Department of State announces new fees
On February 1, 2018 the U.S. Department of State issued a notice to adoption agencies and providers concerning obligatory fee increases related to accreditation eligibility approved by the federal government. To operate legally, all intercountry adoption service providers must obtain and maintain accreditation, to ensure they meet ethic and transparency standards. The announcement abruptly advised providers and families of the new accrediting entity fee schedule, which could increase agency costs up to 3,000 percent.
“Skyrocketing fees are certainly a hardship to families and agencies,” stated Adoptions From The Heart (AFTH), founder and CEO, Maxine Chalker. “But what’s really troubling is that this increase will lead to fewer intercountry adoptions, which will result in more children growing up in orphanages, as oppose to finding loving and permanent families.”
In Fall 2017, the Council of Accreditation (COA) announced their decision to withdraw their role as the overseer of international accrediting, while warning agencies of the Department of State’s intent to enact procedural changes and fee increases. The Department of State has since designated he Intercountry Adoption Accreditation and Maintenance Entity (IAAME) as the new accrediting entity.
Under IAAME, the four-year accreditation renewal fees will range from close to $9,000 to nearly $21,000. Previously, fees ranged from $11,900 to $18,250, regardless of the number of adoptions an agency completed over the four-year time frame. There is also an additional “non-refundable” $500 monitoring and oversight fee per adoption, that prospective adoptive parents must pay to be accepted into the adoption program. Some Despite the Department of State’s refusal to disclose whether agencies would be able to review their contracts, some agencies only have a few weeks before the new fees are due.
New polices could prevent families from adopting
Changes made by the Department of State will provoke economic hurdles for agencies and adoptive families, ultimately causing further damage to the already declining program. The severe fee increase will undoubtedly deter families from choosing adoption as an option, while adoption providers will be forced to close or discontinue their international services. With prospective parents, not being able to fulfill the rising costs of adopting internationally, vulnerable children and orphans worldwide will be without families.
“Intercountry adoption should be ethical and transparent to ensure safety and protection of children and families,” states Chalker. “However, these policy changes make adoption unattainable for families – families that want to adopt, that would be wonderful parents and would provide wonderful homes for children.” Chalker concludes, “The consequences of these changes could be dire for intercountry adoption. Therefore, it is imperative we take the appropriate steps to oppose these fees.”
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