The House of Representatives unanimously passed a bipartisan bill Monday afternoon aimed at helping streamline the international adoption process for prospective parents.
The "Intercountry Adoption Information Act of 2019" aims to help American families keep abreast of other countries' adoption laws and any changes that could delay or halt the process.
"The world today is full of orphaned children, but it's also full of loving families who are ready and eager to adopt them," Rep. Ron Wright (R-Texas) said on the House floor. "All too often American families encounter policy obstacles that delay or prevent those adoptions."
A news release from Judiciary Committee ranking member Doug Collins (R-Ga.), who is the bill's original Republican sponsor, explained that the often-confusing international adoption process and the ever-changing nature of other country's laws and policies can make things incredibly difficult for prospective parents, even leading them to dead-ends.
Democratic co-sponsor Jim Langevin (R.I.) said in a statement after the bill's passage: "Whether adopting at home or abroad, every family should have the information they need to navigate the process successfully."
One family that could have benefitted from the transparency the bill seeks to provide was the Romano family of Georgia. In 2012, Mark and Pam Romano began the adoption process for two boys from Russia before the country banned all adoptions to the United States, indefinitely halting the adoption process. They have since asked the U.S. State Department to work to get the ban lifted but have had no such luck.
"Willing, loving families in the United States and elsewhere long to have the chance to make the sacrifices necessary to extend their tender care to a child, or children, they themselves did not give birth to," Pam Romano said earlier this year. "I think I speak for every family in the process of adopting, or even considering adoption: Change is long overdue. Transparency and accountability are vital to any program that seeks to benefit the welfare of children."
The legislation is a proposed update on the Interagency Adoption Act of 2000, which requires the State Department to provide Congress with annual statistics on international adoptions that involve immigration to the United States. The bill will also require the federal agency to include public reporting requirements about countries that have changed their laws or policies on adoption to the U.S., thereby creating an informational resource for prospective adoptive parents.
"Loving families in Northeast Georgia and across the United States are eager to provide children with the care and support they deserve, yet they remain separated from their adoptive children due to shifting international policies and information gaps," Collins said in a statement after passage. "The Intercountry Adoption Information Act will help bring families together by ensuring parents pursuing overseas adoption, like Mark and Pam Romano, have access to the information needed to navigate the international adoption landscape."
The bill also has bipartisan support in the Senate, where it is sponsored by Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and co-sponsored by the Senate co-chairs of the Congressional Adoption Caucus, Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.)