I found this link in a draft post from just before Christmas: Senate Passes Adoption Legislation Before Holiday Break.
When I first read the article, I got all excited, because of this paragraph:
… the Intercountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act of 2012 will for the first time standardize the accreditation process for all adoption service providers (ASPs) operating in the United States.
Then, I realized that the word “Intercountry” probably meant that this Act applied only to international adoptions. Alas, that is true. Now, all agencies who work with any other country must comply with the accreditation procedures set forth by the Hague Adoption Convention, even if the countries they work with aren’t party to that Convention. I approve of this move. I think it’s good.
However, it would be even better if agencies that worked within the United States had a standardized accreditation process. Why? Because what applies to international adoption also applies to intracountry adoption. The article itself states:
This is important because in recent years these agencies have come under scrutiny — and occasionally attack — for their varying standards and requirements. Having a more uniform operating procedure should allay fears many child advocates have had about inconsistencies and also give adoptive parents greater assurances that adoptions will be more transparent.
How is it that we can have an entire state that essentially ignores birth fathers? That some states allow gay and lesbian singles and couples to adopt while others do not? That some states seal original birth certificates, some have arcane rules around unsealing them, and some have never sealed them at all?
Why do adoptive parents need lawyers in their own state and in the state in which their children are born? Why does ICPC exist? Why is it so difficult to adopt from foster care across state lines? Why won’t some adoption agencies work with people in New York or Washington, DC? Why do so many people adopt from Florida?
How? Why? Because adoption is a matter left entirely to each state to regulate. In some cases, counties have different procedures and requirements. Individual judges can even hold enormous power. If Jackson had been born in the county where S was residing at the beginning of her pregnancy, we wouldn’t have been able to adopt him. The judge in that county didn’t allow out-of-state families to adopt. She had to move in with her mom to place her child with the parents she chose.
The United States does not have one adoption system. I believe we have at least 102. We have 50 systems for adopting privately – that is, not through foster care. Then, we have another 51 for adopting through foster care. One for each state plus DC. (And what about the territories? Oy!) Each state is allowed to set its own rules for agency accreditation, home studies, adoption eligibility, expectant parent issues, termination of parental rights, original birth certificates, kinship, adoption professionals, the money that changes hands, open adoption agreements, and more.
We need an INTRAcountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act.
Over a series of posts, I’m going to set forth my opinions on a lot of these subjects. However, me opining on the benefits of agency fee caps isn’t going to do a blessed thing. I have a few followers, some lurkers, and some friends. How many people would get behind, say, a Change.org petition asking Congress to standardize adoption laws?