In the fall of 2016, the US Department of State presented new rules regarding inter-country adoptions for those adopting foreign-born children into U.S. homes.
As an adoptee, I always advocate for greater transparency about fees and the months-long process for international adoption. Not surprisingly, adoption agencies and other stakeholders in the adoption industry decry the proposed changes because they say it will make it harder to adopt.
I think they are more concerned about the declining number of international adoptions and its affect on their bottom line.
This is not about caring for children’s welfare.
Adoption agencies have a new standard for pay scales of foreign employees involved in adoption. Previously, they were based on ‘normal pay,’ what the agencies knew about pay rates in specific countries. Now, salaries will be given based on the services the foreign adoption official actually performs.
Now, salaries will be given based on the services the foreign adoption official actually performs. I think it’s fair that salaries will not be paid arbitrarily, which was the case beforehand.
Furthermore, I think the overall costs for agencies to continue as adoption service providers (ASP) will fluctuate more. The bigger potential consequence is agencies must clearly demonstrate what work their foreign or contracted staff is doing.
Standardizing good faith information efforts
That’s my language. This means that ASP’s present further evidence and proof of effort related to discovering the child’s medical or social background.
Previously this was not standardized. The effort one agency said was ‘sufficient’ in learning as much about a child’s history as possible, was different from another agency’s.
Foreign vs Domestic Fees
Adoption agencies must clearly show which fees prospective adoptive parents are paying for domestic and foreign services. This would end a type of ‘blanket’ approval that adoptive parents sometimes are required to give below a certain threshold. It ensures every cost is known upfront.
Agencies can no longer charge any fees to prospective parents to care for a child before the finalized adoption. Agencies were previously charging adoptive parents more money ‘caring’ for a child in a specific foreign country than needed.
This eliminates the temptation for agencies to recruit children, drawing out the adoption process. Additionally, this safeguards families against spending money on children who will never be available for adoption.
Telling the real story and making the best placement
Agencies must provide additional training on grief, loss, identity, and trauma and characteristics of successful intercountry adoptive placements. They must also have a track record of compliance with post-placement and post-adoption reporting requirements.
It will no longer be enough just to want to adopt, have the money and go through the home visits. Agencies will further explore a family’s circumstances determining their fit for intercountry adoption.
I’m not sure exactly what this entails, but I like the idea of increased due diligence about the adopting parents. Agencies may feel this is an extra burden. But I say that you must get an adoption right the first time.
Another aspect of this change will be agencies cannot make referrals or require fees for specific adoption services until and unless the parents have completed this new advanced training.
Moving forward, agencies must discuss adoption disruption and dissolution. Both issues are huge black marks on the adoption industry. The adoption arena has long downplayed and tried ignoring them. I could write a whole post about both circumstances. Here’s a quick primer if you don’t know.
Adoption disruption is when the adoption ends before finalization, but after the child is already in the new home. This forces the child back into foster care or to another family.
Adoption dissolution occurs after finalization and means legal ties sever between the child and the parents, either voluntarily or not. One result of this drastic step is ‘rehoming. When adoptive families put their child up for private sale in an unregulated forum. These take place on sites like Craigslist or in newspaper classifieds.
The new guidance requires adoption service providers to include information about disruption and dissolution in training and preparation programs for prospective adoptive parents. Adoption service providers will be required to give specific points of contact for support in the event an adoptive family faces difficult adjustment or other hardships, which places a permanent home for the children at risk.
In the future, agencies must inform adoptive parents about all avenues open to them if a crisis occurs, including local and state resources and educate them about legal options, as well as appropriate procedures in case a child needs placement back in the system or requires removal from their adoptive family.
We’ll see what the final updated guidance looks like after the State Department has reviewed all the public comments. In the meantime, these alterations further increase transparency in the international adoption process.
I hope some are formalized.
The little girl’s name was Lily. Sasmita formerly nannied for the family and they asked us if we could watch her one weekend this past January at their D.C. house.
That Saturday we went to a trendy place a few blocks from their house called Union Market. It has a few restaurants and some specialty food stores, but it’s popular for its delicious and unique open-air freshly prepared food.
Located in a gentrifying neighborhood, Union Market is full of young professionals and families. Sasmita and I decided to lunch there, bringing Lily in a stroller.
I had not thought about it, until we were in a crowd, but the three of us together looked out-of-place. Two brown ‘parents’ with a white baby. I realized how rare mixed race adoptions are by minority parents. read more …
For those unaware, this is National Adoption Awareness Month. There has been a lot of social media about this, some good pieces in well-known magazines, like the NY Times and elsewhere. National Adoption Month, was created to raise awareness and celebrate foster care adoption. In recent years it has been co-opted by the Adoption lobby and by those painting all adoptions as the greatest thing that ever happened to families, while omitting adoptee voices and the heartbreak and loss inherent in the process.
A group of adoptees developed a campaign called #flipthescript doing their best to counter the rose-colored glasses view. I am participating, as the attempt offers thoughts on our personal adoption narratives, because adoptees themselves are not the ones people usually hear from.
That is one of the reasons I began blogging years ago. I thought my voice, as a male, Indian adoptee, deserved hearing, and I still believe that is true. However, since I began writing I realized my adoption story is quite different from other adoptees.
I choose to celebrate my adoption because my parents, David and Robyne Bryant, understood all sides of the adoption narrative and raised us with that knowledge. Some adopted friends and colleagues had negative experiences with their parents/guardians regarding adoption. I was not one of them.
A quick aside, I do not and have never called the two people who adopted me, my adoptive parents. They are my parents. Period. I understand that a different woman gave birth to me, but she is my first/birth mother. I rarely call her my mother.
Some adoptees have tough stories of coming to their new country, and being adopted by families who disavowed they had a birth mother and father or came from another culture. I have no experience with that. While I lost some Indian culture through adoption, my parents worked and sacrificed to keep me tethered to it throughout my life.
I’m dedicating this post to them for all they did creating the best experience for me growing up adopted. read more …