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Notices for 1-7-02

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  • AMREX Inc., an international adoption information management firm based in Alpharetta, Ga., recently teamed up with other affiliated agencies and adoptive parents to found the International Adoption Congress (IAC). The charitable organization will target unreasonable regulations that now plague international adoptions. With a team of recognized international adoption authorities on its side, the IAC plans to fight a corrupt and costly system through technology-based solutions and public awareness. The IAC is the first charitable organization that plans to attack the problem of neglect in the international adoption arena through proactive measures rather than by providing aid simply through donations of food and blankets. The IAC’s strategy could include suing foreign governments or taking children’s cases to constitutional courts. Whatever is needed to change the current system. Two examples of how unreasonable government regulations originally designed to protect these children are nowcomplicating the process are detailed below: #1 Born in Tomsk, Siberia, four years ago, Jessica was orphaned along with her twin sister Julianna. Born with a congenital heart defect that could not be treated in her homeland, Jessica’s chances of seeing her first birthday did not look promising. Robert and Sherry Meade, both medical professionals, heard about the sick infant through AMREX Inc.’s intercountry adoption network and tried to find out what they could do to get little Jessica the help she needed. They began the international adoption process knowing that the child did not have much time before the correctable heart ailment would kill her. Even though Jessica was gravely ill, Russian adoption regulations mandated that little Jessica and her sister remain on a federal registry for six months to give local citizens a first chance to adopt them. Because of Jessica’s medical condition, Russian courts were also hesitant to make any exceptions, such as releasing the child on a medical visa, for fear of negative publicity should the infant die en route. With two months remaining on her stay on the registry, little Jessica weighed only eight pounds at eight months of age. Doctors only gave her a month-and-a-half to live. Desperate, the Meades traveled to Siberia with medical equipment for Jessica and prepared themselves for the worst. Once her time on the registry expired, the Russian government was still unwilling to expedite her paperwork and finalize the adoption. Eventually they relented and the Meades were allowed to adopt the twin sisters. Flying from Siberia to Moscow and finally to New York, Jessica began having breathing problems related to her heart defect. As soon as the plan touched down in New York, she was rushed into emergency surgery where a team of heart surgeons repaired her defect. Doctors agreed that had she arrived one hour later, the outcome might have been different. Little Jessica is now a healthy, energetic four-year-old who enjoys playing with her twin sister Julianna in their Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., home. #2 Another American couple, hampered by infertility problems, began the international adoption process and then were stunned when they found out they were expecting a child of their own. Determined to adopt a child despite the unexpected pregnancy, they remained committed to an orphan from Siberia. A regulation that requires both potential adoptive parents to make the trip to Russia and stand in front of a judge could not be modified to account for the wife, who was six months pregnant. With no other options, the dedicated couple went ahead with the long, grueling trip to Siberia in the middle of winter. On their second day in the country, the wife went into labor and her baby was born premature in a Siberian hospital – thousands of miles from home. Hampered by the country’s inadequate medical facilities, two days later the infant died in her mother’s arms. Despite the tragedy, the mourning couple continued with the adoption process. They then traveled back to the U.S. with their baby’s cremated remains and their newly adopted Russian child. For information on the International Adoption Congress please call Marina Zakharova, IAC Executive Director, at (770) 521-1890, ext. 213 or e-mail at marina@amrex.org.

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