Opposition to US State Department proposed rule changes to adoptions continues

US couple, who adopted Down Syndrome daughter from Samoa, speak of hardship if new rule changes happen
fili@samoanews.com

A US mother, who adopted a daughter with Down Syndrome from Samoa, has lodged her opposition with the US State Department over several proposed amendments by the department regarding inter-country adoption.

Among the proposed amendments are requirements for accreditation of agencies and approval of persons to provide adoption services in inter-country adoption cases. The proposed rule also strengthens certain standards for accreditation and approval including those related to fees and the use of foreign providers.

Several comments have been submitted, opposing the proposed rule changes, from parents who have adopted or are in the processing of adopting a child from Samoa. On Monday this week, a US mother submitted comments telling a heart-warming story about her newly adopted daughter from Samoa.

“My heart truly aches at the thought of all the children that will be left behind without the love of a family if indeed these regulations go into effect,” the mother wrote. “My husband and I adopted our daughter earlier this year from Samoa. It was a four-year process to get her home. She's now 4 years old.”

“Samoa is an extremely small and extremely poor island contrary to what the tourism photographs show. Our daughter has Down Syndrome,” she wrote. “Although we truly believe our daughter was loved by those who cared for her at the shelter, they lacked knowledge, funds, and resources that it takes to adequately care for a child with Down Syndrome.”

The mother also shared their comments, photos of the couple with their adopted child. One photo shows, the daughter with what appears to be ice cream on her chin and lips, and a large cupcake on the table with the happy couple around their daughter.

Another photo shows the daughter in an embrace with her parents. Samoa News is unable to publish the photos because there was no contact info for the couple to obtain permission to republish the photos.

In her letter, the mother said, “Our daughter came to us without ever having had a heart exam to look for heart complications that effect almost 50% of those with Down Syndrome. It's truly not even available on her island, neither were the special therapies needed to help a child with her condition succeed in life.”

“Since coming home at the age of three she's now learning how to walk for the first time, she's learning to speak for the first time, she's attending school, she's a sponge and amazes us with how much knowledge she has picked up in a few short months,” the mother wrote.

She said the adoption in its entirety took over 4 years and ran about $50,000 total. “With my husband being a school teacher and I being employed as an executive assistant this was still quite burdensome,” she said. “Thankfully we paid in full the adoption with the help of fundraisers, grants, working 2 side jobs each at one point, and even writing our own childrens’ book to help cover the costs. I can't imagine proposing more regulations on agencies that will in turn increase costs to adoptive parents.”

She points out that children looking to be adopted “are still there, they haven't gone anywhere. They still long to learn the words ‘Momma’ and ‘Daddy’ and learn the meaning behind them.”

“To know how it feels to be safe, to have enough to eat, to have medical care, and to be kissed goodnight. That isn't a privilege, that’s the right of every child,” she said, and noted she strongly opposes the proposed regulations and urged on the government to work together to “find MORE homes for these precious babies as opposed to taking their right to a loving home away from them.”

In comments submitted yesterday, also opposing the rule changes, a couple said they adopted in March this year “our daughter” from Samoa and the adoption process began in January 2012. According to the couple, the issues proposed in the regulation will only make international adoption an unattainable goal for people who are willing and want to adopt these children.

“The ones who will suffer the most are the most innocent the children who will have no one to love and take care of them” and that “is unforgivable,” the couple wrote. “After only 6 months of having our daughter home, [we] cannot imagine our lives without her.

“She has brought much happiness and joy to our home. She is amazing and so loving and happy and we are very blessed to have her,” the couple wrote. “We hope that other families will continue to have the same opportunity we have been given; and that the children will continue to be placed first in the minds of those that are in charge of making these regulations.”

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