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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE MARCH 1995: OFFICE OF CHILDRENS ISSUES BUREAU OF CONSULAR AFFAIRS OFFICE OF CHILDRENS' ISSUES The Office of Children's Issues formulates, develops and coordinates policies and programs and provides direction to foreign service posts on international parental child abduction and international adoption. It also fulfills U.S. treaty obligations relating to the abduction of children. INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION The Office of Children's Issues coordinates policy and provides information on international adoption to the public. In 1994, U.S. citizens adopted over 8,000 foreign born children. Because adoption is a private legal matter within the judicial sovereignty of the nation where the child resides, the Department of State cannot intervene on behalf of an individual U.S. citizen in foreign courts. We offer general information and assistance regarding the adoption process in over 60 countries. WHAT THE STATE DEPARTMENT CAN DO: - Provide information about international adoption in countries around the world - Provide general information about U.S. visa requirements for international adoption - Make inquiries of the U.S. consular section abroad regarding the status of a specific adoption case and clarify documentation or other requirements - Ensure that U.S. citizens are not discriminated against by foreign authorities or courts CANNOT DO: - Become directly involved in the adoption process in another country - Act as an attorney or represent adoptive parents in court - Order that an adoption take place or that a visa be issued INTERNATIONAL ABDUCTION Since the late 1970's, the Bureau of Consular Affairs has taken action in over 8,000 cases of international parental child abduction. We also have provided information in response to thousands of additional inquiries pertaining to international child abduction, enforcement of visitation rights and abduction prevention techniques. The Office of Children's Issues works closely with parents, attorneys, other government agencies and private organizations in the United States to prevent international abductions. Thirty-seven countries (including the United States) have joined the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The Convention discourages abduction as a means of resolving a custody matter, by requiring (with few exceptions) that the abducted child be returned to the country where he/she resided prior to the abduction. In 1994, this office received over 800 applications under the Hague Convention. About half involved children abducted from the United States to other countries. Most of the cases involved Canada, Mexico, Germany and the United Kingdom. There are still many countries, however, where the Hague Convention has not been accepted. In 1994, the office handled the cases of more than 250 children abducted to non-Hague countries. In the event of an abduction to a non-Hague country one option for a left-behind parent is to obtain legal assistance in the country of the abduction and follow through a court action. Of non- Hague countries, the largest number of cases involved children abducted to Egypt, Japan, Jordan, the Philippines, and Saudi Arabia. WHAT THE STATE DEPARTMENT CAN DO: - In cases where the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction applies, assist parents in filing an application with foreign authorities for return of the child - In other cases, through our Embassies and Consulates abroad, attempt to locate, visit and report on the child's general welfare - Provide the left-behind parent with information on the country to which the child was abducted, including its legal system, family laws, and a list of attorneys there willing to accept American clients - In all cases, provide a point of contact for the left-behind parent at a difficult time - Monitor judicial or administrative proceedings overseas - Assist parents in contacting local officials in foreign countries or contact them on the parent's behalf - Provide information on domestic remedies, such as warrants, extradition and passport revocation - Alert foreign authorities to any evidence of child abuse or neglect CANNOT DO: - Reabduct the child - Help a parent to violate host country laws - Pay legal expenses or court fees - Act as a lawyer or represent parents in court - Give refuge to a parent involved in a re-abduction HOW TO REACH US If you would like more information, please call 202-736-7000 for recorded information and instructions on how to obtain our publications, or, contact us at the following numbers and addresses. OFFICE of CHILDRENS' ISSUES Room 4811 Overseas Citizens Services Bureau of Consular Affairs U.S. Department of State Washington, D.C. 20520-4818 Telephone: 202-647-2688 Fax: 202-647-2835 Autofax: 202-647-3000 Recorded Information: 202-736-7000 Consular Affairs Bulletin Board: 202-647-9225 (modem number) Internet Gopher Address: dosfan.lib.uic.edu Department of State Publication 10258 Released March 1995
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