New CDC regulations have been instituted for China beginning July 1, which indicate that immigrants to the US, including adopted children over the age of two, must undergo a successive series of tests to indicate that they are free of TB, and if they fail the screening, they are required to wait until full treatment is administered in the country of origin before coming to the US.
This means that many US parents will be required to stay in the foreign country for an extended period of time (up to12 months or more) or be forced to abandon their child back to the care of the orphanage or find a foster family abroad that would be willing to care for their child. For an orphan the implications of this could be devastating. Being once again separated from people they are bonding with and placed back in an orphanage or a foster situation.
In a conference call held on August 7 between the CDC, Department of State, congressional offices, adoptions agencies, attorneys, various independent doctors, and children’s organizations, the CDC asked a renowned expert to discuss the issue (Dr. Jeffrey R. Starke, M.D., FAAP of the Texas Children’s Hospital). Dr. Starke immediately and definitively stated that there were only 2 reported cases in the world of a child having been known to transmit TB and that he could comfortably state that more than 99% of children with active TB are not contagious. TB generally is not considered infectious in children, as children don’t have the lung power required to expel the germ. He stated that the culture tests on children are not reliable and implied that they are of little use in these situations. In addition people with TB are generally considered to be non-contagious within 2-4 weeks of taking medication.
Natural born children of US citizens are not required to undergo these medical exams to get back into the US, but orphans, now children of US citizens, must languish in foreign countries and be denied access to US health care. It is discriminatory.
We would like to see changes at the CDC. Either they have judged adopted children not worthy of the same rights and benefits as other Americans, or worse, have absolutely failed to consider the fundamental question of who it is they are writing these regulations for.
Reports state that there are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of cases in Ethiopia, where the regulations have been in place since Spring In an attempt to gain support and advocacy on this issue in broader terms, Joint Council has launched a petition requesting that the CDC change its protocols and more appropriately protect the health of America. The petition can be found at http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/build-families-not-barriers.html. We encourage you to sign the petition and distribute it. Through online social networking, this petition has gained over 3000 signatures in only a few days! Add yours today.
Another way to prevent problems like this in the future would be to pass legislation stating that internationally adopted children immediately obtain US citizenship upon the finalization of their adoption overseas. If legislation like this had been in place internationally adopted children would not be treated as an immigrants but as US citizens and would be allowed to return to the US with their parents.