CAP Faculty Director Elizabeth Bartholet’s Human Rights Legislation for Unparented Children Introduced: S.1177 and H.R.2643

S.1177 and H.R.2643, proposed by CAP Faculty Director Elizabeth Bartholet and a coalition of international adoption advocates, call for changes to the Department of State’s Annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices so that it includes violations of unparented children’s rights, specifically the unnecessary holding of children in institutions and associated denial of timely access to domestic and international adoption.

On May 18, 2017, S.1177 was introduced by Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) and on May 24, 2017, H.R.2643 was introduced by Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA) with co-sponsors Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) and Rep. Daniel M. Donovan, Jr. (R-NY). For more information about this and other CAP policy efforts, see the CAP Law Reform page

Vulnerable Children and Families Act (VCF Act) Reintroduced as S.1178 and H.R.2532

The Vulnerable Children and Families Act (VCF Act), which CAP worked on along with several other organizations, was reintroduced May 18, 2017, by Senators Roy Blunt and Amy Klobuchar as S.1178.  The House bill, led by Representatives Kay Granger and Brenda Lawrence, is H.R.2532. For the May 19, 2017, press release for this bill from Senator Roy Blunt’s office, click here. For CAP Director Elizabeth Bartholet’s letter of support, click here.

Events: CAP Working Paper Lunch Series – Spring 2017

In spring 2017, CAP is hosting a Lunch Series featuring our CAP Graduate Program Participants: Divya Srinivasan, Harvard Law School LL.M. Candidate; Pedro Hartung, Harvard Law School CAP-Affiliated Visiting Researcher and Ph.D. Candidate at University of São Paulo Law School; and Dan Zhou, Harvard Law School S.J.D. Candidate.  During the talks, each participant will present his or her research findings, and attendees will have the opportunity to provide feedback and suggestions. Lunch will be provided.

If you would like to attend one or more of the Lunch Series talks, please RSVP here to ensure that we have enough food available.

Upcoming lunches are:


Contact CAP Visiting Researchers and Scholars Program Coordinator Mary Welstead, cap@law.harvard.edu, with questions.

 

Analyzing India’s Efforts to Reform Juvenile Justice Law in the Aftermath of the Delhi Gang Rape Incident

 

Divya Srinivasan HUID PhotoDiscussion with Divya Srinivasan, Harvard Law School LL.M. Candidate

Thursday, March 23, 2017
12:00 – 1:00 PM
23 Everett Street
CAP Suite, G-24
Harvard Law School

 

 

 

Paper Topic: In December 2012, the brutal gang rape and murder of a young girl in Delhi caused shockwaves and protests across the nation. The incident, and specifically the penalty imposed on one of the offenders, who was a juvenile, sparked a national conversation on the effectiveness of existing juvenile justice laws in India. In response, in late 2015, the Indian Parliament passed the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, which inter alia, allowed for adolescents between the ages of 16-18 to potentially be tried as adults if they were accused of committing certain ‘heinous offences.’ My presentation critically analyzes these amendments, and the justifications for the change in the law. It also engages with the broader question of whether children under the age of 18 should ever be tried as adults.

Biography: Divya Srinivasan is pursuing an LL.M. at Harvard Law School, with a concentration in International Human Rights. She graduated from law school in India in 2014, after which she worked as a labor lawyer in India. She is taking courses on child rights during her year at Harvard. During her internships in law school in India, she worked on issues relating to child sexual assault.

Keeping Roots, Without Losing Wings: Redesigning Adoption as an Interfamily Cooperative Solution for Neglected Children

 

PedroHartungHeadshotDiscussion with Pedro Hartung, Harvard Law School CAP-Affiliated Visiting Researcher and Ph.D. Candidate at University of São Paulo Law School

Monday, March 27, 2017
12:00 – 1:00 PM
23 Everett Street
CAP Suite, G-24
Harvard Law School

 

Paper Topic: There is no consensus among legal scholars, experts and practitioners as to how best protect children who have been neglected by their parents. While some advocate the primacy of biological kinship and the child’s permanence in the original family, especially when analyzed alongside the social-economic causes of negligence related to structural poverty and the lack of support parents have, others claim the need for children suffering from repeated neglect to be removed as quickly as possible to adoptive families, without institutionalization or foster care, to safeguard their right to a healthy development. This presentation, however, explores a third way, where adoption is seen not as a legal kinship exclusion, but rather as a legal family extension for children, through a child-sensitive, inclusive and open decision-making process in the Justice System, with support given to interfamily cooperative social dynamics in the care of children.

Biography: Pedro Hartung is a CAP-affiliated Visiting Researcher for the 2016-17 academic year. He is a Ph.D. candidate at University of São Paulo Law School in the Public Law department, researching the state’s intervention in families’ affairs to protect children’s rights. Pedro holds a B.L. degree from University of São Paulo/Brazil and a Zertifikat– Aufbaustudium in den Grundzügen des Deutschen Rechts from Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich (LMU)/Germany. He is a member of the Brazilian Bar and works as Policy and Advocacy coordinator at Alana Institute, an NGO which specializes in the promotion and protection of children’s rights in Brazil. From 2012-2016 he served as a National Counselor at the National Council for the Rights of Children and Adolescents – CONANDA of the Presidency of the Republic of Brazil – Brasília/DC, representing the Brazilian state in various international agendas.

Whose (Grand)Children? Which Rationale?: A Recent Case Over Guardianship in Shanghai Related to Surrogacy

zhou_danDiscussion with Dan Zhou, Harvard Law School S.J.D. Candidate

Thursday, March 30, 2017
12:00 – 1:00 PM
23 Everett Street
CAP Suite, G-24
Harvard Law School

 

Paper Topic: A heterosexual couple married in Shanghai, China in 2007. As the wife is infertile, they developed a plan to have children through assisted reproductive technology procedures, which include in vitro fertilization and surrogacy. In other words, an egg from another woman is fertilized by sperm from the husband in a tube and then transferred to a third woman’s uterus. China’s Ministry of Health prohibits surrogacy, and the couple, therefore, had twin babies through underground services in 2011. Three years later, the husband died suddenly of an illness. The widow then continued to take care of the children. In December 2014, the parents of the late husband filed a lawsuit against the widow over guardianship alleging that she is not the biological mother of their grandchildren. The first-instance court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs for the two reasons: (i) the defendant is neither a biological mother nor a legal adopter, and (ii) guardianship by the grandparents is in the best interests of the grandchildren. The widow then appealed. The appellate court heard the case. In June 2016, the appellate judges overturned the lower court’s judgment, and determined that guardianship of the young children should be enjoyed and exercised by the widow after considering, among others, the principle of children’s best interests. Also, both courts held that underground surrogacy is unlawful. Neither party to the dispute has knowledge of the identities of biological or surrogate mothers. The talk will explore judicial construction(s) of “(grand)parenthood,” “custody/guardianship,” and “children’s best interests” in a case related to surrogacy in China, and discuss how the appellate judges developed legal doctrines for the status of children born through surrogacy, and for the court’s determination that the widow, a non-biological caregiver whose late husband is the children’s genetic father, should be appointed as guardian.

Biography: Dan Zhou is an S.J.D. candidate at Harvard Law School. Professor Elizabeth Bartholet is one of his field supervisors for his doctoral research project. In 2016, he completed the requirements of the LL.M. at Harvard Law School, and also holds a master’s degree from Renmin University of China.

His S.J.D. project will explore the topic of public interest lawyering in China. He will examine the nature, place of, and possibilities for public interest advocacy at the margins of Chinese society. Two areas of interest germane to his project are women’s rights and the rights of the child. Zhou will investigate how Chinese public interest lawyers work on advocacy for children, youth and women. By implication and by extension, his research will provide a window into the broader meaning of law and justice in authoritarian regimes.

He is one of the very few Chinese lawyers to ever come out to local, national and international media about his sexual orientation, personal experiences and legal advocacy. After he had worked on commercial law matters for 8 years, he founded a public interest legal advocacy organization in Shanghai in 2005, focusing on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues and rights of people with HIV/AIDS. Also, he made a groundbreaking contribution to research on, and critique of, legal treatment of same-sex intimacy in modern Chinese society by publishing a book in the Chinese language in China in 2009. In addition, he has cooperated with the China Law Center of Yale Law School over the past decade on comparative anti-discrimination law related to sexual orientation and gender identity as well as HIV/AIDS. He was a visiting scholar at Yale’s China Law Center in 2004 and in 2015.

 

Op-Ed Authored by CAP Faculty Director on State Department Policy in The Chronicle of Social Change

Appearing on January 19, 2017, in The Chronicle of Social Change, CAP Faculty Director Elizabeth Bartholet and National Council for Adoption President and CEO Chuck Johnson pen an op-ed on the State Department’s proposed regulations on international adoption.  In this piece, they also voice support for two bills promoting a child’s right to family pending in both the Senate and House.  Click here to read the full op-ed.

Bergstrom Fellowship is Accepting Applications!

The University of Michigan Law School is pleased to announce the 2017 Bergstrom Child Welfare Law Training, which will be held at the law school from May 15, 2017 to May 17, 2017.  Applications are due by March 15, 2017.

For the past twenty years, the University of Michigan Law School has invited students interested in child welfare law to spend three days in Ann Arbor, prior to starting their summer internship at a child welfare office, to participate in a comprehensive training on child welfare law and practice.  Over the three days, students learn the basic legal framework of child protection and foster care as well as the interdisciplinary perspectives so important to successful lawyering in this field, including hearing from experts in child development, child sexual abuse, and drug addiction.  In addition to the training, many fellows say one of the best things about the training is meeting and forming a network with other like-minded law students from around the country.  The Bergstrom Foundation will fund travel expenses for the participants, housing during the fellowship training and meals.

Interested students can learn more about the program and can download the application here.  If you have any further questions, please contact our Training Coordinator, Jackie Julien, at (734) 763-5000 or e-mail her at jmjulien@umich.edu.

The Bergstrom Child Welfare Law Summer Fellowship has been an inspiring and invaluable experience for law students interested in pursuing careers in child welfare law.

Adoption Advocacy Day on 11/15!

As you may know, the U.S. Department of State has proposed new regulations that may significantly impact international adoption. While National Council For Adoption supports some of the themes these proposed regulations set out to address, the impact of these rules is worrisome to adoptive families and adoption professionals.

That’s why we need your voice on November 15th for a special Adoption Advocacy Day!

What’s it all about?

“If adoptive families had any idea of what was going on, I think they would be outraged … We’re so busy just doing paperwork for adoptions that frankly we barely have time to fight this.” – Lucy Armistead, Adoption Professional

We encourage you to learn more about the proposed regulations! NCFA has highlighted our top concerns about these regulations and The Federalist has published a detailed article examining the concerns of adoptive parents and adoption professionals.

We have an opportunity to provide feedback on these regulations. This week, Congress drafted this letter to the Department of State expressing their concerns. In order for this letter to have maximum impact, we need as many Representatives/Senators to sign it as possible!

During National Adoption Month, help us celebrate adoption by using your voice to create a better future for children living outside of family care. Call your Senators and Representative TODAY and ask them to sign their name to the Congressional letter by Friday, November 18th.

Here’s how to be an awesome adoption advocate

     Step 1. Call your Representative and both Senators. (Yes! All three! Find contact information for your Members of Congress here.)

     Step 2. Ask to speak with the person who handles international adoption issues.

     Step 3. Make it personal! Introduce yourself and your connection to adoption. Educate the staffer about the Department of State’s proposed regulation changes that will impact intercountry adoptions. Staffers juggle dozens of issues every day, so they may not have heard about these regulations. This is your opportunity to inform and educate! (Here is an example of what to say on your phone call.) Remember staff time is limited, so be clear and concise.

     Step 4. Ask their office to sign the congressional letter to Secretary Kerry expressing concerns by Friday, November 18, 2016. They can contact any of the following Congressional offices to sign on:

          House of Representatives:

Office of Rep. Trent Franks (R) Contact Chelsea Patterson: chelsea.patterson@mail.house.gov

Office of Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D) 202-225-5802 Contact: Alex Huang: alex.huang@mail.house.gov

          Senate

Office of Senator Roy Blunt (R) 202-224-5721 Lauren McCormack: lauren_mccormack@blunt.senate.gov

Office of Senator Amy Klobuchar (D) 202-224-3244 Lindsey Kerr: lindsey_kerr@klobuchar.senate.gov

     Step 5. Ask for the staffer’s email address! This way, you can:

  •      Thank them for talking to you. Kindness Counts!
  •      Forward them the letter with written instructions. (See our follow-up email template below!)

Dial the phone first! Then use social media to boost the impact!

The BEST way to make your voice heard is by calling. It’s easy and only takes minutes! Social media posts are largely ineffective and emails or letters can be overlooked in a mountain of messages. Here are tips from former staffer Emily Ellsworth on how to be an effective advocate, and why phone calls are the best method of communication. Social media is a great way to educate your friends and family about this issue. Get the word out by sharing this Adoption Advocacy Day post TODAY. Tell Congress why adoption matters to you!

Sample Follow-Up Email

Dear [name of the international adoption staffer],

Thanks for taking my call today! I hope Representative/Senator XYZ will support this letter to prevent the Department of State’s proposed regulations from negatively impacting adoptive families.

Join Senators Blunt and Klobuchar and Representatives Franks and Lawrence (the Congressional Coalition on Adoption co-chairs) and others in this important effort to support adoptive families.

Please contact any of the following offices by Friday, November 18th to sign on to this important letter.

House of Representatives Office of Rep. Trent Franks (R) Contact Chelsea Patterson: chelsea.patterson@mail.house.gov

Office of Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D) 202-225-5802 Contact: Alex Huang: alex.huang@mail.house.gov

Senate Office of Senator Roy Blunt (R) 202-224-5721 Lauren McCormack: lauren_mccormack@blunt.senate.gov

Office of Senator Amy Klobuchar (D) 202-224-3244 Lindsey Kerr: lindsey_kerr@klobuchar.senate.gov

Thanks for supporting adoption and let me know if you have any questions!