Posted by: icmadoptionnetwork | December 3, 2013

What is the Universal Accreditation Act??

Many of you have heard the term lately “Universal Accreditation Act.” What does this new law mean? Who does it pertain to? Will it affect your adoption process? I wanted to take a few moments to explain the implications of this new law. 

The Universal Adoption Act was signed into law in 2012. It will go into effect on July 14, 2014. 

Effective July 14, 2014, all placement agencies must be accredited by the Council on Accreditation. It does not matter if they are working in Hague or non-Hague countries, the agency itself must be accredited. 

Also, the Universal Accreditation Act outlaws all independent adoptions. According to the new law, all intercountry adoptions must take place through the facilitation of an accredited placement agency. Families seeking an independent adoption will not be able to receive approval from USCIS. 

There are cases which can be “grandfathered” through that meet certain criteria. If you have already begun your intercountry adoption process, and you have taken one of the following two actions, your case is eligible to be grandfathered in and not under the new law:

  1. You filed your I-600 or I-600A prior to July 13, 2013, or;
  2. You “initiated the adoption process with the filing of an appropriate application in a foreign country sufficient such that the Secretary of State is satisfied.”

If you feel that your case meets one of these two criteria, ICM would encourage you to contact USCIS, and obtain in writing that your case will be grandfathered in under the previous adoption provisions. 

The reason for the Universal Accreditation Act is to ensure that all agencies and all intercountry adoptions are following the standards and guidelines set forth by the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000. This will assist in the provision of ethical adoption services and fighting against the trafficking of children (a worldwide epidemic). According to UNICEF, in 2012 there were 20.9 million victims of trafficking worldwide. 1.5 million of these victims were in the United States. While this new law will tighten the reigns on intercountry adoption, and might cause frustration for some prospective adoptive families that desire not to use a placement agency, the larger picture (20.9 million victims) is that this new law will hopefully assist in decreasing the feasibility of trafficking and assist in the safety of children. 

If you have any questions at all regarding this new law, or how it might affect your case, please feel free to contact our offices at 217-469-7566 or adopt@icmfamily.org. 

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