Universal Accreditation Act

In January 2013, President Obama signed into law the Intercountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act which will bring changes to intercountry adoption laws and practices. The new law takes effect on July 14, 2014.  Families who are in the adoption process at that time may be affected by these changes if their adoption agency or service provider is not properly accredited.

OVERVIEW:  This law applies the Hague Accreditation and Approval requirements to all agencies and persons providing “adoptions services” in ALL cases where a child immigrates to the United States for adoption. Previously this standard was applied only to adoptions from Hague compliant countries, but with the implementation of this new law adoption providers must be accredited by the Council on Accreditation to complete adoptions from ANY country. This applies to both agencies and independent providers such as adoption lawyers.

AGCI FAMILIES:  There will be absolutely no effect on any families pursuing an adoption through All God’s Children International. Since receiving our initial Hague accreditation, we have operated to Hague standards for home studies and adoption services in ALL countries – both Hague and non-Hague compliant. Because we have already been operating with best-practices, there will be no change for AGCI adoptive families. AGCI was among the first group of adoption agencies accredited to Hague standards when they were implemented for the United States, and recently received our reaccreditation.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:  Following are additional answers provided by the U.S. Department of State on how the law will impact international adoption.

What does the UAA achieve?

The UAA extends the safeguards provided by accreditation to orphans, their adoptive parent, and birth parents.  This is accomplished by ensuring that adoption service providers are all held to the same federal standards.

Who needs to be accredited or approved?

Starting July 14, 2014, any agency or person providing adoption services in intercountry adoption cases involving orphan children must be accredited.

What happens if the adoption service provider is not accredited?

Agencies and persons not credited or approved may not provide any of the named adoption services after the UAA effective date. These services include: identifying a child for adoption and arranging an adoption; securing the necessary consent to termination of parental rights; performing a home study on prospective parents; determining the appropriateness of an adoptive placement for a child; and monitoring a case after a child has been placed with prospective adoptive parents.

What about cases already in process?

The UAA’s transition rule states that the accreditation rules do not apply in two kinds of cases:

  • When the I-600 or the I-600A has been filed before 180 days from the date of enactment; and
  • When prospective adoptive parents have initiated an adoption process in a foreign country by filing an appropriate application (appropriate to be determined by the Department of State), also before 180 days from enactment of the UAA.

What are the safeguards resulting from Hague accreditation?

Key protections include:

  • Children may not be obtained for adoption through sale, exploitation, abduction, and trafficking;
  • Parents receive training in advance of the adoption to understand what to expect when raising an adopted child and prepare them for some of the challenges;
  • The agency or person must ensure that intercountry adoptions take place in best interests of children;
  • Accrediting entities ensure that accredited agency personnel are qualified and appropriately trained and provide adoption services in an ethical manner.

Complete information is available from the Department of State at http://adoption.state.gov/adoption_process/faqs/uaa_2012.php