The Universal Accreditation Act of 2012 Will Be In Force This July

earthStarting July 14, 2014, any agency or person providing adoption services in intercountry adoption cases involving orphan children will need to be accredited under the same accreditation standards that apply in Convention adoption cases. Adoption STAR was actually one of the first COA Hague Accredited Agencies.  However, not all agencies chose to pursue accreditation or perhaps were not approved and while they have been able to facilitate international adoptions through non-Hague Convention countries, this will no longer be the case once the UAA goes into effect.  Agencies and persons not accredited or approved, supervised, or exempted by the regulations, may not provide any of the described adoption services after the effective date. Agencies or persons that continue to provide adoption services without accreditation, supervision, or exemption, are subject to civil and criminal penalties.

The UAA’s accreditation requirement does not apply if either of the following occurred before July 13, 2013 meaning a consular officer or a Department of State CA/OCS Adoption Division officer finds that the prospective adoptive parents submitted an application to the relevant competent authority or that the prospective adoptive parents accepted a match proposed by a competent authority or appropriate entity.

This link provides comprehensive information for prospective adoptive families and adoption service providers.

Two questions and answers stood out to us as an agency that we wish to highlight:

Question 1: Can I complete the intercountry adoption process doing an independent adoption in which I do the adoption work myself without the help of an accredited or approved provider?

Answer: No. An accredited or approved primary provider is required in every intercountry adoption case, unless a public domestic authority is providing all of the adoption services.

Question 2: I plan to adopt from a non-Convention country with the help of a U.S. facilitator with connections and partners in the country of origin. This facilitator is not accredited or approved and insists he does not need to be accredited. Will I be able to complete the intercountry adoption process with just the facilitator’s help?

Answer:  No. An accredited or approved primary provider is required in every intercountry adoption case, unless a public domestic authority is providing all the services. A facilitator who is not accredited or approved cannot be a primary provider or provide any of the six adoption services without supervision by an accredited agency or approved person or without being an exempted provider. The facilitator’s assertions alone that he/she does not need accreditation or approval are not sufficient to exempt him/her from the requirement.

In short, the Department of State Website explains that the reason for requiring accreditation is to ensure accountability and uniformly high standards of conduct.

Unfortunately there have been occasions of unscrupulous international adoption practices conducted by non-accredited agencies or individuals, which were considered illegal or involved unethical practices and threatened the best interest of the children.

U.S. accreditation standards were developed to combat those illicit practices by requiring accountability both to State licensing authorities applying State standards and to accrediting entities applying Federal standards.

Having a primary provider in every adoption case ensures that one agency or person has ultimate responsibility for the proper and effective provision of adoption services.