Bipartisan Senators Introduce Law to Improve Intercountry Adoption Information Reporting

image001

U.S. Senators

Richard Burr, Roy Blunt, Ben Cardin, Roger Wicker, Sherrod Brown

North Carolina, Missouri, Maryland, Mississippi, Ohio

Bipartisan Senators Introduce Law to Improve Intercountry Adoption Information Reporting

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Thursday, June 28, 2018

CONTACT:

Caitlin Carroll (Burr) 202-228-1616
Katie Boyd (Blunt) 202-224-1403
Sean Bartlett (Cardin) 202-224-0779
Rick VanMeter (Wicker) 202-224-6253
Jenny Donohue/Rachael Hartford (Brown) 202-224-3978

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) today introduced the Intercountry Adoption Information Act of 2018 which would help remove information barriers Americans frequently face while seeking to adopt children from other countries. The bipartisan legislation is co-sponsored by Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH).

“American families trying to adopt a child from abroad should have robust and relevant information needed to navigate the adoption landscape,” said Senator Burr in a statement. “This bill will help remove some of the frequent informational challenges families face when trying to learn the status of intercountry adoption policies. It will also shine a light on unnecessary and detrimental barriers some countries have put up to thwart adoptions, and require the State Department to provide information on what they are doing to address those barriers. I hope the Senate will work to pass this commonsense legislation as soon as possible.”

“It’s disappointing that certain countries have enacted restrictive adoption policies that deny children the opportunity to grow up in a safe, loving home,” said Senator Blunt. “By providing parents with information on the status of adoption policies, they’ll have an important resource to help them navigate the complicated process of intercountry adoption. In addition, the information required will aid our ability in Congress to support diplomatic efforts and help assist families.  I urge my colleagues to support this bill and, as co-chair of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, I’ll continue working to promote policies that make it easier for families to open their homes to a child in need.”

“Over the years I have heard from numerous Maryland families and adoption groups who rightly complain that the lack or quality of access to information on foreign adoptions adds confusion and frustration to what should be a deeply personal and meaningful process,” Senator Cardin said. “We should be making it easier, not more difficult, for Americans to receive all the necessary information to make a real difference in a child’s life and enrich their families in the process. I’m proud to cosponsor this bipartisan legislation.”

“Families adopting children from abroad display the generosity, compassion, and heart of the American people,” Senator Wicker said. “I am proud to join my Senate colleagues on this meaningful legislation, which would make it easier for these families to navigate the international adoption process and welcome children in need into a forever home.”

“We need to make sure Ohioans have access to all the information they need to build their families and provide loving, stable homes for children,” Senator Brown said. “I urge my colleagues in Congress to support this legislation to help people navigate this complicated process.”

Background:

Currently, the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA), requires the U.S. State Department to provide an annual report on intercountry adoptions, delivered to the House Committees on International Relations, Ways and Means and Judiciary, as well as the Senate Committees on Foreign Relations, Finance and Judiciary. A copy is also made publicly available online.

The report includes information on topics such as the number of intercountry adoptions involving immigration to the United States and the country from which each child immigrates, the time required for completion of an adoption and information on adoption agencies. The Intercountry Adoption Information Act would amend the IAA to require the State Department provide additional information on:

  • All countries that have enacted policies to prevent or prohibit adoptions to the United States;
  • Actions the State Department has taken which have prevented adoptions to the United States;
  • How the State Department has worked to encourage the resuming of adoption in both cases.

This information is critical for American families looking to adopt from countries that have established barriers to adoption, such as Russia or Ethiopia, or areas where the State Department has suspended intercountry adoption, as of abandoned children in Nepal.

Text of the bill can be found here.

Advertisements

Photolistings for International Adoption May Be Banned – Please Help!

The US Department of State is considering banning photolistings for children available for international adoption.

US State Department to ban international adoption photolistings

There is a lot we don’t know and the State Department has not issued a final rule, but they are currently considering whether the practice of “soft referrals” is a violation of their regulations. We have not seen an official definition of “soft referral” but it appears to include photolisting—or more specifically allowing international adoption agencies to place a child who is on a photolist.

Photolisting is a common practice in both foster care adoption and international adoption. In fact, it is considered best practice in child welfare for finding homes for harder-to-place children–older kids, kids with health issues, and sibling groups.

Continue reading.

Intercountry Adoption Agencies Face Massive Hikes In Regulatory Costs

IAAME

Intercountry adoption advocates fear that the fee structure planned by a new State Department accreditation contractor could threaten the operation of the largest American placing agencies.

The fees required by the Intercountry Adoption Accreditation and Maintenance Entity (IAAME), a recently formed nonprofit that now serves as the sole accreditor for international adoption agencies, are pegged to the number of children placed instead of a fixed structure. That is expected to cost significantly more for the largest placing agencies.

“The Department of State keeps saying, ‘Just pass the fees on to families’ as though intercountry adoption isn’t expensive enough,” said Ryan Hanlon, vice president of education, research and constituent services for the National Council for Adoption (NCFA). “They’re even charging per child for sibling groups.”

Continue reading.

A Message From Hopscotch Adoptions Executive Director

79feb35c-6472-4ed1-8bfc-b342758996e8Department of State’s Notice Regarding New Intercountry Adoption Fees

As of February 1, 2018, the U.S. Department of State notified adoption service providers about substantial mandated fee increases associated with obtaining and maintaining accreditation by the federal government, which is required to provide intercountry adoption services. In addition to the increased fee for adoption service providers, adoptive families will also see an extra cost, potentially deterring loving families from welcoming vulnerable children into their homes.

Hopscotch’s primary commitment is, and always will be, to the safety and well-being of children here in the United States and around the world. Thus we are committed to complying fully with the Hague Convention and ensuring that adoption practices protect the rights of children and both birth and adoptive families.

However, the non-refundable $500 fee increase (per child), due at the time of submission of service and fee agreement, amplifies our concern for the negative impact on vulnerable children in wait for a permanent family and the prospective adoptive families who will be unable to step forward to meet the needs of those children.

IAAME, the new accrediting entity, will begin collecting the Department of State’s mandated fees on new applicants for intercountry adoption as of February 15, 2018. We encourage those who have interest to contact your local representative to advocate for a better solution for waiting children around the world.

For more information about how you can help, click here.

With encouragement,

Robin E. Sizemore, Executive Director
Hopscotch Adoptions, Inc
Armenia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Ghana, Guyana, Morocco, Serbia and Ukraine
Pre & Post-Adoption Services available to NY and NC residents
Ph: 336.899.0068
www.hopscotchadoptions.org

Harder to bring them home: Advocates worried over barriers to international adoption

djr-2018-02-11-news-international-adoptionp1
Mitchell and Dustin Shoumaker adopted siblings Gabe, 8, Maisy, 5, Evangeline, 3, and Olivia, 7 from Poland. The Tupelo couple and other advocates are concerned changes in international adoption could make it harder for others to open their hearts and homes.

When Mitchell and Dustin Shoumaker adopted siblings Gabe, Olivia and Maisy from Poland in December 2015, they knew they had unfinished business.

The Tupelo couple found out their three children had an infant sibling the night before they went to court in Poland, but little Evangeline wasn’t yet available for adoption. It took longer to adopt one child than three, even though Polish law favors keeping sibling groups together.

“Our first experience took nine months,” Mitchell Shoumaker said. “The second time, it took a year and a half.”

Some of the delay was specific to issues in Poland, but the Tupelo couple was also impacted by changes in the way intercountry adoptions are handled in the United States.

“It just took longer in America and Poland,” Mitchell Shoumaker said.

The Shoumakers consider themselves lucky. Evangeline was transferred to the same loving foster family that took care of her older siblings, and the Shoumakers were able to remain in contact with them during the process. They were able to bring the 3-year-old home to Tupelo this summer, and she is doing well.

“We are beyond thankful for that family because they loved our children so well,” Dustin Shoumaker said.

Continue reading.

Take Action Today to Save International Adoption

Save Adoption and Keep Adoption Affordable!

Greetings!

It’s time for the adoption community to wake up and take action about the decline of inter-country adoption.

If the trend continues, inter-country adoptions will reach Zero in 4 years.

The new accrediting entity, IAAME, set their budget based on a decline of 20% from the previous year. Adoptions have declined by at least 1,000 cases every year since 2004. In 2016, there were only 5,200 adoptions. If the 1,000 per-year decline trend continues, inter-country adoptions will reach zero in just 4 years.

Take Action to Voice Your Concern

The National Council for Adoption is asking you to call your Senators and Congressmen to voice concern about the changes in inter-country adoption. Click here for more information about the Feb 7-8 call-in day to congress, the small business administration, and the media.

$500 Monitoring Fee Per Adopted Child

With new Dept of State regulations, families can expect to pay $500 extra per child they expect to adopt. This is a mandatory oversight fee that takes effect Feb 15, 2018. Adoption agency clients should expect fee schedules to change soon and reflect these new charges.

Read more here.

Survey of Agencies Shows Bleak Future

In 2006 there were 255 Hague-accredited agencies. In 2017, there were only 167. On average, one adoption agency per month goes out of business, or loses or forfeits its accreditation. If the trend of 1 agency losing or leaving behind its accreditation per month continues, one would conclude that there will be no Hague-accredited agencies left in 13 years. However, a recent survey of all Hague agencies shows a much bleaker future. Given the stifling regulation and more than tripling of accreditation fees, one-half of the Hague- accredited agencies have indicated that they plan not to seek accreditation at all with IAAME. This means they will either stop providing international adoption services, or yjey will merge with another agency that does. 

Accreditation Budget Increases by 1700%

The budget for COA, our previous accrediting entity, was about $170,000 per year. With new government regulation, the budget for IAAME, the new accrediting entity, will be $3.5 Million dollars.  Obviously, all of this cost will be passed on to adoptive families, representing about $1000 per family.  

Why is this happening?

For a simple answer to why inter-country adoption is on the decline read this blog post.

What Do We Want? 

Although there are many things the Department of State could do to increase adoptions, here are 4 simple requests which have been denied:

  1. Set a goal for the number of adoptions to increase. Goals matter. The Office of Children’s issues celebrates the number of adoption agencies closed down. This seems to be their goal and the accomplishment they advertise. Adoptions have declined from 24.000 annually to 5,000 annually. Would OCI like to see 4000 next year, or 6000 next year? We have no idea, but can only presume they want a decrease.
  2. End the US DOS self-imposed moratorium on adoptions from Guatemala, Cambodia, and Nepal. These counties want the US to participate in adoption, but the US won’t allow it.
  3. Abandon the concept of Country specific authorization in the September, 2016 proposed regulations
  4. Abandon the foster-style training requirement proposed in the September, 2016 regulations.

See more about these efforts at www.saveadoptions.org

Please take action to help save inter-country adoption.

Sincerely,

Robin E. Sizemore
Executive Director
Hopscotch Adoptions, Inc.

Your Department of State Will Now Take A Non-refundable $500 Fee Per Child. You’re Okay With That, Right?

Dear international adoption families, are you aware the Dept. of State is now requiring an additional $500 fee for every adopted child at the time of application, starting Feb. 15? (non-refundable).

Click here to learn more.

SaveAdoptions.org

IMG_0464

…And today nothing has change aside from more and more countries are buying into this tragic and misguided child welfare practice, and our own Department of State stands by without refuting their efforts or championing the rights of orphaned children to permanent families. 

In the early 90’s the First Lady of Georgia, Nanuli Shevardnadze, shocked the world with her claim that “It is better for a Georgian child to die in Georgia, than to leave Georgia and grow up in another country through Adoption!” 

If you believe children can keep their cultural identity-pride and be raised in a safe and loving family elsewhere, that our Department of State should do everything possible to keep Adoptions affordable and accessible to all American Families, that our Department of State should be promoting intercountry Adoption as a viable option OVER permanent foster care,and want to learn more about what’s happening to end your right to adopt a child through intercountry Adoption, visit:

www.saveadoptions.org

Tag yourself and share if you agree!

What About Your Adopted Child’s Dual Citizenship?

Click here to view “Multiple Citizenship in Adoption: An Introduction” (PDF)

Tatev America Bivens 2017 1

International Conference Explores Armenia’s Goal to Close Institutions

da52de8db0fcc8c

Several years ago, the Armenian government began a process of deinstitutionalization, which involved substantially reducing the number of publically-run orphanages, residential schools, and night boarding facilities in favor of placing children in home-based care (with a biological relative or in a foster or adoptive placement). In April 2016, the Human Rights Watch reported that there were nearly 3,700 Armenian children living in residential institutions, and 90% of these children had at least one living parent. Many children were placed in public care because they had a disability and needed extra medical and educational assistance. These children’s special needs made it harder for the Armenian government to reunify them with their biological families or adoptive families, due to the fact that homes and communities struggle to provide the resources and support services these children need.

Continue reading>

%d bloggers like this: