In the blink of an eye, everything you thought you knew about how to adopt a child, has just been turned upside down. Back in the day (say 365 days or so!), you could ask a friend or join an adoption Facebook group, and learn just about everything you ever wanted to know about adoption; from where to adopt and how to adopt. Every adoptive-family, and many professionals, giving advice about adoption to prospective families, is doing so with good-intentions. With knowledge and experience that was rock-solid just a few months ago. But today, families setting out to adopt are often meeting with heartbreak. As of July 14, 2014, unless a family uses a Hague Accredited child placing agency for their Primary Provider (PP), and that PP has an agreement with a homestudy agency that is suitable and willing to be a Supervised or Exempt provider for that specific service, the adoption will fail.
The Universal Accreditation Act (UAA) is a game-changer in International Adoption. The single biggest 'take home' from this change is prospective adoptive parents will need to reverse the adoption process they may have known before July 14, 2014 and choose their Primary Provider agency - FIRST. A Primary Provider is an adoption service provider who has been accredited or approved by the Council on Accreditation .
Prior to July 14, 2014, many families began, and sometimes completed, their home study before they had chosen a country program or a child placing agency to partner with in bringing their future child home. Some families knew the country they wanted to adopt from, may have had an identified waiting child or perhaps even a kinship adoption plan and simply hired a licensed social worker or home study agency to provide them with a home study and proceeded to conduct an adoption independent of a Primary Provider.
UAA has significantly changed the landscape of intercountry adoption as it was once known. Here's what you may want to consider; without a designated Primary Provider contract in place, the home study you've paid for is worthless. Yes, worthless. *As a consumer alert, an adoption service provider who has not been accredited or approved by the Council on Accreditation and offering to provide a home study to you without a Primary Provider in place, is offering you a very expensive yet, useless document. The home study is a key component in your United States Citizen and Immigration Service (USCIS) petition to adopt your child. Make sure you have your Primary Provider in place first.
Why? Under UAA, each adoption must have a designated Primary Provider named within the home study prior to submission of your I-600A or I800A. This informs USCIS that your adoption is being supervised by a Hague Accredited agency or approved person, as required by UAA. Without a Primary Provider contractually in place, your I-600a, I-800a, I-600 and I-800 will be denied.
Some countries have historically preferred adoptions to take place independent of adoption agencies and have been slow to grasp the benefits of UAA. The inability for the Department of State to clearly articulate the intentions and impact to both adoptive families and the foreign authorities, have resulted in a tremendous amount of confusion and as an unfortunate result, children are being left in legal limbo.
Families that have not been fully informed about the consequences of proceeding with a home study or completing an adoption abroad absent of a Primary Provider, are left desperately searching for a Primary Provider that is willing to supervise their adoption.
In the aftermath of this costly misstep, families are finding very few agencies that are willing to risk their accreditation to accommodate an adoption that has surpassed their capacity to fully supervise, verify and document to the standards of practice and ethical conduct imposed upon the Primary Provider, ensuring all six adoption services are provided, supervising and taking responsibility for supervised providers where used, and developing, implementing and documenting a specific service plan for their adoption.
Hague accredited agencies and approved persons are supervised and monitored continuously by the Council on Accreditation to ensure all aspects of service are of the highest standards which protect and serve the best interest of the child.
Imagine the time, financial and emotional investment you are making to adopt a child and fast forward to the moment you are standing before the visa officer, denied a visa for your child to return with you to the US, learning that the child you have legally adopted abroad is ineligible for intercountry adoption under the USCIS definition of "orphan", perhaps you may be ineligible to adopt a child as determined by your state of residence or USCIS, or suddenly faced with the impossibility of finding a Primary Provider willing to work with you to finish your child's adoption. This is completely avoidable.
If you are contemplating intercountry adoption or have begun an adoption in a foreign country, contact the Council on Accreditation to find an agency that has expressed the willingness to work with you for a successful adoption that meets the UAA requirements.
RainbowKids.com only works with Hague Accredited Adoption Agencies.
* Agencies or persons that continue to provide adoption services in non-UAA grandfathered cases without accreditation, supervision, or exemption, are subject to the civil and criminal penalties in the IAA. Civil penalties include fines up to $100,000 and criminal penalties include fines up to $250,000 or imprisonment up to 5 years or both. IAA Section 404. Hopscotch Adoptions is able to complete homestudies for families living in North Carolina and New York.