The Intercountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act (UAA) was signed on January 14, 2013.  This new law will take full effect July 15, 2014, making accreditation required for an international adoption service provider to continue operation.

This eighteen-month grace period gave adoption service providers time to become accredited.  Accreditation or approval will be required for an adoption service provider to continue operation.  Detailed information and FAQs can be found here, and through this article, we hope to help you understand how this legislation will affect your international adoption process.

Why the Universal Accreditation Act?

Historically, international adoption has been regulated by each state.  The UAA aims to create uniformity by imposing federal standards.  Under the UAA all adoption service providers will be held to the same federal standards.  This is done to protect and aid all parties involved in international adoption.

What Does the UAA Regulate?

According to the United States Intercountry Adoption webpage, six specific services require accreditation or approval.  They are

1. Identifying a child for adoption and arranging an adoption.
2. Securing the necessary consent to termination of parental rights and adoption.
3. Performing a background check on a child, or a home study on the prospective adoptive parent(s), and reporting on such a study.
4. Making non-judicial determinations of the best interests of a child and the appropriateness of an adoptive placement for a child.
5. Monitoring a case after a child has been placed with the prospective adoptive parent(s) until final adoption; or
6. When necessary because of a disruption before final adoption, assuming custody and providing (including facilitating the provision of) childcare or any other social service pending an alternative placement.

Any adoption service provider (agency/facilitator/etc.) that offers any of the above-listed services must become accredited by July 2014.   The accreditation process will be overseen by an accrediting entity.  The accrediting entity is paid by the adoption service provider seeking accreditation.

What This Means to You

An accredited or approved adoption service provider is required in every international adoption.  Make yourself familiar with the six specific services listed above and know that if an entity is providing one or more of those services they need to be accredited or working under the supervision of an accredited provider.

As you search for an international adoption service provider, you will want to make sure you know if you are working with an accredited provider.  Always know that if any of the six above-mentioned services are offered, the provider must be accredited.  Some adoption service providers may choose not to be accredited, but if so, they must be supervised by an accredited provider.  In this case, the non-accredited provider receives approval to function under an agreement with an accredited provider.

If you submitted an application to a competent authority in a foreign country or were matched with a child before July 13, 2013, your case is grandfathered and the requirements of the UAA do not apply.  Do not confuse this with contacting and/or submitting an application to an adoption service provider.

If adoption is begun between July 13, 2013, and July 14, 2014, it does not need to be completed with an accredited service provider.  However, this is done with some risks, as the service provider will be required to become accredited or be in agreement with an accredited adoption service provider on July 14, 2014.  Make sure you know how your adoption service provider will continue to provide you service following July 14, 2014.  If your adoption is not complete, and the adoption service provider you have selected does not become accredited by July 14, 2014, they will no longer be able to provide you services until they do become accredited.

Knowing the laws surrounding adoption may be overwhelming, but will prove to be empowering as you navigate your way through the steps of international adoption.  Best of luck, and please leave your questions and comments.  Let’s do our best to help and assist one another.



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