Schaafs, Bradley to Travel to Brussels to Meet with EU Officials About Status of Pending Adoption Cases in Romania

From The Office of Congressman Jeb Bradley

For Immediate Release - Monday, April 17, 2006

Contact - Stephanie DuBois, (202) 225-5456

SCHAAFS, BRADLEY TO TRAVEL TO BRUSSELS TO MEET WITH EU OFFICIALS ABOUT STATUS OF PENDING ADOPTION CASES IN ROMANIA

(Manchester, NH) - This week, First District Congressman Jeb Bradley will travel with Allyson and Michael Schaaf of Stratham to the headquarters of the European Union (EU) in Brussels, Belgium, where they will meet with EU and Romanian officials about the status of pending international adoption cases in Romania. The Schaafs have been trying to adopt Natasha, a Romanian orphan, for nearly four years, but their efforts were stymied when a new law that bans international adoptions was implemented after their application had already begun to be processed.

During the trip, Bradley and the Schaafs will meet with members of the European Parliament and European Commission, as well as with the Romanian Ambassador to the EU, Lazar Comanescu, and the U.S. Ambassador to the EU, C. Boyden Gray. On May 16th, the EU will decide whether to approve Romania's accession in 2007 or in 2008.

Allyson Schaaf stated, "As I travel to Brussels, my daughter, who our family welcomed into our hearts in October of 2002, is my priority. It has now been over three years that Natasha has not been able to join us. I will appeal to EU and Romanian officials to help find the support Romania needs to resume international adoptions so that Natasha and hundreds of other children can finally come home."

"Romania has made significant improvements to their political and social institutions, but they have still not properly addressed one of the country's most pressing issues: how to resolve the remaining international adoption cases, "said Bradley. "We hope to impress upon the members of the European Parliament and European Commission during our visit the importance of completing these adoption cases so that these children can be united with their adoptive families."

Bradley has been working with the Schaafs and other New Hampshire families since 2004 to complete their pending adoption cases from Romania. Although Romania ordered a moratorium on all international adoption cases in order to meet requirements for ascension to the EU in 2001, the country still continued to accept and process new international adoption applications - even completing several cases and allowing the children to leave Romania and join their adoptive families. In January 2005, a Romanian law took effect that permanently banned all international adoptions. Bradley and others have been lobbying for the country to resolve any adoptions that began before the law took effect, including the Schaafs' case.

TIMELINE OF EVENTS IN THE S CHAAF ROMANIAN ADOPTION C ASE

Background:

First District Congressman Jeb Bradley has been working with the Schaaf Family of Stratham,N.H. since 2004 to complete the adoption of their daughter, Natasha, from Romania. After completing all of the necessary paperwork to adopt Natasha, Allyson and Michael Schaaf ran into a mass of red tape with the implementation of a new law that states that Romanian children can only be adopted by foreigners if they are their grandparents and a search for Romanian adoptive families has failed. On January 1, 2005, Romania implemented a new law that banned all international adoptions. Bradley and others have been lobbying for the country to resolve any adoptions that began before the law took effect, including the Schaafs' case.

*Note: this timeline includes a listing of all of the meetings that Congressman Bradley and the Schaafs have had with U.S. and Romanian officials, as well as the dates of significant events in Romania with regard to the issue of international adoptions. It does not include the written correspondence that Bradley and the Schaafs have had with Romanian officials and the State Department.

2001

October: Romania orders a moratorium on all international adoption cases in order to meet requirements for ascension to the European Union (EU). Despite this moratorium, Romania still continues to accept and process new international adoption applications- even completing several cases and allowing the children to leave Romania and join their adoptive families.

2002

October 9: The Schaaf Family of Stratham, N.H., submits an application to adopt Valentina Bairam ("Natasha"), case #7795.

2004

June 23: Congressman Jeb Bradley and Allyson Schaaf meet with Ambassador Sorin Dumitru Ducaru at the Romanian Embassy in Washington,D.C., for the first time. In this first meeting, as in subsequent meetings, Bradley and Schaaf stress the need for a swift resolution of the 1,100 pending international adoption cases.

June 23: Schaaf meets with the newly-appointed U.S. Ambassador to Romania, J.D. Crouch.

July 21: Bradleyand Schaaf meet with then-Prime Minister Adrian Nastase, Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana and Ambassador Ducaru at the Romanian Embassy.

September 20: Schaaf meets with then-President Ion Iliescu in New York, New York.

October 7 : Bradleyand Schaaf meet with Ambassador Ducaru at Bradley's Washington office.

October 7 : Bradley and Schaaf meet with State Department officials in Washington.

2005

January 1: A Romanian law goes into effect banning all international adoptions.

January 21 : Schaaf meets with Ambassador Ducaru at the Romanian Embassy.

February 1: Bradley meets with the Honorable Emil BOC, Mayor of Cluj-Napoca City, Romania at the Romanian Embassy.

March 10 : Bradleyand Schaaf meet with President Traian Basescu and Ambassador Ducaru at the Romanian Embassy. During this meeting, President Basescu promised Bradley, Schaaf, and the other American families present that he would resolve the pipeline adoption cases.

May 19: Bradley and Schaaf meet with Ambassador Ducaru at the Romanian Embassy.

June: As of June2005, New Hampshire had 10 pipeline adoption cases (second only to Missouri with 14 cases; Connecticut and Massachusetts have five cases each, and Maine has one case).

June 27: Bradley introduces H.Amdt.384, an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2006 Foreign Operations Appropriations Act that would have temporarily withheld a portion of international aid money to Romania due to the country's inflexibility in allowing previously approved adoptions by American families to be completed. Bradley's amendment passed by a voice vote on the House floor; however, it was stripped out of the bill during conference committee deliberations.

June 28: Bradley meets with Ambassador Ducaru at Bradley's Washington Office.

Fall: Romania sets up a "Working Group" to study the status of adoption cases that are currently pending.

September 16 : Schaaf meets with President Basescu in Detroit.

October 5: The Romanian Secretary of State, Theodora Bertzi, announces on Romanian television that "there are more than 1,200 Romanian families who want to adopt and there isn't enough children for them."

December 6: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice travels to Bucharest for military base discussions with Romanian officials. Bradley and Schaaf were told she would be discussing pipeline adoptions with Romanian officials during her trip.

December 6 : Congressional Coalition on Adoption (CCA) announces that Romania has issued a list of reportedly processed pipeline cases.

December 7: Romanian Secretary of State Theodora Bertzi announced that Romanian authorities decided not to approve the 1,100 international adoption requests that Romania has received in the past four years.

December 14 : In the Strasbourg press, Dutch Green Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Joost Lagendijk calls for sharpening the accession criteria for Romania" At the time, many Romanian children became victims of prostitution after so-called adoption and therefore the EU demanded action. The Romanian authorities took strict measures, but went a little bit over the top. This is what I want to correct with my amendment."

December 14: Romanian Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu, in The Bucharest Daily News , states, "Foreigners who want to adopt Romanian children should give up."

December 15: The EU Parliament passes a resolution, sponsored by MEP Lagendijk, urging Romania to resolve its pending international adoption cases.

2006

February 7: Bradley signs on to a letter to Prime Minister Popescu regarding Romania's duties as a signatory on the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Hague Convention.

March 16: The Schaafs receive a dossier returned from the Romanian Office for Adoptions.

April 6: The U.S. House of Representatives passes H.Res.578 by a unanimous vote of 428-0. The resolution urges Romania to complete its processing of some 1,100 pending international adoption cases and also encourages Romania to remove barriers to domestic and international adoption.

April 17-19: Bradley and the Schaafs travel to Brussels, Belgium to meet with Romanian and EU officials about the country's accession to the EU.