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[Congressional Record: July 18, 2000 (House)]
[Page H6389-H6399]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:cr18jy00-65]                         



 
                   INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTION ACT OF 2000

  Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the 
bill (H.R. 2909) to provide for implementation by the United States of 
the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in 
Respect of Intercountry Adoption, and for other purposes, as amended.
  The Clerk read as follows:

                               H.R. 2909

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,

     SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; TABLE OF CONTENTS.

       (a) Short Title.--This Act may be cited as the 
     ``Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000''.
       (b) Table of Contents.--The table of contents of this Act 
     is as follows:

Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.
Sec. 2. Findings and purposes.
Sec. 3. Definitions.

                TITLE I--UNITED STATES CENTRAL AUTHORITY

Sec. 101. Designation of central authority.
Sec. 102. Responsibilities of the Secretary of State.
Sec. 103. Responsibilities of the Attorney General.
Sec. 104. Annual report on intercountry adoptions.

      TITLE II--PROVISIONS RELATING TO ACCREDITATION AND APPROVAL

Sec. 201. Accreditation or approval required in order to provide 
              adoption services in cases subject to the Convention.
Sec. 202. Process for accreditation and approval; role of accrediting 
              entities.
Sec. 203. Standards and procedures for providing accreditation or 
              approval.
Sec. 204. Secretarial oversight of accreditation and approval.
Sec. 205. State plan requirement.

  TITLE III--RECOGNITION OF CONVENTION ADOPTIONS IN THE UNITED STATES

Sec. 301. Adoptions of children immigrating to the United States.
Sec. 302. Immigration and Nationality Act amendments relating to 
              children adopted from Convention countries.
Sec. 303. Adoptions of children emigrating from the United States.

                TITLE IV--ADMINISTRATION AND ENFORCEMENT

Sec. 401. Access to Convention records.
Sec. 402. Documents of other Convention countries.
Sec. 403. Authorization of appropriations; collection of fees.
Sec. 404. Enforcement.

                      TITLE V--GENERAL PROVISIONS

Sec. 501. Recognition of Convention adoptions.
Sec. 502. Special rules for certain cases.
Sec. 503. Relationship to other laws.
Sec. 504. No private right of action.
Sec. 505. Effective dates; transition rule.

     SEC. 2. FINDINGS AND PURPOSES.

       (a) Findings.--Congress recognizes--
       (1) the international character of the Convention on 
     Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of 
     Intercountry Adoption (done at The Hague on May 29, 1993), 
     and
       (2) the need for uniform interpretation and implementation 
     of the Convention in the United States and abroad,
     and therefore finds that enactment of a Federal law governing 
     adoptions and prospective adoptions subject to the Convention 
     involving United States residents is essential.
       (b) Purposes.--The purposes of this Act are--
       (1) to provide for implementation by the United States of 
     the Convention;
       (2) to protect the rights of, and prevent abuses against, 
     children, birth families, and adoptive parents involved in 
     adoptions (or prospective adoptions) subject to the 
     Convention, and to ensure that such adoptions are in the 
     children's best interests; and
       (3) to improve the ability of the Federal Government to 
     assist United States citizens seeking to adopt children from 
     abroad and residents of other countries party to the 
     Convention seeking to adopt children from the United States.

     SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.

       As used in this Act:
       (1) Accredited agency.--The term ``accredited agency'' 
     means an agency accredited under title II to provide adoption 
     services in the United States in cases subject to the 
     Convention.

[[Page H6390]]

       (2) Accrediting entity.--The term ``accrediting entity'' 
     means an entity designated under section 202(a) to accredit 
     agencies and approve persons under title II.
       (3) Adoption service.--The term ``adoption service'' 
     means--
       (A) identifying a child for adoption and arranging an 
     adoption;
       (B) securing necessary consent to termination of parental 
     rights and to adoption;
       (C) performing a background study on a child or a home 
     study on a prospective adoptive parent, and reporting on such 
     a study;
       (D) making determinations of the best interests of a child 
     and the appropriateness of adoptive placement for the child;
       (E) post-placement monitoring of a case until final 
     adoption; and
       (F) where made necessary by disruption before final 
     adoption, assuming custody and providing child care or any 
     other social service pending an alternative placement.
     The term ``providing'', with respect to an adoption service, 
     includes facilitating the provision of the service.
       (4) Agency.--The term ``agency'' means any person other 
     than an individual.
       (5) Approved person.--The term ``approved person'' means a 
     person approved under title II to provide adoption services 
     in the United States in cases subject to the Convention.
       (6) Attorney general.--Except as used in section 404, the 
     term ``Attorney General'' means the Attorney General, acting 
     through the Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization.
       (7) Central authority.--The term ``central authority'' 
     means the entity designated as such by any Convention country 
     under Article 6(1) of the Convention.
       (8) Central authority function.--The term ``central 
     authority function'' means any duty required to be carried 
     out by a central authority under the Convention.
       (9) Convention.--The term ``Convention'' means the 
     Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in 
     Respect of Intercountry Adoption, done at The Hague on May 
     29, 1993.
       (10) Convention adoption.--The term ``Convention adoption'' 
     means an adoption of a child resident in a foreign country 
     party to the Convention by a United States citizen, or an 
     adoption of a child resident in the United States by an 
     individual residing in another Convention country.
       (11) Convention record.--The term ``Convention record'' 
     means any item, collection, or grouping of information 
     contained in an electronic or physical document, an 
     electronic collection of data, a photograph, an audio or 
     video tape, or any other information storage medium of any 
     type whatever that contains information about a specific 
     past, current, or prospective Convention adoption (regardless 
     of whether the adoption was made final) that has been 
     preserved in accordance with section 401(a) by the Secretary 
     of State or the Attorney General.
       (12) Convention country.--The term ``Convention country'' 
     means a country party to the Convention.
       (13) Other convention country.--The term ``other Convention 
     country'' means a Convention country other than the United 
     States.
       (14) Person.--The term ``person'' shall have the meaning 
     provided in section 1 of title 1, United States Code, and 
     shall not include any agency of government or tribal 
     government entity.
       (15) Person with an ownership or control interest.--The 
     term ``person with an ownership or control interest'' has the 
     meaning given such term in section 1124(a)(3) of the Social 
     Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1320a-3).
       (16) Secretary.--The term ``Secretary'' means the Secretary 
     of State.
       (17) State.--The term ``State'' means the 50 States, the 
     District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the 
     Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the 
     Virgin Islands.

                TITLE I--UNITED STATES CENTRAL AUTHORITY

     SEC. 101. DESIGNATION OF CENTRAL AUTHORITY.

       (a) In General.--For purposes of the Convention and this 
     Act--
       (1) the Department of State shall serve as the central 
     authority of the United States; and
       (2) the Secretary shall serve as the head of the central 
     authority of the United States.
       (b) Performance of Central Authority Functions.--
       (1) Except as otherwise provided in this Act, the Secretary 
     shall be responsible for the performance of all central 
     authority functions for the United States under the 
     Convention and this Act.
       (2) All personnel of the Department of State performing 
     core central authority functions in a professional capacity 
     in the Office of Children's Issues shall have a strong 
     background in consular affairs, personal experience in 
     international adoptions, or professional experience in 
     international adoptions or child services.
       (c) Authority To Issue Regulations.--Except as otherwise 
     provided in this Act, the Secretary may prescribe such 
     regulations as may be necessary to carry out central 
     authority functions on behalf of the United States.

     SEC. 102. RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE SECRETARY OF STATE.

       (a) Liaison Responsibilities.--The Secretary shall have 
     responsibility for--
       (1) liaison with the central authorities of other 
     Convention countries; and
       (2) the coordination of activities under the Convention by 
     persons subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.
       (b) Information Exchange.--The Secretary shall be 
     responsible for--
       (1) providing the central authorities of other Convention 
     countries with information concerning--
       (A) accredited agencies and approved persons, agencies and 
     persons whose accreditation or approval has been suspended or 
     canceled, and agencies and persons who have been temporarily 
     or permanently debarred from accreditation or approval;
       (B) Federal and State laws relevant to implementing the 
     Convention; and
       (C) any other matters necessary and appropriate for 
     implementation of the Convention;
       (2) not later than the date of the entry into force of the 
     Convention for the United States (pursuant to Article 
     46(2)(a) of the Convention) and at least once during each 
     subsequent calendar year, providing to the central authority 
     of all other Convention countries a notice requesting the 
     central authority of each such country to specify any 
     requirements of such country regarding adoption, including 
     restrictions on the eligibility of persons to adopt, with 
     respect to which information on the prospective adoptive 
     parent or parents in the United States would be relevant;
       (3) making responses to notices under paragraph (2) 
     available to--
       (A) accredited agencies and approved persons; and
       (B) other persons or entities performing home studies under 
     section 201(b)(1);
       (4) ensuring the provision of a background report (home 
     study) on the prospective adoptive parent or parents 
     (pursuant to the requirements of section 203(b)(1)(A)(ii)), 
     through the central authority of each child's country of 
     origin, to the court having jurisdiction over the adoption 
     (or in the case of a child emigrating to the United States 
     for the purpose of adoption to the competent authority in the 
     child's country of origin with responsibility for approving 
     the child's emigration) in adequate time to be considered 
     prior to the granting of such adoption or approval;
       (5) providing Federal agencies, State courts, and 
     accredited agencies and approved persons with an 
     identification of Convention countries and persons authorized 
     to perform functions under the Convention in each such 
     country; and
       (6) facilitating the transmittal of other appropriate 
     information to, and among, central authorities, Federal and 
     State agencies (including State courts), and accredited 
     agencies and approved persons.
       (c) Accreditation and Approval Responsibilities.--The 
     Secretary shall carry out the functions prescribed by the 
     Convention with respect to the accreditation of agencies and 
     the approval of persons to provide adoption services in the 
     United States in cases subject to the Convention as provided 
     in title II. Such functions may not be delegated to any other 
     Federal agency.
       (d) Additional Responsibilities.--The Secretary--
       (1) shall monitor individual Convention adoption cases 
     involving United States citizens; and
       (2) may facilitate interactions between such citizens and 
     officials of other Convention countries on matters relating 
     to the Convention in any case in which an accredited agency 
     or approved person is unwilling or unable to provide such 
     facilitation.
       (e) Establishment of Registry.--The Secretary and the 
     Attorney General shall jointly establish a case registry of 
     all adoptions involving immigration of children into the 
     United States and emigration of children from the United 
     States, regardless of whether the adoption occurs under the 
     Convention. Such registry shall permit tracking of pending 
     cases and retrieval of information on both pending and closed 
     cases.
       (f) Methods of Performing Responsibilities.--The Secretary 
     may--
       (1) authorize public or private entities to perform 
     appropriate central authority functions for which the 
     Secretary is responsible, pursuant to regulations or under 
     agreements published in the Federal Register; and
       (2) carry out central authority functions through grants 
     to, or contracts with, any individual or public or private 
     entity, except as may be otherwise specifically provided in 
     this Act.

     SEC. 103. RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL.

       In addition to such other responsibilities as are 
     specifically conferred upon the Attorney General by this Act, 
     the central authority functions specified in Article 14 of 
     the Convention (relating to the filing of applications by 
     prospective adoptive parents to the central authority of 
     their country of residence) shall be performed by the 
     Attorney General.

     SEC. 104. ANNUAL REPORT ON INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS.

       (a) Reports Required.--Beginning one year after the date of 
     the entry into force of the Convention for the United States 
     and each year thereafter, the Secretary, in consultation with 
     the Attorney General and other appropriate agencies, shall 
     submit a report describing the activities of the central 
     authority of the United States under this Act during the 
     preceding year to the Committee on International Relations, 
     the Committee on Ways and Means, and the

[[Page H6391]]

     Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives 
     and the Committee on Foreign Relations, the Committee on 
     Finance, and the Committee on the Judiciary of the Senate.
       (b) Report Elements.--Each report under subsection (a) 
     shall set forth with respect to the year concerned, the 
     following:
       (1) The number of intercountry adoptions involving 
     immigration to the United States, regardless of whether the 
     adoption occurred under the Convention, including the country 
     from which each child emigrated, the State to which each 
     child immigrated, and the country in which the adoption was 
     finalized.
       (2) The number of intercountry adoptions involving 
     emigration from the United States, regardless of whether the 
     adoption occurred under the Convention, including the country 
     to which each child immigrated and the State from which each 
     child emigrated.
       (3) The number of Convention placements for adoption in the 
     United States that were disrupted, including the country from 
     which the child emigrated, the age of the child, the date of 
     the placement for adoption, the reasons for the disruption, 
     the resolution of the disruption, the agencies that handled 
     the placement for adoption, and the plans for the child, and 
     in addition, any information regarding disruption or 
     dissolution of adoptions of children from other countries 
     received pursuant to section 422(b)(14) of the Social 
     Security Act, as amended by section 205 of this Act.
       (4) The average time required for completion of a 
     Convention adoption, set forth by country from which the 
     child emigrated.
       (5) The current list of agencies accredited and persons 
     approved under this Act to provide adoption services.
       (6) The names of the agencies and persons temporarily or 
     permanently debarred under this Act, and the reasons for the 
     debarment.
       (7) The range of adoption fees charged in connection with 
     Convention adoptions involving immigration to the United 
     States and the median of such fees set forth by the country 
     of origin.
       (8) The range of fees charged for accreditation of agencies 
     and the approval of persons in the United States engaged in 
     providing adoption services under the Convention.

      TITLE II--PROVISIONS RELATING TO ACCREDITATION AND APPROVAL

     SEC. 201. ACCREDITATION OR APPROVAL REQUIRED IN ORDER TO 
                   PROVIDE ADOPTION SERVICES IN CASES SUBJECT TO 
                   THE CONVENTION.

       (a) In General.--Except as otherwise provided in this 
     title, no person may offer or provide adoption services in 
     connection with a Convention adoption in the United States 
     unless that person--
       (1) is accredited or approved in accordance with this 
     title; or
       (2) is providing such services through or under the 
     supervision and responsibility of an accredited agency or 
     approved person.
       (b) Exceptions.--Subsection (a) shall not apply to the 
     following:
       (1) Background studies and home studies.--The performance 
     of a background study on a child or a home study on a 
     prospective adoptive parent, or any report on any such study 
     by a social work professional or organization who is not 
     providing any other adoption service in the case, if the 
     background or home study is approved by an accredited agency.
       (2) Child welfare services.--The provision of a child 
     welfare service by a person who is not providing any other 
     adoption service in the case.
       (3) Legal services.--The provision of legal services by a 
     person who is not providing any adoption service in the case.
       (4) Prospective adoptive parents acting on own behalf.--The 
     conduct of a prospective adoptive parent on his or her own 
     behalf in the case, to the extent not prohibited by the law 
     of the State in which the prospective adoptive parent 
     resides.

     SEC. 202. PROCESS FOR ACCREDITATION AND APPROVAL; ROLE OF 
                   ACCREDITING ENTITIES.

       (a) Designation of Accrediting Entities.--
       (1) In general.--The Secretary shall enter into agreements 
     with one or more qualified entities under which such entities 
     will perform the duties described in subsection (b) in 
     accordance with the Convention, this title, and the 
     regulations prescribed under section 203, and upon entering 
     into each such agreement shall designate the qualified entity 
     as an accrediting entity.
       (2) Qualified entity.--In paragraph (1), the term 
     ``qualified entity'' means--
       (A) a nonprofit private entity that has expertise in 
     developing and administering standards for entities providing 
     child welfare services and that meets such other criteria as 
     the Secretary may by regulation establish; or
       (B) a public entity (other than a Federal entity), 
     including an agency or instrumentality of State government 
     having responsibility for licensing adoption agencies, that--
       (i) has expertise in developing and administering standards 
     for entities providing child welfare services;
       (ii) accredits only agencies located in the State in which 
     the public entity is located;
       (iii) on the basis of the most recent review, has not been 
     found to have conducted a State program that has been found 
     to have failed substantially to conform with the requirements 
     of the child and family services review system authorized 
     under section 1123A of the Social Security Act; and
       (iv) meets such other criteria as the Secretary may by 
     regulation establish.
       (b) Duties of Accrediting Entities.--The duties described 
     in this subsection are the following:
       (1) Accreditation and approval.--Accreditation of agencies, 
     and approval of persons, to provide adoption services in the 
     United States in cases subject to the Convention.
       (2) Oversight.--Ongoing monitoring of the compliance of 
     accredited agencies and approved persons with applicable 
     requirements, including review of complaints against such 
     agencies and persons in accordance with procedures 
     established by the accrediting entity and approved by the 
     Secretary.
       (3) Enforcement.--Taking of adverse actions (including 
     requiring corrective action, imposing sanctions, and refusing 
     to renew, suspending, or canceling accreditation or approval) 
     for noncompliance with applicable requirements, and notifying 
     the agency or person against whom adverse actions are taken 
     of the deficiencies necessitating the adverse action.
       (4) Data, records, and reports.--Collection of data, 
     maintenance of records, and reporting to the Secretary, the 
     United States central authority, State courts, and other 
     entities (including on persons and agencies granted or denied 
     approval or accreditation), to the extent and in the manner 
     that the Secretary requires.
       (c) Remedies for Adverse Action by Accrediting Entity.--
       (1) Correction of deficiency.--An agency or person who is 
     the subject of an adverse action by an accrediting entity may 
     re-apply for accreditation or approval (or petition for 
     termination of the adverse action) on demonstrating to the 
     satisfaction of the accrediting entity that the deficiencies 
     necessitating the adverse action have been corrected.
       (2) No other administrative review.--An adverse action by 
     an accrediting entity shall not be subject to administrative 
     review.
       (3) Judicial review.--An agency or person who is the 
     subject of an adverse action by an accrediting entity may 
     petition the United States district court in the judicial 
     district in which the agency is located or the person resides 
     to set aside the adverse action. The court shall review the 
     adverse action in accordance with section 706 of title 5, 
     United States Code, and for purposes of such review the 
     accrediting entity shall be considered an agency within the 
     meaning of section 701 of such title.
       (d) Fees.--The amount of fees assessed by accrediting 
     entities for the costs of accreditation shall be subject to 
     approval by the Secretary. Such fees may not exceed the costs 
     of accreditation. In reviewing the level of such fees, the 
     Secretary shall consider the relative size of, the geographic 
     location of, and the number of Convention adoption cases 
     managed by the agencies or persons subject to accreditation 
     or approval by the accrediting entity.

     SEC. 203. STANDARDS AND PROCEDURES FOR PROVIDING 
                   ACCREDITATION OR APPROVAL.

       (a) In General.--
       (1) Promulgation of regulations.--The Secretary, shall, by 
     regulation, prescribe the standards and procedures to be used 
     by accrediting entities for the accreditation of agencies and 
     the approval of persons to provide adoption services in the 
     United States in cases subject to the Convention.
       (2) Consideration of views.--In developing such 
     regulations, the Secretary shall consider any standards or 
     procedures developed or proposed by, and the views of, 
     individuals and entities with interest and expertise in 
     international adoptions and family social services, including 
     public and private entities with experience in licensing and 
     accrediting adoption agencies.
       (3) Applicability of notice and comment rules.--Subsections 
     (b), (c), and (d) of section 553 of title 5, United States 
     Code, shall apply in the development and issuance of 
     regulations under this section.
       (b) Minimum Requirements.--
       (1) Accreditation.--The standards prescribed under 
     subsection (a) shall include the requirement that 
     accreditation of an agency may not be provided or continued 
     under this title unless the agency meets the following 
     requirements:
       (A) Specific requirements.--
       (i) The agency provides prospective adoptive parents of a 
     child in a prospective Convention adoption a copy of the 
     medical records of the child (which, to the fullest extent 
     practicable, shall include an English-language translation of 
     such records) on a date which is not later than the earlier 
     of the date that is 2 weeks before (I) the adoption, or (II) 
     the date on which the prospective parents travel to a foreign 
     country to complete all procedures in such country relating 
     to the adoption.
       (ii) The agency ensures that a thorough background report 
     (home study) on the prospective adoptive parent or parents 
     has been completed in accordance with the Convention and with 
     applicable Federal and State requirements and transmitted to 
     the Attorney General with respect to each Convention 
     adoption. Each such report shall include a criminal 
     background check and a full and complete statement of all 
     facts relevant to the eligibility of the prospective adopting 
     parent or parents to adopt a child under any requirements 
     specified by the central authority of the child's country of 
     origin under section 102(b)(3), including in the case of a 
     child emigrating to the United States for the purpose of 
     adoption the requirements of the

[[Page H6392]]

     child's country of origin applicable to adoptions taking 
     place in such country. For purposes of this clause, the term 
     ``background report (home study)'' shall include any 
     supplemental statement submitted by the agency to the 
     Attorney General for the purpose of providing information 
     relevant to any requirements specified by the child's country 
     of origin.
       (iii) The agency provides prospective adoptive parents with 
     a training program that includes counseling and guidance for 
     the purpose of promoting a successful intercountry adoption 
     before such parents travel to adopt the child or the child is 
     placed with such parents for adoption.
       (iv) The agency employs personnel providing intercountry 
     adoption services on a fee for service basis rather than on a 
     contingent fee basis.
       (v) The agency discloses fully its policies and practices, 
     the disruption rates of its placements for intercountry 
     adoption, and all fees charged by such agency for 
     intercountry adoption.
       (B) Capacity to provide adoption services.--The agency has, 
     directly or through arrangements with other persons, a 
     sufficient number of appropriately trained and qualified 
     personnel, sufficient financial resources, appropriate 
     organizational structure, and appropriate procedures to 
     enable the agency to provide, in accordance with this Act, 
     all adoption services in cases subject to the Convention.
       (C) Use of social service professionals.--The agency has 
     established procedures designed to ensure that social service 
     functions requiring the application of clinical skills and 
     judgment are performed only by professionals with appropriate 
     qualifications and credentials.
       (D) Records, reports, and information matters.--The agency 
     is capable of--
       (i) maintaining such records and making such reports as may 
     be required by the Secretary, the United States central 
     authority, and the accrediting entity that accredits the 
     agency;
       (ii) cooperating with reviews, inspections, and audits;
       (iii) safeguarding sensitive individual information; and
       (iv) complying with other requirements concerning 
     information management necessary to ensure compliance with 
     the Convention, this Act, and any other applicable law.
       (E) Liability insurance.--The agency agrees to have in 
     force adequate liability insurance for professional 
     negligence and any other insurance that the Secretary 
     considers appropriate.
       (F) Compliance with applicable rules.--The agency has 
     established adequate measures to comply (and to ensure 
     compliance of their agents and clients) with the Convention, 
     this Act, and any other applicable law.
       (G) Nonprofit organization with state license to provide 
     adoption services.--The agency is a private nonprofit 
     organization licensed to provide adoption services in at 
     least one State.
       (2) Approval.--The standards prescribed under subsection 
     (a) shall include the requirement that a person shall not be 
     approved under this title unless the person is a private for-
     profit entity that meets the requirements of subparagraphs 
     (A) through (F) of paragraph (1) of this subsection.
       (3) Renewal of accreditation or approval.--The standards 
     prescribed under subsection (a) shall provide that the 
     accreditation of an agency or approval of a person under this 
     title shall be for a period of not less than 3 years and not 
     more than 5 years, and may be renewed on a showing that the 
     agency or person meets the requirements applicable to 
     original accreditation or approval under this title.
       (c) Temporary Registration of Community-Based Agencies.--
       (1) 1-year registration period for medium community-based 
     agencies.--For a 1-year period after the entry into force of 
     the Convention and notwithstanding subsection (b), the 
     Secretary may provide, in regulations issued pursuant to 
     subsection (a), that an agency may register with the 
     Secretary and be accredited to provide adoption services in 
     the United States in cases subject to the Convention during 
     such period if the agency has provided adoption services in 
     fewer than 100 intercountry adoptions in the preceding 
     calendar year and meets the criteria described in paragraph 
     (3).
       (2) 2-year registration period for small community-based 
     agencies.--For a 2-year period after the entry into force of 
     the Convention and notwithstanding subsection (b), the 
     Secretary may provide, in regulations issued pursuant to 
     subsection (a), that an agency may register with the 
     Secretary and be accredited to provide adoption services in 
     the United States in cases subject to the Convention during 
     such period if the agency has provided adoption services in 
     fewer than 50 intercountry adoptions in the preceding 
     calendar year and meets the criteria described in paragraph 
     (3).
       (3) Criteria for registration.--Agencies registered under 
     this subsection shall meet the following criteria:
       (A) The agency is licensed in the State in which it is 
     located and is a nonprofit agency.
       (B) The agency has been providing adoption services in 
     connection with intercountry adoptions for at least 3 years.
       (C) The agency has demonstrated that it will be able to 
     provided the United States Government with all information 
     related to the elements described in section 104(b) and 
     provides such information.
       (D) The agency has initiated the process of becoming 
     accredited under the provisions of this Act and is actively 
     taking steps to become an accredited agency.
       (E) The agency has not been found to be involved in any 
     improper conduct relating to intercountry adoptions.

     SEC. 204. SECRETARIAL OVERSIGHT OF ACCREDITATION AND 
                   APPROVAL.

       (a) Oversight of Accrediting Entities.--The Secretary 
     shall--
       (1) monitor the performance by each accrediting entity of 
     its duties under section 202 and its compliance with the 
     requirements of the Convention, this Act, other applicable 
     laws, and implementing regulations under this Act; and
       (2) suspend or cancel the designation of an accrediting 
     entity found to be substantially out of compliance with the 
     Convention, this Act, other applicable laws, or implementing 
     regulations under this Act.
       (b) Suspension or Cancellation of Accreditation or 
     Approval.--
       (1) Secretary's authority.--The Secretary shall suspend or 
     cancel the accreditation or approval granted by an 
     accrediting entity to an agency or person pursuant to section 
     202 when the Secretary finds that--
       (A) the agency or person is substantially out of compliance 
     with applicable requirements; and
       (B) the accrediting entity has failed or refused, after 
     consultation with the Secretary, to take appropriate 
     enforcement action.
       (2) Correction of deficiency.--At any time when the 
     Secretary is satisfied that the deficiencies on the basis of 
     which an adverse action is taken under paragraph (1) have 
     been corrected, the Secretary shall--
       (A) notify the accrediting entity that the deficiencies 
     have been corrected; and
       (B)(i) in the case of a suspension, terminate the 
     suspension; or
       (ii) in the case of a cancellation, notify the agency or 
     person that the agency or person may re-apply to the 
     accrediting entity for accreditation or approval.
       (c) Debarment.--
       (1) Secretary's authority.--On the initiative of the 
     Secretary, or on request of an accrediting entity, the 
     Secretary may temporarily or permanently debar an agency from 
     accreditation or a person from approval under this title, but 
     only if--
       (A) there is substantial evidence that the agency or person 
     is out of compliance with applicable requirements; and
       (B) there has been a pattern of serious, willful, or 
     grossly negligent failures to comply or other aggravating 
     circumstances indicating that continued accreditation or 
     approval would not be in the best interests of the children 
     and families concerned.
       (2) Period of debarment.--The Secretary's debarment order 
     shall state whether the debarment is temporary or permanent. 
     If the debarment is temporary, the Secretary shall specify a 
     date, not earlier than 3 years after the date of the order, 
     on or after which the agency or person may apply to the 
     Secretary for withdrawal of the debarment.
       (3) Effect of debarment.--An accrediting entity may take 
     into account the circumstances of the debarment of an agency 
     or person that has been debarred pursuant to this subsection 
     in considering any subsequent application of the agency or 
     person, or of any other entity in which the agency or person 
     has an ownership or control interest, for accreditation or 
     approval under this title.
       (d) Judicial Review.--A person (other than a prospective 
     adoptive parent), an agency, or an accrediting entity who is 
     the subject of a final action of suspension, cancellation, or 
     debarment by the Secretary under this title may petition the 
     United States District Court for the District of Columbia or 
     the United States district court in the judicial district in 
     which the person resides or the agency or accrediting entity 
     is located to set aside the action. The court shall review 
     the action in accordance with section 706 of title 5, United 
     States Code.
       (e) Failure to Ensure a Full and Complete Home Study.--
       (1) Willful, grossly negligent, or repeated failure to 
     ensure the completion and transmission of a background report 
     (home study) that fully complies with the requirements of 
     section 203(b)(1)(A)(ii) shall constitute substantial 
     noncompliance with applicable requirements.
       (2) Regulations promulgated under section 203 shall provide 
     for--
       (A) frequent and careful monitoring of compliance by 
     agencies and approved persons with the requirements of 
     section 203(b)(1)(A)(ii); and
       (B) consultation between the Secretary and the accrediting 
     entity where an agency or person has engaged in substantial 
     noncompliance with the requirements of section 
     203(b)(1)(A)(ii), unless the accrediting entity has taken 
     appropriate corrective action and the noncompliance has not 
     recurred.
       (3) Repeated serious, willful, or grossly negligent 
     failures to comply with the requirements of section 
     203(b)(1)(A)(ii) by an agency or person after consultation 
     between the Secretary and the accrediting entity with respect 
     to previous noncompliance by such agency or person shall 
     constitute a pattern of serious, willful, or grossly 
     negligent failures to comply under subsection (c)(1)(B).
       (4) A failure to comply with the requirements of section 
     203(b)(1)(A)(ii) shall constitute a serious failure to comply 
     under subsection (c)(1)(B) unless it is shown by clear

[[Page H6393]]

     and convincing evidence that such noncompliance had neither 
     the purpose nor the effect of determining the outcome of a 
     decision or proceeding by a court or other competent 
     authority in the United States or the child's country of 
     origin.

     SEC. 205. STATE PLAN REQUIREMENT.

       Section 422(b) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 
     622(b)) is amended--
       (1) in paragraph (11), by striking ``and'' at the end;
       (2) in paragraph (12), by striking ``children.'' and 
     inserting ``children;''; and
       (3) by adding at the end the following new paragraphs:
       ``(13) contain a description of the activities that the 
     State has undertaken for children adopted from other 
     countries, including the provision of adoption and post-
     adoption services; and
       ``(14) provide that the State shall collect and report 
     information on children who are adopted from other countries 
     and who enter into State custody as a result of the 
     disruption of a placement for adoption or the dissolution of 
     an adoption, including the number of children, the agencies 
     who handled the placement or adoption, the plans for the 
     child, and the reasons for the disruption or dissolution.''.

  TITLE III--RECOGNITION OF CONVENTION ADOPTIONS IN THE UNITED STATES

     SEC. 301. ADOPTIONS OF CHILDREN IMMIGRATING TO THE UNITED 
                   STATES.

       (a) Legal Effect of Certificates Issued by the Secretary of 
     State.--
       (1) Issuance of certificates by the secretary of state.--
     The Secretary of State shall, with respect to each Convention 
     adoption, issue a certificate to the adoptive citizen parent 
     domiciled in the United States that the adoption has been 
     granted or, in the case of a prospective adoptive citizen 
     parent, that legal custody of the child has been granted to 
     the citizen parent for purposes of emigration and adoption, 
     pursuant to the Convention and this Act, if the Secretary of 
     State--
       (A) receives appropriate notification from the central 
     authority of such child's country of origin; and
       (B) has verified that the requirements of the Convention 
     and this Act have been met with respect to the adoption.
       (2) Legal effect of certificates.--If appended to an 
     original adoption decree, the certificate described in 
     paragraph (1) shall be treated by Federal and State agencies, 
     courts, and other public and private persons and entities as 
     conclusive evidence of the facts certified therein and shall 
     constitute the certification required by section 204(d)(2) of 
     the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended by this Act.
       (b) Legal Effect of Convention Adoption Finalized in 
     Another Convention Country.--A final adoption in another 
     Convention country, certified by the Secretary of State 
     pursuant to subsection (a) of this section or section 303(c), 
     shall be recognized as a final valid adoption for purposes of 
     all Federal, State, and local laws of the United States.
       (c) Condition on Finalization of Convention Adoption by 
     State Court.--In the case of a child who has entered the 
     United States from another Convention country for the purpose 
     of adoption, an order declaring the adoption final shall not 
     be entered unless the Secretary of State has issued the 
     certificate provided for in subsection (a) with respect to 
     the adoption.

     SEC. 302. IMMIGRATION AND NATIONALITY ACT AMENDMENTS RELATING 
                   TO CHILDREN ADOPTED FROM CONVENTION COUNTRIES.

       (a) Definition of Child.--Section 101(b)(1) of the 
     Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(b)(1)) is 
     amended--
       (1) by striking ``or'' at the end of subparagraph (E);
       (2) by striking the period at the end of subparagraph (F) 
     and inserting ``; or''; and
       (3) by adding after subparagraph (F) the following new 
     subparagraph:
       ``(G) a child, under the age of sixteen at the time a 
     petition is filed on the child's behalf to accord a 
     classification as an immediate relative under section 201(b), 
     who has been adopted in a foreign state that is a party to 
     the Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in 
     Respect of Intercountry Adoption done at The Hague on May 29, 
     1993, or who is emigrating from such a foreign state to be 
     adopted in the United States, by a United States citizen and 
     spouse jointly, or by an unmarried United States citizen at 
     least twenty-five years of age--
       ``(i) if--
       ``(I) the Attorney General is satisfied that proper care 
     will be furnished the child if admitted to the United States;
       ``(II) the child's natural parents (or parent, in the case 
     of a child who has one sole or surviving parent because of 
     the death or disappearance of, abandonment or desertion by, 
     the other parent), or other persons or institutions that 
     retain legal custody of the child, have freely given their 
     written irrevocable consent to the termination of their legal 
     relationship with the child, and to the child's emigration 
     and adoption;
       ``(III) the child is not the grandchild, niece, nephew, 
     brother, sister, aunt, uncle, or first cousin of one or both 
     of the adopting parents, unless--

       ``(aa) the child has no living parents because of the death 
     or disappearance of, abandonment or desertion by, separation 
     from, or loss of, both parents; or
       ``(bb) the sole or surviving parent is incapable of 
     providing the proper care for the child and has in writing 
     irrevocably released the child for emigration and adoption; 
     and

       ``(IV) in the case of a child who has not been adopted--

       ``(aa) the competent authority of the foreign state has 
     approved the child's emigration to the United States for the 
     purpose of adoption by the prospective adoptive parent or 
     parents; and
       ``(bb) the prospective adoptive parent or parents has or 
     have complied with any pre-adoption requirements of the 
     child's proposed residence; and

       ``(ii) except that no natural parent or prior adoptive 
     parent of any such child shall thereafter, by virtue of such 
     parentage, be accorded any right, privilege, or status under 
     this Act.''.
       (b) Approval of Petitions.--Section 204(d) of the 
     Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1154(d)) is 
     amended--
       (1) by striking ``(d)'' and inserting ``(d)(1)'';
       (2) by striking ``section 101(b)(1)(F)'' and inserting 
     ``subparagraph (F) or (G) of section 101(b)(1)''; and
       (3) by adding at the end the following new paragraph:
       ``(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections (a) and 
     (b), no petition may be approved on behalf of a child defined 
     in section 101(b)(1)(G) unless the Secretary of State has 
     certified that the central authority of the child's country 
     of origin has notified the United States central authority 
     under the convention referred to in such section 101(b)(1)(G) 
     that a United States citizen habitually resident in the 
     United States has effected final adoption of the child, or 
     has been granted custody of the child for the purpose of 
     emigration and adoption, in accordance with such convention 
     and the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000.''.
       (c) Definition of Parent.--Section 101(b)(2) of the 
     Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(b)(2)) is 
     amended by inserting ``and paragraph (1)(G)(i)'' after 
     ``second proviso therein)''.

     SEC. 303. ADOPTIONS OF CHILDREN EMIGRATING FROM THE UNITED 
                   STATES.

       (a) Duties of Accredited Agency or Approved Person.--In the 
     case of a Convention adoption involving the emigration of a 
     child residing in the United States to a foreign country, the 
     accredited agency or approved person providing adoption 
     services, or the prospective adoptive parent or parents 
     acting on their own behalf (if permitted by the laws of such 
     other Convention country in which they reside and the laws of 
     the State in which the child resides), shall do the 
     following:
       (1) Ensure that, in accordance with the Convention--
       (A) a background study on the child is completed;
       (B) the accredited agency or approved person--
       (i) has made reasonable efforts to actively recruit and 
     make a diligent search for prospective adoptive parents to 
     adopt the child in the United States; and
       (ii) despite such efforts, has not been able to place the 
     child for adoption in the United States in a timely manner; 
     and
       (C) a determination is made that placement with the 
     prospective adoptive parent or parents is in the best 
     interests of the child.
       (2) Furnish to the State court with jurisdiction over the 
     case--
       (A) documentation of the matters described in paragraph 
     (1);
       (B) a background report (home study) on the prospective 
     adoptive parent or parents (including a criminal background 
     check) prepared in accordance with the laws of the receiving 
     country; and
       (C) a declaration by the central authority (or other 
     competent authority) of such other Convention country--
       (i) that the child will be permitted to enter and reside 
     permanently, or on the same basis as the adopting parent, in 
     the receiving country; and
       (ii) that the central authority (or other competent 
     authority) of such other Convention country consents to the 
     adoption, if such consent is necessary under the laws of such 
     country for the adoption to become final.
       (3) Furnish to the United States central authority--
       (A) official copies of State court orders certifying the 
     final adoption or grant of custody for the purpose of 
     adoption;
       (B) the information and documents described in paragraph 
     (2), to the extent required by the United States central 
     authority; and
       (C) any other information concerning the case required by 
     the United States central authority to perform the functions 
     specified in subsection (c) or otherwise to carry out the 
     duties of the United States central authority under the 
     Convention.
       (b) Conditions on State Court Orders.--An order declaring 
     an adoption to be final or granting custody for the purpose 
     of adoption in a case described in subsection (a) shall not 
     be entered unless the court--
       (1) has received and verified to the extent the court may 
     find necessary--
       (A) the material described in subsection (a)(2); and
       (B) satisfactory evidence that the requirements of Articles 
     4 and 15 through 21 of the Convention have been met; and

[[Page H6394]]

       (2) has determined that the adoptive placement is in the 
     best interests of the child.
       (c) Duties of the Secretary of State.--In a case described 
     in subsection (a), the Secretary, on receipt and verification 
     as necessary of the material and information described in 
     subsection (a)(3), shall issue, as applicable, an official 
     certification that the child has been adopted or a 
     declaration that custody for purposes of adoption has been 
     granted, in accordance with the Convention and this Act.
       (d) Filing with Registry Regarding Nonconvention 
     Adoptions.--Accredited agencies, approved persons, and other 
     persons, including governmental authorities, providing 
     adoption services in an intercountry adoption not subject to 
     the Convention that involves the emigration of a child from 
     the United States shall file information required by 
     regulations jointly issued by the Attorney General and the 
     Secretary of State for purposes of implementing section 
     102(e).

                TITLE IV--ADMINISTRATION AND ENFORCEMENT

     SEC. 401. ACCESS TO CONVENTION RECORDS.

       (a) Preservation of Convention Records.--
       (1) In general.--Not later than 180 days after the date of 
     the enactment of this Act, the Secretary, in consultation 
     with the Attorney General, shall issue regulations that 
     establish procedures and requirements in accordance with the 
     Convention and this section for the preservation of 
     Convention records.
       (2) Applicability of notice and comment rules.--Subsections 
     (b), (c), and (d) of section 553 of title 5, United States 
     Code, shall apply in the development and issuance of 
     regulations under this section.
       (b) Access to Convention Records.--
       (1) Prohibition.--Except as provided in paragraph (2), the 
     Secretary or the Attorney General may disclose a Convention 
     record, and access to such a record may be provided in whole 
     or in part, only if such record is maintained under the 
     authority of the Immigration and Nationality Act and 
     disclosure of, or access to, such record is permitted or 
     required by applicable Federal law.
       (2) Exception for administration of the convention.--A 
     Convention record may be disclosed, and access to such a 
     record may be provided, in whole or in part, among the 
     Secretary, the Attorney General, central authorities, 
     accredited agencies, and approved persons, only to the extent 
     necessary to administer the Convention or this Act.
       (3) Penalties for unlawful disclosure.--Unlawful disclosure 
     of all or part of a Convention record shall be punishable in 
     accordance with applicable Federal law.
       (c) Access to Non-Convention Records.--Disclosure of, 
     access to, and penalties for unlawful disclosure of, adoption 
     records that are not Convention records, including records of 
     adoption proceedings conducted in the United States, shall be 
     governed by applicable State law.

     SEC. 402. DOCUMENTS OF OTHER CONVENTION COUNTRIES.

       Documents originating in any other Convention country and 
     related to a Convention adoption case shall require no 
     authentication in order to be admissible in any Federal, 
     State, or local court in the United States, unless a specific 
     and supported claim is made that the documents are false, 
     have been altered, or are otherwise unreliable.

     SEC. 403. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS; COLLECTION OF 
                   FEES.

       (a) Authorization of Appropriations.--
       (1) In general.--There are authorized to be appropriated 
     such sums as may be necessary to agencies of the Federal 
     Government implementing the Convention and the provisions of 
     this Act.
       (2) Availability of funds.--Amounts appropriated pursuant 
     to paragraph (1) are authorized to remain available until 
     expended.
       (b) Assessment of Fees.--
       (1) The Secretary may charge a fee for new or enhanced 
     services that will be undertaken by the Department of State 
     to meet the requirements of this Act with respect to 
     intercountry adoptions under the Convention and comparable 
     services with respect to other intercountry adoptions. Such 
     fee shall be prescribed by regulation and shall not exceed 
     the cost of such services.
       (2) Fees collected under paragraph (1) shall be retained 
     and deposited as an offsetting collection to any Department 
     of State appropriation to recover the costs of providing such 
     services.
       (3) Fees authorized under this section shall be available 
     for obligation only to the extent and in the amount provided 
     in advance in appropriations Acts.
       (c) Restriction.--No funds collected under the authority of 
     this section may be made available to an accrediting entity 
     to carry out the purposes of this Act.

     SEC. 404. ENFORCEMENT.

       (a) Civil Penalties.--Any person who--
       (1) violates section 201;
       (2) makes a false or fraudulent statement, or 
     misrepresentation, with respect to a material fact, or 
     offers, gives, solicits, or accepts inducement by way of 
     compensation, intended to influence or affect in the United 
     States or a foreign country--
       (A) a decision by an accrediting entity with respect to the 
     accreditation of an agency or approval of a person under 
     title II;
       (B) the relinquishment of parental rights or the giving of 
     parental consent relating to the adoption of a child in a 
     case subject to the Convention; or
       (C) a decision or action of any entity performing a central 
     authority function; or
       (3) engages another person as an agent, whether in the 
     United States or in a foreign country, who in the course of 
     that agency takes any of the actions described in paragraph 
     (1) or (2),
     shall be subject, in addition to any other penalty that may 
     be prescribed by law, to a civil money penalty of not more 
     than $50,000 for a first violation, and not more than 
     $100,000 for each succeeding violation.
       (b) Civil Enforcement.--
       (1) Authority of attorney general.--The Attorney General 
     may bring a civil action to enforce subsection (a) against 
     any person in any United States district court.
       (2) Factors to be considered in imposing penalties.--In 
     imposing penalties the court shall consider the gravity of 
     the violation, the degree of culpability of the defendant, 
     and any history of prior violations by the defendant.
       (c) Criminal Penalties.--Whoever knowingly and willfully 
     violates paragraph (1) or (2) of subsection (a) shall be 
     subject to a fine of not more than $250,000, imprisonment for 
     not more than 5 years, or both.

                      TITLE V--GENERAL PROVISIONS

     SEC. 501. RECOGNITION OF CONVENTION ADOPTIONS.

       Subject to Article 24 of the Convention, adoptions 
     concluded between two other Convention countries that meet 
     the requirements of Article 23 of the Convention and that 
     became final before the date of entry into force of the 
     Convention for the United States shall be recognized 
     thereafter in the United States and given full effect. Such 
     recognition shall include the specific effects described in 
     Article 26 of the Convention.

     SEC. 502. SPECIAL RULES FOR CERTAIN CASES.

       (a) Authority to Establish Alternative Procedures for 
     Adoption of Children by Relatives.--To the extent consistent 
     with the Convention, the Secretary may establish by 
     regulation alternative procedures for the adoption of 
     children by individuals related to them by blood, marriage, 
     or adoption, in cases subject to the Convention.
       (b) Waiver Authority.--
       (1) In general.--Notwithstanding any other provision of 
     this Act, to the extent consistent with the Convention, the 
     Secretary may, on a case-by-case basis, waive applicable 
     requirements of this Act or regulations issued under this 
     Act, in the interests of justice or to prevent grave physical 
     harm to the child.
       (2) Nondelegation.--The authority provided by paragraph (1) 
     may not be delegated.

     SEC. 503. RELATIONSHIP TO OTHER LAWS.

       (a) Preemption of Inconsistent State Law.--The Convention 
     and this Act shall not be construed to preempt any provision 
     of the law of any State or political subdivision thereof, or 
     prevent a State or political subdivision thereof from 
     enacting any provision of law with respect to the subject 
     matter of the Convention or this Act, except to the extent 
     that such provision of State law is inconsistent with the 
     Convention or this Act, and then only to the extent of the 
     inconsistency.
       (b) Applicability of the Indian Child Welfare Act.--The 
     Convention and this Act shall not be construed to affect the 
     application of the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (25 
     U.S.C. 1901 et seq.).
       (c) Relationship to Other Laws.--Sections 3506(c), 3507, 
     and 3512 of title 44, United States Code, shall not apply to 
     information collection for purposes of sections 104, 
     202(b)(4), and 303(d) of this Act or for use as a Convention 
     record as defined in this Act.

     SEC. 504. NO PRIVATE RIGHT OF ACTION.

       The Convention and this Act shall not be construed to 
     create a private right of action to seek administrative or 
     judicial relief, except to the extent expressly provided in 
     this Act.

     SEC. 505. EFFECTIVE DATES; TRANSITION RULE.

       (a) Effective Dates.--
       (1) Provisions effective upon enactment.--Sections 2, 3, 
     101 through 103, 202 through 205, 401(a), 403, 503, and 
     505(a) shall take effect on the date of the enactment of this 
     Act.
       (2) Provisions effective upon the entry into force of the 
     convention.--Subject to subsection (b), the provisions of 
     this Act not specified in paragraph (1) shall take effect 
     upon the entry into force of the Convention for the United 
     States pursuant to Article 46(2)(a) of the Convention.
       (b) Transition Rule.--The Convention and this Act shall not 
     apply--
       (1) in the case of a child immigrating to the United 
     States, if the application for advance processing of an 
     orphan petition or petition to classify an orphan as an 
     immediate relative for the child is filed before the 
     effective date described in subsection (a)(2); or
       (2) in the case of a child emigrating from the United 
     States, if the prospective adoptive parents of the child 
     initiated the adoption process in their country of residence 
     with the filing of an appropriate application before the 
     effective date described in subsection (a)(2).

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from New 
York (Mr. Gilman) and the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Delahunt) 
each will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from New York (Mr. Gilman).


                             General Leave

  Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members

[[Page H6395]]

may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their 
remarks on H.R. 2909.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from New York?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  (Mr. GILMAN asked and was given permission to revise and extend his 
remarks.)
  Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, I rise enthusiastically to bring to the 
House floor H.R. 2909, the Intercountry Adoption Act, and I offer a 
personal word of thanks for the diligent efforts of the gentlewoman 
from Connecticut (Mrs. Johnson); the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. 
Camp); the distinguished chairman of the Subcommittee on International 
Operations and Human Rights, the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Smith); 
the ranking minority member of the Committee on International 
Relations, the gentleman from Connecticut (Mr. Gejdenson); and the 
gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Delahunt) for their collective 
efforts. Their efforts and their expertise enables us to bring this 
bipartisan bill to the floor today, which has strong congressional 
support with a remarkable total of 51 cosponsors.
  The purpose of our bill is to provide the Department of State with 
the necessary authorities to implement the Hague Convention on the 
Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry 
Adoption. As a signatory to this convention, our Nation must now meet 
the obligations of the convention, which includes establishing a 
Federal central authority and an accreditation process for agencies 
engaged in intercountry adoptions.
  The Hague Convention, developed in response to abuses in the 
intercountry adoption process, sets forth standards and procedures that 
can be recognized and followed by countries engaged in intercountry 
adoptions. This legal framework provides protection to the adoptive 
children and to their families by ensuring that agencies and 
individuals involved in the intercountry adoption process meet 
standards of competence, ethical behavior, and financial soundness.
  This bill reflects many hours of deliberation among committees of 
jurisdiction, the Department of State and the Department of Justice. We 
greatly appreciate the advice from many outside groups and individuals 
as we crafted this bipartisan measure. We are also grateful for the 
many letters of support we received for the bill before the House 
today.
  I say with confidence that we have before us a solid bill that will 
enable our State Department to implement procedures to assist thousands 
of families in adopting children from overseas.

                              {time}  1230

  We want those parents to have the best information and services 
available to them. This bill provides many consumer protections to 
improve the intercountry adoption process and to establish a consistent 
and a reliable system that will be recognized by other foreign 
countries.
  In closing, I would like to recognize the significant assistance 
provided by leadership staff in helping us bring the bill to the floor 
and to our Committee on International Relations staff members Kristen 
Gilley, our professional staff member; David Abramowitz, our committee 
minority counsel; Joseph Rees, counsel and staff director of our 
Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights; and Mark 
Agrast, staff assistant of the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. 
Delahunt).
  Mr. Speaker, I urge full support for this bill by our colleagues.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. DELAHUNT. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume; 
and I rise in support of the resolution.
  Mr. Speaker, well, this day has been long in coming. And while I 
still have some reservations about certain provisions of the bill, it 
certainly is a good day. I might add parenthetically that today happens 
to be my birthday, and passage of this measure certainly would be the 
most memorable of birthday gifts.
  I want to thank our chairman, the gentleman from New York (Mr. 
Gilman), the chairman of the Committee on International Relations; the 
gentleman from Connecticut (Mr. Gejdenson), the ranking member; and the 
gentleman from North Dakota (Mr. Pomeroy), my friend and colleague, who 
is the father of two adopted children from Korea; and our colleagues 
from the Committee on Ways and Means, the gentlewoman from Connecticut 
(Mrs. Johnson) and the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Camp), who has been 
a leader not only in this particular effort but on other important 
adoption initiatives; as well as my friend and colleague, the gentleman 
from New Jersey (Mr. Smith); also, a number of key officials at the 
Department of State who contributed substantially to this effort. Their 
advice and input are genuinely appreciated.
  I also want to express my appreciation to Senators Helms, Biden, and 
Landrieu, with whom the amended bill was carefully developed in the 
course of extensive consultations.
  And finally, I want to thank the many adoptive families, adoption 
experts and child service organizations that have been so generous with 
their encouragement and counsel on the many difficult issues that we 
had to confront.
  At our hearing on the bill last October, I promised to do all I could 
to see that this would be an open process and that their concerns would 
be heard. I believe that promise has been kept, Mr. Speaker, and that 
the extensive input we received has resulted in a bill that merits wide 
support.
  Mr. Speaker, I think many of my colleagues are aware of the fact 
that, for me, this is no ordinary piece of legislation. And 
intercountry adoption is not some abstract or theoretical policy 
question or concept.
  This past April 6, my family marked the 25th anniversary of the 
arrival of my younger daughter, Kara, who was airlifted out of Vietnam 
during ``Operation Baby-Lift'' just days before the fall of Saigon.
  I cannot express adequately to this House how profoundly her arrival 
changed our lives. Her mother, Katy, her sister, Kirsten, and I often 
reflect on how much richer and fuller our lives are because she is part 
of us, she is our family. But our experience is far from unique, as I 
am sure can be verified by my friend, the gentleman from North Dakota 
(Mr. Pomeroy). It is shared by hundreds of thousands of families across 
this country, including a number of my colleagues in this House who 
have adopted from abroad.
  Intercountry adoption is not the answer to all the problems affecting 
children around the world, but it has given loving homes and a chance 
in life to needy children who could not be cared for in their countries 
of origin.
  When the process works, it results in the successful placement of 
happy, well-adjusted children with responsible parents who will love 
and care for them. But problems, including some very serious problems, 
do occur. And while most of the leading international adoption agencies 
maintain high ethical and professional standards, sadly, this is not 
always the case.
  Documented abuses range from the charging of exorbitant fees by so-
called ``facilitators'' in some countries to child kidnapping, baby 
smuggling; and coerced consent from birth mothers do occur.
  In some cases, information has been improperly held from adoptive 
families with regards to the child's medical and psychological 
condition. And tragically, some adoptions have been disrupted because 
the adoptive families were poorly prepared for their parenting 
responsibilities as a result of the failure of the agency to provide 
the necessary pre- and post-adoption counseling.
  Such concerns have caused a number of countries, including Russia, 
Romania, and Guatemala, to actually suspend overseas adoptions until 
safeguards could be put in place.
  For example, last March a special United Nations investigator 
reported to the Human Rights Commission that Guatemalan babies have 
been reduced to ``objects of trade and commerce.'' And that is a quote, 
``objects of trade and commerce.''
  According to her report, prominent lawyers, doctors, and judges in 
Guatemala were involved in a series of abuses from falsifying birth 
records to tricking or drugging frightened birth mothers into signing 
over their children.

[[Page H6396]]

  That is why the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption is of such 
importance and this implementing language is so critical. It will help 
eliminate these abuses and enable both birth parents and adoptive 
families to participate in the intercountry adoption process with full 
confidence and a sense of security.
  It is also important to understand the importance of the United 
States' role on this issue. As the largest receiving country for 
adopted children, the United States played a prominent role in 
negotiating the Convention. Since Americans adopt four out of five 
children that are placed through intercountry adoption, it is certainly 
in our national interest to secure ratification. And while 40 nations 
have already ratified the document, many more are simply waiting to see 
what we will do.
  U.S. ratification will signal our commitment to these standards and 
will reassure sending countries that we intend to abide by them. And I 
am hopeful that it will encourage people everywhere to consider the 
benefits of international adoption.
  On the other hand, should we fail to ratify, we will deal a serious 
setback to the Convention and will cause major sending nations to 
reconsider whether to continue to send their children here.
  Mr. Speaker, I recognize that this legislation represents a 
compromise on many tough issues. And every compromise involves some 
degree of sacrifice by all concerned. I am, therefore, very grateful 
that so many organizations representing such a broad spectrum of 
opinion have been willing to put aside their broader agendas and give 
their support to the bill.
  Again, I want to thank all who have contributed to this effort. But 
before I conclude, I would be remiss not to take particular note of the 
extraordinary contributions of the following staff: Kristen Gilley of 
the Committee on International Relations; David Abramowitz of the 
Committee on International Relations minority staff; Cassie Bevan of 
the Committee on Ways and Means of the majority staff; and Mark Agrast, 
my own legislative director.
  As I suggested, this has been an arduous and lengthy process. I have 
no doubt that this legislation has involved more meetings and 
conversations and discussions than possibly any other proposal in the 
106th Congress. But for their efforts, it is clear that we would not be 
here today. Their dedication, their persistence and their commitment 
bordered at times on the Herculean.
  We all, particularly those who adopt children from overseas, are 
deeply in their debt and we recognize that their motivation was a deep 
and profound concern, love, if you will, for children everywhere on 
God's good Earth who are in the most desperate of situations.
  So, on behalf of all of us, especially those children, I thank my 
colleagues. They have truly made a difference.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to yield 3 minutes to the 
gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Smith) the distinguished chairman of our 
Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights.
  Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, it is with great pride and 
pleasure that I rise to urge the enactment of H.R. 2909, the 
Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000.
  I am proud to be an original cosponsor of the Intercountry Adoption 
Act, which is necessary to implement the Hague Convention on Protection 
of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption.
  The Convention was adopted in 1993 and signed by the United States in 
1994. It will enter into force for the U.S. when the Senate gives its 
advise and consent and the President ratifies it.
  Senator Helms, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations 
Committee, has indicated his intention to schedule a committee vote as 
soon as both Houses of Congress have enacted this implementing 
legislation.
  Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the Hague Convention and of this 
implementing legislation is twofold. The first purpose is to facilitate 
international adoptions whenever they are in the best interest of the 
child by eliminating unnecessary confusion, expense, and delay 
resulting from differences among certain laws and practices of nations.
  The second and equally important purpose is to ensure transparent and 
fair regulation of international adoptions so that adoptions that are 
not in the best interest of the child, whether they involve gross 
abuses such as baby stealing and baby selling or other abuses that 
result in placing children in inappropriate settings, will not take 
place.
  The legislation now before us establishes a framework for fulfilling 
both these essential goals. It charges the Secretary of State and the 
Attorney General with overseeing a process of accreditation and 
regulation of agencies and persons involved in international adoptions 
while avoiding unnecessary Federal encroachment on the regulatory 
authority long exercised by State governments. It sets minimum 
standards for this process of accreditation and regulation, all of 
which are designed to protect the best interests of children by 
promoting their adoption into appropriate family settings by agencies 
whose employees have the requisite skill, experience, and good 
judgment. And it ensures that courts and other competent authorities in 
the United States and in the adoptive children's countries of origin, 
as well as prospective adoptive parents, will have the information they 
need to make intelligent, life-affirming decisions.
  Mr. Speaker, just let my say, throughout my 20 years in Congress, I 
have worked tirelessly on behalf of adoption and always in a bipartisan 
way.
  In the late 80's, I introduced the OMNIBUS Adoption Act--which had as 
its centerpiece, a $5,000 tax credit for nonrecurring expenses. That's 
low today. Now I've introduced an updated measure designed to boost the 
credit to $10,000. That too is a bipartisan bill. The text in H.R. 2909 
as it is presented on the floor today, is again a result of a 
tremendous amount of bipartisan work on the text.
  Let me also point out, Mr. Speaker, in keeping with this commitment 
of protecting children, during the long and painstaking process of 
preparing this bill for enactment, I have at various times expressed 
concerns about provisions in preliminary versions of the legislation. 
Particularly, I have been concerned that the new regulatory scheme not 
facilitate ``end runs'' around legitimate laws and policies of States 
and foreign countries designed to protect the best interests of 
children.

                              {time}  1245

  Again I am happy to say that the gentleman from New York (Mr. Gilman) 
and I and the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Delahunt), the 
gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Camp), the gentlewoman from Connecticut 
(Mrs. Johnson) and many others have worked on legislation, with a text 
we could all agree to.
  I join my colleague in thanking the professional work of our 
respective staffs especially Joseph Rees, who is general counsel and 
chief of staff of my Subcommittee on International Operations and Human 
Rights.
  Mr. DELAHUNT. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from 
Connecticut (Mr. Gejdenson), the ranking member of the Committee on 
International Relations.
  Mr. GEJDENSON. Mr. Speaker, I want to join my colleagues in 
recognizing the bipartisan effort in accomplishing this goal and all 
the participants, the chairman, the subcommittee chairman, those on the 
Committee on Ways and Means, particularly from my side of the aisle, 
the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr.  Delahunt), the staff on both 
sides, particularly my staff, Mr. Abramowitz and others who were 
involved and also the staff back in the district that we all have that 
taught us the lessons of why we need this legislation. On my staff, 
Patty Shea, who works in the Middletown office, not only has adopted on 
her own, as a number of my other staff people have, but has constantly 
been involved in the trouble related often to the intricacies of 
adoption, whether in the United States at our end of the process or in 
the country where the child is coming from.
  And so for all of us who have seen the torment and heartache often 
associated with families who are in the process of adopting running 
into very complex situations, often contradictory procedures and laws 
in our country and the country where the child is coming from, the 
efforts here today to set up

[[Page H6397]]

an international regime that will set some certainty and a process by 
which parents and potential parents can know what that process is going 
to be is an important step forward.
  The complexities here are significant, obviously, not simply those 
that divide some of us here in this Congress on the things we care 
about; but one of the concerns that I had of course is the impact on 
small agencies to make sure they were not overrun by a large 
bureaucratic system, but also the differences between countries and 
cultures and different systems of law. It will necessitate more 
cooperation in the future in every one of these categories.
  I commend all the participants again for the work they have done here 
on this important piece of legislation. It is the kind of thing that 
makes us all proud to participate in this great democratic process we 
have here. I thank particularly the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. 
Delahunt) for his work.
  Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to yield 4 minutes to the 
gentlewoman from Connecticut (Mrs. Johnson), the distinguished chairman 
of the Subcommittee on Human Resources.
  Mrs. JOHNSON of Connecticut. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman very 
much for yielding me this time and rise in strong support of passage of 
this Intercountry Adoption Act. The Subcommittee on Human Resources of 
the Committee on Ways and Means has written legislation that has more 
than doubled adoptions nationwide in America through good law, and we 
hope that this Intercountry Adoption Act will not only demonstrate 
America's commitment to the child, the birth parents and the adoptive 
parents, all parties to the adoption but will enable those adoptions to 
move more smoothly and more rapidly so that more children throughout 
the world can find permanent and loving homes.
  The purpose of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption is to 
set the rules for intercountry adoption that will do three important 
things: first, allow recognition of adoption among the party countries; 
two, protect the interests of all members of the adoption triad; and, 
three, prevent illegal child trafficking.
  The Convention establishes an international set of principles and 
rules that will govern intercountry adoptions. These rules provide for 
the first time normal international recognition of the process of 
intercountry adoption and establish a minimum set of uniform standards 
governing international adoptions.
  The implementing legislation we have before us today has been a long 
time in coming. The number of people that have been involved has been 
iterated by previous speakers so I will not reiterate those names; but 
it is fair to say without six Members of this House devoting really 
many hours to this subject over the last 2 years, we would not have 
this opportunity to more fairly and honestly and effectively govern 
international adoptions.
  I would particularly like to recognize the efforts of the gentleman 
from Michigan (Mr. Camp). He is a member of my subcommittee. He has 
been involved in this issue many, many years; and he has carried the 
major responsibility on behalf of the Committee on Ways and Means and 
myself on this legislation. I also want to recognize the work of Dr. 
Cassie Bevan, our chief of staff, because not only did she write the 
Safe Home and Families Act that has done so much to increase adoptions 
in America, but she was very instrumental in helping us find the 
language that allowed us to come to agreement on this bill and have it 
before Members today.
  There are two principles that governed the drafting of this 
implementing legislation. First, the drafters were careful to include 
in the implementing legislation only those requirements that were 
specifically mandated by the Convention. The Convention required the 
implementing country to, among other things, designate a central 
authority, establish an accreditation process, and preserve adoption 
records.
  This legislation was not intended to change domestic adoption 
practices or provide for a larger Federal role in nonconvention 
adoptions but was designed to meet the specific requirements of the 
Hague Convention. Secondly, the drafters were mindful that in the 
United States, family law is a field in which States are preeminent. 
Thus, this legislation was not viewed as an opportunity to override 
State laws. On the contrary, efforts to override State laws were 
resisted.
  The Intercountry Adoption Act was designed to put into practice 
certain internationally agreed upon norms and procedures. Among these 
are the establishment of an accreditation system that will ensure that 
adoption agencies and adoption lawyers engage in sound, ethical 
adoption practices that recognize the dignity of all the parties 
involved.
  Today, the Congress continues to build an impressive record of 
promoting adoption. I believe that H.R. 2909 along with the adoption 
tax credit, the Multiethnic Placement Act, the Adoption and Safe 
Families Act, and the Foster Care Independence Act shows our interest 
in making it easier for children to find permanent, loving families 
through adoption.
  I congratulate the gentleman from New York (Mr. Gilman) for his 
skillful leadership and the intense interest of a few Members, that 
handful of Members on both sides of the aisle that have made this bill 
possible and thank again my staff, the staff of all the committees, and 
the office of the gentleman from Texas (Mr. DeLay) that helped us get 
this crucial legislation to the floor.
  Mr. DELAHUNT. Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as he may consume to the 
gentleman from North Dakota (Mr. Pomeroy), a member of the Committee on 
International Relations.
  Mr. POMEROY. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding time. I 
am grateful to many as I get up to speak on this legislation, including 
the majority leadership for allowing this bill to come up on the 
suspension calendar. I am particularly grateful to the legislators who 
played such critical roles in getting this to the point where we can 
now enact it. It is critical legislation. Although this was not slated 
for House floor action intentionally to coincide with the birthday of 
the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Delahunt), it could not have been 
more appropriately timed because he has put in such an extraordinary 
effort to bring it to this point.
  Let me put a personal face on this issue. This is my daughter 
Kathryn. On February 3, 1994, the very day that Mother Teresa addressed 
the National Prayer Breakfast about the importance of adoption, Kathryn 
arrived on a Northwest jet out at National Airport. My wife and I went 
out and picked her up. She has certainly deeply changed our lives. It 
is a miracle, an absolute miracle. Two years later we adopted a son, a 
similar blessed event. We love him just as much; I just do not happen 
to have a poster of Scotty. I hope he understands.
  This miracle has many composite points. As you look through them, 
really it is not a miracle; but it is a culmination of events, 
extraordinarily important events. The miracle behind Kathryn being my 
daughter today begins with South Korea having a priority on the best 
interests of its children, a priority that even usurps national pride 
to the dimension where they cannot place when they do not have capacity 
to place, they cannot find the homes for the children who need 
adoption, they have sought families wherever they may be located, 
including in our case, halfway around the world from where Kathryn was 
born. It takes a special country with special values to hold the 
interests of its children to the forefront in this way, and I commend 
South Korea and all countries that facilitate the interests of their 
children in this fashion.
  Next, it takes quality programs where the quality assurance of the 
homes for placement is absolutely assured, because it is not just about 
sticking kids in some homes; it is about quality families for these 
beautiful children. I want to commend the agency we worked with, Asia, 
the individuals at that agency, Ted Kim, Mary Durr and Marilyn Regere, 
who were so involved in our own adoption circumstances. They 
represented the very finest in terms of quality assurance in an 
adoption program.
  We need and will by this legislation make certain that there are the 
highest standards of quality. It is very important because the United 
States in 1998 alone received 16,000 children from

[[Page H6398]]

around the world for placement with United States families. Now, this 
is a level of intercountry adoption activity that will raise concern in 
some of these countries where the children are coming from. They want 
to make certain these children are going to be provided for in the ways 
that they have a right to expect, safe environments, loving homes, 
capacity to provide. We need to make certain as the country accepting 
these children into our families that we address this concern by having 
processes and procedures that are open, that assure the highest levels 
of quality and that comport in all respects with the international 
standards agreed to between the many countries of the Hague Convention.
  Just a few weeks ago, I met with a number of Russian judges who deal 
with family adoption. They had questions about why the Hague Convention 
had not yet been approved. I am very pleased we will be able to answer 
those questions with this action today. The United States is completely 
committed to providing the finest homes and families for these 
beautiful children and our action on this legislation makes that very 
clear. Beyond that, the bill facilitates the coordination of adoption 
laws across the country and I believe will help families who so 
desperately want to have the miracle of children that my own family has 
gotten to experience realize this goal through international adoption, 
if not otherwise.
  In conclusion, I would just say to each of you who have been involved 
in this legislation that you have helped children find families and 
families find children who need them. There is not a thing we do in 
this body more important than this task. I commend each of you for your 
great work.
  Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to yield 3 minutes to the 
gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Camp), a member of the Subcommittee on 
Human Resources.
  (Mr. CAMP asked and was given permission to revise and extend his 
remarks.)
  Mr. CAMP. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of our bipartisan 
legislation to strengthen the international adoption process. I would 
like to commend the leadership of the gentleman from New York (Mr. 
Gilman), the gentlewoman from Connecticut (Mrs. Johnson) of the 
Committee on Ways and Means, the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Smith), 
chairman of the subcommittee, and our leadership on this important 
issue. I also have to mention that the gentleman from Connecticut (Mr. 
Gejdenson), the ranking member, and also the gentleman from 
Massachusetts (Mr. Delahunt) have been very active on this issue; and I 
appreciate all of their efforts to make this bill a reality.
  Of course, no bill comes to the floor without the help of competent 
staff: Kristen Gilley, David Abramowitz, Mark Agrast, Joseph Reece, and 
especially Dr. Cassie Bevan of the Subcommittee on Human Resources of 
the Committee on Ways and Means.
  Our bill today is about families opening their homes and their hearts 
to children who need them. Before I came to Congress, I represented 
families seeking to adopt. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing 
a mom and dad bring home a new child into their family through 
adoption. This bill will help bring families together.
  In the last 10 years, almost 100,000 children from other countries 
have been adopted by U.S. families. That is a doubling of international 
adoptions. We adopt more children from abroad than all other countries 
combined. In 1998 alone, over 15,000 children were adopted by U.S. 
parents. This increase has created many opportunities for children to 
find loving homes. At the same time with the sharp increase, we have a 
responsibility to establish international standards to ensure that 
adoptions are safe, that they are in the best interest of the child, 
the birth parents and the adoptive parents.
  Mr. Speaker, no important bill is ever easy; but it is easy to work 
on legislation where you can see up close the impact it has on the 
lives of children and their families. For that reason, the United 
States in 1994 signed the Hague Intercountry Adoption Convention, which 
establishes basic international procedures for concluding safe 
intercountry adoptions. The Intercountry Adoption Act, of which I am 
proud to be an original cosponsor, implements the Hague Convention. We 
were careful to include in this implementing legislation only what was 
specifically mandated by the convention.

                              {time}  1300

  And, second, in U.S. law, especially in U.S. family law and adoption, 
State authority is assured. The bill establishes the State Department 
as a central authority to monitor these adoptions and help adoptive 
parents in dealing with officials in other countries. The State 
Department will designate one or more private, nonprofit organizations 
to accredit U.S. adoption service providers using strict standards of 
ethics, competence, and financial soundness. These accredited agencies 
can then facilitate intercountry adoptions in other Hague countries.
  Mr. Speaker, in closing, I, again, want to commend the gentleman from 
New York (Chairman Gilman), the gentlewoman from Connecticut (Chairman 
Johnson), and everyone involved in our bill, our leadership, especially 
the gentleman from Texas (Mr. DeLay), for the hard work they put in for 
making this bill possible.
  Mr. Speaker, I believe that the work we have done will allow the 
other body to quickly take up ratification of the treaty and passage of 
our implementing legislation.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge support of our bill.
  Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for his remarks. Mr. 
Speaker, I do not have any further requests for time and I reserve the 
balance of my time.
  Mr. DELAHUNT. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I would simply conclude by saying I am sure that my 
family is watching, and they heard the reference by the gentleman from 
North Dakota (Mr. Pomeroy) to the agency that placed Kathryn with the 
Pomeroy family, and I do not want to leave the floor and receive a 
telephone call, so I really want to acknowledge the Holt International 
Children's Services in Eugene, Oregon, giving me the greatest gift of 
all, which was my daughter, Kara.
  I particularly want to acknowledge Susan Cox, who several years ago I 
encountered and engaged me in this particular legislation; but, as I 
said, in my remarks, it certainly is a good day.
  Mr. Speaker, it is a good day for hopefully tens of thousands of 
children all over this planet who will find a deserving home.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I want to commend all of our Members who took part in 
today's debate and, once again, all of the staff members who worked so 
diligently to bring together this bipartisan measure. And I, too, want 
to commend the Holt agency. I am very familiar with them; it was 
formerly the Pearl Buck Group that started this agency. They have done 
such good work in bringing children and parents together, and I want to 
thank particularly the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Delahunt) as 
we gave him his gift for his birthday today. I urge my colleagues to 
support this measure.
  Mr. BLILEY. Mr. Speaker, our children are our future and they 
represent our hopes and dreams. Many families decide adoption is the 
right path for them to build a family and we should do all we can to 
promote life-affirming policies like adoption. As an adoptive father, I 
believe every child deserves love, shelter, security, and a permanent 
home yet the orphanages around the world are filled with children 
seeking loving homes and families. Many Americans choose to adopt a 
child from another country because they know they can make a difference 
in a child's life. America is a rich country and our citizens are very 
generous in opening up their homes to orphans. The Hague Intercountry 
Adoption Act builds upon the spirit of the thousands of American 
parents who have adopted their child from another country.
  I am a proud cosponsor of the Hague Intercountry Adoption Act because 
I am committed to ensuring intercountry adoption remains a viable 
option for American families. American families are very altruistic 
because they spend thousands of dollars and are willing to travel to a 
foreign country to build a family. Unfortunately, some people took 
advantage of adoptive parents and legislation was needed. The Hague 
Intercountry Adoption Act attempts to guarantee the child's safety and 
fully protects the rights of the adoptive parents and birth parents.

[[Page H6399]]

  In the days ahead, Congress must ensure the process of crafting rules 
and regulations for the Hague is done in an expeditious manner. 
Congress must also ensure that the regulatory process is not abused and 
used in a manner to reward the efforts of those who failed to achieve 
their policy initiatives through the legislative process. I strongly 
believe the Central Authority must be fully staffed and have personnel 
with adoption experience. Inadequate staffing levels and/or lack of 
staff familiar about adoption policy could lead to a dramatic decline 
in the number of intercountry adoptions.
  Today is a momentous day for adoption. This legislation provides hope 
for orphaned children worldwide and it will improve the lives of 
countless children and families.
  Mr. BURR of North Carolina. Mr. Speaker, last summer I introduced 
legislation with Representative Ballenger that approached this issue 
differently than H.R. 2909 as introduced.
  Through the committee process, however, we were able to reach a 
compromise between H.R. 2342 and H.R. 2909. Through the efforts of 
Chairman Gilman and Ranking Member Gejdenson the legislation we are 
considering today takes the best of both bills, and I would like to 
thank them for their hard work in moving the process forward. I would 
also like to thank Representative Delahunt, who perhaps more than 
anyone in this body appreciates the positive impact this legislation 
can have. He is to be commended for his role in the process as well.
  I would like to extend a special thank you to those parents of 
children adopted from overseas who contacted me with their concerns and 
for sharing their experiences with me. Their input was critically 
important, and I appreciate their active interest in this legislation 
and the process we have gone through.
  It is an unfortunate reality that there are people willing to exploit 
the vulnerability of needy children and their prospective parents. The 
willingness of these families to go through the international adoption 
process, despite its flaws, is testimony to their character. The 
passage of this legislation affirms our commitment to creating a 
framework that better protects children and their families in the 
future.
  Despite our different approaches in addressing the problems faced by 
children and parents in the international adoption process, it is safe 
to say we all want the same thing--to help those who want nothing more 
than to provide a child with a loving home. It is my firm belief that 
the legislation we are considering today will do just that, and I 
encourage my colleagues to vote for this important bill.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Quinn). The question is on the motion 
offered by the gentleman from New York (Mr. Gilman) that the House 
suspend the rules and pass the bill, H.R. 2909, as amended.
  The question was taken; and (two-thirds having voted in favor 
thereof) the rules were suspended and the bill, as amended, was passed.
  A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.

                          ____________________






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