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House votes unanimously to update international adoption law

Prospective parents in Tennessee and around the country who hope to adopt a baby from a foreign country will be pleased to hear that the House of Representatives voted unanimously on May 20 to pass the Intercountry Adoption Information Act of 2019. The bill amends the Intercountry Adoption Information Act of 2000 and requires the Secretary of State to stay abreast of international adoption laws and notify Congress about any changes that could make the process more difficult for American families.

The bill's Republican sponsor said that the 2000 law was due for an update because laws passed in recent years in many countries are making the international adoption process process extremely difficult for Americans, and its Democrat co-sponsor said in a press release that the new law will ensure that prospective parents have the information they need to adopt successfully. The 2000 law required the Department of State to provide Congress with international adoption statistics, but it did not call for information about new or amended adoption laws.

The Dima Yakovlev Law, which was passed by the Russian government in December 2012, is the type of legislation that will be included in the Secretary of State's reports to Congress if the bill reaches President Trump's desk. The law prevents American families from adopting Russian children and was passed after a Russian baby who was adopted by a Virginia family died after being left in a hot car for nine hours. Most observers believe that the ban was introduced to punish Americans after Congress imposed sanctions on Russian officials who skirted U.S. tax laws.

The fact that the House of Representatives acted unanimously to address this issue shows how complex the international adoption process has become. Family law attorneys with experience in this area could help prospective parents by scrutinizing international adoption laws and suggesting strategies that avoid thorny diplomatic situations and are more likely to lead to a successful outcome.

Source: CNN, "Russia's adoption ban harms kids", Laura Jean, Jan. 17, 2013

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