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We were deeply troubled by the information revealed in recent reports of parents who advertise their children online and turn over physical custody to other individuals without the safeguards of state or local government oversight. The Reuters reports highlighted examples in which this practice put the welfare of vulnerable children at extreme risk. The Department of State takes very seriously the welfare of all children and strongly condemns any abuse or neglect of a child. We are committed to ensuring that reliable safeguards for the wellbeing of children are in place.
Children who were adopted from other countries share the same rights, protections, and access to services as children born in the United States. Child welfare issues concerning all children in the United States are under the jurisdiction of state and local authorities. The Department of State provides and facilitates direct communication between foreign governments and local and state authorities when foreign governments bring to our attention concerns for the welfare of a child.
Over the past ten years, U.S. families have welcomed approximately 200,000 adopted children into their homes from more than 100 different countries. The vast majority of these adoptions were successful and resulted in the permanent placement of children into loving homes. The Department of State seeks to promote ethical and transparent intercountry adoptions that are in the best interests of the child.
The Department of State is committed to ensuring that reliable safeguards are in place for children who are being adopted from abroad and Congress passed the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA) to implement our commitments under the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-Operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (the Convention). The Convention sets forth internationally recognized principles, standards, and procedural safeguards to protect the best interests of children. The United States supports the Convention as the most effective way to promote ethical, transparent intercountry adoptions and encourages all countries to become a party to the Convention.
Once its provisions go into effect in July 2014, the Universal Accreditation Act will extend the protections provided by the IAA to children, adoptive parents, and birth parents in the case of adoptions from countries that are not party to the Conventionby requiring the same accreditation of adoption service providers as is required in Convention adoption cases. In particular, under the Department’s accreditation standards adoption service providers are required to provide at least ten hours of training and, as early as possible before adoption, to provide medical and social information concerning the child to prospective adoptive parents.