MAY
2014


Welcome to our Newsletter!

 

 INTERNATIONAL SOCIAL SERVICE| UNITED STATES OF AMERICA BRANCH, INC

200 EAST LEXINGTON STREET, SUITE 1700 | BALTIMORE MD 21202 443-451-1200 

A Message from our Executive Director 

We are pleased to launch our re-branded e-newsletter, "Family Routes: Keeping Families Connected."  We chose this title, with the help of Spearfish Innovation, because through our social work, information, training, and advocacy services we create and support the routes families must travel to be together and emphasize the importance of family roots to the well-being of children around the world.  It is no easy feat to connect people across borders, and we rely heavily on our partners around the globe.  We invite you to learn more about the cross-border issues we manage every day at our conference on Oct 2nd.  ISS-USA will convene some of the leading legal, social work, government and non-government experts in issues of child welfare, immigration and

intercountry adoption.  The focus of our conference, like our work here at ISS-USA, will be what is best for the child.   

   

Finally, as Mother's Day approaches, I wanted to highlight two very different stories about mothers.  One of our caseworkers shared with me that she had been searching for a birth mother, at the request of her daughter, now age 50, who had been adopted internationally.  Today, the mother was found, and exclaimed via email, "I have lived for many years with a painful heart at her loss.  So this is a wonderful day for me."  Secondly, ISS-USA sincerely hopes for the safe return of all of the girls abducted in Nigeria.  It is our hope that all mothers, and fathers, that have been wrongly separated from their children will soon be reunited.  

   

Best wishes,

Julie   

News & Activities
Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Global Social Service Workforce Alliance has named this week Social Service Workforce Week, making it a perfect opportunity to recount the April 24th visit from our ISS partner in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Edho Mukendi Kafunda.  Edho is the National Coordinator of Le Comit´┐Ż d'Appui au Travail Social de Rue (CATSR) or the Street Social Work Support Committee, an organization that is dedicated to protecting, empowering and advocating on behalf of homeless children in the DRC.  CATRS was instrumental in the passage of the DRC's Child Protection Law which was passed in January 2009, and which ushered in a number of key pieces of child protection legislation previously unknown in the DRC.  Edho was cautiously optimistic, citing the gap between law and action, and in particular noted the lack of trained social workers in his country.  During his visit to Baltimore, Edho also visited the University of Maryland School of Social Work, where he was able to learn more about how to develop this vital profession in his home country.  ISS-USA fully supports the work of Edho and CATSR and we look forward to deepening this partnership.   Learn More
Panamanian Delegation
On April 22nd, ISS-USA hosted a delegation of Judges of the Juvenile Court from Panama in our Baltimore Office.  Panama ratified the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction in 1994. The primary focus of the delegation's visit was to understand how the U.S. handles international child abductions.  Although the number of U.S. citizens in Panama has decreased drastically since the handover of control of the canal in 2000, a sizable U.S. expatriate community remains.  ISS-USA is actively looking to increase our partnerships in the region of Central America, and our guests provided us with insights into their juvenile justice system and its key players in the region. Learn More
Case of the Month 

Thursday, May 15th is the International Day of Families, a tradition which began in 1994, which the United Nations proclaimed as the International Year of Families.  This year marks the 20th anniversary of the International Day of Families, and the central theme remains maintaining the stability of family units that have been affected by changing structures around the globe.

This premise is also at the crux of the work of ISS-USA as highlighted by May's Case of the Month.  Mary* grew up in Italy* and had always known that her half-sister had been adopted by an American military family.  Mary had wanted to search for her half-sister for many years but did not know how to go about doing so. She did not have very much information, and was afraid that she wouldn't be successful.  She eventually turned to the Italian branch of ISS, who in turn contacted ISS-USA.  We were able to track down Mary's sister, Janet, and sent her a letter informing her that she had a sister searching for her.  Janet, who had no idea she had a sister, responded to ISS-USA within a week.

   
Because of the sensitive nature of post-adoption tracings, ISS-USA always proceeds cautiously.  Our role is not only to facilitate contact, but also to make sure that everyone involved understands the complex emotions of reconnection, or rejection.  After the ISS-USA case worker spoke at length with Janet, Janet decided that, despite her shock, she was excited by the prospect of having a sister.  Mary and Janet began exchanging letters and then emails and photos.  Throughout this process the ISS-USA case worker continued to support both sisters.  Eventually, it was determined that we were no longer needed as an intermediary and the case was closed.  In our last follow-up with Janet she told us that she is planning a trip to Italy this summer.  Learn More

*Names and places have been changed to protect the privacy of our clients

 

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