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Louisiana senator spearheads international adoption reform bill

People who love, care for and raise a child aren't always biological parents. Baton Rouge adoptive parents may be grandparents, stepparents or individuals totally unrelated to a child. Adoption solidifies the legal bond between a person or couple and a child they want to make a permanent family member.

Adoptive parents may be relatives who assume legal responsibility when biological parents cannot or will not raise a child. Adoptive parents sometimes scan the globe for a child in need. International adoptions can be costly and fraught with bureaucratic obstacles.

The popularity of international adoptions has diminished significantly since 2004, when 23,000 children from other countries were adopted by U.S. parents. Last year, foreign-born child adoptions fell to about 7,000. Expenses are considerable – a $28,800 median cost – but money may not be the reason international adoptions are in decline.

A Senate proposal called the Children in Families First Act, introduced by Louisiana Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, would overhaul the way the government handles inter-country adoptions. Supporters include more than a dozen co-sponsors and high-profile adoption organizations. Proponents believe governmental restructuring would knock down unnecessary barriers adoptive parents face.

Critics say CHIFF is an attempt by "the adoption industry" to revitalize interest in international adoptions. An anti-CHIFF campaign on Facebook alleges inter-country adoptions have plummeted over 60 percent due to child abuse and trafficking scandals in some countries, which the Senate bill doesn't address. Opponents claim the reform bill also fails to recognize the need for U.S. foster care adoptions and problems caused when international adoptions don't work out.

Need fulfillment is the goal of any adoption, whether the parties involved are members of the same family or from different countries. The legal process, waiting and costs can seem daunting for people who are considering adoption. An attorney can explain the options open to prospective parents and, when possible, assist with international legal concerns.

Source: The Washington Times, "International adoption bill orphaned" Cheryl Wetzstein, May. 20, 2014

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