October 29, 2020

Van Hollen, Blunt, Klobuchar, Colleagues Urge State Department to Prioritize Policies to Support Intercountry Adoption in Search for New Accrediting Entities

This week, U.S Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) joined U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), co-chairs of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, in sending a letter urging the State Department to prioritize policies to promote intercountry adoption as the department searches for new accrediting entities for intercountry adoption service providers.

“We urge the Department to use this search as an opportunity to recommit to one of the purposes of the Intercountry Adoption Act, ‘to improve the ability of the Federal Government to assist’ families seeking to adopt children from other countries,” the senators wrote. “Since the designation of the first accrediting entities in 2006, it has become clear that the intercountry adoption process can be influenced as much by the policies and procedures of an accrediting entity as the laws or regulations that govern intercountry adoption. The selection of a new accrediting entity or entities—with the right priorities in mind—can play an important role in ensuring that the federal government will facilitate rather than encumber the ability of a child in need to have a family willing to provide a stable and loving home.”

In the letter, the senators ask the State Department to look specifically at the fee schedule for accrediting entities to ensure they do not impose undue financial burdens on families seeking to adopt internationally, especially low-income families, families seeking to adopt sibling groups, or families seeking to adopt children with disabilities. 

The senators also ask the State Department to provide additional information regarding changes to the Substantial Compliance System, citing feedback they have received from intercountry adoption stakeholders that the updates increase demand for compliance in some existing measures without increasing flexibility in others.

Also signing the letter are U.S. Senators Richard Burr (R-N.C.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).

Read the full text of the letter here.