Adoption Notice: Update on Transfer of Cases after EAC Debarment

Following the temporary debarment of EAC on December 16, 2016, some of EAC’s adoption cases have not yet been transferred to new adoption service providers (ASPs). Pursuant to 22 CFR 96.87, the Department of State, with the assistance of the Council on Accreditation (COA), will coordinate efforts to identify other accredited ASPs to assume responsibility for former EAC cases not yet transferred and, where possible, to transfer available records to other ASPs or to public domestic authorities. EAC is directly responsible for communicating to families what refunds they may be entitled to. Please be aware that the Department of State does not have a role in facilitating the refund of fees.

Why did the Department temporarily debar EAC?

The Department of State’s action to temporarily debar EAC was based on “substantial evidence that the agency…is out of compliance with the standards of subpart F” of 22 CFR 96, as well as a finding of “a pattern of serious, willful, or grossly negligent failures to comply, or other aggravating circumstances indicating that continued accreditation or approval would not be in the best interests of the children and families involved.” The Department of State found evidence of violation of accreditation standards relating to the agency’s activities in several countries. The summary of standards EAC violated is posted to the Office of Children’s Issues’ website. 

Could the public have known sooner that there were concerns about EAC?

Information about adverse actions against accredited ASPs is not published until a decision to take such action has been made. Consistent with 22 CFR 96.91 and 92, COA reports information about substantiated complaints and adverse action on its website. The Department also provides information about adverse action initiated by an accrediting entity or by the Department on its website.

COA renewed EAC’s accreditation in April 2016 for a period of four years.  The initial complaint that eventually led to EAC’s debarment was submitted to the Complaint Registry several months after the date of EAC’s accreditation renewal. The Department made the decision to temporarily debar EAC for a period of three years on December 15, 2016, and posted a notice regarding the decision on the next business day, December 16, 2016. 

How can former EAC clients find a new ASP for an adoption in process?

To assist families needing to transfer an adoption case to a new accredited ASP, the Office of Children’s Issues posted Notices regarding Case Transfer Responsibilities of Intercountry Adoption Service Providers. Former EAC clients should review the EAC Case Transfer Approval Information for information about which accredited ASPs have agreed to accept EAC cases for each country program. 

Families are under no obligation to work with the ASP that EAC has identified, but should be aware that some foreign governments have stated preferences in this regard. The government of China has informed the Department that all EAC cases should be transferred to International Adoption Net (IAN). Other countries may also have specific restrictions regarding the ASP that families may work with. Families should therefore verify that the ASP that they select to take over their case is authorized to work in the relevant country and that the transfer of the case complies with any restrictions that the country may have. Information on accredited ASPs and guidance on how to select an ASP is available on COA's website, which has a search function to assist families to identify accredited ASPs by country program. Type the name of the country in the top field and check the box for “Hague adoption service provider” to search. Please note that agencies provide information to COA for this purpose on a voluntary basis. 

Any former EAC client who is not able to identify a new ASP to complete an adoption in process should email Adoption@state.gov with information about where they are in the adoption process, which country they are adopting from, and the status of any efforts they have made to locate a new ASP.

How can I seek the return of documents in my EAC file?

On February 14, 2017, the Department of State learned that that Department of Justice (DOJ) seized files from EAC’s Ohio office. The Department of State does not have a comprehensive list of files seized or families impacted, but is in contact with DOJ regarding these records and their significance to adoptions in progress.

On February 17, 2017, the Department of State disseminated a survey to former EAC clients for whom the Department had email contact information.  The purpose of the survey was to gather information from families seeking the return of original documents necessary to complete an adoption and that may have been seized by DOJ. The survey also included questions about fees that families paid to EAC but which EAC had not transferred to a new ASP or refunded to the family. The purpose of the survey was to help assess whether EAC is meeting its refund obligations under federal accreditation regulations and to share any relevant information with other government offices, as appropriate.  

The survey is now closed.  DOJ has informed the Department that it has completed its review of seized files, and we are unable to process additional requests for documents. The Department is in the process of facilitating the return of files that DOJ was able to locate to families who needed original documents to complete adoptions in process. Families may wish to consult an attorney regarding their circumstances and what additional remedies may be available to them.

How can I seek a refund or transfer of fees already paid to EAC?

Please be aware that the Department of State does not have a role in facilitating the transfer or refund of fees; however, any failure by EAC to do so in accordance with federal regulations may be taken into account if EAC applies for accreditation in the future. Although EAC is directly responsible for communicating to families what refunds they may be entitled to, the Office of Children’s Issues has heard from many families that EAC has not been responsive to email communication about these important matters. 

The regulations governing fee policies and procedures for accredited adoption service providers, found at 22 CFR 96.40, mandate that ASPs are required to return any funds to which clients are entitled within 60 days of the completion of the delivery of services (see 22 CFR 96.40(h)). The Department of State considers that this 60-day timeframe began for EAC on the date of its debarment on December 16, 2016.  

Under 96.40(a), EAC is required to provide “a written schedule of expected total fees and estimated expenses and an explanation of the conditions under which fees or expenses may be charged, waived, reduced, or refunded and of when and how the fees and expenses must be paid.” The Department of State’s understanding is that EAC stipulated in its written contracts with prospective adoptive parents that refunds must be requested in writing to the EAC Board and that the specific amount of refund expected must be stated.  We encourage families to review any signed contract with EAC and the fee schedule that was provided at the time they entered into an agreement with EAC. 

The Department of State understands that EAC is advising families seeking a refund to send a written letter to the EAC review board stating the specific amount of the refund they are requesting. EAC provided the following address for refund requests: 12608 Alameda Dr., Strongsville, OH 44149.  Families may wish to also send a scanned copy of that correspondence to EAC by email.  The email addresses we have on file for EAC at this time are margaretcole@margaretcole.com; eacitransfer@gmail.com; adopt@eaci.com; and eacadopt@aol.com

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) is aware of families expressing concerns about EAC’s non-responsiveness and failure to refund fees to those impacted by EAC’s debarment. When contacting EAC about fees or any other matter pertaining to your case transfer, families may wish to copy the Department of Job and Family Services in Ohio, FOSTERCARE_LICENSING@jfs.ohio.gov. Families who submit concerns in writing should include “EAC” in the subject line.

ODJFS has informed the Department of State that families with concerns about fees or any other matter pertaining to EAC may wish to submit a statement to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, or call the hotline at 800-282-0515 or 614-466-4986.The hotline takes complaint calls Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. EST. Families who submit concerns in writing should include “EAC” in the subject line. 

What should I do about post-placement or post-adoption reports that are due?

Post-adoption reporting takes place after an adoption has been finalized and is not an adoption service as defined by U.S. regulations governing intercountry adoption. It is our understanding that EAC plans to continue offering post-adoption services and reporting. Please be aware, however, that foreign governments may choose not to accept post-adoption reports from a debarred ASP. If families wish, they may continue post-adoption reporting with EAC; however, we encourage families to request that EAC confirm the foreign government’s requirements before proceeding. 

If your child’s adoption is not yet finalized and you are still in the post-placement period and are required to submit post-placement reports to a foreign government, EAC will not be able to perform this adoption service for your family. Families in this situation may wish to contact the ASP that has been identified to accept EAC case transfers to determine if post-placement reporting is included in the agreement. 

The governments of Colombia, India, and Poland have informed us that they will not accept post-adoption or post-placement reporting from EAC. The government of China has informed us that all EAC cases should to be transferred to IAN, including cases that are in the post-adoption reporting period, rather than to an ASP of the adoptive parents’ choosing.  

We appreciate former EAC families’ understanding of the importance of post-placement and post-adoption reporting and their commitment to submitting reports on time. If you believe your post-placement or post-adoption report will be delayed as a result of EAC’s debarment and your need to identify a new ASP, please email Adoption@state.gov  with information about the country from which you adopted, when your report(s) are due, which ASP you are currently working with, and the reasons you cannot meet the due date. 

How can I file a statement about my experience with EAC?

We welcome information about your experience working with EAC.  Should you have concerns to share, we encourage you to submit a statement of your experience and concerns to the Complaint RegistryPlease also send a copy of your complaint, including documentation and copies of emails, to this office by email at Adoption@state.gov. Both steps are critical to ensuring we have relevant information about any concerns you may have regarding EAC.

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services in Ohio informed us that families experiencing difficulties having their case information released to another agency, or experiencing any other issues, may wish to submit a statement about their experiences and concerns to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office or call their hotline at 800-282-0515 or 614-466-4986. The hotline takes complaint calls, Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. eastern time.  If you submit concerns in writing, you should include “EAC” in the subject line.

Families may also wish to consult an attorney to understand what remedies you may have specific to their specific circumstances.