By Gabe McAteer
Higher Fees Are Expected to Impact Foreign Adoption
We like to think that we do a good job of providing our readers with current events in the adoption industry, which has seen a significant rise in stories since the end of 2017 to the start of 2018, from the Adoption Tax Credit to President Trump’s “Baby Hope” story. That being said, there is a more recent issue that impacts our sister industry of international adoption. According to an article from the Washington Post, families and agencies alike can expect to see a rise in fees to impact the cost of international adoptions.
The United States Department of State
This story begins with the State Department, which raised fees while making numerous regulatory changes for American families who planned to adopt children from overseas. The rising cost of fees can be attributed to a change in the accreditation process, which international agencies must undergo. The National Council for Adoption represents a lot of adoption agencies that will be affected by this change and argues that the new policies could force agencies, many of which are faith-based, to go out of business.
Stopping A Stopped Train
It is incredibly crucial to note that before this policy was made, the number of foreign adoptions has been declining steadily for years. In 2004, the number of international adoptions was the highest it’s ever been with 22,884. Compare that to the number of children who were adopted in 2016, and you get 5,372, a 76% decrease over 12 years. The change in policy will likely decrease the number of international adoptions even further.
There are several reasons for such a steady decline and a new accreditation process, the most alarming one being corruption, both abroad and domestic. Scandals that occurred in foreign countries led to suspensions of those countries, while domestic scandals led to the shutdown of agencies that had malicious business practices. Throughout the years, discoveries of corruption led the United States and other foreign countries to introduce more regulations with the goal of weeding out corruption, hence the 76% decrease over 12 years.
The New Accreditation Process
The group responsible for the old accreditation process was the New York-based, Council on Accreditation. The four-man group is withdrawing from the role due to disagreements with the State Department. The State Department believes that the Council on Accreditation was not strict enough in enforcing regulations, in response, the council accused the State Department of raising the price of fees. The new agency that is taking on the process is the Intercountry Adoption Accreditation and Maintenance Entity (IAAME) which has been granted a larger budget and a staff of 20 to carry out investigations and impose regulations. The State Departments special advisor, Suzan Lawrence, issued a statement saying that the increase in fees was necessary to fund the department’s ability to cut down on corruption.
What Happens Next?
Accreditation fees are expected to double, and the new nonrefundable $500 fee might be enough to deter some parents from pursuing an international adoption. All told, the $500 fees and accreditation costs are expected to increase revenue for the IAAME to more than $2 million, which far more eclipses the Council on Accreditation’s annual budget.
It is hard to say whether or not these new fees will be here to stay. Adoption advocates are hoping that Congress will take a second look at the State Departments new procedures but for now, they are here to stay.
Thank you for reading, below is a link to our source, the original article by the Washington Post.