Universal Accreditation for Intercounty Adoptions

Soon there will be a rush for all providers of intercountry adoption to become accredited. Why? Because President Obama signed the Intercountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act on January 14, 2013.

The bill will take effect 18 months after the date of enactment at which time all intercountry adoption agencies will have to be accredited in order to provide adoption services to/from any country of origin, whether or not it is a member of the Hague Convention. Multi-ethnic childrenIt will be critical for agencies to prepare for the accreditation process (in terms of creating policies and procedures and developing a quality improvement program, staff training, working with supervised providers, etc.) and be aware that it normally takes at least 12-14 months to become accredited.

As a brief background, in 2008, the United States became a full member of the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-Country Adoption.  Under the Convention, the United States requires that intercountry adoption service providers be accredited to increase their accountability. Currently, this requirement only applies to adoptions involving countries that have also signed and implemented the Hague Convention (currently just over 80 countries).

Since 2008, adoption agencies who work with non-Convention countries did not need to meet the accreditation requirements, which created a double standard for the treatment of children and families.

Universal accreditation will strengthen U.S. intercountry adoption practices by requiring accreditation of all intercountry adoption service providers. By complying with the accreditation standards, accredited agencies will protect the rights of, and prevent abuses against, all children, birth families, and adoptive parents involved in all intercountry adoptions and to ensure that such adoptions are in the children’s best interests.

For more information on Hague accreditation see Intro to Hague Intercountry Adoption Accreditation.

About the Author: Miki Stebbing is a renowned expert in domestic and intercountry adoption issues and has been an advocate for children’s issues for 35 years. She was the principal Federal Manager as the Hague Accrediting Entity Liaison for the US State Department and currently assists adoption agencies to navigate the accreditation process.

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