The option of adoption has been part and parcel of the pro-life movement since its inception. Adoption is a viable alternative to abortion that both mother and child can live with. Even so, a tragically small percentage of women make an adoption plan for their infants.
Due to the scarcity of available babies in America, many families have looked to other countries to adopt their children.
However, recent government regulations have put an already diminishing number of international adoptions on thin ice.
According to David Crary with Associated Press, while the Trump Administration is trimming back government bureaucracy, the State Department is expanding its power and regulation regarding international adoptions.
Those in the adoption community say it’s bad news.
Chuck Johnson, CEO of the National Council for Adoption, is worried about costs spiraling upward and the impact of additional red tape for adoptive families. As of 2016, the number of international adoptions by US parents had already declined by 76 percent since 2004. Johnson believes this added burden will put adoption costs beyond the ability of even more families.
The number of agencies handling international adoptions has also declined.
This is disturbing news considering many of these adoptions are children with special medical or psychological needs. In a significant number of cultures these children are at best shunned and at worst abandoned or outright killed. The lives of children literally depend upon the adoptions being finalized.
A key concern is the financial impact of a new accreditation process for adoption agencies. The Council on Accreditation was so opposed to State Department changes they withdrew from its role in the process. Its president, Richard Klarberg, said they “will have a chilling effect on families…” The organization had a full-time staff of four and relied on volunteers in the adoption community to provide its services.
The State Department has replaced it with the new Intercountry Adoption Accreditation and Maintenance Entity (IAAME), which will have at least 20 staff who will more aggressively investigate possible corruption.
To be fair, there has been recent evidence of bribery, false documents and selling of babies which supports the State Department’s concerns.
However, those in the adoption community, like a majority of Americans, have seen the martyrdom of efficiency when the government gets involved.
Adding IAAME will be costly, so the State Department will charge a nonrefundable $500 fee to adoptive families. The two million it is expected to generate is well above the entire operating budget of the Council on Accreditation.
It’s generally believed the new regulations will double the cost of accreditation and increase travel-related expenses for IAAME to conduct on-site inspections of adoption agencies in the both the US and abroad.
Of course these added costs will be passed down to the adoptive families who already face a mountain of expenses ranging from $32,000 to $40,000, depending upon the child’s country of origin.
The focus should be ensuring protection and accountability while not bankrupting would-be families.
What dismays and concerns US adoption agencies is the speed with which the government imposed these new regulations without the opportunity for the adoption community and public to weigh in.
The State Department pooh-poohs the added costs, saying it’s a mere 1.5 percent increase. A typical government response. Tell that to cash-strapped couples forced to hold fundraising events in order to expand their family.