Parents hoping to adopt internationally, and the agencies trying to help them are hopeful that a proposed federal senate bill will facilitate better adoption processes.
Rep. John Curtis introduced HR 6985, the Intercountry Adoption Advisory Committee Act, earlier this month in an effort to bring the stakeholders surrounding international adoption to the same table. If the bill passes and the Secretary of State establishes the committee within the Bureau of Consular Affairs, the group will focus on developing, refining and implementing policy and programs for intercountry adoptions.
Curtis met with local adoptive parents, adoption service providers and adoption experts Tuesday morning in Provo to discuss the barriers preventing families from considering and completing international adoptions. He said at the meeting he hopes HR 6985 can bring similar groups together on a federal level.
“This is a very, very important issue,” Curtis said Tuesday. “I feel a soft spot in my heart for people who are under-represented. This is important to me.”
According to information presented at the meeting from the United States State Department, intercountry adoptions by American families have declined 80 percent since 2004 — “dropping from 22,991 foreign-born children adoptions to 4,714.” Curtis pointed out that these adoptions have declined in part due to changes in U.S. policy and conflicts between the Bureau of Consular Affairs and the State Department.
Sara and Brady Lindberg have experienced these problems firsthand. They hope to adopt, but have recently suffered two failed adoptions — one international and one domestic. They spoke of the huge financial and emotional toll of these experiences. They are still hopeful they will be able to adopt, and would like to adopt internationally.
“Every child deserves a loving home. It doesn’t matter where they come from,” Sara Lindberg said.
Curtis said he was compelled to sponsor this bill and hold Tuesday’s meeting after a visit in Washington D.C. from Holly Richardson, a former Utah House representative. Holly and her husband, Greg Richardson, have adopted 20 of their 25 children — many of those internationally. She told Curtis of the increasing difficulties to do so in recent years with the new regulations and unclear policies.
“The process is not transparent,” Greg Richardson said Tuesday, explaining that he and his wife experienced problems with paperwork and responses from government oversight that were vague and confusing, and seemed to take advantage of the Richardsons. He said the system seems to be gamed and does not deal honestly with adoptive parents.
The Richardsons and the Lindbergs joined adoption agencies in complaining about Trish Maskew, chief of the State Department’s Office of Children’s Issues. They shared with Curtis that her recent maneuvers and policies within a new accrediting organization, called the Intercountry Adoption Accreditation and Maintenance Entity, have served to effectively halt intercountry adoption.
“Her goal is to shut down international adoption,” said Kathleen Keiser of Wasatch Adoption Agency Tuesday. “And we are angry.”
If passed, H.R. 6985 will serve to “enhance the intercountry adoption process and collect stakeholder input in advance of new policies being developed or implemented.”
Curtis said the bill may not pass during the current legislative cycle, which ends in December.
But that will not stop him from working with others to refine the bill so it will pass during the next legislative session, which begins in January.
Karissa Neely reports on Business and North County events, and can be reached at 801-344-2537 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @DHKarissaNeely