The demise of the Joint Council on International Children's Services, the end of an era

Back in 2009, this website leaked an internal proposal of the Joint Council on International Children's Services (JCICS), detailing their dismal financial status and the credibility problems the organization was facing.

JCICS wasn't pleased we leaked their proposal and contacted us with a request for removal, which we understandably didn't honor. Instead we wrote a more thorough analysis of said document.

The financial situation JCICS faced back in 2009 was apparently not as dire as it seemed at the time, since the organization stayed afloat for at least another six years.

The credibility issue JCICS faced, they never overcame. Even though the organization was well aware how they were perceived and how true that perception was, they couldn't change who they were.

In a moment of clarity, the authors of the proposal wrote:

Joint Council is seen by many public policy makers, the press, NGOs and the public as:

  • Serving the self-interest of Adoption Service Providers
  • Not having Adoption Service Providers of the highest quality, ethics or standards
  • Having an inherent conflict of interest
  • Protecting individual Adoption Service Providers
  • A trade organization, rather than an objective advocate

We couldn't have said it better, and our readers agreed with this observation, awarding JCICS in 2010 with the Annual Demons of Adopton Award.

Over the years, JCICS doubled down their efforts to remain relevant. In 2009, by co-authoring the Families for Orphans Act, which failed in congress, and later in 2013 by proposing The Children In Families First Act, which isn't going anywhere either.

With all these failures, credibility problems and financial issues, it is therefore no surprise that JCICS this week sent out the following email.

  • From: Jennifer Mellon <jennifer.mp@jointcouncil.org>
  • To: "community-c@lists.jcics.org" <community-c@lists.jcics.org>, "directors-c@lists.jcics.org" <directors-c@lists.jcics.org>, "ahpsp-c@lists.jcics.org" <ahpsp-c@lists.jcics.org>, "board-c@lists.jcics.org" <board-c@lists.jcics.org>
  • Cc: Brian Franklin <brianjfranklin@gmail.com>, Marie Blum <marieeblum@gmail.com>, Jennifer Mellon <jlmellon@gmail.com>
  • Subject: [ahpsp-c] Message from Joint Council's Chair of the Board
  • Date: Wed, 24 Jun 2015 12:49:49 -0500
  • Accept-language: en-US
  • Acceptlanguage: en-US


Dear Friends,

On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Joint Council on International Children’s Services, it is with great sadness that we inform you that our organization must cease its operations effective June 30, 2015

Joint Council’s 40-year history has been storied. A small group of organizations came together in 1975 to share information, elevate practices and collaborate on projects serving children in the U.S. and abroad. From those beginnings, we grew into an international organization with an outstanding reputation helping thousands upon thousands of orphans and vulnerable children. We are extremely proud of Joint Council’s accomplishments and take great pride in the difference our organization made in the lives of so many children and their families.  

These accomplishments were only possible because of the company that we kept. The Joint Council community is a family unto itself. We would like to thank all current and previous staff, board members, partners, donors and supporters for their dedication to our common cause.  We especially want to thank our current staff - Jennifer, Marie and Brandy - who have worked tirelessly under extremely stressful circumstances, and to the end, with extreme passion and dedication.

This was a difficult and painful decision to make, and we would like you to know that the Board acted reluctantly. As an organization, we have been subject to the same trends that have impacted many of our partners over the last decade. While we have been on the brink before, each time we were able to recover, but with diminished capacity. At this point in time, we are simply out of money and realize that we no longer have the prospect of continuing as a viable organization.

I hope that all of you will continue your tireless efforts to address the unmet needs of vulnerable children and continue the legacy of Joint Council by working to end the suffering of children who live every day without the safety and love of a strong permanent family.

On a personal note, as an adoptive parent who benefited from the work of Joint Council, I will forever be grateful for the group’s leadership that helped make our adoption possible.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.

Thank you for all of the support you have shown to Joint Council,

Brian Franklin

Board Chair

The end of JCICS comes as no surprise. Inter-country adoption has been in decline for over a decade and there is no reason to expect a revival any time soon. In a sense we are facing the end of an era.

During the time frame in which JCICS was active, we've seen horrible adoption practices. There were rampant child trafficking issues from Romania, Guatemala and Ethiopia. There was abysmal screening of adoptive parents leading to dozens of horrible abuse cases of internationally adopted children. There have been uncountable cases of re-homing of internationally adopted children over the years, and In none of that JCICS did a thing to make things better.

The only focus JCICS had over the years was try to increase the number of international adoptions, and in that they completely failed. In that light, we don't rejoice the demise of JCICS. An organization so good at failing to achieve what we oppose, is actually worth having around.

So it's with a mild sense of melancholy that we take notice of the end of our impotent nemesis, this week.

An end of an era has truly been reached. The most serious issues in Adoptionland are no longer necessarily related to inter-country adoption anymore. Most of the cases of abuse in adoptive families in the last few years have been related to foster care adoption. Re-homing no longer exclusively applies to Russian children, but applies these days to American born children as well.

This needed shift in focus was something we already were aware of, but the end of JCICS is a good reminder that we indeed live in a different era where domestic adoption issues play a larger role than international ones.

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