Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) and Ranking Member Richard Lugar (R-IN) along with Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and James Inhofe (R-OK) introduced legislation to elevate and standardize adoption services across the globe to safeguard against corruption and fraudulent adoptions.
After years of conflicting, country-by-country standards for Adoption Service Providers (ASPs), the Intercountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act of 2012 will for the first time universalize the accreditation process for all ASPs. The legislation would elevate standards, requiring all ASPs to comply with current, stronger requirements upheld for ASPs working with Hague countries.
The new accreditation standard would help safeguard against corruption and fraud in the adoption process.
"The safety of children across the globe should be our number one concern in the adoption process and this commonsense reform will help us get them placed into safe and loving homes. Piecemeal, conflicting adoption standards have made far too many cracks and chasms in the system that left room for corruption, deception, and often outright fraudulent adoptions. I'm grateful to our Ranking Member Dick Lugar and Senators Landrieu and Inhofe for partnering with me in this effort to elevate and put in place universal adoption standards that make kids the priority," said U.S. Senator John Kerry (D-MA), Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.
"The United States adopts more children from overseas than any other nation. Many of these children have serious medical conditions, often requiring significant and costly medical attention, yet, regardless, Americans open their hearts and homes to them. This legislation establishes uniform standards that would provide American families with certainty that they are working with an accredited American adoption service provider, regardless of the country they are adopting from. I am pleased to be joined by Senators Mary Landrieu and Jim Inhofe, two of the Senate's leaders in this field, as well the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, John Kerry," said U.S. Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), Ranking Member of the Foreign Relations Committee.
"Mandatory accreditation will ensure that the adoption process between the U.S. and other countries is lawful and safe for an adopted child and respectful of the families involved. Additionally, I hope that this bill will prompt the U.S. Department of State to consider financially supporting the accrediting entities to relieve part of the financial burden on smaller agencies and to ensure a robust accreditation process," said U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu (D-LA).
"Standardizing the accreditation process for international adoptions will provide additional protections for both the child and the adopting family. The patchwork of adoption standards that currently exist have resulted in a situation that is not optimal for protecting the international children being offered for adoption. It has also resulted in fraud and corruption that has devastated loving American families who are willing to make many sacrifices to adopt internationally. This legislation is the right approach to fix the problems that currently exist," said U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), co-chair of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption.
The Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA) specified that accreditation or approval is required in order to provide adoption services in cases subject to the Hague Convention with limited exceptions. The IAA defines the parameters of accreditation for the organizations providing services to prospective adoptive parents and charges the Department of State with responsibility of the accreditation process. The Kerry-Lugar bill would apply the accreditation requirement universally to all ASPs -- those operating in both Hague and non-Hague countries.