New Report Shows International Adoption Edging Closer To Extinction

The industry’s overregulation is making it increasingly difficult for willing families to take the plunge and attempt international adoption.

Rachel Garber always knew she wanted to adopt a child. Besides having grown up with five adopted siblings, in 2007 she made a memorable trip to the Chinese city of Xi’an, where she spent a month volunteering at a home for abandoned babies. “During this trip my feelings on adoption were solidified,” she says. “I met my husband Ryan in 2010, and he knew right away that if we got married, we would end up going to China for a child.”

While those plans were temporarily put on hold after their son Nixon was born with special needs, in 2017 the Garbers were finally matched with a little boy in China. After committing to his file, they learned that he was from the very city where Rachel had previously volunteered: Xi’an. “It was meant to be,” she says.

Rachel and Ryan brought their second son, Nolan, home from China to Wyoming last year. Today he is 3 1/2 years old and thriving. His mom describes him as “very loving and yet very strong-willed!” A nearby doctor happens to be the foremost authority in Nolan’s area of medical need. “From the moment we met our son, he has been a joy,” Rachel says. “We have had many hard days, or days where I question my ability, but I can’t imagine our life without him.”

In a nation where tens of thousands of families have adopted children from overseas, the Garbers’ story may sound familiar. But it is a story that is growing increasingly rare. International adoptions to America have been falling dramatically for the past 15 years, and a recent report shows that the decline hasn’t slowed.

The U.S. Department of State’s annual intercountry adoption report to Congress, released in March, shows that Nolan Garber was one of just 4,059 children adopted from overseas in FY 2018. This represents a 13 percent decline since the prior year, an 82 percent decline since intercountry adoption’s peak in 2004, and a new historic low.

Why Is International Adoption Disappearing?

In its report, the Department of State (DOS)—which functions as the U.S. authority over international adoption—offers a few explanations for the latest decline. It notes that the largest decrease last year occurred in China, where the communist government has been suppressing the activities of all foreign nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).

TheFederalist.com, By Wendy Metzgar, April 2, 2019

Click here to read the entire article.

Brunei to Punish Adultery and Gay Sex With Death by Stoning

When Brunei announced in 2013 that it was bringing in harsh Islamic laws that included punishments of death by stoning for adultery and gay sex, the move was met with international protest.

Some investments by the country’s sovereign wealth fund, including the Beverly Hills Hotel, were targets of boycotts and calls for divestment.

Following the outcry, Brunei, a sultanate of about 430,000 on the island of Borneo, delayed carrying out the harshest provisions of its Shariah law.

Now, it is quietly going ahead with them.

Beginning on April 3, statutes allowing stoning and amputation will go into effect, according to an announcement posted by the country’s attorney general last year that has only recently received notice.

That has set off a renewed outcry from human rights groups.

“Brunei’s Penal Code is a deeply flawed piece of legislation containing a range of provisions that violate human rights,” Rachel Chhoa-Howard, a researcher for Amnesty International, said in a statement. “As well as imposing cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments, it blatantly restricts the rights to freedom of expression, religion and belief, and codifies discrimination against women and girls.”

Brunei has had the death penalty on the books since it was a British protectorate, but in practice executions are not typically carried out.

Homosexuality is already illegal in Brunei, with a punishment of up to 10 years in prison, but the new laws allow for penalties including whipping and stoning. The new laws also introduce amputation of hands or feet as a punishment for robbery.

“To legalize such cruel and inhuman penalties is appalling of itself,” Ms. Chhoa-Howard said. “Some of the potential ‘offenses’ should not even be deemed crimes at all, including consensual sex between adults of the same gender.”

Brunei is ruled by a sultan, Hassanal Bolkiah, who lives in a 1,788-room palace and whose wealth amounts to tens of billions of dollars thanks to Brunei’s oil riches. In recent decades he has advocated a conservative vision of Islam that has clashed with the more moderate strains generally practiced in the region, and with the royal family’s own luxurious lifestyle.

New York Times, by Austin Ramzy, March 29, 2019

Click here to read the entire article.

Gay Dads Make Excellent Parents, According To A Recent Study, Proving What We Already Knew

Yet another study, now from Canada, shows gay dads are engaged and loving parents.

gay dads study

Sometimes it seems like our world is never getting any better. Climate change is still very much a thing, as are climate change deniers. Racism, sexism, homophobia; none of this has been completely eradicated as a person might have hoped would happen by 2019. And yet, there is still a nice shiny light at the end of the tunnel. Because a recent study found that gay dads make excellent parents, and just the knowledge that such a study exists is cause for a little celebration.

A seven year study conducted by Eric Feugé of the University of Quebec in Montreal looked specifically at how gay fathers interacted with their children. The long-term study observed 46 families, including 92 gay fathers and 46 children under the age of 9, according to Pink News. 

Most of the men in the study had adopted children who had been removed from their biological families for their own protection, according to The Montreal Gazette, which can understandably be more of a challenge considering potential emotional or physical trauma. And it seems that, according to the study, a full one-third of the children adopted under the social services umbrella in Montreal were adopted by gay parents since it became legal in the province of Quebec in 2002.

Feugé explained to The Montreal Gazette that he was looking specifically at gay dads to see how they engaged with their kids. 

“One of my main objectives was to study the degree of engagement of gay fathers, and how they distribute parental work,” he told the publication. “I wanted to see if that had an effect on the adaptation of the children; and to understand the determinants of (the fathers’) engagement — why some fathers get involved in certain areas of their children’s lives rather than others.” 

And as he explained to The Montreal Gazette, “There was a high degree of engagement in all types of parental roles.”

Feugé went on to note in his study that there tended to be one father who did a bit more than the other, leading the researchers to categorize the dads into primary and secondary caregiver roles, according to The Montreal Gazette.

H.I.V. Is Reported Cured in a Second Patient, a Milestone in the Global AIDS Epidemic

Scientists have long tried to duplicate the procedure that led to the first long-term remission 12 years ago. With the so-called London patient, they seem to have succeeded.

For just the second time since the global epidemic began, a patient appears to have been cured of infection with H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS.

The news comes nearly 12 years to the day after the first patient known to be cured, a feat that researchers have long tried, and failed, to duplicate. The surprise success now confirms that a cure for H.I.V. infection is possible, if difficult, researchers said.

Timothy Ray Brown was the first person cured of AIDS.

The investigators are to publish their report on Tuesday in the journal Nature and to present some of the details at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Seattle. 

Publicly, the scientists are describing the case as a long-term remission. In interviews, most experts are calling it a cure, with the caveat that it is hard to know how to define the word when there are only two known instances.

Both milestones resulted from bone-marrow transplants given to infected patients. But the transplants were intended to treat cancer in the patients, not H.I.V.

Bone-marrow transplantation is unlikely to be a realistic treatment option in the near future. Powerful drugs are now available to control H.I.V. infection, while the transplants are risky, with harsh side effects that can last for years. 

But rearming the body with immune cells similarly modified to resist H.I.V. might well succeed as a practical treatment, experts said. 

“This will inspire people that cure is not a dream,” said Dr. Annemarie Wensing, a virologist at the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands. “It’s reachable.”

Dr. Wensing is co-leader of IciStem, a consortium of European scientists studying stem cell transplants to treat H.I.V. infection. The consortium is supported by AMFAR, the American AIDS research organization.

By Apoorva Mandavilli , March 4, 2019 – NYTimes.com

Click here to read the entire article.

Gay parenting ‘boot camp’ moves to Asia to meet growing demand from China


The world’s largest “boot camp” to help gay men become parents will stage its first Asia event next month to address growing demand for surrogates from China and the region, organizers said on Thursday.

Men Having Babies
Men Having Babies Chairman Emeritus, Anthony M. Brown, speaks
at the New York City Gay Parenting Conference.

New York-based non-profit Men Having Babies (MHB) stages events across the world to provide advice and support to all LGBT+ people who want to become parents and plans to stage its first annual Asian event on March 9-10 in Taipei, Taiwan.

“We have been witnessing over the last three years, a growing interest from Asia – mostly Chinese – intended parents coming to the United States for surrogacy,” said Ron Poole-Dayan, founder and executive director at MHB.

Socially conservative attitudes prevail across most of Asia where Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei outlaw sexual relations between men, and Indonesia has seen an increase in raids targeting LGBT+ people.

But changes are happening, with India moving to scrap Section 377 outlawing same-sex relations last year, and Taiwan this week proposing a draft law to allow same-sex marriage.

The issue of lesbian and gay couples having access to medically-assisted reproductive treatments like IVF has stirred political debate recently in several countries.

Many countries, including Canada, Denmark, New Zealand, and Britain, ban for-profit surrogacy, although they allow some form of surrogacy if no payment is involved. In the United States, the legality of surrogacy is determined by each state.

Gay couples are banned from applying for surrogacy in countries such as Nigeria and Russia.

Poole-Dayan, who has 18-year-old twins with his husband, began MHB in 2005 with monthly workshops giving advice to gay men interested in becoming biological parents and now holds about seven conferences a year.

The two-day events, which are held across the United States, Europe, Canada and Israel, have made MHB the largest “boot camp” for gay parenting in the world, said Poole-Dayan.

He said the internet was flooded with people trying to push surrogacy information but it was hard to know where to start so the two-day events involved surrogate mothers and egg donors, doctors, lawyers and local clinic representatives.

“Our conferences are not meant to persuade to become parents … they are meant for people who already want to become parents (and) to make the process more accessible and easier,” Poole-Dayan told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“People are starting to realize .. the fact that they’re gay doesn’t mean that they’re not going to be able to have a full life including starting a family and having children.”

Reuters.com, by Michael Taylor, February 21, 2019

Click here to read the entire article.

‘I Have to Stay Alive’: Gay Brazilian Lawmaker Gives Up Seat Amid Threats

An openly gay federal Brazilian lawmaker who has frequently clashed with the country’s new far-right president said on Thursday that he was giving up his seat because of death threats.

The lawmaker, Jean Wyllys, a fierce advocate for gay rights who was due to be sworn in for a third term in February, said in an interview with the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo that “this environment isn’t safe for me” after the assassination of a political ally last March and violence that followed the election of the president, Jair Bolsonaro, in October.

“For the future of this cause,” Mr. Wyllys said, “I have to stay alive. I don’t want to be a martyr.” He added that he was currently on vacation abroad and did not plan to return to Brazil.

Mr. Wyllys called Mr. Bolsonaro, a former colleague of his in the lower house of Congress, “a president who always vilified me, who always openly insulted me, who was always homophobic with me.”

In 2016, Mr. Wyllys responded by spitting at Mr. Bolsonaro during the hearing to impeach President Dilma Rousseff. Mr. Bolsonaro, before reinventing himself as a fighter of political corruption and rampant violence, was best known for delivering verbal attacks on women, black people and gay people from the congressional floor. 

Shortly after Mr. Wyllys’ interview was published, Mr. Bolsonaro, who was in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum, tweeted “Great day!” and a thumbs-up emoticon. Supporters weighed in, many with homophobic comments.

Mr. Wyllys has been the target of death threats for years, but he said those threats had become more severe after Marielle Franco, a human rights advocate who was his friend and political ally, was assassinated.

NYTimes.com, January 25, 2019 by Shasta Darlington

Click here to read the entire article.

Non-gender specific birth certificates to be used for same-sex couples in Ireland

The current options of ‘Mother’ or Father’ pose problems for same-sex couples

birth certificate

Same-sex couples who are parents in Ireland will be able to list themselves as ‘parent’ on their child’s birth certificate.

This amendment to the law is designed to accommodate to same-sex couples, allowing both partners to register on their child’s birth certificate.

Under the current system, birth certificates only include the categories ‘Mother’ and ‘Father’.

Birth certificates for donor-assisted children born to same-sex couples currently only allow one mother to be listed.

‘Introduced as soon as possible’

Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty said that allowing to the option of ‘parent’ would resolve such issues, saying implementing the bill would be prioritized.

‘While the changes proposed will affect a relatively small number of people, they touch on matters that are very sensitive and of great importance to those families affected,’ Doherty said.

‘I have met with and spoken to many affected by this issue and I am now very pleased to be able to bring these changes forward as a priority to ensure that they can be introduced as soon as possible.’

The case had been raised in the Dáil (the Lower House of the Irish parliament) last year, according to TheJournal.ie.

Politician Richard Boyd Barrett said that a pregnant woman had contacted him with concerns about her wife not being able to register on their child’s birth certificate.

The completed bill will go before the Houses of the Oireachtas in the spring.

GayStarNews.com by Calum Stuart, January 12, 2019

Click here to read the entire article.

UK surrogacy law embraces single parents from today

UK surrogacy law embraces single parents from today

compassionate surrogacy

Today the clock also starts ticking on the six month window during which existing single parents through surrogacy can apply for a parental order retrospectively. The window will close on 2 July 2019, with applications beyond that possible but more complicated. If you are a single parent of a child born through surrogacy and would like more information about whether and how to make an application then contact us by emailing hello@ngalaw.co.uk or calling 0203 701 5915.

To mark today’s law change, we wanted to reflect on our campaigning journey of the last ten years. It all started in 2008 when, as part of making UK fertility law more inclusive, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill 2008 proposed broadening who could apply for a parental order from just married couples to married, unmarried and same-sex couples. Single parents remained excluded so, through her work as part of a stakeholders’ group supporting progressive reform, NGA Law founder Natalie Gamble proposed and drafted an amendment to the Bill which would have included single parents too. Her amendment was tabled by Dr Evan Harris MP when the Bill was in Committee, but not pursued when it became clear the government did not support it. On behalf of the government Dawn Primarolo MP said:

Surrogacy is such a sensitive issue, fraught with potential complications such as the surrogate mother being entitled to change her mind and decide to keep her baby, that the 1990 Act quite specifically limits parental orders to married couples where the gametes of at least one of them are used. That recognises the magnitude of a situation in which a person becomes pregnant with the express intention of handing the child over to someone else, and the responsibility that that places on the people who will receive the child. There is an argument, which the Government have acknowledged in the Bill, that such a responsibility is likely to be better handled by a couple than a single man or woman.

There was no evidence basis for such a statement, but it was clear that discrimination against single parents was government policy rather than oversight.

At both NGA Law and Brilliant Beginnings we continued to help single parents through surrogacy as we have always done. The lack of availability of parental orders hasn’t stopped single mums and dads having children through surrogacy. It has, however, made things harder and restricted the legal recognition of their families. All but two of the single parents we have worked with have had to go overseas to find a surrogate and almost all have then lived under the radar, without parental responsibility and with their surrogate remaining their child’s legal mother in the U.K., hoping that no one would ever question their authority to parent. We have shared their frustration about how unfair and discriminatory the law was.

By Natalie Gamble, NGA Blog, January 3, 2019

Click here to read the entire article.

Gay Couples Rush to Wed Before Brazil’s New President Takes Office

Just hours after Jair Bolsonaro won Brazil’s presidential election in a landslide victory for conservatives, Carolina Zannata and her girlfriend called the closest public notary and set a date for their wedding.

Gay marriage has been legal in Brazil since 2013, and Ms. Zannata said she and Aline Foguel had not been in a hurry to wed. But the triumph of Mr. Bolsonaro — a far-right politician who once declared “I’m homophobic, with pride” — changed their calculations.

Brazil Gay

“We got scared,” said Ms. Zannata. “We need to take advantage of our hard-won rights because we might not have them afterward.”

On Jan. 1, Mr. Bolsonaro will be sworn into office, and high on his agenda is making good on his campaign pledge to defend “the true meaning of matrimony as a union between man and woman.”

Once president, he will have the power to act on his promise. His party will also become the second-largest force in the lower house, thanks to an outpouring of support at the ballot box in October.

Legal experts say that the Supreme Court would almost certainly strike down legislation that reversed the legalization of same-sex marriage, but it is not clear how long the process could take.

“There could be attempts to make same-sex marriage illegal, but the Constitution will prevail,” said José Fernando Simão, a professor of civil rights and family law at the University of São Paulo. “It’s natural for there to be concern. This is a community that has been ultra-marginalized in the past.”

And so, in early December, Ms. Zannata and Ms. Foguel gathered friends and family for a simple wedding ceremony at the notary’s office, followed by a festive lunch. They joined a wave of same-sex couples rushing to the altar out of love, but also fear or in defiance of what the incoming government might do.

Four of the five ceremonies at the notary’s office that Saturday morning were same-sex marriages.

According to the notary association Arpen, the number of same-sex marriages across Brazil surged 66 percent in November. In São Paulo, Brazil’s biggest city, there were 57 same-sex weddings in just the first 10 days of December, compared with 113 for whole month of December 2017.

By Shasta Darlington, New York Times, December 29, 2018

Click here to read the entire article.

Singapore allows same-sex fathers to adopt their surrogate son

In a landmark decision, Singapore’s highest court has allowed a gay couple to adopt their son, who was conceived through surrogacy in the United States.

The case began in December 2014 when fathers “James” and “Shawn” applied for James – whose sperm was used for the assisted reproduction – to adopt their son, “Noel”, hoping to remove the stigma of illegitimacy. Their real names have not been disclosed.

James and Shawn, who heard the news at 10.25am through their lawyers, were elated. They had gone to work as usual, despite knowing the judgment would be released on Monday morning.

“It was business as usual because we didn’t want to get our hopes too high,” said James, who is a doctor.

Shawn works in the marketing industry. Both men are 45, of Chinese ethnicity, and are Singaporeans. The men have been in a relationship for 13 years, living together since 2003.

James said the family was happy and relieved that the Court of Appeal has allowed the adoption of Noel.

“The fight to raise our family in Singapore has been a long and difficult journey,” he said. “We hope that the adoption will increase the chances of our son to be able to stay in Singapore with his family. His grandparents and us really want Singapore to be the home of our family. Our family will celebrate this significant milestone.”His grandparents and us really want Singapore to be the home of our family. Our family will celebrate this significant milestoneJames, father

The process was treated as single-parent adoption and will confer to James sole parental rights and responsibility for the child. Both fathers hoped this will make it easier for Noel, now four years old, to acquire Singapore citizenship. The South China Morning Post in January reported on the family’s legal limbo. Noel had been rejected for citizenship and at the time the fathers applied for his adoption, Noel was on a dependent’s pass that has since been renewed every six months.

Last year, the couple had their bid rejected by the Family Justice Courts one day after Christmas, although District Judge Shobha Nair said Noel would be provided for, with or without an adoption order.

By Kok Xinghui, TheStar.com, December 17, 2018

Click here to read the entire article.