We hope that everyone is safe and healthy. As you are all aware by now, last week, the World Health Organization has declared the outbreak of the COVID-19 viral infection a pandemic. With infections rapidly spreading to countries worldwide and governments imposing travel restrictions. Many prospective adoptive families will find themselves needing to make adjustments to their adoption process. Families may have their process delayed. We will be working directly with any impacted families and any agencies involved to proceed responsibly to the situation. Please see below for general guidance based on your current case status.
New Beginnings Office
New Beginnings has begun a staggered schedule for employees to be at the Mineola office for the next few weeks. There will always be staff available to receive mail and drop-offs during regular office hours, Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 4 pm. During the days that the employee is not scheduled to be in the office, they will be working remotely from home. Although our main number will be answered, you may be directed to call the employee directly if they are working from home. For your convenience, here are the direct numbers and email addresses:
- Liz Westermann, Director of Social Services – 516-747-2205; [email protected]
- Pauline Park, China/Korea Program Director – 516-747-2206; [email protected]
- Griffin Smith, Morocco Case Manager – 716-324-1315; [email protected]
- Jane Lee, Morocco Program Director – 651-734-5408; [email protected]
- Tim Sutfin, Executive Director – 516-747-2207; [email protected]
- New Beginnings – 516-747-2204; [email protected]
New Beginnings will continue accepting pre-applications and applications. You can find information on how to apply here. You can also contact [email protected] for more information on the country programs and beginning the adoption process. If you have already pre-applied or sent us an Adoptive Family Profile for review you can expect a response from our staff in the coming days.
If New Beginnings is your home study agency, we will be postponing any required in-home visits by your social worker until April 1, 2020. You will be receiving guidance from New Beginnings and your assigned social worker regarding arranging preliminary interviews via video conference if available. Please keep in mind that any home study cannot be fully approved or finalized until at least one face-to-face visit and a home visit by the social worker has been done. Regardless, we can still advance your home study as much as we can without the visit.
After April 1, we will reassess the situation. We anticipate screening clients when arranging for the visit to better assure everyone’s safety.
If a local agency other than New Beginnings is doing your home study, please contact them directly for guidance as they will have to follow their policy and state regulations. We will be working in concert with your local agency on an ongoing basis to continue advancing your case.
All adoption-related travel to China has been suspended for the time being. The State Department has issued a Level Four Travel Advisory not to travel to China.
The State Department has issued a Level Three Travel Advisory to Reconsider Travel to South Korea. Families are continuing to travel to Korea for court dates and custody. The US Embassy in Seoul has begun canceling routine immigrant and non-immigrant visa services as of March 19th, but the Office of Children’s Issues states that adopted children’s visa services are not affected and the Embassy will continue to schedule visa interviews. We will continue to monitor this and notify families of any updates.
Families are being asked to self-quarantine at home for the recommended 14 days upon their return.
ESWS continues to receive adoptive families for meetings with their adoptive child and foster family as well as custody. In accordance with the recommendation set out by the Korean authorities, ESWS is restricting the children from coming to ESWS for non-essential reasons in order to minimize exposure to the children.
With the number of infections expected to rise in the United States, it is possible that Korea could begin restricting travel from the United States. It is our understanding that all travelers into Korea are subject to a health screening check, which includes taking the temperature and checking the respiratory tract. We also understand that at the request of the United States, all travelers are checked for fever at Incheon Airport before they can board their US-bound flights. This is a fluid situation and the situation can change at any given moment. The decision to travel is a personal one and should be carefully determined by the family’s circumstances and assessment of risk. If a family determines that they should not travel to Korea for their court date or for custody, it is possible to re-schedule for a later time. Please contact Pauline Park at [email protected] or at 516-747-2206 with any questions or concerns.
All international travel to and from Morocco is currently suspended. All plans for travel, booked or not, are postponed until further notice. If you have purchased tickets, please contact the airline you booked with. New Beginnings will work with each family directly to decide when and how to proceed. Please contact Jane Lee ([email protected]) and Griffin Smith ([email protected]) if you are unsure of how the pandemic and travel restrictions might affect your case specifically.
Post-Adoption and Post-Placement
If New Beginnings was your placing agency, effective immediately and until April 17, 2020, New Beginnings will allow all post-adoption visits to be conducted remotely via video conference from your home with your social worker. Post-placement visits will have to be considered on a case by case basis. We are sending out a notice of this policy to the social workers of any families that have post-adoption or post-placement reports due this month or next. If you have any questions, please reach out to your usual contact at New Beginnings.
This is a rapidly changing situation, so our directives may be amended in the coming days, weeks or months. Our priority is to make sure our families, children, and staff are safe. To do this, we are limiting to only essential contact. Some families will be delayed in the process, but we will try to keep your case advancing and keep you informed. We thank you for your patience and understanding.