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Senate Committee Approves Intercountry Adoption Bill

On September 19, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved en bloc, by voice vote, the Intercountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act of 2012 (S. 3331).

Sponsored by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), the bill would apply universal intercountry adoption accreditation standards to all adoption service providers involved in the adoption of a foreign orphan under the age of 16. The Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-279) established accreditation requirements that international and domestic adoption service providers must comply with in order to legally provide services for adoptions covered by the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. S. 3331 would apply such accreditation standards to adoption service providers in all countries, regardless of whether or not the country was party to the Hague Convention.

The legislation would give the secretary of the Department of State, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, the attorney general (Department of Justice), and the accrediting entities authority to apply and enforce such universal accreditation standards. Additionally, the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 authorized the secretary of State to collect fees in order to provide new and enhanced services to comply with accreditation standards; the secretary was prohibited from providing any portion of these funds to accrediting entities. Under S. 3331, the prohibition would be repealed and collected fees would be made available to accrediting entities.

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