case-by-case reviews, and the parents don't want to leave Kinshasa without them.
"Justin is not going to leave the boys," Alana Carroll said from the family's home in Jefferson City, Tenn., where she's been caring for biological daughter Carson since her birth on Nov. 25. Justin Carroll was not present for Carson's birth; he left for Africa almost a week earlier.
"In a dire situation, we would just move there," said Alana, referring to Congo. "Leaving our sons there is not an option."
According to UNICEF estimates, Congo -- long plagued by poverty and conflict -- is home to more than 800,000 children who've lost both parents, in many cases because of AIDS.
Until the suspension was announced in September, Congo had been viewed by adoption advocates in the U.S. as a promising option at a time when the overall number of international adoptions has been plummeting. Congo accounted for the sixth highest number of adoptions by Americans in 2012 -- 240 children, up from 41 in 2010 and 133 in 2011.
There are varied explanations for the suspension -- explanations which reflect how international adoption has become a highly divisive topic.
The U.S. State Department, in its latest Congo advisory, says all applications for exit permits for adopted children are facing increased scrutiny because of concerns over suspected falsification of documents. Congolese authorities earlier attributed the suspension to concerns that some children had been abused or abandoned by their adoptive parents or have been "sold to homosexuals."
"The government wants to get a handle on this matter, because there is a lot of criminality around it," Interior Minister Richard Muyej Mangez told The Associated Press last month.
The State Department has said it is trying to get accurate information with the hope of enabling some of the families -- such as the Carrolls -- to take home children whose adoptions had been approved prior to the Sept. 25 suspension. However, it has warned waiting parents that there could be significant delays.
American diplomats in Kinshasa have met with the waiting families and with Congolese officials to discuss the suspension, but Alana Carroll said the families wished the U.S. Embassy staff would press harder to get the cases moving.
"The ambassador said they didn't want to ruffle any feathers," Carroll said.
The Carrolls and four other families have dubbed themselves the "Stuck In Congo Five" and created a Facebook page to draw attention to their plight. Alana and two of the other mothers also have been communicating through their blogs.
One of them, Erin Wallace of Annapolis, Md., has been in Congo since October, awaiting exit papers that would enable her to bring newly adopted daughter Lainey home to her husband and their two other children.
She has urged readers of her blog to contact their congressional delegations on behalf of the five families.
"We are desperate to return home with our children," she wrote. "We have been stuck for too long."
Katie Harshman, another of the bloggers, also has been in Kinshasa since October. Her husband, Eric, a groundskeeper with the University of Kentucky athletics department, joined her for the first seven weeks before returning to work.
"There is no reason why we should still be here," Katie Harshman wrote in a recent post. "We have gotten caught in the middle of some kind of craziness."
The Harshmans, Wallaces and Carrolls have been working with Africa Adoption Services, a Louisville, Ky., agency founded by Danielle Anderson, a former consular staffer at the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa.
The spouses who are waiting in Kinshasa, along with their adopted children, are staying together in a guest house. Anderson has advised the Americans to be cautious about venturing out with the children, saying many Congolese people are suspicious about international adoptions.
Anderson said it's difficult to pinpoint why authorities there suspended adoptions.
"It's financial, it's political, it's because of severe homophobia," she said. "But in the end, kids are getting stuck and families are not being united."
In the past two years, Africa Adoption Services has helped dozens of families complete adoptions from Congo, generally for a cost of about $27,000, excluding travel.
Among the successful couples were Emily and Mike Mauntel of Atlanta, whose 2-year-old son, Moses, came home in October. The couple also have a 4-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter.
"My heart is breaking for these five families stuck in the Congo and for the many more families waiting to bring their children home," Emily Mauntel wrote in an email. "I was in the Congo for almost four months trying to bring our son home and it was by far the most difficult time in my life."
Among the U.S. agencies active in Congo is MLJ Adoptions, founded by Indianapolis attorney Michele Jackson, who has two sons adopted from the Congo.
Even before the suspension, Jackson said, the international adoption process in Congo could be slow, with U.S. authorities often taking six months or more to verify that children were not part of any trafficking or baby-selling scheme. In at least recent three cases, Jackson said, children died of disease during the vetting process.
Alana Carroll said one of her two new sons, Canaan, was sickly and introverted when her husband began caring for him, and is now thriving. But the long separation has taken an emotional toll.
"It was like a dream come true and now it's like nightmare I can't wake up from," she said."

Attorney Michele Jackson recognized in local business newspaper for adoption

September 24, 2013

MLJ WEB2.jpgAttorney Michele Jackson was profiled in this week's Indianapolis Business Journal. Below is the text from the article. We are so proud of Michele and the work she does to advocate for orphans around the world.

"Michele Jackson marched into an internship in 1999 hoping to deliver a swift blow to international injustices against women and children.

The 24-year-old Indiana University law student didn't realize how unpleasant the topics would be.


Her assignment at Canadian not-for-profit Human Rights Internet was to pour over legal documents and data relating to the sex trade. A lot of it involved children.

The key question she looked at was, "Why did these kids get into this situation?"

"I would have to research the whole story of a child and how they were exploited," said Jackson, now 38. "A lot of times it was because they didn't have any family. They were kids on the street, kids in orphanages, or they were in families that couldn't afford them and so they would be sold."

She concluded adoption was one of the best solutions. Kids with parents had better odds of growing into stable adults and avoiding the hardships she spent her time learning about.

That's why Jackson, a family law attorney from Indianapolis, founded MLJ Adoptions Inc. in 2008. The 52-employee agency, which operates out of a red-brick former schoolhouse in the Mass Ave neighborhood, has orchestrated about 400 adoptions in Congo, Samoa, Bulgaria, Mexico, Haiti, Nicaragua, Ukraine and Honduras.

The children were among more than 132 million estimated by UNICEF to need families. Burkina Faso in West Africa will likely be the next new office.

"I always said I would do about 40 clients a year. We just counted the other day and we have over 500," Jackson said.

"I told myself I never wanted something this big," she later said, "but I think once you get into something and you're passionate about something ... once you get into it, it becomes something you never planned."

Jackson's interest in international affairs goes back to when she was 5 and her mother began going on mission trips.

One of two children growing up, her mother would take her to do local charity work, like clearing brush and painting cabins at a camp for children with disabilities.

That, she believes, ignited her interest in social causes. The route she picked for her career was a degree in international law from IU, which she earned in 2000.

She began working in adoption that year when she took a job as an attorney at family law firm McClure McClure Davis & Henn.

In her first year at the firm, she helped all three families that adopted children from the Ukraine navigate red tape. But the international adoption climate was changing, which meant Jackson saw a need to change how she worked.

The Hague Adoption Convention, an 88-country pact on adoption standards, tightened regulations on U.S. adoptions in 2008. Among the many provisions, member countries needed to set up central adoption authorities--the Department of the State took over here--to certify adoption service providers and monitor them.

The best way to comply with the stricter regulations was to stop handling adoptions independently and set up an accredited adoption agency, Jackson decided.

National spotlight

Jackson's work has brought a national spotlight to MLJ.

The National Council for Adoption and the Joint Council on International Children's Services both featured her as a speaker earlier this year at conferences in Orlando and New York. And the Washington, D.C.-based Congressional Coalition of Adoption Institute named her an Angel in Adoption last year.

Jackson splits her time between MLJ--a for-profit enterprise from which she does not collect a salary--and Harden Jackson Law in Carmel, where she typically spends two days per week.

She juggles the two jobs with a separate not-for-profit she runs on the side, the Global Orphan Foundation. The group provides grants to adopting families and food to orphans in the Congo.

"Even knowing her as a teenager, most of us were relaxing on the weekends and watching TV or whatever teenagers do. Michele was working with her family," said Leah Potter, a longtime friend and employee at Jackson's law firm.

"She works very hard, but I think it's because she's chosen a career that is part of her passion and it fits in with her family life," Potter said. "It fits in with what she's about."

Jackson and her husband, WellPoint Inc. Chief Financial Officer Wayne DeVeydt, raise six kids ages 2 to 17. Two sons are adopted from the Congo, a daughter is from Nicaragua, and three stepdaughters are from her husband's previous marriage.

She described her schedule with two and a half words, a gritted smirk and a laugh: "It's fun."

Congo in her heart

Managing eight offices and additional employees scattered around the globe has meant a lot of travel for Jackson. Flying to a foreign country once a month became typical after she started MLJ.

As she spoke of her time in Haiti, Honduras and Bulgaria, she most lit up at mention of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

MLJ has been in the central African nation since the agency's onset.

The country is poor and war-torn, making it one of the hardest places to operate.

"I caution myself to say some of those things because I love the country so much," she said, "but the reality is there's some struggles there. It's one of the poorest countries in the world."

An estimated 5 million children in the country need families.

It was through her work at MLJ that she found her sons in the Congo. The agency handled everything, except the home study because of potential bias.

"It's hard to turn back around and not do it," she said. "It's hard to look away."

Diplomatic duties

Jackson had always envisioned starting a family by adopting children, even before she met her husband.

Following through on her dream altered her perspective on the process.

"You can understand the emotion and the unknowns" without adopting, she said. "But now you've experienced it."

Working in countries like the Congo creates a lot of obstacles and heartbreaks, she admitted.

Social and political complications are always a risk--like when rebels took control of part of eastern Congo last year and Jackson had to halt adoptions from that part of the country because children could not leave.

"You just pull all that together and all these people and different languages and different culture, and all of a sudden you have this creation that's hard to understand, hard to implement and hard to always predict and there are no guarantees," she said.

Parents wanting children of certain ages, especially infants, face long waiting lists, as do those seeking children from certain countries. That's why MLJ is not in China.

Adopting in the U.S. or foster care can be better options, Jackson said.

"I think I'm the bearer of bad news sometimes," she said. "What I will say to people is, if this is what you want to do, let me see what the right fit is for your family because there are children out there who need families."

Education matters

MLJ requires parents to take classes before adopting to make sure they're prepared to take in a child from another country. Curriculum ranges from family bonding to skin and hair care for the children.

Sympathy would occasionally get the best of Jackson. She would see prospective parents endure a years-long process that costs $20,000 to $40,000 and then often cut them slack when it came to attending their classes.

She admits that was a mistake.

"There were things that I would do that maybe I wouldn't draw such a hard line about. They could not go to their education class, and I would let them slide. I learned that I need to enforce that."

One couple who adopted through Jackson feel the classes are invaluable.

Without the classes, Holly Harrold said she and her husband, Doug, wouldn't have understood their children's cultures and what it takes to raise them.

The Frankton couple adopted a son from the U.S., a daughter from Guatemala and another daughter from the Congo, so they had to learn about the countries before bringing the children home. That included writing an essay on the Congo.

"All of our children know their birth story from the very beginning," Harrold said."

Article courtesy of Indianapolis Business Journal.

Photo Friday and supporting Congo adoptions

July 19, 2013

Attorney Michele Jackson is photographed on one of her trips to an orphanage in the DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo).

congo adopt.jpg

Please join and support the Facebook group, Hope for DRC Adoptions. This group exists to raise awareness, discuss the issues, and work together to advocate for the best interests of the children and promoting ethical adoptions in DRC. There is concern about current events impacting adoption in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the future hopes for a family of the millions of orphans in DRC. There are millions of orphans in Congo and international adoption gives some of them hope for a family. We cannot take away their fundamental right to have a family. Advocate for orphans and children's rights!

Attorney Michele Jackson speaking at National Adoption Conference

June 7, 2013

Thumbnail image for MLJ headshot.jpgPress Contact:
Leah Potter
HARDEN JACKSON LLC
11450 N. Meridian, Carmel, IN 46032
Phone: 317.569.0770
Email: lpotter@hardenjacksonlaw.com
Web site: www.hardenjacksonlaw.com

For Immediate Release

CARMEL ADOPTION ATTORNEY PRESENTING AT NATIONAL ADOPTION CONFERENCE

CARMEL, IN - June 7, 2013 - Michele Jackson, an attorney at Harden Jackson Law, is presenting on International Adoption at the 2013 National Adoption Conference in Orlando, Florida.

Ms. Jackson will be presenting to leadership and management in the adoption field on the Analysis of Risk in an International Adoption Program and Liability Management for Agencies. The presentation will focus on international adoption and evaluation of the legal and cultural risks. The presentation will outline causing factors, offer practical tips and strategies for dealing with those risks, and mitigating risks and liabilities for an agency. A thorough review of challenges and changes in international adoption and analysis of cultural and political pressures and trends will help attendees understand the process and provide insight into the risks and options for programs in international adoption.

The conference is sponsored by the National Council for Adoption (NCFA). NCFA's mission is to meet the diverse needs of children, birthparents, adopted individuals, adoptive families, and all those touched by adoption through global advocacy, education, research, legislative action, and collaboration.

Ms. Jackson is a founder of HARDEN JACKSON, LLC where she serves as Chair of the Adoption & Reproductive Law Practice Group and concentrates her law practice in adoption, assisted reproductive technology, and international family law. Her practice includes representation for adoptive parents, as well as step-parent and second parent adoptions. Additionally, Ms. Jackson represents intended parents or surrogates in gestational surrogacy arrangements and other Assisted Reproductive matters such as egg donor agreements. She is routinely sought for her knowledge and experience regarding issues in international adoptions and international family law and has extensive experience with children in the United States and orphans worldwide. Ms. Jackson has dedicated herself to the adoption of orphans worldwide, while assisting couples and individuals to realize their dreams of becoming parents. Her commitment includes traveling to countries to develop and maintain in-country contacts including agencies, attorneys and foreign authorities.

Harden Jackson, LLC is a Carmel law firm providing personalized service with a responsive and compassionate approach. As effective and experienced litigators, the attorneys work with clients to develop strategies for negotiating settlements, while always preparing for litigation if necessary. The practice assists clients in all areas of family law, adoption and reproductive law matters. For more information, please contact Harden Jackson Law

Orphans that can't be adopted - the plight of the "social orphan"

June 6, 2013

By: Michele Jackson

1350860_hand-in-hand.jpgThere are anywhere from 143,000,000 to 165,000,000 million orphans living in our world. This number is astonishing but what do these numbers represent? These numbers are developed from attempting to account for children that have one or more parent absent and the child is often living with relatives, foster parents, in orphanages or on the streets. It is unclear as to whether the "social orphan" is included in this number. I would venture to say that if the child is in an institution then they are accounted for; however, the "social orphan" is one that is difficult to quantify and has not been properly protected under the laws of many states or International conventions (Convention on the Rights of the Child, Hague Convention on Inter-Country Adoption).

The "social orphan" is the most common child in an orphanage. A "social orphan" is a child that has parents living that cannot or will not take care of the child but the parent's rights to the child are still intact and have not been terminated. Often these parents are working long hours in remote areas, not able to afford/feed their children or have drug/alcohol related issues that are preventing them from parenting. I am consistently asked about adopting specific children living in an orphanage and often I know that the child is likely to be a "social orphan". A "social orphan" is not adoptable in most situations. The child will likely not be adoptable because of one or more of the following reasons:

  1. Biological parents will not voluntarily terminate their rights in the child (even if they did, it is possible the child would not qualify for international adoption according to US Federal Immigration laws);
  2. The state does not have a mechanism to terminate parental rights in a situation where parents are not caring for a child;
  3. The state does not exercise their legal process to terminate parents' rights where parents are not caring for a child;
  4. While certain state agencies may be favorable to terminating parental rights in situations in which parents are not caring for a child, Courts/Judges may not favor such an action which requires their adjudication;
  5. Lack of resources to pursue legal action to terminate parents' rights; and
  6. United State Citizenship and Immigration services and Federal Immigration laws may not allow for parents to terminate their parental rights (two-parent orphans) for the purpose of adoption thus a "social orphan" may not qualify for the orphan visa (meaning the child cannot come into the US after the adoption).

From anecdotal analysis and experience, many "social orphans' are left in an orphanage their entire lives. I would estimate that 80-90% of children living in orphanages in Latin America are "social orphans" and not available for adoption. Eastern Europe has "social orphans" but has been more successful in terminating parental rights and seeking adoption for many children. Most of Africa is completely overwhelmed with their orphan crisis and lacks resources to resolve this crisis in any way. Prospective adoptive parents are continually baffled by the enormous number of orphans and inability to adopt these orphans in an efficient manner. We should not only be baffled but we should be angry! These children are worthy of a family that can care for them.

Action needed:


  • NGOs, foundations, missions, governments need to help account for orphans (including "social orphans") in countries. Know the problem and then seek resolve: provide resources, education and training for preventative measures and post abandonment resolutions.

  • Education in US and foreign countries on the need for protection of orphans, including "social orphans".

  • Resources on how to legally pursue reunification with family, termination of parents rights, domestic adoption or international adoption.

  • Change in US laws to allow for international adoption of two parent "social orphans" in non-Hague countries (which is currently prohibited if parents attempt to consent to an adoption in this scenario).


"Social orphans" may have one of the worst opportunities for a future. They are an orphan without family care, often living with substandard nutrition, medical care and education and yet they never have the opportunity for a family through domestic or international adoption. Their options: Family reunification, domestic adoption, international adoption but often their reality is life in an orphanage or on the streets with little to no help. The even starker reality is their future is filled with death by preventable diseases, suicide, prostitution and crime.

What can you do?

Contact your Congressman/women and find out what they are doing to help? How are they involved? Are they following the U.S. State Department and their efforts? What is the State Department doing when a country closes to international adoption and has hundreds of thousands of orphans?

What non-profits can you work with to assist these orphans?

Educate yourself. Dig deep into which organizations support the plight of orphans around the world. Did you know that UNICEF is not favorable to international adoption? Did you know UNICEF receives billions of dollars from US citizens, companies and government which supports an underlying anti-international adoption agenda?

Be heard - While international adoption is not the only option for these children, it is one of the options. All efforts for reunification, domestic adoption and international adoption are necessary.

At Harden Jackson, our Adoption Practice Group can assist clients in a number of domestic and international adoption matters. If you would like more information on adoption, please call Harden Jackson Law. If you would like information on helping orphans around the world, please contact the Global Orphan Foundation.

Attorney Michele Jackson featured in local magazine on adoption

April 30, 2013

Attorney Michele Jackson, who chairs the Adoption Practice Group of Harden Jackson Law, is featured in this month's Hamilton County Family magazine. The article is titled "The Adoption Option" and discusses the process of adoption.

Jackson is a founding member of Harden Jackson where she offers numerous legal services for domestic and international adoptions including private and agency adoptions, step-parent adoptions, second parent adoptions, and surrogacy contracts. In addition, Jackson is also the founder of MLJ Adoptions, an international adoption agency based in Indianapolis.

See below to read the article


Orphan Visas Problems - What could happen?

April 5, 2013

Are you considering international adoption? Have you adopted internationally in the past? If so, you may be well aware of some of the problems listed below when filing for your Orphan Visa. Sometimes, this can be a very disheartening process for intended parents as this is one of the final steps before bringing the child home.

You have your foreign Decree for your International adoption and you now have filed your I-600 - Application for Orphan Visa (I-R3 and I-R4). This is for all Non-Hague countries Orphan Visas; however, if you are adopting from a Hague Country the process is similar but does have some differences, specifically the reasons for problems in the Hague Orphan Visa process. For general information about the I-600/I-600A process, please see U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
Africa orphanage trip.jpg
Over the past ten years in international adoption and most specifically in the past 4 years, we have seen higher scrutiny given to the examination of the Orphan Visa applications. I believe the increased scrutiny is a result of the following:
1. Corruption in the international adoption process;
2. U.S. State Departments desire to streamline international adoptions into Hague and agency only adoptions to avoid corruption; and
3. Overall political shirt to scrutinizing immigration and therefore, increased desire to limit immigration into the U.S.

There are two ways in which you may file your I-600: Filing in the U.S. at the National Benefits' Center - NBC - (Department of Homeland Security/United State's Citizenship and Immigration Services) or in country (this may be at USCIS foreign office within an Embassy or with a U.S. State Department officer who are also given authority to review I-600 applications). The following will be the results of your filing:
1. Approval (if received by NBC) this is still only a pre-approval.
2. Request for Additional Evidence (RFE) - This means that the officer reviewing your application wants additional information to be able to make a determination. This can be used for various reasons and often does not mean that there are any problems in your case, but merely a desire for additional documents.
3. Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) - This means that the officer reviewing your case did not deny your case but intends to do so. The NOID will give you time to respond and provide information so that the officer will not Deny. You will be given reasons in which the officer feels that a Denial is appropriate and therefore, you can respond accordingly. The intended parents or an attorney they retain can provide the response to a NOID.
4. Notice of Intend to Revoke (NOIR) - This is often used with the NBC already provided an approval and when documents were reviewed and the investigation was performed in the foreign country, the reviewing officer in the country determined that a Visa could not be issued and therefore, gave intended parents a Notice that they intend to revoke the approval for an Orphan Visa.
5. Orphan Visa Denial - Upon review of the I-600 and accompanying documents and the 604 Investigation in country (and potentially additional documents provided after a RFE, NOID, NOIR), the intended parents receive a denial. Denials can be appealed; however, the appeal decision is full and final with no additional options or remedies for the intended parents (however, other immigration options may be available, so please seek the advice of an attorney). All appeals are completed at USCIS Office of Appeals in Washington, D.C.
The following reasons I have observed as the most common for RFE, NOID, NOIRs and Denials:
1. Petitioners (intended adoptive parents) do not meet financial guidelines. A Petitioner may have received an initial approval of their I-600A Advanced Processing of the Orphan Visa; however, finances may have changed or ways in which finances were reported changed and therefore, the Petitioners are not deemed to qualify upon the filing of their I-600. Often a Petitioner can include a co-sponsor for the child and then qualify (co-sponsors can be anyone that agrees to be financially responsible for the child until the adoption in the U.S. is fully recognized and child becomes a U.S. citizen).
2. Child does not qualify as an orphan. This is the most disheartening problem as often the child' qualified per the foreign laws BUT do not qualify per U.S. immigration laws and therefore, the parents that have completed the entire adoption cannot obtain permission for the child to immigrate into the U.S. This problem has increased with the increase of independent international adoptions and higher scrutiny of the orphan visa. U.S. has very complicated and specific laws on the qualifications of an orphan. The mere reading of the qualifications will likely not be sufficient for a determination for most parents as there is additional case law that accompanies the interpretation of the laws as well.
3. Information in documentation is not consistent (dates/names/descriptions).
4. Adoption process was not done properly. This could include anything from corruption to using the wrong judicial system.

What can you do? Most importantly, if you are adopting internationally, you should always work with a licensed adoption agency or an experienced adoption attorney. These professionals can assist you with the entire process and hopefully can prepare you for issues or even help prevent issues in bringing your child home.

Do you have questions about international adoption or help with orphan visa appeals? Contact Michele Jackson at Harden Jackson Law. Our Adoption Practice Group can assist clients in a number of domestic and international matters.

Is Adoption right for you?

January 24, 2013


Attorney, Michele Jackson, a founder of HARDEN JACKSON, LLC where she serves as Chair of the Adoption & Reproductive Law Practice Group and concentrates her law practice in adoption, surrogacy, and international family law gives information about the different ways to adopt and considerations for each type.
There are several types of adoption that you may want to consider. The following is general information about adoption that may assist you making a decision regarding whether or not to pursue an adoption for your family.

Domestic Agency Adoption:

  1. Agency finds birth mother and matches you with her.
  2. Agency assist in counseling and preparations for the adoption.
  3. You will need an adoption attorney to assist you with the legal aspects of the adoption.
  4. Generally you have a relationship prior to adoption and possibly post adoption with the birth mother/family.
  5. You generally have good social and medical history on the child.
  6. Birth mother can only consent to adoption post birth and her consent is vital for the success of the adoption.
  7. Cost is between $20,000-40,000 all expenses.

Foster-to-Adopt:

  1. Child is a ward of the state and the state must qualify you to adopt and match you to child.
  2. Child has been a victim of abuse or neglect.
  3. There is typically some type of contact with biological family pre-adoption and possibly post-adoption.
  4. Child may not be an infant.
  5. Child may not qualify for adoption and be reunited with their birth family, depending upon when in the process you decide to be involved.
  6. You generally have good social and medical history on the child.
  7. Cost is minimal and there could be subsidies to assist with any of the costs.

Private Domestic Adoption:

  1. You have found your own birth mother.
  2. You need an adoption attorney to complete your adoption.
  3. Contact with the birth family may happen pre-adoption and post-adoption.
  4. You generally have good social and medical history on the child.
  5. Cost is between $5,000-16,000.

International Adoption:

  1. Your agency matches you with a child in another country.
  2. You need an agency to complete your adoption (which includes legal services of an attorney).
  3. You have little to no contact with birth family.
  4. Country qualifications and requirements must be met for adoption to be completed.
  5. You may know little to no information regarding social and medical history of the child.
  6. Cost is between $25,000-40,000.

Costs are typical and not specific to your agency or adoption. In addition, this is general information and should be considered legal advice or specific to your situation. It is important to know that an adoption should always be completed in Court and you should not assume you have adopted your child without a Decree of Adoption from a Court. I highly recommend using an experienced adoption agency and adoption attorney.

Find out more about Harden Jackson Law's adoption services here.

At Harden Jackson LLC, our practice is devoted to servicing clients throughout the Indianapolis area and the state of Indiana in all areas of family law, including divorce, custody, child support, property division, adoption and surrogacy.

Putin signs law banning American adoptions from Russia- Press Release

December 28, 2012

Press Contact:
Leah Potter
HARDEN JACKSON LLC
11450 N. Meridian, Carmel, IN 46032
Phone: 317.569.0770
Email: lpotter@hardenjacksonlaw.com
Web site: www.hardenjacksonlaw.com

For Immediate Release

Putin signs law banning American adoptions from Russia

CARMEL, IN - December 28, 2012 - Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a measure into law that would ban Americans from adopting Russian children. Russia's parliament had overwhelmingly approved the ban, which was designed as retaliation for a new U.S. law that sanctions Russian officials accused of human rights violations. The law, which has ignited outrage among Russian liberals and children's rights advocates, enters into force on Jan. 1 and is likely to strain U.S.-Russia relations.

As well as banning U.S. adoptions, it will also outlaw some non-governmental organizations that receive U.S. funding and impose a visa ban and asset freeze on Americans accused of violating the rights of Russians abroad.

This retaliation against the United States could have devastating effects on Russia's orphaned children. Russia has more orphans per capita than any nation in the world - an estimated 650,000 orphans. Of that total, 110,000 lived in state institutions in 2011, according to the Ministry of Science and Education. While international adoption is not the solution for all of these children, for some, it is their only hope for a family. In the past 10 years, U.S. citizens have adopted over 35,000 Russian children and have given them a permanent, loving family.

"There are an estimated 1,500 American families currently in the process of adopting from Russia, and 46 Russian children have been matched with those U.S. families. For these families this news is devastating, and they are just the first to suffer." Michele Jackson, the founding Executive Director of MLJ Adoptions, Inc. and a founding partner of HARDEN JACKSON, LLC where she concentrates in International Adoption points out, "Thousands of Russian children in need of families have now lost hope for the permanent and loving home that each child deserves."

Ms. Jackson goes on to say, "Many prospective adoptive parents will now look to other more stable Eastern European country options, like Bulgaria. Bulgaria is an option for these families who are interested in adoption from Russia, as it is a more stable option. Bulgaria is a Hague Convention country, and therefore has additional safeguards in place requiring that the country looks to the best interests of children."


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Gifts for the Holidays - Support Adoptive Families

December 14, 2012

As the holidays are fast approaching, you may be looking for that perfect gift for the loved ones in your life. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, December is typically a time for giving.

Moms or even moms-to-be can be particularly difficult to buy for. Below are a few ideas specifically for adoptive moms that have already adopted, intended mothers that may want to adopt or are in the process of adopting.

Jewelry- while always a great gift for any women, there are a few items out there specifically for adoptive mothers.


  • At www.helpusadopt.org they have a variety of necklaces and bracelets to signify everlasting love and the dream of parenthood through adoption. Even more importantly, this organization exists as a financial assistance grant program providing qualified couples and individuals with grants of up to $15,000 towards their domestic, international, foster, or special needs adoption expenses.



  • This unique personalized locket necklace has a cut out of the child's country and a personalized saying behind the cut out. One of the common phases selected is "I searched the world for you."

Apparel

There are many gift options for moms, but a gift to benefit adoption may be extra special for the adoptive (or soon-to-be) mother in your life.

Photo(s) of the week - Adoption Journey

November 29, 2012

A picture is worth 1000 words? These two photos tell a story about an adoption journey.

In the first picture, beautiful baby Alyssa is sick and malnourished.

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After Alyssa found her forever family, she is thriving. Happy, healthy and LOVED.

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Are you considering adoption? Our Adoption Practice Group routinely assists clients in a number of domestic and international matters. We also handle step-parent and relative (i.e. grandparent) adoptions.

Join us - A Family Event for the Advocacy for Orphans

November 15, 2012

Please join us in supporting our sister agency, the Fatherless Foundation.

The Fatherless Foundation is holding its annual Auction Benefit on Friday, November 16th at 6pm at The Knights of Columbus on 71st Street in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The Fatherless Foundation exists to serve the adopting family, advocate on behalf of the orphan, and respond with action to provide holistic care for orphans and vulnerable children worldwide.

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