Hey, CCAI! Show me the adoptee and first parent voices!

I'm sure you've heard about the intercountry adoption survey that's popping up all over - here and here and here and here (the last one's my favorite, I really love the spin; you know, like we adoptive parents haven't held the microphone long enough and need another "chance" to give our opinions), and I'm sure in many other places, too.  I saw it first at Land of Gazillion Adoptees - thank you, Kevin, for sending it out.

JCICS says the survey is sponsored by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and that responses received by COB February 14th will be included in an upcoming Senate Foreign Relations Committee roundtable on intercountry adoption. Inquiries regarding the survey are directed to the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.

The survey is in two parts: one for adoptive parents and one for adoption agency staff; click Read more to  peruse the text. Now, if I had seen this 23 years ago as a rank and stupid AP newbie, I would have thought This is great, I get to provide information that will improve intercountry adoption, which I thought at that time was pretty good thing all around.

But today's me is deeply disappointed in this survey, for several reasons, these being the top three:

  • Where for the love of God are the surveys for adopted people and first parents? There was a lot of buzz about this on Facebook last night, most asking the same question, but some questioning if this is an appropriate forum for adopted people in particular to have a voice.
    I get the fact that one survey or another might aim to gather a certain subset of information that one adoption experience or another might not be able to provide. Unless an adopted person has adopted a child, they won't have much to say on the adoption process experience. But the will be able to provide insights into the outcomes of those processes, which is very important.
    However, since first parents are involved in the intercountry adoption process (not necessarily in every individual intercountry adoption, but in the experience overall), we should make an effort to gather their experiences in the placing countries. As a matter of fact, I bet there are mothers in Korea who would be willing to respond to a survey asking similar questions about their experiences with the Korean placing agencies. I would love to see those responses next to the adoptive parent and agency results, and am sure they would tell an incredible story.
  • Both surveys are clearly trying to address adoptive parent frustration with the process of intercountry adoption, in particular the time it takes and the number of updates given throughout the process. There are 19 questions around time and communication; "birth mothers/parents" get three  and adopted individuals get none.
  • I really don't understand the purpose of the adoption agency portion of the survey, which just duplicates the adoptive parent questions. Seems meaningless to me.
I know that many will say Well, this survey is specifically about those issues, there can be another survey for adoptees and birthparents.

Wrong answser. If a Senate Subcommittee and the watchdog organization for adoption hold any discussions about intercountry adoption, they need to do the due diligence of bringing everyone involved in the process into the discussion.  Even if the topic is related to something that touches one member of the constellation more than another, all need to hear the issue and have an opportunity to weigh in.  If the agencies with the power to change what's wrong continue to separate the participants, intercountry adoption will continue to be seriously flawed.

If you agree, drop a message to info@ccainstitute.org to let them know you won't participate in any process that continues to silence those most affected by it.

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ADOPTIVE PARENT SURVEY

GENERAL INFORMATION
Please choose the answer that best describes your experience. If you wish, you may provide a brief explanation of your answer in the box provided below certain questions.

1. I am a(n): Prospective Adoptive Parent, Adoptive Parent
2. What country did you adopt or attempt to adopt from? China, Colombia, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Nigeria, Russia, Rwanda, South Korea, Taiwan, Uganda, Ukraine, Vietnam, Other
3. Was this the country you first intended to adopt from? Yes, No
If no, provide reason for switching countries:
4. How long did it take for you to complete your intercountry adoption? (In responding, please calculate the number of months between the date you filed your I-600A/I-800A petition and the adopted child arrived in U.S.) Less than 6 months, 6 to 9 months, 9 to 12 months, 12 to 24 months, 24 months to 36 months, 36 months to 48 months, Over 48 months, We have not completed our adoption
5. If you have not received a visa, what is the primary reason? Awaiting approval, Received a Request for Evidence (RFE), Received a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID), Received a Denial, The country’s adoption program is closed or otherwise suspended, I-600 petition was transferred from USE/DOS to USCIS and is still in review, Other, Not Applicable

LENGTH OF TIME
The following questions are meant to determine the length of time it takes to complete an adoption under current guidelines and procedures. If a question below does not apply to your individual circumstance, please indicate so by selecting “Not Applicable”.

6. What was the time period between submission of your I-600A/I-800A documents and your receipt of a response from National Benefits Center (NBC)? 0-30 days, 31-45 days, 46 days +, Not Applicable
7. If you called or e-mailed the NBC, what was the time period between your call or e-mail and when you received a response from NBC? No response, 1-2 days, 3-6 days, 7 days +, Not Applicable
8. If you called or e-mailed the US Consulate/Embassy in your child’s country of origin, what was the time period between your call or email and when you received a response from the US Embassy? No response, 1-2 days, 3-6 days, 7 days +, Not Applicable
9. What was the time period between submission of your I-600A documents and your receipt of a response from USCIS/NBC? 0-30 days, 31-45 days, 46 days +, Not Applicable
10. What was the time period between submission of your I-800A documents and your receipt of a response from USCIS/NBC? 0-30 days, 31-45 days, 46 days +, Not Applicable
11. If you submitted your I-600A to the US Consulate/Embassy in your adoption country, what was the time period between submission and your receipt of a response? 0-30 days, 31-45 days, 46+ days, Not Applicable
12. If you submitted your I-800A to the US Consulate/Embassy in your adoption country, what was the time period between submission and your receipt of a response? 0-30 days, 31-45 days, 46+ days, Not Applicable

COMMUNICATIONS
The following questions are meant to determine the effectiveness and usefulness of current means of communication used to provide information to prospective adoptive parents at various points in the intercountry adoption process.

13. How often did you receive updates on the status of your individual case from any U.S. government agency? (Note: This question is meant to focus on the dissemination of case specific information, not general country updates.) I received no updates, I received an update only when there had been a change in the status of my case., I received an update on a regular basis, even when there was no new information to share., Other (please specify)
14. How were the updates referenced in question 13 most commonly provided? By phone, By email, By letter, In person
15. How often did you receive updates about the status of intercountry adoption, generally, in the country from which you were adopting. I received no updates, I received an update only when there had been a change in the status of my case., I received an update on a regular basis, even when there was no new information to share., Other (please specify)
16. How were the updates referenced in Question 15 most commonly provided? By phone, By email, By letter, By phone
17. My communication with the NBC was helpful in understanding the status of my case. Strongly Agree, Somewhat Agree, No Opinion, Somewhat Disagree, Strongly Disagree
18. Communications with the NBC were both informative and timely. Strongly Agree, Somewhat Agree, No Opinion, Somewhat Disagree, Strongly Disagree
19. Individuals representing the NBC were well informed about the law and the specifics of my case. Strongly Agree, Somewhat Agree, No Opinion, Somewhat Disagree, Strongly Disagree
20. Individuals representing the NBC were courteous and professional. Strongly Agree, Somewhat Agree, No Opinion, Somewhat Disagree, Strongly Disagree
21. Generally speaking, my communication with the US Consulate/Embassy was helpful in understanding the status of my case. Strongly Agree, Somewhat Agree, No Opinion, Somewhat Disagree, Strongly Disagree
22. Communications with the US Consulate/Embassy were informative and timely. Strongly Agree, Somewhat Agree, No Opinion, Somewhat Disagree, Strongly Disagree
23. Individuals representing the US Consulate/Embassy were well informed about the law and the specifics of my case. Strongly Agree, Somewhat Agree, No Opinion, Somewhat Disagree, Strongly Disagree
24. Individuals representing the US Consulate/Embassy were courteous and professional. Strongly Agree, Somewhat Agree, No Opinion, Somewhat Disagree, Strongly Disagree

ADJUDICATION PROCESS
These questions pertain to the adjudication of your case by USCIS and State Department. Please respond to the questions below as they pertain to your adoption. If a question is not relevant to your adoption, please indicate so by selecting "Not Applicable".

25. If your adoption case initially received a determination of “not clearly approvable” from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, were you told specifically why? Yes, No, Not Applicable
26. At any point after being notified that your case was not clearly approvable, did you receive an explanation of what to expect next in the adjudication/investigation process? Yes, No, Not Applicable
27. If your case was referred to USCIS because the US Consulate/Embassy found it was "not clearly approvable", what was the final decision by USCIS? The case was approved without the need for any additional information, The case received an RFE (request for evidence), The case received a NOID (notice of intent to deny), Not Applicable
28. If your case received an RFE, were you told specifically what additional evidence was needed to reply to the RFE? Yes, No, Not Applicable
29. Was the information or further evidence needed something you had been informed up front would be part of the evidence processed? Yes, No, Not Applicable
30. Did you hire an attorney to assist you with responding to the RFE? Yes, No, Not Applicable
31. Approximately how much money did it cost for to respond to the RFE (including costs for the attorney, any field investigation work, and travel-related expense)? $5, 000, Between $5, 000 and $10, 000, Over $10, 000, Not Applicable
32. If you received an RFE, NOID, or Denial in your case, please indicate what was the identified insufficiency that you were told led to this decision? Missing Documents, Concerns about the veracity of submitted information/documents, Paperwork submitted could not be affirmed through field investigation, Inability to interview birth parent(s), Child did not meet the legal definition of orphan for visa purposes, Other, Not Applicable
33. Were documents that you provided the Consulate/Embassy or USCIS ever lost? Yes, No, Don't Know
34. From the date when additional evidence was supplied to USCIS, how long did it take to receive a decision? Less than a week, Between 2 to 4 weeks, One to three months3 to 6 months, Not Applicable

BIRTH MOTHER/PARENT INTERVIEWS
35. Did the Consulate/Embassy require that its officials interview the birth mother/parents in your case? Yes, No, Don't know
36. How many times was the birth mother/parent interviewed? Once, Twice, Three times, More than four times, Not Applicable
37. Did the birth mother/parent report that she/he felt intimidated and/or confused during the interview? Yes, No, Don't know, Not Applicable

OPINIONS
38. Would you like to see a formal system in place to report commendable or unprofessional behavior on the part of an individual Consular officer to the Department of State? Yes, No, No opinion
39. Would you like to see a formal system in place to report commendable or unprofessional behavior on the part of an individual officer to USCIS? Yes, No, No opinion
40. Do you feel the Dept of State adequately represented your needs/concerns to the foreign government involved in your adoption? Yes, No, No opinion
41. What specific recommendations do you have to improve the overall US Consulate/Embassy experience in your child’s country?
42. Do you have any specific comments about your experience that you think might be helpful in improving the intercountry adoption experience for other prospective adoptive parents?

ADOPTION AGENCY SURVEY

GENERAL INFORMATION
Please choose the answer that best describes your average experience as an adoption service provider. If you wish, you may provide a brief explanation of your answer in the box provided below certain questions.

1. Select the countries your agency is operating in:  China, Colombia, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Nigeria, Russia, Rwanda, South Korea, Taiwan, Uganda, Ukraine, Vietnam, Other
2. In your experience, how long did it take on average for a family to complete the intercountry adoption? Less than 6 months, 6 to 9 months, 9 to 12 months, 12 to 24 months, 24 months to 36 months, 36 months to 48 months, Over 48 months, We have not completed our adoption

LENGTH OF TIME
The following questions are meant to determine the length of time it takes to complete an adoption under current guidelines and procedures. If a question below does not apply to your experience, please indicate so by selecting “Not Applicable”.

3. What was the average time period between submission of the I-600A/I-800A documents and your receipt of a response from National Benefits Center (NBC)? 0-30 days, 31-45 days, 46 days +, Not Applicable
4. If you called or emailed the NBC, what is the average time period between your call or email and when you received a response from NBC? No response, 1-2 days, 3-6 days, 7 days +, Not Applicable
5. If you called or emailed the US Consulate/Embassy, what is the average time period between your call or email and when you received a response from the US Embassy? No response, 1-2 days, 3-6 days, 7 days +, Not Applicable
6. What is the average time period between submission of the I-600A documents and your receipt of a response from USCIS/NBC? 0-30 days, 31-45 days, 46 days +, Not Applicable
7. What is the average time period between submission of the I-800A documents and your receipt of a response from USCIS/NBC? 0-30 days, 31-45 days, 46 days +, Not Applicable
8. If you submitted the I-600A to the US Consulate/Embassy in the adoption country, what is the average time period between submission and your receipt of a response? 0-30 days, 31-45 days, 46 days +, Not Applicable
9. If you submitted the I-800A to the US Consulate/Embassy in the adoption country, what is the average time period between submission and your receipt of a response? 0-30 days, 31-45 days, 46 days +, Not Applicable

COMMUNICATIONS
The following questions are meant to determine the effectiveness and usefulness of current means of communication used to provide information to adoption service providers, on average, at various points in the intercountry adoption process.

10. How often, on average, do you or your families receive updates on the status of their cases from any U.S. government agency? (Note: This question is meant to focus on the dissemination of case specific information, not general country updates.) We received no updates, We received an update only when there had been a change in the status of their cases., We received an update on a regular basis, even when there was no new information to share., Other (please specify)
11. How were the updates referenced in question 10 most commonly provided? By phone, By email, By letter, In person
12. How often, on average, do you or your families receive updates about the status of intercountry adoption, generally, in the country from which you are adopting. We received no updates, We received an update only when there had been a change in the status of their cases. , We received an update on a regular basis, even when there was no new information to share. , Other (please specify)
13. How were the updates references in Question 12 most commonly provided? By phone, By email, By letter, By phone
14. On average, my communication with the NBC was helpful in understanding the status of my cases. Strongly Agree, Somewhat Agree, No Opinion, Somewhat Disagree, Strongly Disagree
15. Communications with the NBC were both informative and timely. Strongly Agree, Somewhat Agree, No Opinion, Somewhat Disagree, Strongly Disagree
16. Individuals representing the NBC were well informed about the law and the specifics of my cases. Strongly Agree, Somewhat Agree, No Opinion, Somewhat Disagree, Strongly Disagree
17. Individuals representing the NBC were courteous and professional. Strongly Agree, Somewhat Agree, No Opinion, Somewhat Disagree, Strongly Disagree
18. Generally speaking, my communication with the US Consulate/Embassy was helpful in understanding the status of my cases. Strongly Agree, Somewhat Agree, No Opinion, Somewhat Disagree, Strongly Disagree
19. Communications with the US Consulate/Embassy were informative and timely. Strongly Agree, Somewhat Agree, No Opinion, Somewhat Disagree, Strongly Disagree
20. Individuals representing the US Consulate/Embassy were well informed about the law and the specifics of my cases. Strongly Agree, Somewhat Agree, No Opinion, Somewhat Disagree, Strongly Disagree
21. Individuals representing the US Consulate/Embassy were courteous and professional. Strongly Agree, Somewhat Agree, No Opinion, Somewhat Disagree, Strongly Disagree

ADJUDICATION PROCESS
These questions pertain to the adjudication of your cases by USCIS and State Department. Please respond to the questions below as they pertain to your experiences. If a question is not relevant to your adoption cases, please indicate so by selecting "Not Applicable".

22. On average, if your adoption cases initially received a determination of “not clearly approvable” from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, were you or your families told specifically why? Yes, No, Not Applicable
23. At any point after being notified that a case was not clearly approvable, did you or your families receive an explanation of what to expect next in the adjudication/investigation process? Yes, No, Not Applicable
24. On average, if your cases were referred to USCIS because the US Consulate/Embassy found they were "not clearly approvable", what was the final decision by USCIS?  The cases were approved without the need for any additional information, The cases received an RFE (request for evidence), The cases received a NOID (notice of intent to deny), Not Applicable
25. On average, if your cases received an RFE, were you or your families told specifically what additional evidence was needed to reply to the RFE?  Yes, No, Not Applicable
26. On average, was the information or further evidence needed something you or your families had been informed up front would be part of the evidence processed? Yes, No, Not Applicable
27. On average, did you or your families hire attorneys to assist with responding to an RFE? Yes, No, Not Applicable
28. On average, approximately how much money did it cost your families to respond to an RFE (including costs for the attorney, any field investigation work, and travel-related expense)? Under $5,000, Between $5,000 and $10,000, Over $10,000, Not Applicable
29. If your families received an RFE, NOID, or Denial in their cases, please indicate what the average identified insufficiency was that they were told led to this decision? Missing Documents, Concerns about the veracity of submitted information/documents, Paperwork submitted could not be affirmed through field investigation, Inability to interview birth parent(s)Child did not meet the legal definition of orphan for visa purposes, Other, Not Applicable
30. Were documents that you or your families provided to the Consulate/Embassy or USCIS ever lost? Yes, No, Don't Know
31. From the date when additional evidence was supplied to USCIS, how long did it take to receive a decision?  Less than a week, Between 2 to 4 weeks, One to three months3 to 6 months, Not Applicable

BIRTH MOTHER/PARENT INTERVIEWS
32. On average, did the Consulate/Embassy require that its officials interview the birth mothers/parents in your cases? Yes, No, Don't know
33. On average, how many times were the birth mothers/parents interviewed? Once, Twice, Three times, More than four times, Not Applicable
34. On average, did the birth mothers/parents report that they felt intimidated and/or confused during the interview? Yes, No, Don't know, Not Applicable

OPINIONS
35. Would you like to see a formal system in place to report commendable or unprofessional behavior on the part of an individual Consular officer to the Department of State?  Yes, No, No opinion
36. Would you like to see a formal system in place to report commendable or unprofessional behavior on the part of an individual officer to USCIS?  Yes, No, No opinion
37. Do you feel the Department of State adequately represented you or your families' needs/concerns to the foreign government involved in your adoption? Yes, No, No opinion
38. What specific recommendations do you have to improve the overall US Consulate/Embassy experience in the countries you operate in?
39. Do you have any specific comments about your experiences that you think might be helpful in improving the intercountry adoption experience for other prospective adoptive parents?

Comments

Anonymous said…
These questions seem centered around the logistics of the adoption process. (I think maybe there's one question about whether the birth mother felt intimidated.) Since the purpose of the committee seems to be improving the logistics--shorter timelines, more efficiency--then I understand why there are no questions for the adoptees. They are the ones acted upon by the agencies and the governmental bureacracy. Nobody is asking if IA is good, bad, neutral, etc. Nobody is interested in inquiring if the rights of the adoptees and first mothers are respected during this process. The committee just wants more efficient bureacracy. (Which is why I'll be writing the committee about their focus and choice of questions.)

Courtney

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