>Marching today

>It’s the annual March for Life.

 Of course, Doc and the big girls are there.
It’s their thing, they love to go. Ok, Marta loves to go because she gets to be one on one w/ dad.

 {all pics in this post are from last year…of course}
Hannah loves to go because she has the heart of a warrior and this is one of the causes that gets her going…so she goes and marches and adds her presence and her voice.

Plus she gets a weekend in DC with her BFF, Anna.

They are marching for life.
It’s crazy cold, they are exhausted after staying up to the wee hours at the vigil….beautiful and exhilarating but exhausting.

 I want my kids to be courageous enough to stand up for what they believe, I want them to have the courage of their convictions. 

There are many ways to make a difference in this cold world; this march is a good one for life.  Every life  has value.  Always.
So my dear ones are out there….they are bundled up, they are marching and I’m proud of them.

>Life Stats

>Politics, life….gosh wouldn’t it be great if we could just separate the two?
Why do they have to get all tangled up so badly?
I know, I know…what a pollyana thought….it’s one for my philosophy student to spout about over coffee at the java bar on campus.

Anyhow, it’s the anniversary of Roe v. Wade today. It’s the doc’s annual trek to Washington for the March for Life. And sometimes I hesitate to even put this stuff up on blog, because it’s inflammatory and controversial and I just want us all to ‘get along.”
I have that Sally Field part of myself that wants to ‘be liked.”
But the fact is, our family is pro-life.
Doh. What a surprise, eh? Um, yeah, right…
Of course we are!
We are Catholic, first and foremost. So, right there: done. Pro-life.
I’ve written about this before, oh, every January 22. So you know all this.
But this year I’m pondering the stats, especially one that is newer in my consciousness….
It’s the stats man….they are brutal. Literally.
The two that give me the most pause are the abortion rates for black children: over one third of black pregnancies end in abortion. Oh my. Now, I know that is a reflection of so much more: the economic and social ills of our day, the huge seemingly insurmountable difficulties of having and raising a child for so many. I “get” the layers, I do.
But even so.
This stat is close to home for me.
I look at the faces of my beautiful children and I wonder and I weep a bit at the loss of so many others and the hurt to so many women and the frustrations and rages against the machine of our culture that panders to this statistic…and I say a prayer of thanks for my children and my fortune….

Then I ponder the next, fresher to my mind stat: that over 90% of downs syndrome babies are aborted. 90%.
And my mind can’t let it go.
I wonder, are those babies unwanted due to simply the stigma of Downs?
Are they so because they look different?
Or is it, as I suspect, because their intellectual ability is so often compromised?
It’s the fear of course, it’s always, every time the fear…on every level, it’s always the fear.
But in this case, I suspect, its the fear of difference, of disability…of the other.
And now we are hitting closer to home, again. Again, with the ‘other.”
Marta does not have Downs Syndrome.
But Marta has intellectual disability, developmental delays.

And it was a surprise to us, as this always is, and is still something we all are learning how to work with. So, I get the fear of disability and the fear of “Can I handle that??
But those things are just part of who she is.
Do we wish it was different? Yes, things would be easier for her and for us.
But then again, some of her sweetness stems from this part of her, some of her silly funny grins and ours are part of this too. Just as if she was at genius IQ levels, her quips or insights and sweetness might stem from that…it would be part of who she is.
But, and this gives me pause, if she had an extra chromosome, here in America, she might not have made it.

Because some think that having that difference, that cognitive difference, is enough to not be “worth it.”
Worth…what? A chance. Life.
And looking at my girl, learning to love her, as she is…..that idea makes me wince and rebel.

Because all life is worth it….all of us, with or without fitting into a pre-pressed, predefined, mold of ‘normal,’ are worth life.
We each and every one of us have an express inalienable right to be here.
We have a right to life.
It’s sacred.
And, that is worth fighting for.
Shouting for.
Marching for.
Whether or not you agree or it makes me popular or unpopular.

At one point in my life, back when I was a different person really…I was in my twenties and basically unformed in so many ways (I had yet to become me as I am meant to be, with my own thoughts and values and beliefs)….I was pro-choice. Yup. Me. I wasn’t really living the Catholic life then, I was religious but more as a general concept, not a daily lived faith (whole ‘nother round of posts that). I didn’t want to tell anyone else what to do or think. I was afraid to say anything else out loud maybe.
But I grew up.
And I learned and formed.
And now I believe that no decision should ever be based out of fear. Politics should not be run out of fear. And too often life issues and decisions are made based on a platform of fear…of the unknown, of difference, of unknown futures. And even now, I can only say what I think and believe and know and hope to encourage others to think wider maybe, or tell them what I have learned because it blew my mind…..
But now I know this is true:
If anyone wants to tell me that ANY one of my kids shouldn’t have had that right to BE…well that is when I will push up my sleeves and push back my glasses and get political after all. That’s when I will get all up in their face and tell them that they are flat wrong. Period.
No matter the hardship, no matter the skin color, no matter the intellect….every one of my kids and any kid has the right to be.
That’s it, life is sacred, no matter how small or little or grand or simple or brilliant or annoying or sweet.
Each one of us has a right to life.
Always and from the start to the last.
No matter what.

From Mother Teresa, National Prayer Breakfast Speech Against Abortion – 1994:

Many people are very, very concerned with the children of India, with the children of Africa where quite a few die of hunger, and so on. Many people are also concerned about all the violence in this great country of the United States. These concerns are very good. But often these same people are not concerned with the millions who are being killed by deliberate decision….. And this is what is the greatest destroyer of peace today – abortion which brings people to such blindness.

And for this I appeal in India and I appeal everywhere – “Let us bring the child back.” The child is God’s gift to the family. Each child is created in the special image and likeness of God for greater things – to love and to be loved. In this year of the family we must bring the child back to the center of our care and concern. This is the only way that our world can survive because our children are the only hope for the future.

>Political interjection…Korans and 9/11


**Update: I’m relieved that the plan to burn the Korans has been shelved.  Hopefully, it will stay that way and we can have a day of peace and prayer on this sad anniversary**

Ok, I don’t do politics too much on this blog.

However, now and again, I can’t help it, I have to say something….
especially when life and faith and politics intersect in such a firestorm.
(Ok, strike that, all too often they intersect in a firestorm and they intersect,  um, daily….still…).

Others more erudite and thoughtful than myself have said this so much better. 
But I’m weighing in.
I’ve been trying to find a simpler place overall….to simplify and quiet some (I know, hard to believe, but I’m TRYING, people).  Hence my blog has been a touch quieter, or a lot. I’m trying to be more present to the kids instead of my usual distracted….hence less blogging.

But I have to speak up and say this quickly and simply:

The Koran burning that is all up in the news for Saturday on the anniversary of 9-11?

I’m against it.  
I think its inflammatory (no pun intended) and not helping and wrong.

And even Il Papa, Pope Benedict, is against it…..and I trust his judgement (big surprise, I know).

B16 is shown above receiving a copy of Islam’s sacred text 
during his 2008 meeting with the interreligious community at 
Washington’s Pope John Paul II Cultural Center.

Go here and read this, I’ll excerpt it here but go read the whole thing (this pic and excerpt shamelessly stolen from the great Whispers in the Loggia blog):

The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue received with great concern the news of the proposed “Koran Burning Day” on the occasion of the Anniversary of the September 11th tragic terrorist attacks in 2001 which resulted in the loss of many innocent lives and considerable material damage.

These deplorable acts of violence, in fact, cannot be counteracted by an outrageous and grave gesture against a book considered sacred by a religious community. Each religion, with its respective sacred books, places of worship and symbols, has the right to respect and protection. We are speaking about the respect to be accorded the dignity of the person who is an adherent of that religion and his/her free choice in religious matters.

And I’m just gonna point out that some of these old tried and true adages still hold and apply, even in international issues: “Treat other people how you want to be treated.” Simplistic? Perhaps, but ya know, respect goes a loooong way, and respecting the dignity of persons and faiths is still appropriate even after such unspeakable grief as experienced in the tragedy of 9/11…perhaps even  more than appropriate, it is critical for all of us to retain our foundation of humanity.

If we cannot treat the greater community that is our new small world with respect, then we are lowering ourselves as a culture to play on the extremists playing field.  What a loss, literally and figuratively.  If we cannot rise above and live our lives, even as a culture, with respect to the dignity inherent in each human person, no matter their differences, then we  have lost…..so much, too much…and we continue to cause potentially irreparable damage. 

My fav, JP2 possibly said it best (again shamelessy nabbed from Whispers in the Loggia):

“Recourse to violence in the name of religious belief is a perversion of the very teachings of the major religions”

  Prayer of Pope Benedict at Ground Zero, during his visit to USA:

“O God of love, compassion, and healing,
look on us, people of many different faiths and traditions,
who gather today at this site,
the scene of incredible violence and pain.

We ask you in your goodness
to give eternal light and peace
to all who died here-
the heroic first-responders:
our fire fighters, police officers,
emergency service workers, and Port Authority personnel,
along with all the innocent men and women
who were victims of this tragedy
simply because their work or service
brought them here on September 11, 2001.

We ask you, in your compassion
to bring healing to those
who, because of their presence here that day,
suffer from injuries and illness.
Heal, too, the pain of still-grieving families
and all who lost loved ones in this tragedy.
Give them strength to continue their lives with courage and hope.

We are mindful as well
of those who suffered death, injury, and loss
on the same day at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Our hearts are one with theirs
as our prayer embraces their pain and suffering.

God of peace, bring your peace to our violent world:
peace in the hearts of all men and women
and peace among the nations of the earth.
Turn to your way of love
those whose hearts and minds
are consumed with hatred.

God of understanding,
overwhelmed by the magnitude of this tragedy,
we seek your light and guidance
as we confront such terrible events.
Grant that those whose lives were spared
may live so that the lives lost here
may not have been lost in vain.
Comfort and console us,
strengthen us in hope,
and give us the wisdom and courage
to work tirelessly for a world
where true peace and love reign
among nations and in the hearts of all. ”

>Marching today


It’s the Annual March for Life today.
Coffeedoc, Buddybug, Bananas, her best friend, and Marta are all in DC, today, for this.
 {So, because things are hectic (as usual) and I really can’t say this differently, I am reposting part of this from last year.}

This is from a year or so ago…I don’t have ones fro this year yet, of course.
I try not to get too political on this blog.
But it is surely no surprise to anyone that our family, I, we, are pro-life.
We are Catholic.
The Catholic Church has made it’s position on the spectrum of life issues very clear, very simple: All life is sacred. Period. Beginning to end. No matter what, where, who.

And before you get started….I am quite clear on all the facets of this issue, and have worked through different things and thoughts about it all over the years.
But finally and fully, as a Catholic who has discovered the deep beauty and richness in the faith, I realized it IS simple. And for me, though I spent years having long and important discussions on all the angles of this and these issues, finally it hit home in the most visceral way possible.

This is why I am pro-life.
Look, really look, at these faces.
How can I not be?

And while the actual March for Life happens today, the more, the most, important event (some might argue this point, but I would disagree) happened last night: the annual Vigil and Mass for Life. 

 {Last night, waiting for Mass}

Last night at the Cathedral

In the packed Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, with Bishops and religious and just regular folks from all over (thousands upon thousands), all jam packed in to pray. 

[Last night, waiting for Mass to start]

They wait for hours (often 4-6) before the Mass even begins, just to make sure they have a spot. They pray, they talk and then, they pray in community: the Mass.  Even with that long wait, the enthusiasm is not dimmed.  (And, frankly, I believe this is the most powerful method of change.  Marching is good, graphic gruesome pics are off-putting and are not, but prayer is best.  It works.  Coming together in force to pray….priceless.)

 {Last night, waiting for Mass to begin}

There is also a Youth Rally and Mass for Life the next morning (today) the day of the March. Here’s a snip from last year.  Our Lady of Guadalupe, protector of the unborn, pray for us

And, if you can’t make it in person, your voice can still be heard...this site has a way to “be there” virtually, with an avatar even (how hip), and march in solidarity.  (thanks Shannon!)

>Face Act: commentary, clarification

>This is from MlLane Layton, to clarify some misconceptions, worth a look. Mclane is doing good work, important work, and her heart is in the right place and she is trying to help sway change. Needed change. Read. Think about it, help if you can.

And I just want to remind anyone who might forget in the jumble of the legalese and legistlative verbage, this is about our kids. Yours. Mine. Ours. And they have faces…..

Open Letter to the Adoption Community

July 31, 2009

As an adoptive Mother, the President and Founder of Equality for Adopted
Children, and a former senior legislative aide on Capitol Hill, I would
like to address some questions that have been raised about the newly
introduced Foreign Adopted Children Equality Act (FACE Act). These
questions have caused some to suggest the bill should not be supported.
This is unfortunate, because the FACE Act will bring significant
improvement to the adoption process and will, if signed into law,
provide equality for our internationally adopted children as well as
save adoptive parent’s time, money and regulatory hurdles. I know
because I was deeply involved with its predecessor.

The FACE Act was introduced to amend and improve upon the Child
Citizenship Act of 2000 (CCA), a bill introduced by Senator Don Nickles
and Senator Mary Landrieu. At the time the CCA was introduced and
passed, I was Legislative Counsel to Senator Nickles and was responsible
for shepherding the CCA through Congress. The bill was conceived after
my husband and I adopted three siblings from Eastern Europe and I
discovered that despite the fact that my husband and I were both
American citizens, our citizenship did not transfer to our foreign
adopted children as it would have if they had been born to us abroad.
As a lawyer I found this disturbing because I knew that under adoption
law, once a child is adopted, that child is entitled to all the same
rights, duties and responsibilities as a biological child. The law says
they are to be treated as if they were the “natural issue” of
the adoptive parents. CCA was drafted to remove discrepancies between
the treatment of children born abroad versus children adopted abroad to
U.S. citizens. In short, to bring adoption practice into line with the
law and in the process ease a number of procedural burdens unnecessarily
borne by adoptive parents.

The CCA began the process of addressing a primary inequality: If an
American gives birth to a child overseas the child is considered a
citizen from birth and is given a U.S. passport and a Consular Report of
Birth (which acts as the child’s birth certificate). The child is
allowed to enter the United States as a citizen with documentary proof
of citizenship. In other words, the child does not have to go through
an immigration process. Not so for an adopted child who must obtain an
immigrant visa, go through a very different (and more costly and
cumbersome) process even though they are every bit as much the son or
daughter of American citizens. Unfortunately, the United States is one
of the few developed countries that still treat internationally adopted
children of their citizens as immigrants and force adoptive families to
go through an immigration process to bring their children home.

U.S. Court decisions have established adoption laws that recognize that
adopted children are entitled to full equality of treatment as
biological children. Yet despite the passage of CCA, not all
inequalities have been addressed. The FACE Act would align U.S. adoption
laws with U.S. statutes by recognizing all children of U.S. citizens as
equal, whether biological or adopted. The FACE Act would rectify
inequities both past and present. Regrettably, as I know is often the
case with legislation, some have misunderstood the contents of the

Protecting Safeguards and Meaningful Procedures

Some allege that by removing adopted children from the immigration
process the bill removes the safeguards that protect adopted children,
their biological families and their adoptive families. This is a
completely incorrect assertion. This bill absolutely upholds current
requirements in regard to approval of parents to adopt a foreign born
child, preserves current safeguards, and maintains current regulations
related to intercountry adoption. Here’s how:

* Upholding Requirements and Procedures.

* The FACE Act continues to require that before citizenship attaches
to an internationally adopted child, adoptive parents must be approved
by the U.S. government as fit to adopt, just as under current law.
* Adoptive parents will still need to meet the same requirements
currently submitted for approval of an I-600A or I-800A including an
approved home study, criminal clearances and all other documents that
are now part of the approval process.
* Preservation and Maintenance of Safeguards and Investigations.

* The FACE Act continues to uphold and require all immigration
safeguards currently in place to ensure that a child has been adopted
legally without fraud or trafficking.
* Conditions required to fulfill an I-600 or I-800 form will continue
unchanged including an orphan investigation as mandated under current
* The U.S. government will continue to affirmatively determine that a
child has been adopted appropriately and that the child meets the
adoption requirements of U.S. adoption law for international adoptions.
* A welcome change in the FACE act would be the elimination of the
paperwork, procedures and costs required to file for an immigration visa
after an adoption has been completed and the child has been approved by
the U.S. government as having complied with U.S. adoption law governing
international adoption.

Put simply, American adoptive parents abroad would take their
documentation of a legal and appropriate adoption and follow the same
process as American biological parents who gave birth abroad. The
entire process would be simplified and standardized for both sets of
parents and most importantly, would apply equal treatment to the
children as established in U.S. adoption law. Time and travel costs for
adoptive parents would be reduced lowering further the barriers to
international adoption.

The FACE Act makes no changes to current regulations related to
intercountry adoption. Current adoption law language does not detail
what must be done to approve a family to adopt or what paperwork must be
filed to get an immigration visa. Rather, the details are found in the
regulations implementing the law. This bill and subsequent regulations
would do the same. The FACE Act merely sets the parameters of how the
law would be implemented and the subsequent regulations would provide
the specifics of how it would be implemented.

Establishing Equality for All and Respecting Heritage

Another unfortunate misunderstanding of the FACE Act arises from a
section of the bill that amends Section 301 of the Immigration and
Nationality Act (INA), which defines who is a U.S. citizen at birth.
Currently, this section of law provides automatic U.S. citizenship to
children born to U.S. citizens abroad, but not to those adopted abroad
by U.S. citizens. The practical effect is that under the status of an
immigrant instead of a citizen at birth, the adopted child could never
be President of the United States even though a child born in the same
foreign country at the same time to American citizens could. Amending
this section of law to include our internationally adopted children as
citizens from birth will finally correct one of the major remaining
inequalities that our children suffer under federal law.

Some have erroneously concluded that this provision will strip adopted
children of their birth country’s citizenship and erase their birth
history. In actuality, the FACE Act will help support adoptees who seek
to learn more of their original birth history and reconnect with their
country of origin. The FACE Act includes provisions that state:

* “It is the sense of Congress that the government of each
foreign country from which children are adopted by citizens of the
United States should provide documentation of the adopted children’s
original birth history to the adoptive family in accordance with the
laws of such country.”

* “Nothing in this Act, or in any amendment made by this Act, may
be construed to abrogate any citizenship rights provided to an adoptee
by the adoptee’s country of origin, or nullify the facts of the
adoptee’s birth history.”

Granting of citizenship from birth cannot eliminate the fact of where a
child was born, or to whom that child was born, or deprive them of their
original citizenship rights any more than what occurs now when U.S.
citizenship is granted to them under the CCA.

To the extent a foreign country allows dual citizenship and the
privileges that accompany that citizenship, that child will always have
those privileges as a citizen of that country in the eyes of that
country. No legislation passed by the U. S. Congress can change
citizenship laws of other countries. If a country chooses to negate the
citizenship rights of a child born in that country because they become a
citizen of the United States, there is no law that the U.S. Congress can
pass to rectify that decision.

Further, although Congress cannot pass laws ordering other countries to
provide original birth documentation to adoptive families or to change
their citizenship laws, these provisions mark significant steps towards
establishing U.S. policy in these regards and would strongly encourage
countries from which children are adopted by American citizens to
provide such documentation and maintain such rights.

Protecting U.S. Citizenship and Preventing Family Separation

The FACE Act also improves the current citizenship process for
international adoptees with a provision that rectifies the damage that
is done when adoptive parents fail to take the necessary steps under
past and current law to acquire U.S. citizenship for their child. Prior
to the CCA, internationally adopted children had to go through a
naturalization process to attain citizenship. Many parents wrongly
assumed that their adopted child was a citizen because they themselves
were citizens. Unfortunately, this was not the case and there are many
adult adoptees who found out much later in life that they are not

Even after the CCA was passed, the problem remains due to the way the
law is implemented. Currently, only adopted children who arrive on IR3
visas (where both parents, if married, saw the child during the adoption
process) receive automatic U.S. citizenship upon entry into the United
States. Adopted children who arrive on IR4 visas (where only one
parent, if married, saw the child during the adoption process) must be
readopted in their new home state (whether required by state law or not)
before citizenship attaches. If the child is not readopted prior to his
or her 18th birthday, they lose the right to automatic citizenship.

Over half the international adoptees enter this country on IR4 visas and
risk losing their citizenship rights if their parents fail to readopt
them. Many children do not find out they are not citizens until they
apply for a passport or for college scholarships. A number of adoptees
have been deported back to their country of origin due to minor crimes
they have committed because their parents failed to take the necessary
steps at the time to acquire citizenship status for their child. The
FACE Act rectifies this for all future international adoptees by
conferring citizenship upon completion of the adoption and the U.S.
determination that the child was adopted according to law. Citizenship
is conferred with no further action required of the adoptive parents.
This is a significant improvement over current law and will eliminate
the tragic stories of adoptees deported to their country of origin with
no knowledge of their original language, no support structure and no
ability to return to the United States.

For deported adoptees, The FACE Act allows these adoptees to file for
and receive U.S. citizenship if U.S. citizens adopted them under the age
of 18.

In summary, the changes made by the FACE Act are significant but easily
implemented. The FACE Act would:

* Remove internationally adopted children of American citizens from
the immigration process saving time, money and, for many, travel costs;
* Confer U.S. citizenship upon internationally adopted children
immediately upon completion of all the necessary steps without requiring
readoption within the U.S.;
* Improve upon the current system by encouraging foreign countries to
provide original birth documentation; and
* Provide the added benefit of making our internationally adopted
children eligible to run for President.

The sponsors of the FACE Act – Senator Mary Landrieu, Senator Jim Inhofe
(S.1359) and Representative Diane Watson and Representative John Boozman
(H.R. 3110) are great friends and supporters of the adoption community
and have crafted a bill that will provide equality under the law for our
internationally adopted children and allow them to benefit in all ways
from full American citizenship.

In closing, I recommend that all read the relatively short FACE Act bill
in its entirety. It can be found at:
In addition, I
invite you to read a detailed section by section explanation of the bill
as well as answers to Frequently Asked Questions that can be found at
the following link:
Once you do so, I believe, like me, you will find this bill worthy of
your wholehearted support.

For the sake of our internationally adopted children,

McLane Layton

President, EACH

>Call to Action

>More from McLane Layton. Please, once again, call, write, visit. Let them know, these kids are our kids.


Since this petition was launched on June 30th it has received over 1600 signatures! Please take a moment and continue to support the FACE Act legislation (S.1359 and H.R. 3110) by calling your Senators and Representative on Tuesday (tomorrow), Wednesday and Thursday. It is imperative that they hear that this legislation is important to you, their constituents.

Read below for how to make your voice be heard.
FACE Act – Call to Action
On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday call your three Members of Congress (two in the Senate and one in the House of Representatives).
You can find your Representative at http://www.house.gov/
You can find you Senators’ at http://www.senate.gov/
Ask to speak with the Legislative Director or Chief of Staff
For maximum effect, we are asking you to make these calls within this 72-hour window!

What should you say or write to your Members of Congress?

This is an issue that is critical to our internationally adopted children, so speak from your heart. Tell them why internationally adopted children of American citizens need automatic U.S. citizenship from the time their adoption is final and why this is so important to you!

Ask your Senators and Representatives to become a Co-Sponsor of the FACE Act.
If you are speaking to a Senate office, provide them with the bill number S.1359.
If you are speaking to a House member, provide them with the bill number H.R. 3110.

Please feel free to use the following text as a guideline when speaking with your Members of Congress:

“As a constituent of we are requesting that you support the Foreign Adopted Children Equality Act (FACE Act) by becoming a Co-Sponsor of the legislation. For information on becoming a Co-Sponsor, please contact Senator Mary Landrieu, Senator James Inhofe, Representative Diane Watson or Representative John Boozman. Thank you for representing your constituents by becoming a Co-Sponsor of the FACE Act.”


>Because they have faces…….


This bill affects kids like my Gabey and our Marta (below), just a reminder…

Ok, you all know I don’t do the politics thing…not really. Not here.
However, this is a political issue that is worth breaking that habit.

This bill needs support, it needs you all to contact your reps and let them know that it means something to you. This bill makes a difference, finally. This bill would keep families from getting stuck in the protocol snare that we did. This bill would bring families together, sooner. This bill would bring children home, sooner. This bill supports families. This bill makes an actual difference in our world, for good, not just for some pork barrel agenda. This is what the political process should be used for. So, contact your Senators, contact your Congressmen and women. Let them know that this bill is important to YOU.

And, once again, go to to the EACH site and sign up. McLane Layton is doing great important work. Help her make it happen! Read this, below, and then go do something to help.

Here’s the press release, below:

Bill Introduced to Provide Citizenship Rights
to Internationally Adoption Children
of American Families

June 29, 2009 (Washington, DC) — The Families for Orphans Coalition announces its support for the Foreign Adopted Children Equality Act (FACE Act) which was introduced last week in the Senate and House of Representatives. The FACE Act will allow American families to bring their internationally adopted children home as American citizens instead of as immigrants. The bill is spearheaded by Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and James Inhofe (R-OK) and Representatives Diane Watson (D-CA) and John Boozman (R-AR). The FACE Act simplifies the acquisition of citizenship for internationally adopted children and removes these children of American citizens from the immigration process.

The Foreign Adopted Children Equality Act addresses needed changes to the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (CCA) which was enacted to provide automatic U.S. citizenship to internationally adopted children of American citizens. As it stands now, the internationally adopted child of a U.S. citizen receives U.S. citizenship once the child enters the U.S. to reside permanently. If enacted, the FACE Act would allow such children to acquire U.S. citizenship at the time their adoptions are finalized in the country of the child’s birth. The child would then enter the U.S. as a U.S. citizen with citizenship documentation in hand.

“Passage of the FACE Act will eliminate the need for an immigration visa for internationally adopted children and instead will treat these children as children of American citizens, not immigrants subject to immigration regulations,” said McLane Layton, President of Equality for Adopted Children (EACH) and a member of the Families for Orphans Coalition. “Additionally, the FACE Act classifies internationally adopted children as “citizens from birth” just like children born of Americans overseas, thus providing them with equal rights of citizenship, including the right to run for President of the United States.”

“Under current law, the type of immigration visa an adopted child is given to enter the United States determines whether the child receives U.S. citizenship upon entry. Those children who do not receive U.S. citizenship upon entry and whose parents overlook the bureaucratic steps necessary to secure citizenship for their children are often later denied scholarships, passports, and the right to serve in the U.S. military. Most tragically, some young adults who have lived in the United States with loving, American families their entire lives have been deported to their birth countries – places they have no knowledge or memory of – for committing minor juvenile offenses. Half the children adopted internationally each year currently enter the States on the visa that places them at risk,” said Chuck Johnson, a Coalition member and Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for the National Council for Adoption. “The Face Act will resolve these issues and provide U.S. citizenship to all internationally adopted children of American citizens.”

The FACE Act also provides older orphans the ability to be adopted – children who were overlooked in the Hague Treaty on Intercountry adoption. “Prior to the Hague’s passage, children age 16 to 18 whose younger siblings had been adopted by an American were able to be adopted by the same American family,” said Terry Baugh, President of Kidsave. “The Hague eliminated all adoption opportunities for children 16 and over. The FACE Act will fix this oversight and expand the opportunity of a permanent family to all children up to age 18.”

The Families for Orphans Coalition was established in 2008 to support both domestic and foreign efforts that ensure every child lives, grows and thrives in a safe, permanent and loving family.

Marta, last summer.
This bill, if it had been passed, would have changed so much.
It still can, for so many others….

>What’s the goal, really?

>As many of you know, our family is being held up in a bureaucratic snare. A trap, a mill…call it what you will. We are coming to think of new terms for it. We will admit, we are frustrated.

We are receiving the run around, ever so politely expressed, but that is what it is. Our inquiries, indeed, the inquiries from senator’s offices even, are being punted back and forth like a football: “We are not in charge of that.” “They oversee this decision.” “That would be the __(fill in the blank: CDC, State Dept, Health and Human Services)_____ domain.”

And so it goes, no one wants to own this, no one wants to really look at it and see what is being said.
And really, we have decided, that no one really wants to look at what is not being said.

So we will. It is not politically correct. I don’t care anymore.
Everyone has said, “It’s not personal, please understand.”
I beg to differ.
It is very much personal, and I don’t understand.
Not at all. Or, actually, I think, we do all too well.

Let me back up. This is the quick summary of the trap: The US CDC has determined to put in place screening measures for all immigrants for tuberculosis. This sounds like a reasonable and reasoned, thoughtful measure. Until you start examining the data. And you realize that most first world countries do not do this, rather, they screen immigrants once they have arrived. And then, if needed, they treat them.

However, our country has decided that the rates of TB have risen enough that they need to do something. And so they have put in place sweeping protocols to screen for tb. Our country has decided to screen immigrants before they arrive on our shores. These are called the 2007 technical instructions. The problem is, these do not outline what to do if a person already HAD tb, and had already been treated. [The 2008 technical instructions for immigrants already in the US expand on the 2007 and they point out that any person who has already been treated, does not need screening, and in fact, may travel freely.] Therefore, any person wishing to come to the U.S. must have a clear skin test, or chest xray or 8 week sputum culture. Period. That sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?

Does it?

What is this really?
Dare I suggest, this is a case of “other.”
Us. Them.
We are here safe and sound in our country. I believe this is a protective measure, but misplaced. I love my country, don’t get me wrong. But ‘they’ are there, and we don’t know what ‘they’ have that might hurt us. And so ‘they’ have to be screened, and kept there until we are sure ‘they’ are “ok,” right? Right?

Do they? What’s the goal? What does that mean?
Is this a measure to lower the levels of TB in our country, only? Is it a measure to lower the levels of TB in other countries? Or is it to keep out risk, or those who are “other?” Is this a question of comfort? Are our levels of comfort being challenged? Well, I think so. This screening is not being done, for instance, on European immigrants, nor Chinese, nor East Indian.

Should children, any of them, of American families, be swept under this measure?

The reason I question all this is because this policy is being applied to kids, without seeing them as individuals, each unique. Kids. It is not being applied foreign temporary workers, not students, not most of the immigrants who arrive on our shores: adults who can easily slip into the system and disappear. This policy, in our particular case and others too, is being applied in broad sweeping strokes to kids. Our kids. Our Ethiopian kids.

Hmm. Look closely. Who are “they?” Are they dangerous to us? Really? Is their goal to come into the country and infect us all? Or to milk the system and our resources? I don’t think so. These kids have one goal: find a family. Find a safe place and a home. That’s it. Do we need to think of these kids as a threat somehow to us? Um, no. Are we at risk from them, these children, really, are we? No. The data supports that. Coffeedoc is more than happy to provide it to anyone interested. The CDC should be too.

This is Christmas dinner at the government orphanage where my daughter lived. This is what
they had as a special celebration feast. Hard to get better, if you DO have tb or any illness on that diet, don’t ya think?

If we were really screening for TB as a matter of compassion and concern for health, wouldn’t the answer be that if you found TB, you would bring that kid home to their family so they could be treated swiftly? Really? Or is it better to leave that child who has a family here, there, alone, sick and scared where they can’t even get the proper nutrition to support the medicine?

We have been told that the CDC is trying to keep our communities, our family, the population at large, ‘safe’ from infection. Um, really? Because on that plane coming home, it’s almost exclusively a population that has been walking around being exposed to all sorts of viruses and infections, utterly unknown in type or quantity. How does letting a child who has already completed treatment for TB keep that community ‘safe?’

I know. You are rolling your eyes, thinking, “she’s on a rant.” Maybe.
But I am tired of this.
This is a stigma.
There is a stigma against scary words and labels: “HIV+” “TB” “Immigrant” “Virus.”
I’m tired of the stigma, of wondering if I can say that my daughter had TB.
Well, she did.
My daughter had TB. She was treated for it, successfully.
She’s over it now.
But they won’t let her come home, because of arbitrary, political, well meaning but misapplied protocols.

But look closely, just below. These aren’t adults. These are children. Our children. This is their Christmas dinner, again. Do they look like something we should fear, somehow?
Are they, really, “other?”
So, I am asking again. What’s the goal, really?
Is it to help with compassion, to help find and treat a treatable disease? Is it to help lower the rates of this worldwide, as the world leader our country is and should be? Is it to help these children be united with a family? Or is it, to somehow attempt to protect, ineffectively, “us.” I’m asking. What’s the goal?