Map Showing Central Asian Countries
ADOPTING A CHILD FROM KAZAKHSTAN
By Gulnara Davis
A couple of months ago, I was leaving the airport of Almaty, Kazakhstan (located in Central Asia, and previously a part of the Soviet Union). On my flight back to Orlando, I met several American families returning with adopted children from Kazakhstan.
These families looked so very happy, along with being extremely exhausted. The new children were resting or sleeping, closely embraced by their new parents. They had no idea that in 20 hours they would wake up in another continent, far away from their homeland and birth mothers.
It was my good fortune to be sitting next to one of these families. We had a very enjoyable informative discussion. John and Liz were owners of a private dentist clinic in Connecticut, and had 2 grown children of their own. They had decided to adopt a girl from Kazakhstan. They explained that their own children were now basically independent, and had lives of their own. They had made this decision to adopt a child, who had a real need for the love of parents.
Their new black-haired six-month-old girl was so sweet, with sparkling eyes, sweet soft lips, and delicate well-formed fingers. I wondered how her real mother could give up such a beautiful daughter. How will her real mother feel years from now regarding the loss of this unique beautiful person? My emotions went the route of sadness, to happiness, to discouragement and to concern, all regarding this sweet child that was leaving her native country.
I continued to observe these Americans feeding the child from a small bottle, while keeping her warm and sheltered from the many airplane drafts. The other adoptive families were also attending to their children, trying to forget the many past hours and days involved with the complicated legal adoption process they had just completed.
One couple was flying with two well-behaved baby boys. They were trying to comfort these boys by holding them closely to their bodies, and giving them gentle hugs. The boys were responding with happy little toothless smiles. It was easy to see that these boys and their new parents had already established a personal loving bond.
My intent was to not disturb these people, but I was still very curious. Did this adopted baby girl really not have any relatives who might have been able to raise her? By Kazakhstan law, a family can only adopt a child if it does not have legal parents or living relatives. If there are also any other couples from Kazakhstan that have expressed a desire to adopt, then these American families would not have been considered.
In watching these new parents, I was very moved by what they were doing. They had made serious sacrifices in order to adopt these children. They came at great expense to a far distant land, to locate orphans that were housed in many diverse locations throughout Kazakhstan. To finalize the adoption, there is a nightmare of legal requests, court hearings, language translations, and many special unanticipated fees encountered at almost every level of government. One had a feeling that these people were really doing as much for these adopted children as regular parents would ever do for their own natural born children.
Many of us have regularly observed adoptions of Asian, Afro-American, Indian, or Caucasian children. In the United States, we now understand and normally respect all types of adoptions. If qualified parents have sufficient resources and interests in supporting the adoption and raising a child, then here they generally are given a chance to adopt. How wonderful that these new caring parents were willing to make such sacrifices.
During this recent trip, I also learned about some upsetting situations and practices with international adoptions in Kazakhstan. Some representatives from parliament and government, as well as journalists, have described international adoption as a “business-for-profit” that is taking genetic treasures from their country. By playing to nationalistic sentiments in the country, these individuals are trying to convince people that orphan children should stay in the country for their future labor market. By letting these adoptive children leave the country, they may also forget their native language, traditions, and lose their ancestral roots. One representative, who is popular because of his views, has stated that international adoption should be categorically stopped, and that no permission should be granted to any outside countries.
He also has stressed that nobody knows what foreign parents may be doing to these children. He has raised concern about ...“who will check these children in the United States to be sure they are OK?” There is now a proposal that the government add new amendments which will make it much more difficult for foreigners to adopt children. Another new request to the Ministry of Justice is for American agencies to pay additional taxes. Many are aware of a substantial amount of money already going into the adoption process, and have the feeling that more should be paid to support additional agencies while at the same time discouraging the international adoption process.
I was informed that several directors of orphanages, and some workers in the Education Departments who had that supported international adoptions, have been demoted or reassigned. These new discussions and proposals have interestingly surfaced just before upcoming elections! Making these changes will in effect, make it harder for these orphans to find a better future with caring families.
To be fair, there have also been many discussions in newspapers and TV, showing the international adoption process from a positive side. Information is furnished about the life of orphans, who do not get adopted, and what happens after they leave school, and move into the real world.
There is a difficult and dangerous life waiting for many of them! A large percentage of non-adopted girls become prostitutes and many of the boys head into a life of crime. There are numerous employees of non profit organizations, policemen, psychologists, doctors, and others, who do support international adoption. They also feel that orphans, from any country, should not lose the chance to to become accepted members of a caring loving family, even if this may mean going to families from another country. No one should not have the right to deny any orphan a chance for a better future.
It is my hope that the adoption agendas of some nationalists will be seen for what they are. The real issue should be the welfare of orphans now being challenged by new legal and monetary requirements that are designed to keep orphans as orphans within their birth country.
It is my hope to specifically inform Kazakhstan citizens regarding this new challenges for their orphan children. Orphans that have been adopted by American parents, have many wonderful opportunities they would never have. They find good homes, good schools, loving parents, and a good chance to be successful in life. Here in the United States, children are monitored closely by the government and defended by numerous private organizations. My message to Kazakhstan and to other countries that have adoption surpluses, is that these countries should not be concerned. Allowing loving American parents to adopt homeless orphans is a win-win situation for all concerned. Orphans, regardless of nationality, can contribute in the future their positive influences that will benefit all the world. No one should have the right to deprive an orphan of the hope to be part of a family; to be loved; or to be a positive influence for all our future lives.
"BRINGING GOOD NEWS" TO THE CHILDREN OF CENTRAL ASIA
We are a very ordinary group of Christians who want to help the poor especially orphans and vulnerable children.
Ali Lenton is a lovely mum who adores working with children.
Ian Thomson runs a small business and has a concern for the poor.
Helen Thomson works with children and has a heart for aids orphans.
Paul O Neil is a local church leader and cares about people.
Our aim is to bring good news to the poor by:
Many orphanages and schools for the poor are severely under funded and the orphans and children from poor families grow up in very poor unhygienic conditions. We have replaced the showers, toilets and washing facilities in this particular institution in Ukraine.
Our work includes:
* Providing funds for clothes, food, medicine, beds, washing facilities, education and practical help.
* Supporting local Christians who visit orphanages, poor schools, rescue shelters and prisons.
* Telling children Bible stories about Jesus.
* Helping pastors plant new churches.
We help local Christians in three different Central Asian countries.
* We have helped establish a youth centre.
* We have helped purchase two flats for orphans.
* We sponsor 5 young people through university.
* We support children and young people's camps.
* We have helped finance a new church.
[The little girl pictured was going blind because her mum could not afford antibiotics. So we provide funds for doctors to visit villages forgotten by the State.]
BRINGING GOOD NEWS HOME PAGE
BRINGING GOOD NEWS – CENTRAL ASIA
"HANDS ACROSS THE WATER" -- UZBEKISTAN
Why Choose to Adopt in Uzbekistan?
Uzbekistan adoptions are new for the U.S. and Uzbekistan. Because of this, the Uzbekistan process is not yet set in stone but it is also not yet complicated by bureaucratic red tape. There are many children in dire need of a family in Uzbekistan. With the governmental changes a large number of families are unable to provide for their children. The majority of children are abandoned at birth by their mothers. In the Uzbekistan culture, alcohol and drug usage are not socially acceptable. Children available for adoption are generally healthy.
Uzbekistan - The Country
Uzbekistan is a dry, landlocked country of intensely cultivated, irrigated river valleys. Uzbekistan is the world's second-largest cotton exporter, a large producer of gold and oil, and a producer of chemicals and machinery. The change from a communist government to a capitalist nation has brought change in the social and economic life for the people of Uzbekistan. There is much evidence today of Uzbekistan's struggle to adapt to a new social order.
Most Uzbekistanis live in densely populated rural communities. There is much evidence of pride in Uzbekistan's rich cultural heritage. Tashkent, the capital, is Central Asia's premier metropolis. It is a modern city of 2.1 million people where the metro is the most convenient way to traverse the city. Its 2,000 year history as a crossroads connecting Europe and China is responsible for monumental architecture, fine museums and sculptures. Old Tashkent is the famous part of the city as it dates back to the 15th century.
Who Can Adopt From Uzbekistan?
Individuals and couples may adopt from Uzbekistan. Couples must be married at least 1 year. Divorce is acceptable. Other children in the family are acceptable. There are no age restrictions for adoptive parents, other than they must be no older than 45 years older than the child, although this can be flexible by region.
Children who are available for adoption by foreigners range from approximately 5-6 months to 14 years of age. All children offered for adoption live in government-supervised orphanages. Adoptive families may choose the age and gender of the child they wish to adopt. Sibling groups and unrelated children are available for adoption at the same time. There are a large number of children between the ages of 1 and 6 years. Uzbekistan represents a variety of ethnic groups, including Uzbek, Russian, Ukrainian, German (all Caucasion races), Kazakh (Mongol race), and Tatar. The majority of available infants have been abandoned at birth by their birth mothers.
In the Uzbekistan culture, alchohol and drug usage are not socially acceptable. Incidences of fetal alchohol syndrome and drug related problem are rare, as well as HIV and Hepatitis C. Children available for adoption are generally healthy. Orphanage physicians carefully select all children for referral to families. The selection is based on current evaluation of the child's health and development. Typical orphanage delays are expected for institutionalized children. The majority of children who have been placed are in fair health, adjusting very well and thriving in their new homes in America. Adoptive families are provided with a medical history and evaluation of the child's current condition along with photos and video.
Process in Uzbekistan
The adoption process abroad is constantly evolving. We will provide adoptive parents with a current time estimate for adoptive child referral and placement. The time from when the family accepts their referral until travel varies from approximately 3 to 6 months. First the family receives pictures and a medical report of the child. If the family is interested in this referral, they begin to prepare the dossier. During that time, they also receive a video of the child.
The legalization process of the documents for adoption in the U.S. takes about two to three weeks. By the time the dossier is fully legalized in the U.S., translated and prepared for submission in Uzbekistan, the family must have Form I-171H in hand. Prior to submitting the dossier to the Ministry of Education, our representative in Tashkent receives a notification letter from the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, about INS approval of the prospective family (the Ministry of Education holds a dossier for about 1 month). Once the dossier is submitted to the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the adoptive parents are scheduled for travel within 3-4 months.
The family travels to meet with the child after the Mayor of the city or region where the accepted child is located approves the adoption, birth certificate and adoption notice (in Uzbekistan there are no adoption certificates), and an Uzbek passport is issued for the child.
To meet with the child, the family travels to Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Our representative escorts the child there from the region. The family stays approximately 2-3 days in Tashkent, during which time they visit the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent to file Form I-604 and travel to Almaty, Kazakhstan, to receive the immigrant visa for their child. The stay in Almaty is approximately 4 days, depending on the working hours of the U.S. Embassy. On the first day the family must complete the medical review for the U.S. Embassy. On the second day, they submit the documents to the Embassy, and on the following day they have their exit interview for the child's immigration visa. After receiving this visa, you will return home to the U.S.
Families have a choice of traveling straight to Almaty, Kazakhstan to meet with the child there. In this situation, our representative will file Form I-604 at the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent on their behalf and will escort the child to Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Your child's adoption is finalized in Uzbekistan, but Uzbekistan requires post-placement reports and photos of your child over a preiod of time. The number of reports and frequency may change, but currently there are four reports required, at 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, and 3 years after the adoption is finalized. Hands Across The Water is committed to "our" children and their new families. We will assist you in every possible way in your parenting efforts.
To Begin The Process:
Hands Across The Water is committed to guiding you through the adoption process. "We have been there, now we're here for you."
1. Apply to Hands Across The Water for services by filling out an application and submitting it with the application fee. Receive and complete additional paperwork.
2. Complete your Home Study with Hands Across The Water (if a Michigan family).
3. File your I-600A with the U.S. INS. We will assist you with this process.
4. Hands Across The Water will work closely with the Uzbekistan facilitators throughout the process. After the referral is received and accepted, the Uzbekistan adoption process begins. At that time you prepare your dossier and Hands Across The Water will forward your dossier documents to teh Uzbekistan facilitators for translation and submission to the Uzbekistan court. This process can take 4 to 6 months and is dependent on the court system of Uzbekistan.
5. You will be scheduled to travel to Uzbekistan to meet your child approximately 3 - 4 months after submission of your dossier documents and you will meet your child after the adoption has been finalized in Uzbekistan. You will return home after about a 7 day stay. During this stay you will travel to Almaty, Kazakhstan to apply for your child's immigrant visa with the U.S. Embassy.
Your stay in Uzbekistan will be only 2 to 3 days. This is a very valuable time to learn about the country, people and culture of your child's birth.
Dossier Documents Required
* Home Study.
* Criminal Record Check.
* Medical Report of adopting parents
* Post-placement agreement.
* Letters of recommendation.
* Copy of I-171-H [CIS pre-approval]
* Employment verification for adopting parents.
* Proof of Home Ownership.
* Family Photos.
* Birth Certificate of adopting parent (if single).
* Marriage Certificate.
* Divorce Decree if applicable.
* Death Certificate if applicable.
* Copy of passport.
* Financial statement.
* Power of Attorney.
* Letter of Request to Adopt.
Contact HANDS ACROSS THE WATER
GLOBAL INVOLVEMENT THROUGH EDUCATION
Global Involvement Through Education (Global I.E.) is a non-profit organization, formed for the purpose of promoting international cross-cultural educational opportunities accomplished through assisting and facilitating various educational projects and programs throughout the world.
Global I.E.'s goal is to help different cultures to understand each other's uniqueness while learning to peacefully co-exist and appreciate differing values. Global I.E., through educational and humanitarian activities, aspires to encourage in all people the qualities of servant leadership, honesty, fairness, courage, unselfishness, charity to others, love of family and faith. We believe better education will instil hope for a better future, leading to better lives for all people.
About Global I.E.
Global Involvement through Education (Global I.E.) was incorporated in 1990, by a group of friends whose business and vacation travel had opened their eyes to the richness of the cultures of Central Asia, North Africa, Middle East and the Arabian Peninsula. What they had experienced of these countries' natural beauty, hospitality and culture dismissed stereotypes portrayed in the western media.
"Understanding happens when individuals have an opportunity to develop relationships," says Global I.E. President, Richard E. Guffey. "It also happens as we learn from one another, and education is one of the best ways to do just that."
Since the first foreign office was established in Istanbul, Turkey, Global I.E. has participated in activities in Egypt, Jordan, United Arab Republics, Yemen and Morocco. The Moroccan affiliate office, located in Casablanca, has been operational since 1994. Other projects are being contemplated in a number of additional countries.
As the Central Asian countries became independent republics, it was clear they too should be considered for Global I.E. affiliate offices or projects. Now active in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan Global I.E. or a Central Asian affiliate office is investigating expansion into the other countries in the region.
Global I.E. is a decentralized, non-profit organization. It is primarily staffed by volunteers and is funded by tax-deductible donations. Global I.E.'s Directors and officers travel extensively, and some have other jobs. The team of Advisors include doctoral level graduates and faculty of prominent universities in America and the United Kingdom.
Global Education Tajikistan has also been successful in reaching into northern Afghanistan to other Tajik people. A school for poor children is expanding from three rooms to 12 classrooms. Older girls are also being taught sewing at the school.
Global Education Kazakhstan has been extremely successful in the field of business training. Many seminars have been held with the police, state military and even governmental ministers. Teaching programs on how to manage ethically in the post-Communist world have been warmly received. We have also been reaching teachers with similar messages and have provided English language training. Several trips to Kazakhstan have been made by U.S. elementary school teachers to assist their counterparts in developing teaching syllabuses.
Global I.E. has provided educational grants to Kyrgyz university students for several years.
Global Education Tajikistan (GET) has been very active in numerous areas including: operating a soup kitchen, assisting remote schools by making them habitable in winter, opening a pre-school with around 500 poor children, teaching art and dance to older children and providing humanitarian assistance to a leper colony. Numerous requests have been received from the federal government to assist in other areas, including providing for federal orphanages. A private orphanage run by GET staff will soon open for approximately 50 orphans. We have also been providing grants to university students.
Global Uzbekistan (GUZ) has been given office space on the campus of Tashkent State University. University students are welcome to practice English and use computers. Global Uzbekistan has allowed U.S. elementary school teachers to visit Tashkent to train their Uzbek counterparts. Recently a computer center has been opened by GUZ in Samarkand, in the far south area of Uzbekistan.
Visit the website: GLOBAL INVOLVEMENT THROUGH EDUCATION
KABUL'S ONLY STATE-RUN ORPHANAGE
[KABUL, 20 November 2002 (IRIN)]
As winter fast approaches, some two thousand orphans in the Afghan capital Kabul's only state-run orphanage still await much needed assistance. While conditions have eased somewhat since the demise of the Taliban regime last year, the number of children has increased almost twofold. "We have 2,000 children now.
Maybe next year we’ll have 4,000," orphanage director, Alhaj Habib Sameem told IRIN (Integrated Regional Information Networks is part of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs).
If his warning holds true, it’s a dangerous trend demanding careful consideration and action by aid agencies and the government alike. With very few resources, the orphanage can ill afford to allow its population to expand, but instead must work to reform its current state of operations. "Many of these children have come from outside Kabul and beyond. Now we are accepting only the most serious cases," Sameem claimed.
Located in a dusty compound in the north of the city, the 20-year-old Tahir Maskan orphanage has long proven a challenge for the aid community. Agencies have come and gone, unsure how to handle the multiple and often complicated problems of poor hygiene, lack of sanitation and inadequate nutrition that have plagued the facility for years.
Even today the orphanage’s sewerage system remains blocked, despite numerous pledges by various aid agencies and NGOs over the years to resolve the matter. As children play in the afternoon sun, the stench of human excrement permeates the air.
"The septic system is a mess. There really isn’t any place for the waste water to go," Louise Amber, program manager for the British NGO Children in Crisis (CIC) told IRIN. Although conditions were dirty and overcrowded, in many ways there was less activity now than there was during the Taliban, she maintained.
But the problems of Tahir Maskan and its sister Allauddin facility go far beyond a blocked septic system, involving the very make up of the two institutions' population and administration. According to Sameem, ranging in age from three to 17 years, the vast majority of the children are boys, with only 200 girls registered. One in two children have neither a mother nor father, 40 percent have lost one parent, while the remaining 10 percent have parents either mentally or physically handicapped or in jail, he explained.
However, aid workers disagree. One told IRIN in confidence that approximately 95 percent of the children were not genuine orphans at all, and had at least one parent alive. Asked to account for this, he explained as many parents were struggling to look after their families, they viewed the orphanage as a place where their children could have access to education, food and health care. "This is particularly true if the family has lost mothers and the fathers cannot cope with their children alone -- or feel they can’t," he said.
Moreover, often when widowed mothers remarry, the new fathers don’t want the children from the previous relationship so they were passed on, he added.
Another area of concern is the sheer size of the staff team at the orphanage. Estimated at 400, most of whom work in administration, aid agencies are bemused how so many people could possibly be employed in a government-run facility with few resources.
"There is an overcrowding of children, but there is also an overcrowding of staff," Amber said. Defending the move, Sameem remarked: "Our 400 staff are working in shifts -- that’s why."
Equally disturbing was a decision by the World Food Program (WFP) earlier this year to stop providing much needed food assistance to the orphanage after monitors determined some of the food was actually going to families of staff members instead. "We couldn’t renew this agreement in light of what they were doing," WFP spokesman, Alejandro Chicheri told IRIN. "These people could also be in need, but that was not the purpose of the distribution," he explained.
SOURCE OF THIS ARTICLE
IRIN MAIN WEBSITE
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