The Foreign Adopted Children’s Act (FACE) and Families for Orphans Act

If you are an adoptive parent, you are likely to have heard about these two pending legislative acts. Maybe you've even called your legislators and indicated your support. The Joint Council on International Children's Services (JCICS) has been encouraging adoptive parents to sign a petition in support.

However, many of us do NOT support this legislation, and the thing I find interesting is that I have been contacted by adult adoptees from both sides of the international adoption debate, as well as adoptive parents and social workers asking me to post about these two legislative acts.

In particular, the FACE act would serve to demolish any and all of connections to our birth countries of origin. It would ERASE our histories, broaden the lies already in place through the amended birth certificates and in essence, creates more of a cloaked process. International adoptions, to be entirely ethical MUST be transparent.

I encourage all adoptive parents and adult adoptees to read the following response from Ethica regarding the Families for Orphans Act and the FACE.

Foreign Adopted Children's Act (FACE):

Introduced in the Senate as S. 1359 (Senators Landrieu and Inhofe) and in the House as H.R. 3110 (Rep. Watson and Boozman):  A bill to provide United States citizenship for children adopted from outside the United States, and for other purposes.

Ethica opposes passage of the FACE Act.  Ethica
believes the FACE Act, if passed, would harm adopted persons and their
birth- and adoptive families in a number of ways, including:

  • The bill is intended to eliminate the U.S. immigrant visa process, which means it eliminates the safeguards put in place to help ensure that children placed for adoption are legally in need of homes abroad
  • By conferring citizenship retroactive to birth, Ethica believes the bill creates a legal fiction and diminishes adoptees’ birth history
  • While eliminating the visa process may save adopting families a
    small amount of money toward the large costs of adopting, there is no
    guarantee that the Department of State will not charge similar or even
    higher fees for services it will provide under this bill.
  • The bill may create additional hurdles and costs for adopted persons in the future as they attempt to claim benefits and privileges they are otherwise entitled to in their countries of birth
  • Eligibility for adoption of a particular child is generally
    determined by the “competent authority” of the child’s country of
    origin.  The bill does not address eligibility for adoption in
    countries that have not designated a competent authority
  • The suitability of the adopting parent is based on the person’s
    ability to support the child and appropriate criminal background
    checks.  The bill does not address existing federal requirements for
    homestudies of prospective adopting parents.
  • Enacting this bill may stall adoptions in process
    It is unclear how this bill will affect provisions of the Intercountry
    Adoption Act (which implemented the Hague Convention).  Instead of
    speeding up processing by bypassing the visa system, confusion in
    interpretation and the development of new processing procedures,
    particularly for Hague countries, will likely create delays for
    adopting families and children.

Ethica believes that adoptees and other immigrants should be able to
become President, but pursuing the right to presidency should be done
in a way that does not erase personal histories.

Ethica also wholeheartedly agrees that citizenship procedures should
be improved for adoptees, and believes that adoptees not covered under
the Child Citizenship Act (including adopted persons who have been
deported) should be conferred U.S. citizenship. However, this bill goes
far beyond these measures and has the potential to hurt more than help.

Families for Orphans Act:

House Bill 3070 sponsored by Congresswoman Diane Watson (D-CA) and Congressman John Boozman (R-AR)
Senate Bill 1458 sponsored by Senators Mary L Landrieu (D-LA) and James Inhofe (R-OK)

A bill to encourage the development and implementation of a
comprehensive, global strategy for the preservation and reunification
of families and the provision of permanent parental care for orphans,
and for other purposes.

Ethica opposes passage of the Families for Orphans Act.  Here are some reasons why:

  • The Families for Orphans Act, if passed, would give the United States unilateral power to develop global child welfare strategies
    by providing financial incentives for other countries (including
    through debt and trade relief) to send their children abroad for
    international adoption.
  • Instead, the United States should be participating diplomatically
    with other nations in developing global child welfare strategies, for
    example, by finally ratifying the United Nations Convention of the
    Rights of the Child.
  • The bill legalizes an overly broad definition of “orphan”, capturing
    countless numbers of children who already have loving families,
    potentially including, for example, children who reside in boarding
    schools away from their primary caregivers.
  • This bill augments existing financial incentives for countries to
    favor international adoption by offering additional financial
    incentives, including technical assistance, grants, trade, and debt
    relief from the United States, which may sacrifice established child welfare principles by favoring international adoption over local solutions.
  • Reunification efforts are “time-limited” which may cause original families to be unnecessarily separated from their children.
  • Conflicts exist with various definitions in the
    bill.  For example, long-term kinship and guardianship arrangements
    which are considered “permanent” care under the bill may simultaneously
    be considered long-term foster care arrangements, which are considered
    to be temporary care under the bill.
  • The bill requires “cultural norms” to be taken into account, but
    only to the extent consistent with the purposes of the bill.  The bill
    permits the United States then to essentially disregard a country’s cultural norms.

Ethica supports the strengthening of global child welfare systems. 
However, we believe that this would best be accomplished by working
through existing frameworks of technical assistance and aid, ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
to demonstrate the commitment of the United States as a global
partner in securing and upholding children’s basic rights, limiting the
definition of orphans to those children truly in need of permanent
caregivers with placement decisions made without the influence of money.

Ethica has the contact information for all the legislators at their website. Please go there now and read their full position statements.

Comments will be closed here – instead I encourage you to go to Ethica and to your legislators.

Author: JaeRan

Assistant professor at UW Tacoma, writer, and researcher.