Sunday, September 28, 2008

Deborra Lee Furness trying to change adoption regulations in Australia

adoption-campaign /story/0, 21985,22189611- 661,00.html

ACTOR Deborra-lee Furness believes the Federal Government is fostering
an anti-adoption culture that thwarts thousands of childless couples
from adopting overseas babies.

The wife of Hollywood star Hugh Jackman says she and her celebrity
husband would be childless had it not been for her US residency.

Furness has told of the trauma of "red tape and bureaucracy" that
forced them to return to the US to adopt Oscar, 7, and Ava, 2.

And she revealed they were present at the births of their children.

Furness wants to meet Prime Minister John Howard to discuss
overhauling adoption procedures.

She wants a government body established immediately to take sole
responsibility for adoptions.

"We've experienced it first-hand -- we tried to adopt in Australia and
couldn't because we were overwhelmed by the hurdles and obstacles they
put in our way," Furness said.

But the adoption process in the US took less than a year.

Furness -- in Australia while Jackman films the Baz Lurhmann epic
Australia -- is on a crusade to help the couples with "horror stories"
of futile attempts to adopt.

"I'm fortunate," she says. "I have two beautiful children and that's
why people come to me and say, 'Deb can you help me?'.

"I tell them it will be long, expensive and may not happen."

Furness says it is "an outrage and an embarrassment" that Australia
ranks last in inter-country adoption throughout the world.

"It breaks my heart to think there are thousands of abandoned children
overseas waiting for loving families to take them, but the Government
is making it so hard."

A parliamentary inquiry found in 2005 that the "current system is not
working" and that adoption was a low priority for state and federal

It recommended the Federal Government plays a bigger role in the
process -- to make it quicker and less expensive.

While the Government said it "accepted" most of the inquiry's
recommendations, it did nothing to implement them. Instead, it devised
more restrictions -- announcing last week legislation to stop same-sex
Australian couples adopting a child overseas. The child would not be
granted a visa.

Furness is worried the Government's attitude may be a return of
a "White Australia policy".

"This is a humanitarian issue. Australia has a generous spirit, yet
this to me reeks of fear and a lack of generosity," she says. "You see
it with the refugee crisis as well."

SHE said she was prompted to speak out on the issue when she read of
the plight of a Sydney woman whose adopted baby was still in China
because the Immigration Department would not grant her a visa.

"When I hear these stories, it breaks my heart. I know what happens to
these babies; they end up institutionalised or on the streets,"
Furness said.

Denise Calligeros, 45, revealed this week she had been trying for 13
years to adopt but has been rejected for a second time because now she
is too old.

The adoption crisis has escalated since 1998 when Australia signed the
Hague Convention in respect to the protection of children and

The agreement resulted in the Federal Attorney-General delegating the
administration to state governments. But that stopped voluntary
organisations from helping facilitate inter-country adoptions.

As a result, queues have grown into thousands and some states have
stopped taking registrations.

Furness says the Department of Community Services in NSW is too busy
coping with local issues of child abuse to worry about inter-country

"You have children who are abandoned and homeless and you have people
desperate to have a child, but because of this bureaucracy and lack of
resources they can't," she says.

Adoption has become such a long and expensive process for Australian
couples that many simply give up.

Some states have fees up to $10,000 to lodge the initial application --
and it is non-refundable, even if the couple is unsuccessful.

On top of that there are airfares, visas, medical and processing
bills. The total outlay can reach $40,000.

Ricky Brisson, whose program to assist couples to adopt was stopped by
the Government three years ago, said: "The costs are becoming more
prohibitive and a lot of families are giving up."

She said it now took about seven years to process an adoption, which
meant some couples failed because they grew too old.

"We have thousands of kids waiting for families and thousands of
people in Australia looking to adopt them, but we have a system which
is useless in delivering a proper service," she said.

In 2004-05, 410 overseas babies from 25 countries were adopted in
Australia -- compared with 21,000 in the US.

Furness said the process in the US was quick and inexpensive "and not
made impossible like it is here".

"We are the most blessed people in the world, but I have friends here
who are coming up against so many brick walls," she said

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Be Careful of Adoption Scams!

Beware of Adoption Scams
Attorney General Offices by State

Adoption scams can occur with birthmothers-to-be, adoptive parents, and adoption professionals.

Listed below are common situations which we have observed. Watch for the signs and be careful.

Do not jump to conclusions and try not to be overly suspicious and hurt honest people.
Agree upon and sign documents that commit all parties to an adoption situation. Memories can fail and be selective.
Forums and Email Groups
Adoption Plan Forums - Adoption Scams and Unethical Treatment
A network of warnings about possible scams from all areas of adoption. A watch list for suspecting an adoption scam, warns others of bad situations. names, area and pattern of the suspect.
Adoption Scams
Join this Yahoo email group to stay informed about adoption scams. This group can save you time and money. Read about the latest alerts.
Birthmother Scams
1. Usually the motivation for birthmother scams are to take your money. She needs money for rent, food, etc. Only give money to a birthmother-to-be through an attorney or qualified adoption professional. The amount limits and circumstances vary by state law. Do not give money directly to a birthmother.
2. If the birthmother is not available by phone and wants to call you because of an on going situation, beware! You should have a contact number and complete physical address that you can verify.
3. A birthmother may not even be pregnant or could be pregnant and has other plans for the baby, including keeping the baby or promising the baby to several waiting adoptive parents. Look for those signs.
4. The birthmother has at least one or more crisis in her life and you are part of the solution. This can include sad stories such as rape and incest. Be sensitive, but do not be drawn into the whole situation.
5. The birthmother offers a plan to bring the baby to you. Birthmothers usually want you to meet her and arrange to receive the baby at the hospital. This ploy is used to get a plane ticket which can be cashed in later. Do not give anyone a plane ticket. Many adopting parents have lost money by purchasing a plane ticket and never hearing from the, supposed, birthmother again
5. To have a match, you must meet face to face with the expectant mother. Big flag, the birthmother flakes out. She misses scheduled meetings with you or other professionals. Even with an unbelievable story she can be very convincing.
6. Proof or pregnancy or other documents are agreed upon, but never seem to arrive. She seems to always have a reason for not sending you identifying information or cannot believe that you have not received the information. A sudden miscarriage or hospitalization can happen when you request for too much information.
7. The birthmother does not want you to contact anyone else concerning her pregnancy. She does not feel comfortable meeting or talking with an attorney or other adoption professional. When pressed, she might accuse you of not trusting her and can even get angry.
8. The birthmother will not give you, but will get you the name of her doctor or clinic where she is receiving medical attention.
9. The birthmother will evade certain details regarding medical attention, signing parental rights, contacting social services or adoption professionals.
10. The birthmother changes her story about the pregnancy or her situation. If a birthmother is talking to several adoptive parents, her story can change because she cannot remember what she said to you.
11. Be careful if the birthmother is expecting twins. This is a popular situation with an adoption scam. In the natural course, ask for proof of pregnancy and how are you able to contact her doctor.
12. A favorite ploy is for someone to fix you up with a friend. That person might pose as an adoptive parent and not an adoption professional. Be careful that the friend is not the same person. If both have the same IP address watch out!
13. Fake birthmothers are very willing to match quickly and will say you are perfect, without knowing much about you. They are going to send you pictures and other thing, but never do.
14. They have always had complications with the pregnancy.....they usually claim when you cannot find them that they were at the emergency room.
15. The birthmother does not like or want to deal with an attorney or other adoption professional. She has had a bad experience with an attorney and does not want to work with them again.
16. The truth of the matter is that you need to get down to adoption business. Small talk is necessary, but keep it in prospective. The phone meetings are to establish if you are suited for a "match" and if yes, then both parties need to get the necessary paper work in order.
Adoptive Parents Scams
It seems that birthmothers-to-be also need to look for warning signs that adoptive parents may not be able to work with them or will not follow through with the agreed adoption. Birthmothers-to-be need to watch for these possible warning signs.
1. A family that tells you how much contact they want you to have and after the birth they change what they told you.
2. Adopting parents that makes demands rather than requests and makes you feel second rate.
3. A family that does not return your emails or phone calls and might not be honest with you.
4. A family that seems like they are desperate and will do anything to get your baby.
5. Adopting parent might temp you to break the law by offering you illegal funds or expensive gift beyond what the law allows.
6. The adopting parents might not be qualified, you will have to be the sole judge.
7. Adopting parents might pressure you when you are changing your mind about them, they could have many personal problems, check them out.
Adoption Professional Scams

1. Beware of any adoption professional on the Internet who cannot provide you with information. Get the basics and go from there.
2. If they are an agency, find out the state they are in and their agency license number. It is not necessary for an adoption professional to have a web site, but it helps validate their presence.
3. An adoption facilitator should be carefully looked at, in California, facilitators have to be bonded and in many state they are illegal. You need to research their business.
4. Find out the professionals legal business name, physical address, physical phone number, city business license.
5. If any adoption professional is offended by you asking questions, they are probably not your choice.
6. Check with the Better Business Bureau for any bad reports.
7. Join various Internet egroups or check boards on the Internet for any positive or negative reports.
8. Read any document you sign. Ask the "what if questions". Anything said verbally is always overridden by the contract. Make sure there is a contract.
9. Do not be lured by the fact if you sign a contract, you will have the baby you want. An adoption usually takes time.
10.If a facilitator does not have an established business with a track record and is unknown to the Internet adoption circle, DO NOT SEND MONEY UP-FRONT. A small application fee is about as far as we would recommend. Have your attorney verify the facilitators qualifications. You will need an attorney anyway.
This is a list of common occurrences, many others exist. Think about your actions and always use good judgment.