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Intercountry Adoption Reform Act

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Intercountry Adoption Reform Act

By Rep. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.)

H.R. 3896, Mar 4 - A bill (H.R. 3896) introduced by Rep. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), which would establish an Office of Intercountry Adoptions within the Department of State, and reform United States laws governing intercountry adoptions.

Adoption is a wonderful way to build families. Each time we break down the barriers, we make it possible for another child to find a permanent family. The Intercountry Adoption Reform Act (ICARE) simplifies and streamlines processes, reduces paperwork, and most importantly, relives the headaches and heartaches which can hamper the international adoption process.

The bill creates the Office of Intercountry Adoptions (OIA) in the State Department. The OIA would be charged with performing six functions, including approving families to adopt internationally, determining that children are legally free for adoption, and assuming immigration functions from the Department of Homeland Security.

The legislation would also confer United States citizenship on children upon entry of the final adoption decree, not upon entry into the United States. By changing the point of citizenship, no visa will be required for the adoption; instead, the adopted child will be admitted to the U.S. upon presentation of a valid U.S. passport.

The bill also creates a non-immigrant visa for foreign adopted children traveling to the United States before the adoption is finalized. The child may stay in the United States for up to two years under the non-immigrant visa. If the adoption is not finalized in two years, the child must return to their country of birth.

The OIA will work with the authorities of the child's country of residence to establish a uniform, transparent, and efficient process for the exchange of the certification and documentary support
required.

The bill amends the Immigration and Nationality Act's definition of "adoptable child" so the Intercountry Adoption Act definition applies in non-Hague Convention cases, too. The definition of an adoptable child will be amended for the first time since it was written over 50 years ago! The definition of an adoptable child has been written to more fully agree with the language of the Hague Convention.

The bill changes medical criteria, eliminating the immigration requirement of having a child undergo a medical exam. Prior to a family choosing to adopt a child, they should acquire and be provided medical information as is available on the health of the child so that they can make an informed decision on their ability to care for the child. No biological child is denied entry because of medical reasons, nor should an adopted child be denied.

A parent's approved petition to adopt, granted through the OIA, will be valid for 24 months. Furthermore, an expedited and streamlined process shall be put in place for families who have previously been approved to adopt and whose approval has expired. The Office will take the approval process out of USCIS (Citizenship and Immigration Services).

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