The Department of State (DOS), the central authority over international adoptions, released a proposal of new rules about international adoption last month and it’s a little disturbing. If these new rules go into affect, they could essentially make it more difficult for U.S. couples and singles to adopt overseas, or worst, erase the option entirely.
So what do these rules entail? There’s four main features that cause concern for adoption agencies and we’ve summarized them for you below:
1. Agencies will have to have another layer of accreditation.
Adoption agencies with inter-country adoption options have to undergo a lengthy accreditation process with the DOS, but these new rules want to add another layer into the mix. It’s called the Country Specific Accreditation (CSA) and for now there’s doesn’t seem to be outlines as to how DOS will grants CSA or which agencies will need to apply for CSA, only that agencies working with “certain countries” will need it. (Which countries has not been determined yet)
The problem with this according to Chuck Johnson, president of the National Council for Adoption:
“It’s ripe for bias, ripe for favoritism. Small agencies worry that there will be a bias toward larger agencies. It’s also quite possible that there will be a bias in favor of secular agencies over faith-based ones.”
2. It could increase liability.
There’s a sentence in the new guidelines that has agencies worried: “The term ‘providing,’ with respect to an adoption service, includes facilitating the provision of the service.”
Apparently, if this sentence is interpreted strictly, then adoption agencies would have to “have every foreign individual who touches an adoption to be insured under an agency’s liability insurance—drivers, translators, and even state orphanage workers over whom an agency has no control.”
This would make adoption costs skyrocket. Agencies might also have a difficult time finding an insurance to purchase and it may be illegal in certain countries.
“This is the thing that will absolutely kill us,” one agency program director said. “We cannot comply, and they will shut us down.”
3. DOS will micromanage fees.
In this new proposal, DOS will give itself the authority to cap adoption prices according to what they deem to be reasonable. Though this may make adoption prices lower in some instances for prospective parents, it could cause the quality of services that agencies provide to suffer.
Worse yet, the DOS’s new rules would ban families from paying for their matched child’s in-country care before the final adoption takes place. This means that families couldn’t pay for the children’s food, medicine, clothes, or childcare before the adoption is finalized, which only seems to hurt the child.
4. New Education Requirements.
Mos agencies provide over 10 hours of the required training for parents pursuing international adoptions. However, DOS wants to change that. They now want prospective parents to complete foster care training in their home state. The problem with this? DOS expects the state to do this for free for families pursuing private adoption, which means the state will have to take away its resources needed for foster care and state adoptions and put it toward families who aren’t even going that route.
“How is it the state’s responsibility to provide training for private adoptions? It’s going to take resources away from training meant for state kids. I have problems with that just as a taxpayer. Plus, we know it just won’t happen,” said Lucy Armistead, head of the Kentucky-based agency All Blessings International.
What will happen if these rules go into effect?
If these new rules go into effect there are going to be major effects. Not only will private international adoption costs rise, but the time it takes to adopt will lengthen. And that’s if the agency hasn’t shut down. These rules will indirectly hurt small agencies who will then have to close, and more families will have less access to international adoption agencies.
But it’s not the agencies and the American prospective parents that will suffer the most. It’ll be the international children who are waiting for safe, caring forever homes that will suffer the most from these rules.
“If adoptive families had any idea of what was going on, I think they would be outraged,” Armistead said. “We’re so busy just doing paperwork for adoptions that frankly we barely have time to fight this.”
For families who want to fight these new proposed rules, you can sign a petition by clicking here.
You can also leave a comment about how international adoption has affected your life on the regulation by clicking here.